Friday, 6 February 2015

Bede BD 4 of New Zealand

The Bede BD 4 was designed by Jim Bede in the 1960s and was the first homebuilt aircraft to be offered as a kit.  Kits were first available in 1968.  It is a pretty successful aircraft with few curved surfaces to simplify construction.  The fuselage is built an an aluminium angle truss and covered with flat aluminium panels and the wing uses a tubular aluminium spar with foam ribs glued onto the it.  It could be built as a taildragger or with a tri-gear undercarriage.

The BD 4 had a length of 21 feet 4 inches (6.50 metres), a wingspan of 25 feet 7 inches (7.80 metres) and a wing area od 110 square feet.  Empty wieght was around 1,250 pounds (567 Kg) and MAUW was 2,400 pounds (1,089 Kg) (but ZK-RDH was certified with a MAUW of 2,000 pound (907 Kg).  Engines could vary but with an Io-360 engine of 200 HP, cruise was approaching 200 mph which was pretty impressive.

We have had only one BD 4 in New Zealand as detailed below:

ZK-RDH (c/n AACA/285) was completeded by Russel D Harris of the Bay of Islands and was first registered to him on 20/11/96.  However, the project had been started much earlier by Trevor Ancell in Wellington in the early 1970s and I remember seeing it when I was a member of the Wellington Chapter of the AACA. The registration ZK-DYG was reserved at the time but not taken up.  It was fitted with an O-320 engine

I have a note that it was damaged on Waiheke Island in 2002 when it lost its nose wheel, and that it was then converted to a taildragger.  Does anyone have a photo of it as a taildragger?  It registration was revoked on 2/6/04.

The above photo of ZK-RDH was taken at the 1999 SAANZ flyin at Ashburton on 6 February 1999, exactly 16 years ago to the day to this post (and when the 2015 SAANZ flyin is starting at Ashburton).  Thanks to Dave Bates for the photo.


  1. Thanks for the post . I think it would lookbetter balanced as a tail dragger. So after ten years is it .
    Still in one piece or ,< reduced to spares >
    Would be nice to know .

  2. I posted a photo of it on line some time ago, and the owner responded "lost the nosewheel at Waiheke in 2002 and havent flown it since."

  3. I have a BD-4 Kit I am assembling, and hope to have flying with a Diesel Engine in eventually. Hope to use a 2004 or later Honda Accord Euro CDTi Diesel for its Light weight and high torque, combined with exceptional fuel efficiency. I still haven't decided on Tricycle or Taildragger, but agree that the Taildragger looks better. Do you still have contact with the owner of ZK-RDH ? I'd love to catch up with him.

  4. Replies
    1. Does anyone have a current contact email for Russell or any other BD4 kit/aircraft owner in NZ? Many thanks. Terry,