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Jim Bede passes

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Vigilant1

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I wish his family well. His AA-1 still gets a lot of people airborne on the cheap, and his other designs sparked a lot of interest, ideas, and Walter Mitty daydreams in many of us. Controversial--yes.
 

SVSUSteve

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I wish his family well. His AA-1 still gets a lot of people airborne on the cheap, and his other designs sparked a lot of interest, ideas, and Walter Mitty daydreams in many of us. Controversial--yes.
Controversial but still a talented man. Even though he and I had some "spirited" discussions over the years, he was always a kind man with a good sense of humor. He will be missed.
 

azsportpilot

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here is another nice write-up on him with picsJames R. Bede, a prolific aircraft designer whose many concepts included a micro jet that flew for a James Bond movie and a single-engine airplane that evolved into the popular Grumman Yankee, died July 9 in Cleveland, Ohio. He was 82.

Photo courtesy Bede

Bede "chose to focus his attention on making flying affordable for almost anyone" during a high-profile career in which he introduced the aviation community to 18 designs including the BD-1, which became the popular low-wing American Aviation AA-1 trainer and sport plane, and the high-winged homebuilt BD-4.

The BD-4 homebuilt design "literally jump-started the homebuilt airplane industry," according to a biography of Bede on the website of Bedecorp, the Medina, Ohio company that is run by his son, Jim Bede Jr.

In November 2012, AOPA reported on how Bede’s 465-pound-empty-weight, single-seat BD-5J jet—famous from a scene in the 1983 movie Octopussy and later as a popular airshow attraction—had found a new mission, and new depth for its design’s legacy, in the research and development of air defense capabilities.

Born in Cleveland in April 1933, Bede graduated from Wichita State University in Kansas with a degree in aeronautical engineering. He joined North American Aviation, leaving the company in 1961 to found his own aircraft design firm. The BD-1 was unveiled the next year.

Bede also explored surface-vehicle designs, including the ducted-fan-driven 1979 Bede Car, according to the biography.

Bede died July 9 from "an unrecoverable aneurysm suffered at the Cleveland Clinic," said an announcement issued by the company. It added that at the time of his death, Bede was surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren.

The Lorain County, Ohio, Regional Airport will host a Jim Bede Memorial Fly-In on Aug. 1. Bede, who resided in nearby Medina, was a frequent visitor to the airport.
 

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Topaz

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A very sad day. Despite its drivetrain challenges and the failings of the business that sold it, anyone who thinks the BD-5 wasn't one of the most influential homebuilts of all time is fooling themselves. It probably did more to bring homebuilding to the attention of the general public than any other design, including Van's and Rutan's various birds.

Would've like to have met the man. Sad that I never will.
 

TFF

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1,4,5,10 They were all masterpieces. All very different too; how many can pull that off? Had some young guy working for him that ended up designing backwards flying glass and foam things. Business just not a strong point.
 

Victor Bravo

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Let's not get too carried away with sentiment here.

The '10 was a highly flawed design that cost more than one life because of a clear design oversight.

The '5 was a brilliant idea that made a fortune by being marketed to precisely the wrong pilot demographic, and the only reason that hundreds and hundreds of lives were not lost was because of the good fortune of the engine being unavailable. The '5 remains a very interesting and viable little aircraft for an above average skilled pilot.

The '4 might have been brilliant because it pioneered some new and simplified construction methods.

The '1 was brilliant enough of an engineering and manufacturing idea, but it also suffered from inappropriate engine choices in the prototype and the original production version. The Grumman AA-5 derivatives were absolutely brilliant, and still represent just about the bigegst bang for the buck.
 

Topaz

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...The '5 was a brilliant idea that made a fortune by being marketed to precisely the wrong pilot demographic, and the only reason that hundreds and hundreds of lives were not lost was because of the good fortune of the engine being unavailable. The '5 remains a very interesting and viable little aircraft for an above average skilled pilot.

The '4 might have been brilliant because it pioneered some new and simplified construction methods...
My point on the BD-5 had nothing to do with its engineering, and it's important to make that distinction. Good, bad, or just "flawed", the BD-5, through its appearance in multiple magazine articles and movie appearances, was the first kitplane that really made a significant appearance with the general American public. It completely transformed the American kitplane scene. Prior to that aircraft, we were mostly a plans-built industry. After the BD-5, ever-more complete kits were the norm. I won't argue its engineering shortcomings, but from a PR perspective for homebuilding in general, nothing before or since has had as much impact.

The BD-4 is still a solid and respectable homebuilt design.

Yes, the -10 was heavily flawed, from start to finish, but again, made a huge impact with the general public. We've all benefited from that. It showed the boundaries of what we were trying. We weren't just a bunch of guys dreaming of decades-old biplane designs. We're cutting-edge in terms of light aviation development. That the aircraft itself had some serious compromises and significant early development flaws is entirely irrelevant to that effect.
 

TFF

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The BD5 had three flaws, only two had to do with the design. Engine trouble, engine trouble, engine trouble; plenty on that, out there. To me more crappy was the pull rivets that came with it. They remind me of a pellet from a pellet gun with a stem, and just as strong. If he had real rivets more airframes would have been finished waiting for rotax to be invented. What killed the BD-5 was the 5000 unfilled orders. Demand was way bigger than what they had planned for. It put them out of business. If there was an engine and production capacity it would have been RV who?
 

Victor Bravo

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Those 5000 un-filled orders in 1972 represent 5000 people who are walking upright in 2015... because of their unfilled BD-5 order.

I am NOT an expert on the BD-5, there are several real experts out there. But :

My limited understanding is that the high thrust line created numerous takeoff accidents that resulted in takeoff-related stalls and stall-spin issues.

HBA has several highly qualified engineers, and I ain't one of them, so I will yield to their higher knowledge.... but I'm fairly sure that a high thrust line that does not intersect the vertical CG, PLUS a short coupled airplane, PLUS an all flying tail, PLUS a short span and overly sensitive controls, PLUS a marginally reliable engine (or worse) is a formula for an expert's airplane.
 

bmcj

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Was the jet conversion of the BD-5 done by Jim Bede or someone else wanting a jet version of the -5?

On the other conversation, I don't think the thrust line is high enough to cause major problems, but I could be wrong.
 

BoKu

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Those 5000 un-filled orders in 1972 represent 5000 people who are walking upright in 2015... because of their unfilled BD-5 order...
Just a nitpick, I think that the actuarial tables would have us understand that probably less than 2/3, maybe as few as a half, of the people who put down orders on BD-5s in 1972 are still alive. Let's guess that the average age of someone with the requisite disposable income is 40. Today they'd be 83.

But, yeah, the BD-5 was not necessarily the airplane it was being sold as.

Thanks, Bob K.
 

Jay Kempf

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The thrust line is way better than say a Lake Buccaneer so you couldn't isolate that as a cause. The glider front end with tricycle gear was certainly a concern over more standard ops as a visibility and 3D space awareness issue, so much so that Rutan built that truck with a BD5 on the front to specifically train for the landing orientation. Certainly the airplane was sensitive and so prone to first time pilots overcontrolling it. But those that fly them actually think the controls are well balanced for what they are.
 

TFF

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From everyone I have talked too say its easy to fly; if you can fly a Pitts you can fly it. Its not for a person struggling with a C150. Why does it need to be? Does everything have to be accessible to everyone? Our feelings get hurt way too easily today. Biggest problem with the plane was the engine. With such a fast landing speed, the speed range from stall to top speed was small. Not enough power. The Jet solved all of it except for cost and fuel capacity. If one of the water cooled Rotaxs was available then, There would have been no engine problems. Plane may have had to be modified to work as a package, but it would be solid. There is one at another local airport, close to mine; still cool.
 

Dana

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From what I recall, another main problem was the high stall speed combined with the fact that the pilot's butt is only inches from the pavement... it felt like you're going a lot faster then you were, resulting in stalls when the pilot rotated too soon.

Dana
 

Victor Bravo

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The story I heard was that people would go roaring down the runway at full power, and the thrust line offset pitch effect would prevent the airplane from rotating to take off.... so 90% of the way down the runway the pilot would pull the throttle back, and the airplane would suddenly pitch up and take off at a steep angle with no power, to the total surprise of the pilot.

I was never there when that happened, never flew one, and I cannot calculate the pitching moment caused by the thrust line. It's just the story I happened to hear from some armchair expert years ago. Feel free to correct or de-bunk this if it is known to be wrong.

Other than the convenient fairing already there for the propeller shaft, I can't see any reason that the thrust line has to be high on the jet version. They can lower it all theyw ant.
 

TFF

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I can see the ground effect doing that. Gets off the ground before it can really fly.
 
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