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Bede BD-10

Peregrine Flight International PJ-1 / PJ-2

 

bedebd-10

 

After the BD-5 the Federal Trade Commission banned Bede from accepting aircraft kit investments for a period of 10 years. Shortly after the FTC Consent Decree expired in 1989, Bede revealed plans for a homebuilt tandem-seat supersonic jet, the Bede BD-10. The initial specs for the BD-10 were using a single General Electric J85 engine, the same model as used on the Learjet Model 23, Bede promised customers climb rates of over 12,000 feet per minute, a range of 2,000 miles at 590 mph and max ceiling of around 45,000 feet. Most of all, the BD-10 adverts promised supersonic speeds up to Mach 1.4.
 
When the BD-10 was announced, it was billed as the world’s first and only supersonic jet kit aircraft. Designed and promoted by Jim Bede, the BD-10 was touted as an everyman’s personal supersonic fighter that could fill the “need for speed” at a relatively low cost.
 
Construction of the BD-10 is made largely of state-of-the-art honeycomb sandwich aluminum and is designed with all the seriousness of today’s frontline fighter aircraft. The aircraft is complex in structure but not beyond the means of competent builders exhibiting the proper building skills. Build time is around 6,000 hours, and it does take a large amount of change, but in the grand scheme it is a lot less expensive to build and operate than most military surplus jets available to the serious GA pilot.
 
The prototype was completed in 1992 and began flight-testing. The enthusiasm for the project was huge, but flaws manifested themselves from the BD-10’s very first flight. This didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of aviation publications, and big-name aviation legends such as Bob Hoover and Gene Cernan were hired by the company to pitch the aircraft. But actual performance never matched the optimistic specs. As aircraft weight increased with each design change, range decreased. Even at full thrust, the aircraft couldn’t achieve a speed greater than Mach 0.83.
 
 Bede-BD10-01
 
Bede became disenchanted with the project by 1993 as performance of the aircraft continued to disappoint. Mike Van Wagenen, a Vietnam-era fighter pilot and Bede’s primary business partner and inspiration for the BD-10, took the reins of the entire project and pressed ahead. Peregrine Flight International purchased the rights to BD-10 jet from Bede Jet Corporation in 1995, with the redesignated factory-production BD-10 used as the PJ-1 prototype.
 
The biggest red flag for the project was when wrinkling appeared on the aircraft’s vertical tail after performing demo flights at the 1994 Reno Air Races. The tail was beefed up, and the next prototype, dubbed the PJ-1, was quickly built based on the redesign, and Van Wagenen’s new company, Peregrine Flight International, was born. Rights to the BD-10 jet were purchased from the Bede Jet Corporation in 1995, with redesignated factory-production BD-10 used as PJ-1 prototype (first flown November 1994) and PJ-2 version for certification flying June 1995 with GE J85 as a home-builder kit.
 
The redesign wasn’t enough. While doing envelope expansion fight testing, on Dec. 30, 1994 (three months after the Reno structural damage), the PJ-1 experienced tail flutter and broke up in flight, killing Van Wagenen. Eight months later, his successor, Joseph Henderson, was killed in the second prototype in Minden, Nevada, when one flap failed to retract on an attempted go-around. After this crash, Peregrine ceased operations. In 1996, Bede sold BD-10 military rights to Monitor Jet in Canada, but the company test pilot refused to fly it, and the aircraft ended up in a museum and was never flown again.
 
Acquired by Fox Aircraft of Minden, but its president, too, was killed in a crash. In 1996 Monitor Jet Corp of Canada took over but, despite claim of 12 standing orders, no production was forthcoming.
 
The last kit-built variant of the BD-10 flew in 2003 but suffered an inflight breakup, killing its pilot, Frank Everett, off the coast of Southern California.
 
In all, five BD-10 variants were built, three crashed, killing each pilot, and two were relegated to static displays.
 
Later developed into the Vortex Aircraft Company Llc Phoenix Jet-TJ tandem two-seat military primary jet and electronic warfare trainer.


Engine: GE CJ610, 2950 lb thrust.
Speed max: 926 mph.
Cruise: 620 mph
Range: 1840 sm.
Stall: 85 mph
ROC: 30,000 fpm.
Take-off dist: 600 ft
Landing dist: 1500 ft.
Service ceiling: 45,000 ft
Fuel cap: 263 USG.
Weight empty: 1580 lbs
Gross: 4140 lbs.
Height: 8 ft
Length: 28.9 ft.
Wing span: 21.5 ft
Wing area: 98 sq.ft.
Seats: 2
Landing gear: retractable nose wheel.

 

 


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