View Full Version : What was this whistling mini-jet?

20th Feb 2012, 20:39
Just had my collection of 35mm Kodachrome transparancies scanned to DVD and came across this photo of a tiny jet that appreared at Farnborough in the late 1970's.

I don't remember it's name or what happened to it, but doubtless someone will know.

Any clues please?


20th Feb 2012, 20:43
Bede BD5J I think; but I'm sure someone will come up with the definitive answer.

Brian Abraham
20th Feb 2012, 21:00
You got it in one Herod.

The BD-5 Web Site (http://www.bd5.com/)

David Eyre
21st Feb 2012, 00:07
The aircraft was registered F-WZAV (cn 5J-0005) and appeared at the Farnborough Air Show in September 1976 - some more photos of it at Farnborough here:

F-WZAV BD-5J | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/caz_pix/5192440115/)

Bede BD-5J - Large Preview - AirTeamImages.com (http://www.airteamimages.com/big42389.html)

Aircraft F-WZAV (Bede BD-5J C/N 5J-0005) Photo by moxy (Photo ID: AC274954) (http://www.airport-data.com/aircraft/photo/274954.html)

The UK CAA banned the BD-5 due to high accident rates in the USA.

F-WZAV was still flying in 1984, in a different paint scheme:
Photo Private BD 5J F-WZAV (http://www.planepictures.net/netshow.php?id=494521)

There is some debate about its construction number - some report it as 5J-0005, others as 5J-0004. Another website (LS 1/72 BD-5J (http://robdebie.home.xs4all.nl/models/bd5.htm)) reports the following:

F-WZAV: entered in French register May 1976, Microturbo (France) owned. Formerly N501AE and N150BD (see there), reportedly cn 5J-0004. Presented at the SBAC Farnborough show in September 1976, with a red-white-blue scheme, flown by Airbus test pilot Pierre Baud. The Farnborough appearance was sponsored by the US company Ames Industrial Corporation, the American subsidiary of Microturbo, and the UK agent for Microturbo. In some photos it does not carry the French registration, but 'MJ90' on the left side of the cockpit. MJ90 (Micro Jet 90, no idea what the 90 stands for) was the designation Ames wanted to use for the BD-5J, the rights of which it had taken over from Bede Aircraft, following a lawsuit following the crash of N5BD with an Air Force colonel at the controls. The aircraft was also noted at the 32nd Salon at Le Bourget in June 1977. Stored later that year by Microturbo. After three years of work and the installation of a TRS18-046 by Microturbo, it was flown again on 7 June 1982 by Jean-Marie Saget, chief test pilot of Avions Marcel Dassault (he flew the Alpha Jet and Mirage 4000). It was owned by the aeroclub 'Cercle Aeronautique Marcel Dassault' (CAMD). A 'Cercle Aeronautique' is an association which takes the name of a man in homage, in this case Marcel Dassault, but it has no official links with the Dassault factory. It was painted in white overall with light and dark blue stripes on the fuselage and wings, described as the colors of Jean-Marie Saget. Further markings are '-BD5J-CAMD-' under the cockpit and '-TRS18-MICROTURBO-' on the rear fuselage. It made a hard landing in 1984/1985 and required extensive structural repairs of (at least) the fuselage. These were not performed, and instead the aircraft was donated to a aeronautical college near Aix en Provence. It was later sold to M. Muller, who plans a rebuild, but confirmed that the fuselage is beyond economical repair. It has been reported that the aircraft was reregistered F-BZAV at some point (F-Wxxx is for prototypes, after receiving a certificate it is re-registered), but this very likely never materialised.

F-BZAV: formerly F-WZAV, see above. Situation is not clear on this registration, and most likely it was never actually used. Listed in this (unofficial) French 2002 register (no longer online but accessed through the Wayback Machine), with c/n 50005 instead of 5J-0004 (see above). Reportedly owned by Chris Esquirrol (spelling not sure). The official French registry has no F-BZAV listed, only a pencil-written entry that the registration was reserved on 21 March 1976 for a BD-5J with cn 5-0005.

N501AE: built by Aeronca (hence AE in the registration) in preparation of a proposal to manufacture the aircraft in series. Incomplete set of parts provided by Bede. Engine installed by Microturbo. Because of legal problems of Bede Aircraft and possible liability of Aeronca, the management did not want to get involved, and the aircraft was registered as a 'Hollenbaugh-Murphy BD-5J' in September 1975 (Bob Hollenbaugh is confirmed as an Aeronca engineer). The plane only made high-speed taxi tests and was not flown, again because of fears of liability. Transferred to Bede Aircraft, paying around 10,000 US$ for expenses made. All links to Aeronca were removed (papers, registration), and almost certainly re-registered as N150BD (see there).

N150BD: cn 5J-0005. Not 100% sure, but almost certainly formerly N501AE (see there). Bob Bishop flew it while at Bede. It went to France as F-WZAV (see there) in 1976. At the time Bede was in a legal dispute with Microturbo about unpaid engines, but this was likely settled by turning over N150BD. N99775 was originally intended, but crashed during tests.


21st Feb 2012, 00:39
007 Octopussy - Acrostar Jet scene with James Bond theme's Pfeiffer Bros - YouTube

PZU - Out of Africa (Retired)

21st Feb 2012, 05:12
I see a couple of Whirlwinds and an Argosy.

According to Wiki the airfield sequences were filmed at RAF Northolt, RAF Upper Heyford and RAF Oakley.

Any idea what the aircraft is inside the hangar that looks like a mini F101?

21st Feb 2012, 11:00
Pierre Baud flew both the BD5J and the A300 in the airshow ie smallest and largest aircraft. He originally wanted to fly them consecutively but the Flying Control Committee decided it would not be a good idea.

21st Feb 2012, 15:28
That was Corky Fornof doing the flying in the Octopussy clip. Later in the film, the plot reproduced--and Corky re-flew--an event that actually happened to him. He described it to me in amusing detail a few years ago.

En route from South Carolina (maybe North Carolina, don't remember) to DC in the BD-5J, he lost all oil pressure while IFR on top. Shut the engine down and got vectors from ATC to an area where the undercast broke up and an Interstate highway might be visible.

Corky picked up the Interstate, dead-sticked onto it, rolled out and took the (convenient) next exit, rolled down the exit ramp and used the last of his energy to roll into a gas station and up to the pumps, actually setting off the rubber ding-ding hose that signaled a mechanic to come out and service a customer (at least in those days).

Corky told me that when he was about to actually touch down, he came abeam a pickup truck and with hand signals motioned to the driver to back off so that he could land ahead of him. Acting as though this sort of thing happened to him every day, the driver obediently decelerated.

Genghis the Engineer
21st Feb 2012, 16:19
The BD5 is banned from any flight on the "G" register, on the grounds that about 50% of all BD5s ever built have had a fatal accident. Not an entirely unreasonable basis for banning.


21st Feb 2012, 17:50
Never saw a piston BD5 although it was rumoured several kits were imported to the UK. Engine was primarily an air cooled 2 or 3 cyl 2-stroke, but many american builders apparently used an adapted water cooled 1.2l Honda Civic engine.
Residual thrust was quite high with the jet engine hence an attenuator (not quite a thrust reverser) was fitted and it was the premature deployment of this (in the air) which is reported to have caused the accident while being flown by the USAF Colonel.
Pierre seemed to use most of the runway (2400m) to take off at Farnborough; his display was from a 'flying start'. During trade day static displays in the mornings, SBAC parked the BD 5J in front of one of the A300's engines.

Agaricus bisporus
21st Feb 2012, 22:05
iirc Richard Bach, who was a pretty experienced aviator, described the BD5J as the only aeroplane he'd ever flown that was more dangerous on take-off than on landing. This was due I think to the high stall speed, nasty stall characteristics, low thrust and low inertia which made for poor acceleration plus pitch attitude having a big effect on airspeed, ie a tiny bit too much nose up while struggling for speed and altitude and it's stall spin crash burn die.

21st Feb 2012, 22:28
There is a BD5, EI-DNN, based at Waterford Airport

22nd Feb 2012, 00:48
I seem to recall Jim Bede designed 3 different lengths of wing for the piston BD 5, plus a glider version with the longest wingspan, the BD 5J having the shortest.

22nd Feb 2012, 08:24
According to G-INFO no less than 16 Bede 5s (presumably all piston) have been registered in the UK, presumably none had ever flown - I've certainly never seen one (or even a Bede 4 in the UK).

There is one still "current" with a guy in Beckenham - wonder if he is proceeeding with his build or if the CAA have overlooked it during their regular clearouts?

22nd Feb 2012, 08:44
UK Pilot magazine sometime in 2007 for a BD5 (prop) in Australia. Unfortunately I don't have the edition any more. I do remember that it was a good read.


I sat in one at the Western Museum of Flight at Torrance California.
At 6ft and 200lbs I could just squeeze into it but couldnt close the canopy :O

It was like sitting in a model aircraft and made a Pitts S1 seem huge !

Some PPRuNe archive related stuff
BD5 Jet Crash [Archive] - PPRuNe Forums (http://www.pprune.org/archive/index.php/t-276855.html)

22nd Feb 2012, 10:05
Photographed this one flying in May, 2010.....


at Rougham LMA :E

India Four Two
22nd Feb 2012, 16:55
I sat in one at the Western Museum of Flight at Torrance California.
At 6ft and 200lbs I could just squeeze into it but couldnt close the canopy http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/src:www.pprune.org/get/images/smilies/embarass.gif

It was like sitting in a model aircraft and made a Pitts S1 seem huge !

I was there last July and I agree. This was the first BD5 I had ever seen. I had always assumed that the cockpit would be like a typical single-seat glider, but it is much smaller. I don't think I could have fitted into it even in the days of my youth. ;)

And after having read about the horrendous accident rate, I don't think I would want to!



22nd Feb 2012, 19:16
Any idea what the aircraft is inside the hangar that looks like a mini F101? According to the internet, it's just a Hollywood prop. With no guts and no rear end, they canvassed the back end to mimic a fuselage and tail to look like it's under cover...

http://img607.imageshack.us/img607/401/1003shottoremember09jpg.jpg (http://img607.imageshack.us/i/1003shottoremember09jpg.jpg/)

http://img441.imageshack.us/img441/5184/wwwppruneorgscreencaptu.png (http://img441.imageshack.us/i/wwwppruneorgscreencaptu.png/)

22nd Feb 2012, 19:39
There is an article on the production version (the BD-5B) in the October 1973 issue of Sports Planes. In it, Mr Bede implores every aviation-minded individual who wants one to hand over $400 before April 1 1974 to secure their aircraft and determine the final price.

Here was the breakdown of the final pricing based on some very large production runs...

http://img43.imageshack.us/img43/2453/img461x.jpg (http://img43.imageshack.us/i/img461x.jpg/)

22nd Feb 2012, 20:38
I sat in a BD 5 at Farnborough, but it wasn't the 5J as it was being exhibited on the 'terraces'. I vaguely recollect it was a demonstrator for a company distributing the kits.
I'm just under 6ft and was about 13st at the time and it was no problem for me to fit in and shut the canopy, although a colleague a couple of inches taller couldn't do so. It struck me that the sidestick was a 'natural' form of control, and 10 years later my ownership of a Monnet Moni confimed this, the Moni cockpit being similar in size to the BD5s.

23rd Feb 2012, 06:04
@ India Four Two - thats the one. Some very interesting exhibits in there and outside.

I'm just under 6ft and was about 13st at the time and it was no problem for me to fit in and shut the canopy

You must have been a ballet dancer then. I played rugby :ok:

23rd Feb 2012, 11:09
I was involved to a small degree with a BA captain - an experienced home builder - who bought the bd5 kit. Unfortunately Jim Bede was unable to obtain a suitable engine - the first engine was a 60bhp Hirth snowmobile engine which was unreliable and had a very short life. It was cancelled and an American outgoard motor company agreed to produce an engine but after a while this was also cancelled.The Japanese Xenoah company then produced a beautiful 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine but the Japanese airworthiness authority decided it had to have a type certificate which then made it too expensive after which I think Bede just ran out of money.The kits themselves were very well produced,the fuselage pressings were impressive. It was certainly not an aircraft for the amateur to fly,high wing loading with what appeared to me to be a supercritical wing section must have made the stall characteristics a bit vicious.I saw the 5J fly at Farnborough and it certainly had a long t/o run but once airborne I think due to the small size looked spectacularly fast. I last saw the BA captains aircraft hanging in the roof of his garage -he was attempting to convert it to a front engine.

Agaricus bisporus
24th Feb 2012, 08:58
istr hearing the same engine troubles with the piston version and that the original honda civic engine was just too heavy. Weren't there also problems with reduction gearng - not a well developed science in aircraft like it is now - and especially the long driveshaft as the engine and prop were two feet or more apart - sounds like an engineering nightmare in any production machine, let alone a homebuilt.
Yet another triumph of hope/hype over reality in the homebuilt world I fear, and once again a lot of people lost their shirts. Those cost "promises" published by Bede look especially questionable in terms of achieveability and, frankly, smell to me of snake-oil. My recollection at the time (even as a schoolboy) was that he was promising the earth (for the kits) on the basis of something that wasn't in yet production and no one had actually tried yet. There didn't seem to be much substance to back up reams of extravagant promises.
But I wonder how it would fare with a modern Rotax or similar?

24th Feb 2012, 11:24
As an editor of Flying Magazine at the time the BD-5 was being promoted, I was fairly familiar with the program. In fact, I remember traveling to Bede's Newton, Kansas factory and meeting a young Bede engineer named Rutan--Burt Rutan. He took me flying in his own homebuilt, the VariViggen. I was half-terrified, it being the first homemade airplane I'd ever been in. (Little did I know that years later, I'd go on to myself build a Falco.)

One of Jim Bede's main flaws was that he was using deposits and payments for kit parts to fund the development of those kits. Though I have to say, Jim was a delightful man--impossible to dislike (unless you'd sent him $5,000 and never saw a thing for it).

Lightning Mate
24th Feb 2012, 16:53
appeared to me to be a supercritical wing section must have made the stall characteristics a bit vicious

It was not a supercritical section to the best of my knowledge - far too small a wing.

In any case, supercrits do not have vicious stall characteristics.

26th Feb 2012, 18:18
Then there was Molt Taylor's Mini-Imp...


Home (http://www.mini-imp.com/)

I remember there being one at Biggin in the 1980's; think Neil Williams test flew it, but the builder was too heavy to get it airbourne!

Found it!! Built by Bill Wilks...

GINFO Registration History | Aircraft Register | Safety Regulation (http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=60&pagetype=65&appid=1&mode=reg&fullregmark=BLWW)

G-BLWW Taylor Mini-Imp C

Photo from North West Air news...

26th Feb 2012, 20:02
Neil Williams couldn't have test flown the Mini-Imp as he was no longer with us by then - Bill Wilks also built a P-51 replica G-BEFU, which I recall seeing in the Tiger Club hangar at Redhill in the late 1970s - maybe Williams test flew that?

India Four Two
27th Feb 2012, 04:50
Then there was Molt Taylor's Mini-Imp...

By a lovely serendipitous thread convergence, the BD-5 at the Western Museum of Flight has this hanging over it:


The gear is not retractable and the empennage is inverted compared to the retractable model. I think I remember that the display placard said it was the prototype.

27th Feb 2012, 05:06
In 1971 I did an FAA IR with an American friend who was a F-111 pilot at Upper Heyford. He acquired a BD-5 kit, and I suggested he register it G-BALL, as his name was Gary Ball. He did this. According to the UK register it now belongs to John Turner in Ascot, UK.
Has anyone details of that aircraft (C/N 206)?


27th Feb 2012, 05:23
Here is a pic of mine.