NOTE: Almost all content is still on the old site. We're working on getting it moved over here.

This site hosts information about the experimental aircraft BD-4. The BD-4 is one of the first (if not first) kitplane in the world. Jim Bede designed and started to sell the kits in 1968. Despite its age, the BD-4 still is high in demand; no real surprise when you look at the specifications below. It is still one of the fasted 4 seat experimentals, but requires a fraction of building time and financial investment in comparison to younger composite designs. 

The BD-4 has an excellent safety record. From all experimental designs with a larger number of high time aircrafts it is the only one with no reported catastrophic structural in flight failure, as far as I know. A rough analysis of the accident numbers in the NTSB database since 1983 reveal an accident rate that is about half of the combined other designs. 

BD-4 kits and parts can be purchased from Jim Bede's BedeCorp

Here are pictures of finished planes, the first from Bernie Thalmann, the second one* is owned by John Cowan of Sierra Vista, Arizona:

Ken Kopp's BD-4  Bernie Thalmann's BD-4

Despite the fact that the BD-4 was designed 35 ago it is still a very good alternative as an experimental plane. These are the main advantages:

  • Relatively easy to build (everything is pretty square) 
  • Proven design with numerous modifications and design improvements that were developed in 30 years of building and flying 
  • Fast: up to 190 MPH cruise with a 200 HP engine 
  • Fuel efficient: up to 20 MPG (in 1983 it was Roger Mellema's BD-4 winning the CAFE 400 race against a number of modern composite designs)
  • Can seat 2 adults and 2 kids or 3 adults. If built with a fuselage extension it's a true 4-seater. 
  • Long range, fuel tanks up to 80 gal (or even more) 
  • Inexpensive to build, if built from plans 
  • Multiple engine configurations were tested and used 
  • One of the best designs to incorporate custom design modifications

The BD-4 does not have the best reputation as a pretty bird. The fuselage is somewhat boxy. Judge yourself by browsing in the gallery or looking at the planes from the builder's list

Have fun reading!

Your webmaster Holger


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BD-4 related information by www.bd-4.org is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.