Richard Bach's Comments About Jim Bede and the BD-5

Richard Bach and his BD-5J (Courtesy Steve Kerry)

As some of you may already know, the Bede Jet Corp. has recently gone bankrupt. No one, other than Jim Bede and his creditors, knows for sure the true story behind this, but there are certainly many people out there who for the most part have no idea what they are talking about. and yet feel qualified to take potshots at Jim Bede, basically kicking him when he's down. Steve Kerry, a British citizen, posted this message on rec.aviation.homebuilt a few days ago in response to some of the idiotic bashing of Jim Bede on that newsgroup.

Perhaps this is a good time to remember an article from FLYING magazine, January 1976, titled "The Egg and the Coffin". The author is Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and owner of the world's first privately owned BD-5J. The snip below is part of a 10-page article, recommended reading for anyone interested in the BD-5J.

If I were a country set to build a super-secret black-phantom airplane, one that would make all the world blink and say, O, there is one person on the planet I'd choose to design that airplane and that person is Mr. James R. Bede, of Newton, Kansas. Mr. Bede would design for a while with a napkin and a pencil and with his pocket Univac and then he would say in a very calm voice that he can promise me a machine that will fly at peeds of nearly 6,000 miles per hour, with a range of 20,000 miles, that will build simpler and fly lighter than any phantom-plane ever built and this machine is only going to cost me $379.95 per each. All the other nations of the world would laugh at Jim and me. What a pitiful sight, that poor little country taken in by a smooth promoter. Impossible, and everyone knows it: the man can't deliver an airplane that will fly like that. The other nations would build good, normal aircraft and say impossible, impossible, that Bede fellow. And you know? They would be absolutely right . . . James R. Bede would not be able to deliver what he promised.

What he would deliver, far short of the illusion-machine on the napkin, would be a phantom-plane that would cruise a mere 3,600 mph, with a range of only 8,000 miles, that would cost $4,100 per each, bare, without radios. It would arrive three years late, and it would fly better than any airplane in history. And the other countries would say, "We told you so! Your airplane he built for you is 2,400 miles per hour slower than he said it would be! It doesn't have that unbelievable range, not by a long shot, old fellow, and it is costing you 10 times more than he promised you!"

And I would smile and say, "True. How good are your phantom-planes, other countries?"

They would sigh and say, "About half as good."

My phone would ring then, and why, it's Jim! To sell me a new design that will fly 20,000 miles per hour, 100 miles in the air . . .! I'd know what those words mean, I'd know from those words how the airplane would really fly, and I'd tell him, "Jim, do it."

But should the man ever say to me, "Hi, little country, how about me starting a factory for you? I want to make simple, plain Piper Cubs, on schedule," I'd be forced to stare down at the papers on my desk, not look him in the eye, and say, "Mr. Bede . . . I'm sorry."

The author also comments, "there is a lot of controversy about the promotion and sales of the BD-5 aircraft. The pilot of this plane does not have many facts or answers to give. The airplane itself, however, ranks among the very best flying machines ever built."

Steve Kerry. Yorkshire, UK

Last Update: 7/26/97
Web Author: Juan Jiménez
Copyright © 1997 by Juan Jiménez - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED