The Bede BD-10 was developed to fill a specific niche market gap within General Aviation by providing the private pilot with a high-performance jet-powered solution. The aircraft was built from premade components via the "kit" approach and marketed on the qualities of affordability and ease-of-maintenance to those with the funds for such an investment. While becoming the first at-home supersonic performer in history, the series was plagued with technological and legal issues throughout its existence, resulting in just five airframes being completed and only three of this lot being flyable - all being lost in fatal crashes for their time in the air.
Origins of the BD-10 lay in early work conducted by aircraft designer Jim Bede back in 1983 with a formal announcement of the project following before the end of the decade. The initial engine of choice became the General Electric J85 turbojet which was already in widespread use at the military level and was a fixture in the civilian marketplace as the "CJ-610". A single-engine design configuration was adopted for the new jet aircraft which would seat its two occupants in tandem under a single-piece, side-hinged canopy. In essence, the aircraft followed much of the form-and-function of the military-level aerobatic Northrop T-38 "Talon" Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) operated in number by the United States Air Force (USAF). Comparatively, the Bede design was of much smaller dimensions and relied on a single jet engine fitting.
The end result was an aircraft whose profile exhibited "fighter-like" lines and performance. It featured a well-pointed nosecone at front, shoulder-mounted swept-back mainplanes at midships, and twin vertical tailplanes at the rear. A retractable tricycle undercarriage was used for ground-running and the airframe was by a single General Electric CJ-610 non-afterburning turbojet engine (alternative possible fits eventually became the GE J-85 and the Pratt & Whitney JT-12).
Empty weight of the aircraft ultimately ballooned to become 2,250lb with a maximum gross weight rating reaching 4,400lb. The aircraft was marketed with a maximum speed of Mach 1.4, cruising at 595 miles-per-hour (Mach 0.90), and a service ceiling up to 45,000 feet while climbing as a rate of 20,000 to 30,000 feet-per-minute. The take-off run was 850 feet with a landing run of 1,800 feet and overall range reached out to 1,350 nautical miles. Relatively lightweight and fitting a powerful jet engine, the BD-10 on paper was a true high-performance platform.
Internally, its simplicity was such that the aircraft could be cold-started and ready to taxi within minutes. Testing on the BD-10 prototype ensured in mid-1992 and this revealed shortcomings by way of a weak undercarriage, increased operating weight (which led to a reduction in onboard fuel, thus decreasing operational ranges), substandard performance, and concerns about the weak tail unit. Due to mounting issues, the project was eventually abandoned even as customer deposits reached over sixty.
To satisfy this, Fox 10 Corporation was arranged to better assist buyers in completing their BD-10 kits and the company eventually rebranded the aircraft as the "Fox-10" - this evolved to become the "Peregrine Falcon" eventually pushed by the newly-minted Peregrine Flight International concern.
Fox's prototype was flow in December of 1994 but killed its test pilot after the aircraft broke up mid-flight. A follow-up prototype also crashed in August 1995 due to a flap malfunction - this killed the test pilot Joseph Henderson who was also Peregrine's company president.
Military rights to the aircraft were sold to Canadian-based Monitor Jet who looked to sell the design as a basic jet trainer under the designation of "MJ-7" complete with a Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC) JT-15D turbojet jet engine but the initiative never gained much footing and fell to naught with the sole example ending its days as a museum showpiece at the Toronto Aerospace Museum.
In 1997, Bede filed for bankruptcy to which investors moved to form Vortex Aircraft and push the rebranded "PhoenixJet" as a military trainer. This initiative, too, fell to nothing and the last flyable BD-10 was lost - again in mid-flight - in 2003 claiming the life of its pilot (Frank Everett).
For its time, the BD-10 garnered modest interest from those budget-restricted air forces of the world who envisioned a fleet of basic jet trainers being put together from the product's kit-built approach. Other air services saw some value in a low-cost, high-performance proficiency trainer while other possible military roles went on to include unmanned drones and aerial targets. However, none of these initiatives ever materialized.
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