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BD-6 Light Sport

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Jim Williams

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Sep 17, 2005
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Are there anybody building a BD-6 out there? I have been to the Bede web page on the net. They don't have much information on the BD-6. I was just wondering do you think it can be built as a light sport aircraft. It will need a new wing. I don't think wing area 55.5 sg/ft. is going to do it. I am not interested in building one. I am already in to building a CX-4. I just think with a little work it would make a nice expermental light sport aircraft. Just thinking out loud.

Jim Williams
 

orion

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Mar 2, 2003
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There were plans as recently as about two years ago to work on a Light Sport Version of the BD-4 and a LSA Yankee derivative, the BD-17. However, as Bede is generally want to do, the person he got involved with had a less then stellar reputation, including dealings with the assets of the then defunct Express, due to which he was sued at least once that I know of, and possibly twice (both times losing). Neither of the projects went forward.

But then that worked out for me since I was able to lease the large hangar that group used to occupy.
 

wsimpso1

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I would stay far away from anything that Jim Bede is involved in. Really. The man has had more failed projects and businesses leaving folks with incomplete designs, incomplete kits and no parts support.

Billski
 

Topaz

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Oh, the BD-4 worked out fairly well. I understand that it's a very nicely flying airplane.

Jim Bede is the subject of as much misinformation as he has been financial troubles. From everything I've seen, he's a creative and capable engineer who has two significant flaws in his approach:

1) He's over-optimistic about his designs working the first time out. Every airplane goes through some additional development after the first prototype leaves the ground that first time. Bede simply can't keep himself from dragging the media along through that entire process, nor stop himself from selling plans or kits during that process as well. It seems that he hasn't got (or won't allow) someone else to review his designs for questionable content in advance. Or perhaps he dismisses concerns. I've never worked with (or even met) him, so I don't know which it is, or even if my surmises are correct. The original Yankee is probably the best example of this. As I understand it, the airplane had some very 'optimistic' design elements as originally designed. However, it developed into a very nice little airplane eventually. While it would be infinitely preferable for an airplane design to work perfectly from the very first flight, that's not what usually happens. Look at the C-17, for example.

2) No business sense. Engineering an airplane and running a business are two entirely different things, as I'm sure Orion would attest. Some people can do both, others can't. Bede is just a lousy business man. I personally haven't seen any indication that he's ever gone out to deliberately defraud anyone, but he builds his businesses with people and resources that make them a real house of cards, and when things come tumbling down, he's left holding an empty bag to a bunch of angry customers. And the guy just doesn't seem to learn from past bad experiences. Unfortunately, deserved of the reputation or not, I'm not sure how many 'reputable' businesspeople would actually invest with him at this point, and he seems no longer willing to simply be someone's employee.

I see Jim Bede in much the same light as I do the actor, Jim Carey. If you keep him under a tight rein and with specific (externally set) goals in mind, you'll likely get something pretty darned good. If you just "let him run free", madness will ensue.
 
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Midniteoyl

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However, as Bede is generally want to do, the person he got involved with had a less then stellar reputation, including dealings with the assets of the then defunct Express, due to which he was sued at least once that I know of, and possibly twice (both times losing).
That was a mess....
 

pwood66889

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"1) He's over-optimistic about his designs working the first time out.
2) No business sense."

You've displayed your wisdom again, Topaz. I also believe Mr. Bede is a design genius, but an incompetent business person.

"More aviation businesses fail because of poor business practices than because of poor aviating." Take-a-way from my Aviation Law course.

The BD-6, I believe it was called the "Nugget," is cute though.

Percy in NM, USW
 

Grimace

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Chicago, IL
According the the bedecorp website, plans are not completed for that design (it's been 25 years already!) and only an infopack is available....

Sure is a neat little airplane though!
 

Topaz

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I'm not sure I'd go so far as "Genius", in that I wish he was a little more circumspect about his designs before he actually started cutting metal, but obviously the guy has some skills, and a fairly unique gift for airframes that are attractive to the pilot community. Whatever one may think of his engineering, his "industrial design" skills are amongst the best in our industry. Very few aircraft have created the 'buzz' that the BD-5 did, especially given the way the homebuilt market was at the time. The original Vari-Eze is the only other one that comes to mind.

If you disregard the business failures, and the aircraft's flaws had been properly overcome before release to the public, even the BD-5 and BD-10 were potential huge successes from the standpoint of sales. The BD-5 was a huge success in terms of sales, but the airplane wasn't fully developed when he started taking checks, and everyone knows the story of how that turned out. The BD-4 was also a big success by the standards of its release date. Full kits weren't very common then. The BD-10 should never have been released in the form it was, IMHO - that kind of aircraft deserves a serious development program before being released to the public, and I understand it still had a few major flaws, even in the form it took when the company folded.

IIRC, the BD-6 was a very nice little airplane - it's essentially a reduced-size, single-seat BD-4 if I'm remembering the correct aircraft, sharing the same basic design and construction ideas. My memory is that any chance it might have had at commercial success was consumed in the backlash and acrimony over the BD-5 debacle, and so the airplane never really got its proper day in the sun. Why Bede didn't revive it instead of moving on to the BD-17 and other later designs he tried to sell, I can't fathom.
 

wsimpso1

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Perhaps I should be more clear... I would stay clear of anything that Jim Bede is CURRENTLY involved in.

The BD-4 is now a good bird to build because the support system is out there. Jim Bede failed those folks, but other folks have made it a going airplane design.

Through no fault of Bede did either the BD-4 or the BD-5 not come to complete failure for builders...

Billski
 

Topaz

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Perhaps I should be more clear... I would stay clear of anything that Jim Bede is CURRENTLY involved in....
Heh, well, yeah, given the past track record, I agree. Or if someone wants to go "there", I hope they're a betting man, 'cause it's going to be a gamble. ;)

My vision of the sort of place Jim Bede should work is a design office with one room labeled "Mad Scientist" (for Jim) and about three other engineers 'buffering' his work between concept and reality. Let the guy conceptualize and design gorgeous-looking airplanes, and then just nod politely as those ideas are handed off to some other engineers for refinement. And for heaven's sake, keep him away from the people running the business end of things.

Eh. I shouldn't bag on him in his absence. It's just a shame that there were people who were burned in their dealings with him, whatever the ultimate reason.
 
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Rom

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Oct 30, 2006
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I won't disparage the guy since he lives in my neighborhood. The BD-5 was one airplane I drooled over when it first came out. I saw the BD-10 fly at our local airshow and it was impressive. The Bede 1 was a good plane but did have its safety problems.

The other later models are rather inelegant and querky with laminar wings mated to blocky fuselages. The two together don't make sense. There are a lot nicer aluminum airplanes out there with good track records, so why would someone by one of these? Someone please list the good points.. sell me.
 
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PTAirco

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I won't disperage the guy since he lives in my neighborhood. The BD-5 was one airplane I drooled over when it first came out. I saw the BD-10 fly at our local airshow and it was impressive. The Bede 1 was a good plane but did have its safety problems.

The other later models are rather inelegent and querky with laminar wings mated to blocky fuselages. The two together don't make sense. There are a lot nicer aluminum airplanes out there with good track records, so why would someone by one of these? Someone please list the good points.. sell me.
Good points? Hmmm
The one thing that always struck me about his engineering is how eccentric it was. He seemed to do things differently simply because, it was different, not because of some clear advantage. Example? The BD4's ailerons and flaps; two surfaces almost identical in function, size, section etc , but he uses aluminium ribs on one and wooden ribs and woodscrews on the other. (At least on the example I have seen first hand, there may be variations) - Why? Mixing methods and materials in a single design can be thought of as optimizing or it can be thought of as haphazard. When there is no logical reason, it seems haphazard to me.

I know second-guessing the designer is always futile, we don't always know what they had in mind and their reasons may be quite valid to them. I thought 25 years ago I had so many better ways of building airplanes than the "normal" way - now I realize that what we see being used is the distillation of all things that worked and worked and worked well. Is there room for new methods and ideas? Of course. My ancient looking biplane project is full of little details that make the building of it simpler, yet overall the methods are those of a typical 12920s biplane.

I too, was totally smitten by the BD5 when I first saw it in my teens - I would still like one with all the quirks ironed out.
 
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