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Bede BD-5

From PlaneSpottingWorld, for aviation fans everywhere
Guinness Record Holder, The World's Smallest Jet, BD-5J N3038V
Type Homebuilt
Manufacturer Bede Aviation
Designed by Jim Bede
Introduced 1970s
Status ~150 airworthy, ~30 flying

The Bede BD-5 is a small, single-seat homebuilt kit aircraft that was introduced in the early 1970s by Bede Aircraft Corp. It was designed by Jim Bede. It is a pusher aircraft design, with the engine installed in a compartment in the middle of the fuselage, and a propeller in the rear. Over 5,000 kits were shipped, but few were actually completed due to the company's bankruptcy in the mid-1970s, brought on by the failure to deliver a reliable engine for the design.


BD-5B built, owned and flown by retired USAF pilot Dan Ross

The first model was the BD-5A, with an extremely short 14-foot (4.27 m) wingspan which made the aircraft extremely hard to fly except for the most experienced pilots. The BD-5B increased the wingspan to 21 feet (6.40 m), which greatly improved the handling of the little bird. The BD-5D was to be the FAA-certified model of the aircraft, but certification was never completed and it never entered production. The BD-5S was a one-of-a-kind sailplane model which was never produced due to an unimpressive glide ratio.

BD Micro Technologies, a company operating out of Siletz, Oregon, designed the BD-5TP, a turboprop version of the BD-5 using a modified Solar/Hamilton Sundstrand T62 turbine engine mated to a custom-designed mechanically-controlled variable-pitch propeller.

The BD-5J is the jet version of the aircraft, the result of mating the BD-5 fuselage and a shortened 17-foot (5.18 m) wingspan with the Microturbo TRS-18 turbojet engine, manufactured by Microturbo in Toulouse, France, and by Ames Industrial in the United States under license from Microturbo. The aircraft was featured in the first few minutes of the James Bond movie Octopussy starring Sir Roger Moore. J.W. "Corkey" Fornof was the stunt pilot who performed the scene in which the aircraft (identified in the credits as the Acro Star) flew through a hangar. An example of the BD-5J currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico holds the Guinness record for the World's Smallest Jet aircraft. Airframe kits for this tiny jet are still available from BD Micro Technologies and Alturair in San Diego, California, but the engines are much harder to find, as Microturbo no longer sells them for man-rated applications.

An unusual adaptation of the BD-5, the Acapella 100, appeared in the early 1980s. Designer Carl D. Barlow of Option Air Reno mated a BD-5 fuselage with a distinctive twin-boom empennage and fitted it with a 100-horsepower Continental O-200 engine. Later, a 200-horsepower Lycoming IO-360 was fitted, and the wings shortened from 26.5 feet to 19.5 feet, becoming the Acapella 200-S model. The prototype of this aircraft was first flown on 6 June 1980, with pilot Bill Skiliar at the controls. Unfortunately, it did not fly well and was difficult to control. Only the one prototype was built and it was donated to the Experimental Aircraft Association's Airventure Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA, where it is occasionally placed on display.

Surviving Aircraft

As of 2002, there were an estimated 150 BD-5's in airworthy condition [1].

A BD-5 is on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, an annex of the National Air and Space Museum at Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia.

The BD-5J known as the "Bud Light Jet" suffered an engine compartment fire after a fuel flow sensor burst, and the aircraft was lost. The pilot bailed out of the aircraft after trading speed for altitude, and was unharmed.

A BD-5J crashed at Carp Airport west of Ottawa on June 16, 2006, while practicing for an airshow to take place the next day. The pilot, Scott Manning was killed in the accident. [2]

The BD-5J is now certified as a cruise missile surrogate, and operates as the Smart-1 (Smart Manned Aerial Radar Target, Model 1). The aircraft's radar return is so small, and the operational capabilities and performance of the tiny jet so well matched to those of cruise missiles, that it makes a perfect substitute as a training aid for all branches of the US Armed Forces.

Well known airshow pilot Chuck Lischer of Cameron Park, California died in an accident involving a Smart-1 crash on June 27, 2006. The aircraft crashed into a wooded area short of the runway at the Ocean City Municipal Airport in Ocean City, Maryland. Five days earlier, Lischer had flown three of five sorties over Washington, D.C. in homeland defense exercises testing ground sensors.

Specifications (BD-5B)

General characteristics

  • Crew: One Pilot
  • Length: 12 ft (3.88 m) to 13.5 ft (4.11 m) w/stretch kits
  • Wingspan: 14 ft (4.26 m) to 21 ft 6 in (6.55 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 2 in (1.6 m)
  • Wing area: Depends on wing used (-5A, -5B or -5J)
  • Empty: 358 lb (178 kg) and up
  • Loaded: 700 lb (340 kg) to 1100 lb (530 kg)
  • Maximum demonstrated takeoff weight (turbine): 1100 lb (530 kg)
  • Powerplant: Various reciprocating engines, from Rotax to Turbo Honda; turboprop with modified Solar T62; jet with Microturbo Couguar or TRS-18


  • Maximum speed: 200+ mph (320+ km/h) recip, 300 mph (500 km/h) jet
  • Range: 720+ miles (1,152+ km) recip, 300+ miles (500 km) jet
  • Service ceiling: 12,000 ft (3,658 m) recip, 23,000 ft (7,010 m) jet
  • Rate of climb: 1,900 ft/min (579 m/min) recip, 4,000 ft/min (1,219 m/min) jet
  • Wing loading: Varies depending on wing selected and aircraft weight

See also

External links

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