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Date: Tue, 17 Jun 1997 23:52:41 -0700
From: Johnny <>
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Jim Bede Bankruptcy

Tailwheel wrote:

> longeze wrote:
> >
> > BBCuda wrote:
> > >
> > > News Flash
> > >
> > > As it appears, Bede Jet will cease to exist as of July 18, 1997 as
> > > determined by the court.  Today, an emergency hearing took place in St.
> > > Louis in the US Bankruptcy courty concerning Jim Bede et al.
> > >
> > > Jim failed to appear which didn't surprise anybody.  Jim was never any
> > > good at taking reponsibility for his own actions or confronting the truth.
> > >  Somebody else is always at fault.  Nevertheless, an agreement was reached
> > > by all counsel, except for Monitor Jet, that resolution be made on all
> > > adversarial matters by exchange of cash between parties so that on July 18
> > > all assets can be auctioned.  Unfortunately for Monitor, their attorney
> > > didn't prevail on any issues.  If Monitor is going to stay in the game,
> > > they will need to come up with a minimum of $570,000.
> > >
> > > As for Jim, he is hiding in Medina, Ohio behind his wife.  Unfortunately
> > > for him, he is not hiding well enough.  In due time, he will lose
> > > everything of value except his dignity which he already gave away some
> > > time ago.
> > >
> > > Until the next hearing or auction
> > It's a sad day indeed when a pioneer of homebuilt aircraft goes bankrupt
> > and the news is reported with such enthusiasm. I feel we could use more
> > like Jim Bede and Burt Rutan in this sport. Mr Bede will be sadly missed
> > by me and I wish him nothing but the best.
> -------------------
> Don't know how you can mention Burt Rutan and Jim Bede as
> contemporaries.  Burt has always delivered what he promised, Bede has
> NEVER delivered.  I don't wish Jim Bede bad fortune, but let's keep
> comparisons on an even keel.

That's simply bullshit.

Jim's designs have delivered, it's his business methods that have
consistently failed. Being someone that has several different designs of
his in my hangar as we speak, and having just about completed a total
ground up restoration on my BD-1, as well as assisted in several others,
including an AA-5 that most would have considered totalled, most of my
A&P shop time has been accumulated on AA-* series aircraft, and also
being closely associated with Airmods N.W. (developers of STC's for AA-*
series aircraft, and specializing in overhauls of same), and being and
AYA member and going to the conventions where I have spoken with
hundreds of BD owners, not to mention the fact that I have a couple new
designs of my own in the works that borrow (ok, steal) on Jims
construction techniques, and having logged the bulk of my piloting time
in one BD design or another, I think I might have a little bit of a clue
when I say to you that Jims designs for the most part do what they say.
And most people that have them, and fly them, would have it no other
way. Sure, there are some things that have been improved on as time has
gone by, but that's always the way it is. They are fast and efficient,
as well as being cheap to buy, cheap to operate, and cheap to own.

I am more than a just a little familiar with his history as an engineer
from the time he got his degree in engineering back in '58, to his brief
2 year stint with North American, on to Bede Aircraft, through all of
his designs from the XBD-2, BD-1, -2, -4, -5, -6, -7, the ill fated -10,
-12 and what would have been the -14. For the most part, those airplanes
have done what they are supposed to do.

It's his claims for projected kit prices and completion dates that have
mostly been bogus. But he did deliver a hell of a lot of BD-4's before
the -5 sunk the company. He's probably one of the worst managers out
there, and maybe one of the best salesman. I know he's left a bad taste
in a lot of empty mouths out there, but to say that he has never
delivered is total bullshit and just a plain ass cheap shot to someone
that is on the way down and out. If he never delivered, where the hell
did all of the airplanes sitting in my hangar come from?

If he was the chief engineer in a company that had someone else with
some business sense calling the shots, his airplanes may have become
even more popular and successfull than they are already. A good example
of this is the thousands of American Aviation / Grumman American
airplanes out there flying. They did pretty well with his design once
they got him out of there so he couldn't screw up the company.

Take a look at how successful the BD-4 is. Here is a plane that for the
most part brought us the kit aircraft. Before 1969, to build a homebuilt
aircraft from complete kit, including the nuts and bolts, was unheard
of. Not just a raw materials kit, but a kit with preformed metal parts,
premolded glass parts, and a very good set of full size templates/plans
and a book to boot. Even a company newsletter to help support builders
after the sale. We take all of these things for granted in a kit today,
but before the -4 it was just not done, not to that extent.

He pioneered design and construction techniques that no one else even
thought of. And then had enough poop to take his design dreams all the
way to flying metal, which is a lot more than most in this group have
ever done, including myself (but I am working hard to remedy that).

To say that he was less than one of the most inovative and influential
designers in modern homebuilt aircraft times is a petty ploy coming from
a small "what have you done for me lately" mind. Who else but Jim would
think of using a heavy duty zipper as a sliding canopy latch on a GA

I bet you haven't even flown a Bede, let alone had one of your own. I
know you have never built one or worked on one or else you would never
have said that he has never delivered, because you would have known

He may be washed up in the aircraft business, and I am not saying that
is a bad thing, but his designs and his design influences will go on for
as long as there are people out there that want to go fast, simply and

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some 6 inch dia pipe to cut (no, I
don't expect you to get it).

aviation just became a little more boring

Goodbye Jim


Date: Fri, 27 Jun 1997 00:56:48 -0700
From: Johnny <>
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: "Out of the Box" Bede Design Review <long> (was: New BD-5 Kits)

Richard Riley wrote:

> On Mon, 23 Jun 1997 06:34:55 -0400, in
> <>, (Bruce R.
> Albert) wrote:
> >......And there was a BD-5 project at the Sun&Fun Flymarket with a sign on it
> >begging someone to steal it!  I didn't even THINK about it, and apparently a
> >lot of other people didn't either!
> >
> >Looking for a somewhat better bag of snakes,
> >
> >                             Bruce Albert
> I know of 2 completed BD-5's that are perfectly safe.  They're being
> used as windsocks.
> (No one's answered me yet - did the BD-4 undergo significant re-design
> before it became successful, or did JB get one right out of the box?)
> --

I don't know if the term "significant re-design" is really accurate. To
briefly review the designs:

XBD-2 (twin engine, common prop shaft, shrouded prop, pusher):
was as far as I know a Jim only design... meaning he didn't hire anyone
else to "save" it. Was a study in boundary layer control. Wonder where
it is now?

was changed by Russ and the gang for certification, but I wouldn't call
the changes to BD-1 prior to certification as AA-1 significant really.
Some of the mods to come along later on were more significant, and also
wrong IMO. The STC's done later on by others for speed and appearance
were much more significant.

As far as I know (and I'm sure I will be corrected here), Russ's camp
changed the following:
Added the big wing tips to increase wing area; removed some flap area
and added some aileron area, mostly for looks I think as they didn't
need more roll rate and could have used the bigger flaps (big mistake I
think); changed the canopy system for certification by going to a new
slider and different latching arangement (I guess you can't just use
furniture hardware on a certified aircraft); changed some of the
interior stuff; fuel system changes... mostly stuff that seperates a lot
of homebuilts from certified crap, but left the really major stuff
alone. Like, same engine; same airfoil (until they tried to sell it as a
trainer to compete with the C-150, another mistake, duh... what's a
sport plane); same wing construction and design with the exception of
the wing tips; same tube inside a tube torque tube control system; same
bonded, rivetless construction; same aluminum honeycomb box cockpit
area; same "all three the same" tail feathers (until way later in the -C
model, which I think was yet another mistake); same aft control
surfaces; same fiberglass landing gear legs; same length; same moments;
same low parts count.

With the -A model came the new airfoil, in the hopes they could sell it
as a trainer, which was stupid. They only reduced the stall speed by a
couple miles per hour and reduced the top speed by more. It still had a
really good hard stall. The new airfoil moved the "center of lift"
forward, but they neglected to change the CG spec, so they made an
already tail weight sensitive design, more tail heavy. If you load one
to gross, on the aft limit of the chart, it will hunt in pitch. The
early wing doesn't do that unless you are beyond the aft limit.

With the -C model they went to a huge horizontal trying to get spin
approval, which it still didn't meet, and why should it? It's not an
aerobat or a spin trainer, it's a sport plane. They took a design that
by certified standards was already pitch sensitive (docile compared to
most sport homebuilts), and increased the elevator area by a lot... ya,
that's a real brainer huh? All they did was add more and more weight
with each "improvement", until they had to increase the gross weight, by
simply changing the numbers and nothing else, but it didn't increase
payload at all. They continued to reduce the number of "like" parts on
the aircraft, which increased the cost to beyond that of the trainers
they were wrongly trying to compete with in the first place.

I have flown several copies of all of the AA-1 and AA-1* models, and to
me, the first one is by far the best flyer, with the performance
deteriorating the farther along you go in "re-design" and "improvement".
The changes were misguided by trying to target the trainer market, and
were not aerodynamic improvements, nor where they needed.

As far as I know, this was a design exercise for Jim. Doubtful that he
hired this one out. He took it to completion and flew it himself to 3
world endurance records in 10/69. Non-stop, without refueling, to a
closed course record distance of 8,974 miles in 70hrs 15min. I don't
think anyone was there along the way to "save" the design from disaster.
This record setting design in itself is quite an accomplishment, at
least I think so. If you know who he hired to "fix" the "design flaws"
here, please post the info. Regardless of whether it was "out of the
box" perfect or not, it was developed until it did what it was suppose
to. The records speak for themselves.

Introduced in fall of 1968, this airplane could be described as a BD-1,
with the wing moved to the top, and a small rear seat added where the
luggage area used to be. Metal bonding and honeycomb was ditched in
favor of something that could be done in your garage. Bolt together
aluminum angle (erector set) construction lent itself to being great for
builder modifications. Mine is the only one I have ever seen that was
built bone stock (but it's not even close anymore). Other engineers were
hired on this one, but as far as I know, Jim had the final call on the
design, and it shows. It has "Simple Jim" written all over it. As with
most designs, flutter analysis was farmed out, but I don't know to who.

There were a couple somewhat major problems found in testing early on.
One was the spar attachment to the cabin... it wasn't strong enough,
another was the landing gear boxes, again, not beefy enough. The company
issued what were called "Design Improvments", or "DI's". Like a SB or an
AD on a certified plane, but put out by the company because they wanted
to, not because the feds made them. And to go a little farther, the feds
were kept in the loop so that inspectors could make sure that "required"
DI's were complied with. Serious ones, like the spar attachment, were
accompanied by materials to make the fix (if you had purchased a kit).
All of the DI's had complete full size drawings as well as updates to
the builder manual. I have all of the DI's for the BD-4 here in a huge

The thing of note here is not that there were improvments needed and
made to the design, but the fact that they were indeed made and the
builders were kept in the loop. These kinds of engineering changes are
always going to be needed when you design to the bare minimum, then
test, then make it stronger where it bent. As far as I know, Jim didn't
keep potential builders waiting until testing was completed, but as
corrections were made, the builders were kept informed, until the
company went down with the BD-5.

As a small side note, most good designs are designed this way. If you
look inside a Glastar wing for example, you will see where they added
some scraps of metal to the design because they didn't like the way the
wing skin buckled and flopped around during the test flying of the
prototype. If you design beyond the bare minimum, you have added weight
where you don't need it.

Along the way, there were other design changes made mostly by various
builders, which spread through the various newsletters and other
publications. Some were just enhancements to the looks of the airplane,
some were functional helpers like the way the cowling opened, but for
the most part, they are all the same basic "Simple Jim" airplane.

Oh, almost forgot, the vertical got larger on the prototype about a year
into the design. I guess it was a chore to keep the ball centered with
the original vertical. There were also changes to the rudder to match
the new vertical. Companies that have a bank account can afford to fly
around for a year and figure this stuff out before they sell kits, like
the size increase on the Glastar vertical for example... or I guess it
was both the vertical and the horizontal on that design wasn't it. Most
new homebuilt kit companies can't afford to fly around for a year
without taking in some money. It used to be fairly common for a designer
to come up with a preliminary design, then see if anyone wanted to buy
one, then use that money to develope the design. When you buy a design
that isn't flying yet, you are buying stock in a potential aircraft
company, and that is all you are buying. It's always been that way,
hasn't it?

BD-4 overall "out of the box" rating: Pretty close. One or two
significant structural changes, one or two aerodynamic changes. I only
wish most of the other stuff I own was as good "out of the box".

As far as I know, Rutan got the honors of setting up the incidences,
control surface sizing and throws, CG loading fine tuning, and some tail
feather changes. That is what I have heard from some of those involved.
I wasn't there, and I don't have a copy of this airplane in my personal
Bede museum, yet. So I can't say for sure who did what on the design.

Big zero here was that the engine that was suppose to be, never was.
Makes it hard to finalize the design when you don't have a known
powerplant to work with in the prototype stage. When you have to stuff
another engine (pick one), into a pusher design, that is heavier than
the one that never was, you are going to have to make some pretty major
changes to get the thing to fly right.

There are still a few out there with the "A" wing. There are also other
designs that land at 100mph. Granted, most of them have more than a 4
foot wheelbase, but some of us don't like to ride with a helmet on

"B" wing brings it into a more reasonable loading and speed range.
Mostly needed due to higher than spec gross weights, brought on mostly
by engine weight increase. I would not say that the design was ever
really finalized, due to the fact that the target engine never happened
and that the company folded before it could fully develope, or deliver
the airplane. Lots of development has taken place since then by builders
that needed to figure out various solutions to unsolved design issues,
especially relating to powerplant intallation and gross weight

"Out of the box" rating: It was never really in a box. The package was
never finalized as it was initially intended to be. Basic shape,
structure and contruction methods have been the basis for ongoing
development and completion by builders that wanted to have one to fly,
and did what it took to get it there.

If you know anyone that wants to get rid of theirs, I will give it a
good home with it's cousins. I have no beef with taking something that
isn't complete or perfect and making it such. I enjoy it. It's fun. It's
what I do.

If you have first hand experience (that means you were actually there
back then when it happened) about who it was that "saved" the BD-5
design from disaster, and what exactly it was that they did while
employed by Jim to do so, please post the details here. I would love to
hear about it from the person that took over the design and made it
"work" while working for Jim at Bede Aircraft Corp.

To sum up how good they were "out of the box", I would say that there
isn't much difference from most other designs that are in the prototype
stage, other than the fact that Jim let people have them before they
were fully developed. Kinda like Beta software. Some people like to have
it before it is ready for prime time, just because they want the newest,
most different, fresh, first, or whatever they see in it. This same
concept disturbes other people that expect everything to be perfect and
working before they get it. I think just about all of the software I use
is in one stage of development or another... same with the airplanes I
am working on.

What do Beta software and aircraft development have in common?


As long as I can get what I want out of it without too many crashes, it
works for me.  ;)

-j- (is an aircraft design ever really final?)

From: Craig Wall <>
Subject: Re: Jim Bede Personal Bankruptcy
Date: 25 Sep 1998
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt

Dave Sutton wrote:

    Bede has made a living getting people excited about vapor-planes

> that rarely perform up to spec (if in fact they perform -at all- without
> killing people)and then running with whatever cash is left over. .

   Mmmm...Dave, I have no arguments about buying warbirds versus building
homebuilt jets (in fact I just joined CJAA myself, and my buddy and I are
looking for a T-33), but I must come to Jim Bede's defense here.

   Bede is not the mercenary people think he is.  He's a talented designer of
"almost" airplanes.

   He's a sincere guy who can't be stopped from going forward when the more
prudent stop short. He's an inveterate optimist, thinking he can solve
problems during testing, and builds before he should.  That's it.  He, like
many of us, simply find it difficult to hold an entire design in his head at
one time, and is always getting snakebit when the engine doesn't perform as
advertised, or there's, alas, not room for the landing gear, etc...

  I mean, he's not hopeless, the BD-4 is a good design.  Rutan straightened
out the BD-5, even if it was a stretch in the first place. And the BD-1, of
course, is now the Grumman American- which, in my mind, is the classic BD
airplane. Too bad Leeon Davis did it better, but there 'ya go.

  When he runs with the money, believe me- it ain't the folding kind.

   Bede is a real guy who is constantly overreaching himself. He's not a
ripoff artist, not really; it just seems that way when his latest project
folds.  What makes him different is that he always comes back.  I'd say he's
the Nixon of aviation, but I'm not sure who that would be insulting more...

  So please- he's more deserving of a sigh and a groan than a lynching, though
some would disagree, I know.

   Craig Wall


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