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Thread: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

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    Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    Just saw this :
    Coors Light Silver Bullet Jet Team / Dual BD-5J Airshow / World's Smallest Jets - YouTube

    One comment below the video says
    ''yeah. I believe both of these men died in these aircraft. just about everyone that has flown a BD 5.... or any BD aircraft for that matter, has died''.

    Can anyone substantiate the above?
    I know that they are/were banned here in the UK

    Dave

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    Registered User StarJar's Avatar
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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Culleningus View Post
    Just saw this :
    Coors Light Silver Bullet Jet Team / Dual BD-5J Airshow / World's Smallest Jets - YouTube

    One comment below the video says
    ''yeah. I believe both of these men died in these aircraft. just about everyone that has flown a BD 5.... or any BD aircraft for that matter, has died''.

    Can anyone substantiate the above?
    I know that they are/were banned here in the UK

    Dave
    I don't think the BD-5 jets were as lethal as the early prop versions. The first 10 prop BD-5's built, had about a 50% fatality record. Mostly due to untimely engine siezures, and the airplanes pitching up, from high thrust lines.

    I never really heard that the jets were all that dangerous, in the hands of pilots with appropriate experience.

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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    Don't know if it's true or not but i heard the original BD-5 had a 95mph stall speed. That was a big problem for inexperience pilots.

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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    "Death trap" is a pretty strong indictment. However, the BD-5 (both prop and jet versions) was (is) a high performance, demanding airplane... far beyond anything else in its price range, beyond most other homebuilts of its day. As a result, pilots trained in Cubs or Cessnas managed to hurt themselves in them with depressing regularity. On the other side, the military borrowed some BD-5J aircraft for testing and managed to break them too... although the test pilots were used to fast aircraft, they weren't used to going that fast on takeoff with their butts only 6" off the pavement.

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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    There's a good summary of the BD-5 history on Wikipedia. It's not very encouraging to anyone interested in this design. Many of its problems may be solvable, but it's not clear anyone would ever put out the expense and effort to do so. They're not trivial.

    Bede BD-5 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Culleningus View Post
    .... or any BD aircraft for that matter, has died''.

    Dave
    That part isn't true. There are other Bede designs that are very successful. The BD4 has been being built and flow since the late 60s and has an excellent record.
    Jon Ferguson likes this.
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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    BD-5 Pilot Report A period article on the prop version.
    They are small. Messed with one in A&P school and there is a flying prop version at one of the local airports. It is a no mistake airplane, pilot or maintenance. What also has to be remembered is it and the BD4 were the first kit planes. I cant think of another period kit. RVs were plans built and anything else was just materials kits. These things had formed parts and it technically was suppose to be snapped together like a Lego; at least it was billed that way. If it was 20% bigger and they could have filled the thousands of orders that they defaulted on, it would have been one of the greatest success story in aviation instead of one of the bottom.

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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Culleningus View Post
    just about everyone that has flown a BD 5.... or any BD aircraft for that matter, has died''.


    Burt Rutan flew the BD-5 and survived.







    "No man has ever left the safety of low Earth Orbit."

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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    I think that it is irresponsible to label any plane a death trap. I would hope that forum members would show more maturity. Do some research before making irresponsible statements.

    Here is a BD-5 flying. No one died on its flights...

    https://vimeo.com/42343091

    Blue skies,

    Tom

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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Culleningus View Post
    One comment below the video says
    ''yeah. I believe both of these men died in these aircraft. just about everyone that has flown a BD 5.... or any BD aircraft for that matter, has died''.
    People who write those comments are idiots. Bob Bishop flew a BD-5J for 35 yrs. He's still around. Same for Corkey Fornoff. I remember when they flew as a team in the '70's, the Sonic Acro Jets, sponsored by Sonic Drive Inn. Corkey used to tell some great stories, one when the engine flamed out, he deadsticked the airplane onto a 4 lane highway, was able to maneuver in traffic to get in the right lane, pulled into a gas station and coasted to a stop just as he hit the service bell (you have to remember full service gas stations from the '70's where you ran over the black hose to ring a bell in the office/bay)

    True, the short wing versions were pretty hot but the "B" long wing tamed it down a bit. I heard Burt Rutan tell a story about the BD-5 simulator he designed while at Bede. It was a real plane mounted on a gimbal bearing bolted to a frame mounted on the front of a pickup truck - same way he tests everything. It could climb up ~15 ft or so and bank ~20 degrees left/right so you had an idea of the control sensitivity before flying the real plane. Somewhat comical when he described how the airplane's throttle was connected to the carburetor on the truck. Push the throttle up too fast and it would spin the tires on the truck.

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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    One of my good friends is Dave Harris. Dave had made a living for several decades flying his two BD-5Js (which he himself built) around the world in Pepsi colors, among others. And up until recently, had continued flying them under several military contracts, along with Mr. Bishop. He has also built a number of prop powered models, all of which I believe are flying to this day.

    According to Dave and many other owners, the BD-5 is no more dangerous than any other airplane to an experienced pilot who respects and understands the airframe in question.

    The only caveat to that may be for the case of an engine failure in a prop powered BD-5 however contrary to an earlier statement, this has absolutely nothing to do with the height of the thrust line. In order to correct some torsional feedback problems the early BDs encountered, the BD factory installed a Sprague clutch between the engine and the belt. When the engine quits, the Sprague often lets go, thus allowing a freewheeling prop. The latter is very dangerous since that's equivalent to throwing out a sizable drogue chute, which brings the airplane nearly to a stop. If the pilot is not familiar with this behavior and is at pattern altitude over hostile terrain, recovery is unlikely.
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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    OK Tom maybe not a death trap as such but an aircraft with very unforgiving flight characteristics, which brings me to wonder why ballistic chutes are seemingly never fitted to them.
    I love this diminutive little aircraft, but was wondering if I should be a little naiive to not explore the reality concerning its accident record, rather than get carried away by its outwardly very impressive performance etc. Whilst not researched carefully have come to believe this accident record has accounted for at least a half of all the pilots that flew her. So whilst Death Trap sounds a little harsh it is not in my mind irresponsible to get to the truth about things.
    Its funny really but perhaps the same could be said about autogyros, which strangely over here are given accreditation by the CAA, and are similarly perfectly safe 'in the right hands' but the BD got banned.
    I wonder why. Perhaps someone knows the answer?

    Interesting stuff about the drag from the prop. A folding prop might come in handy, or did they not have them back then?

    Also the torsional problems which seem to beset all propshaft planes (is this nautical technology? -it seems the JSF has one!)

    The full stall in the video is one in which many feet of altitude would be necessary to pick up airspeed since the tail moment arm is hopelessly short, and unlike a flying wing the wing loading is comparatively high.

    But theres a certain beauty about the design which perhaps was the thing which captivated Rutan and inspired him to work out his own mini-fighter but somewhat more conservatively (and maybe therefore safely) in regards to scale

    Can anyone confirm Rutan did fly the BD5?
    Or was he on the truck combo tests only?


    Dave





    Dave
    Last edited by Culleningus; August 8th, 2012 at 06:52 PM.

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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Culleningus View Post
    OK Tom maybe not a death trap as such but an aircraft with very unforgiving flight characteristics, which brings me to wonder why ballistic chutes are seemingly never fitted to them.
    There were no such off the shelf devices when the BD was introduced. The other is room. The -5 is packed pretty tight from FU-1 on back. A standard modification is a fuselage stretch, that not only gets the pilot out front to balance heavier engines, but to provide room for same.
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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hot Wings View Post
    There were no such off the shelf devices when the BD was introduced. The other is room. The -5 is packed pretty tight from FU-1 on back. A standard modification is a fuselage stretch, that not only gets the pilot out front to balance heavier engines, but to provide room for same.
    Also I suspect that most BD-5 accidents are on takeoff or landing, when you're usually too low for a BRS to help...

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    Re: Bede BD5 was it a death trap?

    It never hurts to cover a possibility of surviving however Dana.

    Im reading some weight saving was done 8 yrs ago:

    'Juan Jiménez of San Juan, Puerto Rico, owns another airworthy example. This model has been modified with lightweight components to become the lightest example of the BD-5J, and perhaps the entire BD-5 series, ever built. With an empty weight of just 358 lb (162 kg), the aircraft is so light that the Guinness Book of World Records officially certified it as the world's smallest jet-powered plane in 2004. The tiny jet is just 12 ft (3.7 m) in length with a wingspan of 17 ft (5.7 m). Many more details about this amazing plane can be found at the site of Juan Jiménez and Rob de Bie's page documenting the history of several BD-5J kits. '

    Makes me wonder if with a folding prop and other more recent developments like all carbon composite construction could provide it with the necessary redemption it so requires??

    Would an all carbon rendition of this airframe not be lighter still?

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