<pic: head-on view of prototype BD-5>
<Caption: The first head-on picture of the BD-5 ever published. This illustrates the extremely small frontal area of the aircraft. As a good comparison, the BD-5's frontal area is just about half that of a Cassutt Racer, which is another good reason for the "5's" performance.>
The BD-5 flight test program is now in high gear. It is an easy thing to say that an aircraft is undergoing flight tests. In some ways when a person designs and builds his own little homebuilt, and he goes out to put on some flying hours, he can easily say that he is doing flight test work. This can simply mean that he takes the airplane up, flies it around, enjoys the scenery, shoots a lot of touch-and-go landings to where he is pretty sharp, and maybe does a few stalls, levels the aircraft out and goes to full throttle to see what its top speed would be. After putting in fifty or one hundred hours, you might hear the remark that the aircraft has been completely "proven out."
Maybe for some designs this is OK. But in reality the "test pilot" has only explored a very narrow region to which that airplane could be subjected in flight. For example, the change in the center of gravity of the aircraft can easily occur for different loading conditions and this has a definite effect on how the airplane handles. Exact engine performance on hot days, cold days, with carburetor heat on, with it off, at steep angle of climb, and for different carburetor air inlet conditions you also have a pronounced effect on the aircraft's performance.
Most of the time (and this is true for factory aircraft), the basic controls of the aircraft are never modified from an original concept to the final or production design. Therefore, exactly how the airplane handles for elevator responses or aileron deflection at high speeds is simply just the way it comes out. It is simply written off as a characteristic of the airplane. Only in a few cases where handling characteristics truly become dangerous is there a crash program undertaken to correct the problem.
In the development of military aircraft, on the other hand, the science of flight tests for perfecting an aircraft's handling qualities has been developed to a fine degree. In these cases a new aircraft is put through very extensive flight evaluation tests, and the results thoroughly studied. Very sophisticated instrumentation and telemetering is used to gather extensive engineering information. The end result is that the aircraft could have excellent handling qualities, and the exact performance under any configuration is thoroughly known. The BD-5 is going through this type of program. We do not have the complicated telemetering instrumentation, nor a lot of sophisticated in-flight measuring equipment, but the BD-5 is, of course, considerably simpler and far less complicated than a modern military aircraft.
There are many relatively simple ways of collecting important engineering information without a huge investment in equipment. But the planning of each flight, the preparation of the aircraft, the actual flying, the data collection and the data reduction takes a proper crew, and it takes time. With Mr. Burt Rutan being assigned as Director of Development Tests, our program moves into high gear and we will be able to do the job in a first class manner. As we mentioned in an earlier newsletter, Burt was stationed at Edwards Air Force Base on the F-4 and F-15 programs, doing exactly what we refer to above. The first all-metal BD-5 is near completion. The second aircraft is not far behind. We will also complete a third aircraft and we will use all three for the complete flight test program.
We have three milestones to accomplish. The first is when we have completed the basic flight test program to where we know the overall design is complete. At this point, we will clear the aircraft for delivery to customers. In other words, shipments will begin. Approximately a month and one half to two months later we will have completed enough high speed tests and preliminary spin tests as well as performing maneuvers up to 80% of design load factors. At this point, we will give an OK for customers to fly their aircraft for full operation. At this point we will have completed all spin tests, and loss of control from unusual attitudes. We will have completed all flutter and Vmax conditions, and we will have performed maneuvers which will subject the airplane to structural loads up to 100% of its design limitations. High-altitude performance, rough-field operation and all other unusual conditions will have been tested. We think in this manner you will not only be assured of a strong, safe aircraft, but you will have had all the performance and handling characteristics evaluated in the most ideal and desired way.
<pic: BD-5 static display>
<Caption: The BD-5 original prototype on display at the Canadian-American Sportsmen's Show in the Public Auditorium, Cleveland, Ohio, March 16-26. On display with the BD-5 can be seen one side of the aluminum fuselage. A fiberglass wing root fairing and a Plexiglas canopy (all on the ground). On the table display is the variable speed drive system pulleys and belt, as well as a sample set of wing ribs and tubular aluminum spar example. The propeller mount on the display cubicle in the background is the 44-inch prop used with the 70 HP engine.>
<The BD-5 created a lot of interest at the show, drawing a crowd the whole time the show was open. A large number of our BD-5 customers traveled to Cleveland to see the BD-5, coming in from places like Alabama, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Virginia and even a couple from California. Of course, most of our customers paid us a visit also. Next stop for the BD-5: Reading Show, Pennsylvania.>
Now that arrangements with Keikhaefer Aeromarine have been finalized, we can confirm our definite delivery schedule.
Delivery of the BD-5 will begin May 24, with the first 500 materials packages leaving our new warehouse at Newton, Kansas. Before the end of June we will have received 1,000 engines from Kiekhaefer which, in effect, means that we will be able to ship our 1,000 BD-5 materials packages beginning June 24.
On July 24, we will begin shipping a further 1,000 BD-5's and thereafter 1,000 units each month. This means, of course, that we will catch up very quickly with existing orders, and be in a good position for delivery to future orders we receive. It also means that anyone holding a priority shipping number at this time will be able to estimate from the above his delivery date within a couple of weeks.
Firm delivery dates have now been notified to our customers who have been scheduled for delivery of their BD-5's through July.
<pic: inside view of forward fuselage area>
<Caption: Here is a view of the inside of the aluminum fuselage construction at an early stage of assembly. Note the "bulkheads" with tabs, which are cut from sheet stock by the builder, and which are installed at the joints of the fuselage sections. These are bonded and riveted in place. The rudder pedals are shown in place, but not finally attached. These are part of the small amount of welding that has to be done on the BD-5.>
Response to our announcement some time ago that we would be appointing dealers for the BD-5 throughout the United States has results in a tremendous response. Application forms were sent out, together with the requirements for becoming a dealer, and further negotiations and examination of those applicants who responded has been going on since.
Within the next 30 days we will have appointed the first 50 dealers. Our Mr. Vic Oliver, Marketing Manager, Newton, Kansas facility, will be publishing a list of these dealers very soon.
Dual ignition for the Kiekhaefer engines has now been thoroughly researched and developed by Keikhaefer Aeromarine, and we can announce that it will be available to those customers who want it, by the time first deliveries are ready to be shipped.
We should have a firm price from Kiekhaefer by the end of April, and this will be announced in the BD-5 Information Memo.
The BD-5 special trailer will be available in early June. We have been negotiating with a number of manufacturers to make this trailer for us, as we want to make sure that it is of the best quality possible at the most reasonable price. A price for the trailer will be announced very soon.
A large number of BD-5 customers, as well as potential customers, have been calling and writing us regarding the maximum fuel capacity on the BD-5. There appears to be some confusion in this area. It appears that what most people are doing is looking at the empty weight of the BD-5 (310 lbs.), then adding to this the weight of the 28 gals. of fuel (168 lbs.) to make a total of 478 lbs. After subtracting this from the recommended gross weight of the BD-5 (600 lbs.), they are "discovering" that they, as pilot, must weigh 122 lbs.!
The correct way to estimate what fuel capacity one can expect is to add one's own weight to the empty weight, and then subtract this total from the gross weight.
In most cases this will mean that the fuel tanks cannot be filled to capacity, which is still OK. And should anyone have any misgivings about this, we will be providing instructions on how to make the fuel tanks in the wings smaller. The fuel tanks can be made any size to suit the individual pilot. Under certain conditions we may approve the use of a larger capacity, but we will be discussing this further at a later date. In any case, this question of fuel capacity, useful load, gross weight, and everything related to these areas will be covered in the aircraft manual that will be supplied with every BD-5 materials package.
<pic: man holding BD-5 "B" wing>
<Caption: This picture of a part-finished long wing (BD-5B), clearly shows the method of construction using rivets. The skin is dimpled and countersunk rivets are used. Body filler is then used to full in the dimpled areas to make for a very smooth wing. This view is of the underside of the wing.)
The "Priority Shipping Number" issued to all our customers will actually become each customer's Aircraft Serial Number from Bede Aircraft.
All orders will be packaged and shipped in strict numerical rotation by priority number. Any customer delaying delivery of his materials package for any reason will, in consequence, have to be issued a different serial number to his original priority shipping number. Any number "left open" as a result of someone delaying delivery will be used up by delivery of BD-5 materials packages to our appointed dealers for their Demonstrator models.
Last Update: 5/24/97
Web Author: Juan Jiménez
Copyright © 1997 by Juan Jiménez - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED