The BD-5 was designed in 1973, and proved to be an extremely popular aircraft. The BD-5 is small and lightweight, and can be either single seat propeller or jet driven. The jet version is listed in the Guinness book of records as the world's smallest jet. When it was introduced in the early 1970's, it became an immediate international sensation. Before the first prototype flew, the company already had over 800 orders. Altogether, the company has obtained 3,000 orders for the kit version and over 6,000 orders for a fully manufactured version. The airplane is very unique and unlike any other home-built or factory made aircraft. It is a beautiful looking airplane, but more important is a very lovely airplane to fly. It's flying qualities are spectacular. The landing gear is all mechanical and retracts in less than a second. The jet version was used on a variety of jet teams; one sponsored by Bede Aircraft, and one sponsored by Coors. The BD-5 was used in the movie with James Bond called “Octopussy”. The aircraft was available with two different size wings. The BD-5A had a wingspan of 14 ½ feet and the BD-5 B had a wingspan of 21 feet. The BD-5J, the jet model of the aircraft, had a wingspan of 17 feet.
In spite of the fact that the aircraft flew so well, it ran into a serious problem. The engine originally planned for the aircraft was a twin cylinder two cycle engine by Hirth of Germany. Very quickly after Hirth had started delivering engines for the BD-5, it was forced into bankruptcy and could not continue production. Bede Aircraft attempted to find a second source for the engine with a Japanese company called Zenoah. This company thought they could deliver engines within nine months, but it took them over three years to complete. Bede Aircraft was not able to maintain the operation for that long without the engines and had to shut down the design. BedeCorp is now working with what we believe will be an excellent engine for the BD-5. Developed primarily for ultra-light and recently for small home-built aircraft, the HKS -700 is a 60 HP twin cylinder, 4 cycle engine. This engine is currently being used on the BD-17 and BD-17L, with excellent results. Since the engine has a built in gear reduction drive, the belt drive on the original BD-5, can be eliminated. This engine is very reliable, very smooth and very quiet. This engine installation can be incorporated on any BD-5 under construction or can easily retrofit any current engine installation. The specifications are based upon this engine installation. It is hard to explain the fine flying qualities of this little airplane.
Control harmony for the BD-5 is excellent and well balanced. It has an all-mechanical, retractable tricycle landing gear that could be extended or retracted in the blink of an eye. The original BD-5 airframe proved to be very strong and durable, but somewhat complex and difficult to build. The BD-5J, the jet model, has been seen by thousands at various air shows around the country. Unfortunately the engine for that jet aircraft is not available, but the possibility for some new engines under development may be suitable for the BD-5. Now that the BD-5 program is back in development, check the website below for the latest news and updates.