This film, titled “Pieces of a Dream” (:13) is about the Bede BD-5 micro. The company did unfortunately go bankrupt in the 1970’s and just a few kit versions of the aircraft were actually completed. Bede produced a series of small compact aircraft in the 1960’s and the kit version was created in order for a customer to fly a plane that was less expensive than a car (:28). Classified as a bargain based plane (:47), it cost only a little more than $2,000! Construction was only to require simple tools found in one’s basement.
The BD-5 was created by Jim Bede, longtime flyer (1:33), and his work staff. Before the micro plane would even fly, computer systems in Newton, Kansas would inform the staff what it would and would not be able to do (2:08). The craft is 13.3 feet long and 5 feet wide (2:29) with a wingspan of 14 ⅓ feet. The BD-5 had the ability to cruise over 1000 miles (2:36) and reach speeds over 200 mph with a 40 horsepower engine that required as little as 400 feet for a runway to take off (2:44). It’s stall speed was 60 mph.
These ‘peices of a dream’ included materials such as fuselage, tail, wings, engine, bolts, exhaust, propeller, compass and more (3:56). The dream was to not only give anyone with general flight knowledge the ability to fly but also to leave room for personal experimentation (6:07). For a single builder it would require several hundred hours to construct (6:12) and with only minor welding involved (6:21). It was meant essentially to go from box to sky as basic structures were preformed (6:33).
Franchised dealers were placed all around the country to ensure the builders would never be wanting of assistance or help (8:16). In addition mock-ups were available and such precision was used in creation that parts became interchangeable; even between you and a fellow purchaser (9:37). On the occasion the builder did need more parts, they would be readily available for delivery in Newton, Kansas and each dealer had a direct line.
The plane was to be easily operated due to the extensive testing similar to that of military crafts (11:38). An innovation applied to the BD-5 was the ability of the tail to operate as an elevator (11:52).
Pre flight checks were meant to be similar to the plane itself- simple and short (12:02). Director of development, Burt Rutan says of the plane “has been designed and tested to certified aircraft standards..” (12:35). A test pilot describes the control (13:24) in that it “comes off gently so there is no problem holding it right where you want it.”
The question “Will it fly?” is posed and we see Jim Bede demonstrating that even a screw driver will fly with the proper engine (14:55). The film ends with the ‘dream’ flying over patches of land (15:34) and followed by the credit screen. It was produced by Nashbar Associates for Bede Aircraft Corporations in Newton, Kansas.
Bede Aircraft Corporation was founded by controversial aeronautical engineer Jim Bede in 1961 to produce the BD-1 kit aircraft, which eventually became the American Aviation Corporation’s AA-1. The company also created and produced a number of advanced kit planes including the famous Bede BD-5 (pusher propeller driven) and BD-5J (turbojet driven). The BD-5J has held the Guinness record as the World’s Smallest Jet Aircraft for more than a quarter century. Versions of it saw use in various Budweiser commercials (the Bud Light Jet, which was lost in an inflight fire and crash unrelated to airshow work). The tiny jet also appeared in two James Bond movies; Octopussy starring Sir Roger Moore, and later in a cameo appearance, hanging from the wall of Q’s workshop in Die Another Day starring Pierce Brosnan as Agent 007.
A later design, the BD-10 powered by the same engine (GE J-85) used on Lear Jet business jets, claimed to be the first supersonic personal jet built from a kit. Five examples were built in total and three of these crashed. Only two examples remain, both unflyable. The second aircraft was built at the Peregrine Aircraft Company in Minden Nevada. During a flight Test at Douglas County Airport, the aircraft far exceeded the maximum safe flight test speed, and broke up inflight, killing pilot Mike VanWagonen. It was estimated that this aircraft experienced catastrophic vertical stabilizer failure, due to the excess speed during the flight. None of them ever broke the sound barrier. This aircraft was featured on the cover of Aviation Week in June 1994, with a full pilots report.
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