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Fri, Jul 10, 2015

Gone West: Jim Bede

Kitplane Designer Perhaps Best Known For The BD-5

One of the icons of the homebuilding community has Gone West. The Bede company said in a notice posted on its website that Jim Bede passed away July 9, 2015 as a result of an unrecoverable aneurysm suffered at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.

“Jim, a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend, and a beloved member of the aviation community, was surrounded by his wife, children and his grandchildren,” according to the notice on the site.

Bede's was an early pioneer of aircraft kits, and perhaps his best-know airplane was the BD-5, which drew a lot of attention but suffered from integration issues with its engine and drive train. Only a few were completed, though according to Kitplane magazine, there were thousands of deposits placed for the kits.

The jet version ... the BD-5J ... can still be seen occasionally at air shows, and often appeared in movies, notably one James Bond film.

But Bede created other designs as well. The high-wing BD-4 has been popular, and kits and parts are still available. Bede also designed the BD-1, the airplane that would eventually become the AA-1 Yankee. The airplane's rivetless bonded skin design was very innovative in the days before composite airplanes, and the BD-1 eventually grew into the Grumman American line of 2- and 4-place airplanes that can still be found flying today.

The company says that in Jim's honor, on August 1, 2015, the Lorain County Regional Airport (KLPR) will be hosting a Jim Bede Memorial Fly-In.  More details will be posted on the website.

(Images from file)

FMI: www.jimbede.com


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