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In Memory of Jim Bede

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It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Jim Bede on July 9, 2015, as a result of an unrecoverable aneurysm suffered at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio.  Jim, a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather,  friend, and a beloved member of the aviation community, was surrounded by his wife Jane, his children James M. Bede, (Cheryl Rawlinson), Laura Matus (Mark), Nancy Davis (Bill, deceased) and Jeffrey A. Bede and his six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Please use this site to express your condolences and fond memories of Jim.

Jim’s Family would like to Thank everyone for their kind words and all the great stories.

The family has decided to have a Memorial Fly-In instead of a funeral service for Jim.
Please join us for a Memorial Service at 1:00 PM, followed by a celebration of Jim’s life.
Date: August 1, 2015
Place: Lorain County Airport (KLPR)
44050 Russia Road, Elyria. OH 44035  (440-323-7000)
Time: 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
If you  have any questions please feel free to call our office at 330-239-1468.


Comments ( 255 )

  • The aviation community lost a true icon today. In many ways way ahead of his time but always a humble, funny guy….RIP, Jim we’re really gonna miss you!

  • Will miss Jim as I remember just how personable and funny you were. Will miss you around the events at Lorain. Very sad… Rest in Peace.

  • I met Jim when I was a kid working for Testors. They made the gas powered model of the BD-5. I had to be 13 or 14 at the time. Us kids would fly the the toy planes to demonstrate them. I did that at EAA and The Lake Geneva Playboy Club to mention a few. Anyway he gave me a jacket, shirt and a few tie pins of the BD-5. I left the jacket at a laundromat and it was gone in the morning. I still have the tie pins. I got to help push his full size planes around and he was very nice to be around. Really made a nice impression on me as a kid. God Speed my Friend!

  • Just heard … am trying to sort it out…Well I guess I will be able to fit you in the cockpit when I get her finished man… ( like that Richard Dreyfus movie ) I will be listening a little closer now for whispers of advice… I refuse to think your gone… I know you will just be subtly comicly more mischievous … Guess this means the quality of craftsmanship and attention to detail will be up … ( Hey !!! don’t do that ….what about like this ??? Your gonna hear my jokes quicker … I’l feel yours … geeze… you and Paul standing there together is sorta scary… Say hi to Satchimo … You get to hear me practice clarinet while I’m building now to …It’s gonna hurt you more than it’s gonna hurt me… later.

  • A wonderful man, wonderful aviation design engineer and a super person to us builders. Thank you Jim, your little BD-5 will be up and flying for many many years as a tribute to your designs and advanced engineering abilities.
    A tribute to a MAN with design ideas well in advance of the normal private aviation world 40 years before its time. Thank you Jim THANK YOU!!

  • Condolences to Jim immediate family .Your contribution to aviation will be remembered forever. RIP from Malaysia

  • EAA Chapter 1252 will always remember you Jim Bede! You are a mentor, a friend, a father figure and a really crazy old guy who loved to tell a joke! I loved being able to see you at all the gatherings that we had together. I wish I would have been able to get to know you better, but your legacy will live on in your airplanes and the peoples lives that you touched, just by being you! Love you Jim and save us a few seats in the big airplane in the sky! <3 <3 <3

  • Some of the BEST YEARS of my life working for Jim Bede at Bede Jet Corporation and Bede Aircraft in Chesterfield, MO 1990 through 1996. Jim was like a father to me and their entire family was like my extended family. They were there for me through some of the hardest times in my life, losing my Mother. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of you. So glad I was able to talk to him just a couple of weeks ago. A huge loss to the Aviation World. Incredible Man – he will be missed. I am SO SORRY!!! My heart breaks for his family. So full of life, just an incredible person to be around. SAD, SAD, SAD!

  • It’s with great sadness to hear of the passing of our friend Jim Bede.
    Jim not only was known for his airplane designs, but also the Pulse Autocycle. Jim attended several Fly/In Cruise/In’s & Autocycle Rally’s here in Marion, Indiana & will be sorely missed.

    Please click on: https://youtu.be/Ucr_muk1AsA

  • Sorry to hear about Jims passing. He sure knew how to design some great aircraft, like the BD-5. I have one of the original BD-5 aircraft and hope to have it flying again soon. Also, I did have the pleasure to meet Jim Bede at Oshkosh in 2012. I just happened to see him sitting there and I yelled JIM BEDE and he stood up and turned around and probably thought who in the hell is this guy. Anyway, I shook his hand and talked to him a little bit about the BD-5. I sure hate to hear he passed away.

  • Boy, it sure is a sad day. You will be missed in the aviation community. Your designs however will live long and provide many an opportunity to fulfill a dream. RIP Jim


  • My condolences to Jim’s family. The aviation world has lost a great character who will be remembered in the history of flight as the man who brought the dream of building and owning an aircraft to reality with the concept of kit built aircraft. I will remember him every time I fly my BD5.

  • Jim was a big part of the vanguard of experimental aircraft designers and builders beginning in the mid-1960s who inspired a new creativity civil aviation.

    I always looked forward to reading the latest from the EAA about Jim and others in his circle who continued to advance the technology from then prosaic fabric and aluminium rivet airframes to modern sleek, composites aerodynamics.

    Jim will be missed by all who knew him and his work… but his legacy shall live on.


  • Mr. Bede. That’s how I and all the kids knew him back on Rock Ledge Ln in Richmond Hts. Mr. Bede was the most fascinating Dad on the street! His most notorious accomplishment was the infamous ‘candy drop’ as he flew really low over our street, dropping what seemed like ‘manna from heaven’ to all of us kids! Never mind the yelling that came from the homeowner whose newly planted grass seed was being overrun by a streetful of kids running to grab their share! And what family had their own airplane in their garage?! My dearly departed brother worked at ‘Mr. Bede’s building’,.. one of the few kids who aprreciated and experienced his aeronautical talents and gifts. Those were the days. To Mrs. Bede, all the Bede children, and the grandchildren and great grandchildren, you have my deepest sympathy. Mr. Bede will always be remembered with a smile and fond memories. God bless all of you and may he rest in peace.

  • Thanks for designing the BD-5 Jim and becoming a big part of my life. A big part of many lives. Your legacy will carry on for many years to come and we all thank you for that.

  • I know Jim is walking around heaven and watching over us BD4 pilots. I met Jim at Oshkosh and was greatly impressed with his knowledge of aviation. I felt his excitement as he talked about the BD4. God Bless.
    Every time I fly my 4 I will be thinking of Jim.

  • I never met Jim but watched him speak on youtube and dreamed of him autographing my BD-5 at Oshkosh sometime soon. I hope he did not suffer long and knows that like most of history’s greats, his legacy is still only beginning at the time of his passing ;

  • My heart goes out to all of Jim’s family and friends. Every time I met him, Jim greeted me with a smile. If I needed advice, he never failed to give it freely. And if all I wanted to do was chat, that was even better. The world is a better place because Jim was here.

  • Jim was a true legend. I never had the honor to meet him, but I have know ABOUT him from an early age. His designs will live on in the hearts and minds of all aviation-minded people.

  • Every now and then, I believe God gives us special people, who stand above the rest. They teach, encourage, enable and nurture the best in those they touch. We are infinitely grateful for them having been in our lives for a time. Jim is a standout among those people. Sincerest condolences to his family and many friends.

  • I know what Jim’s doing now… he’s telling everyone up there the joke about salt shakers and a knife! RIP Jim, I’m sure going to miss you!

  • I guess the good Lord needed some laughter up there. That is why he called Jim to come home. I am glad to have gotten to know him. He will probably continue to design airplanes up there. My condolences and prayers go out to his family.

  • Jim Bede helped me believe that I could have the Airplane of my dreams, without being a millionaire. I was so glad he took the time to personally contact me when I had questions. Though I never got the chance to meet Jim in person, I feel a sense of warmness that projects from all of the smiling images of him. The stone he has cast, ripples forever now in the history books, and eternity, the path to fulfill someones dreams of flying away to some hidden paradise. Have a nice flight Jim. Meet you when I get there.

  • I am very very sorry to hear of this but so very proud to have known you and worked with you even for a moment. I will never forget the smirk on your face as you looked out over the Oshkosh crowd last year….. charged scooter at the ready to engage all with your fantastic repertoire of jokes and aviation brilliance as you took off for another Tour of the Grounds! There is something truly inspiring to see someone so in their element and I am so proud to have experienced it with you Jim Jeff Eric Tim Etc.

    I wish you blue skies forever and thank you thank you for making me laugh till it hurt my sides. For now…so long Jim and thank you again. You were very kind to me in a very tough time and I will never forget that or you!

  • Our hearts and prayers go out to Jane and the family. I was a honor and pleasure to have known Jim and we will miss him.

  • I am so SAD, so… I’ve no word. I was expecting to fly and Jim still there… But I build too slowly, so slowly… Jim didn’t wait for my aircraft.
    He was so helpful, with so joy every time I had him at phone… always to give me good advises, always to re assure me of what I was making was right….
    My aircraft will be flying without her Father…..That will give to me even more forces to accomplish and finish her … to fly and be proud to fly with an aircraft
    Designed by Mister Jim Bede
    All my prayers go to Jim; my thinking’s to you Jim Jr; your family and all the BedeCorp team.
    You are so wonderful…. In the same spirit as Jim was….
    I wish a lot of courage to all of you during these hard moments;
    I will always remember Jim with his cunning laugh, imagining his clever brain and eyes… always a good time at phone with him

    “Jim, I thank you for all, and I am sure you will always have good flights and design wonderful aircrafts where you are now”
    ( far from you, but so closed to you)

  • Jim Bede: Cleared direct, non-stop, without delay, climb and maintain Heaven: Have a safe flight Jim, we will miss you and your thoughts and insights! We are better people for having known and associated with you!

  • Jim’s BD-5 design was the kindling that got my aviation fires really going at age 9, when I sat in N500BD in the EAA Museum in Hales Corner, WI and later, saw Jim talking about the airplane at Oshkosh. After that day, the rest of my “aviation life-map” seemed to be laid out and plotted. In the mid-2000s, when I got to meet Jim and do some writing work for him, I realized that he was more than just a visionary aircraft engineer. He was also a very kind man who seemed to have some time for everybody he met. If there were 30 hours in a day, I think he’d use them all to talk to his fans and supporters (and even his detractors). I wish I’d been fully able to tell him just how much I appreciated his kindness to me, and the influence his work had on me. Thanks, Jim, for motivating that little kid back in 1974.

  • I was among the many that lusted after the BD-5 in the 70’s. I purchased a Grumman AA-1B in 1981 that I still own today. I have great respect for the simplicity of the design that Jim laid out. I did meet Jim at Oshkosh 1977. Sorry for his loss to the family and to the Aviation community.

  • RIP, Jim.
    Thanks for the amazing BD-4 design in which Carol and I have such wonderful adventures and for the support during the modification and refurbishment. Every time we look at the airplane we marvel at how it could not be any simpler and yet it goes so well.
    Truly an inspired design and designer.

    Mike and Carol Borgelt
    BD-4 kit #108, VH-BDW
    EAA Chapter 1308
    Toowoomba, Queensland , Australia

  • To the smartest person I have ever known and a great friend, Jim Bede. Doug and I will miss you and your stories. You might not use the apron in heaven. Now you will be flying among the stars. You have left your legacy, not just all your flight accomplishments but your wonderful family. Who is going to do the candy drops now?
    To the great woman behind the man, Jane you are in our prayers. Jim could not have done had this life without you. We love you both.

  • You were an aviation pioneer. You were an aircraft design superman. I met you many times at Oshkosh. I spent many summers flying around with my dad in his bd -4. Such a great aircraft. Godspeed Jim!

  • Sad day… we’ll miss him greatly. I’ll remember him every time I fly my Yankee… every time I smile in that little plane, it will be thanks to him…

    Thoughts and prayers are with his family… May his memory be a blessing.

  • I dreamed of a -5 as a teen, bought a partially completed kit (still partially completed), and eventually had the chance to work for Jim. He was a dreamer, a great designer, and motivator. It was an honor to have known him and how could I ever thank him for the chance to fly the BD-10.

    I can only hope that the EAA can pull together a plan to properly remember one of sport aviation’s greatest ambassadors.

  • Nancy and family,

    I am very sorry for your loss. I hope that your good memories will give you peace.

    In the bonds,


  • We met Jimmy at The Corkscrew Saloon in Medina, OH about 5 years ago. My husband and I are “regulars” there and always sat with Jim and friends over cocktails. Roger and Jim shared a love of airplanes and jokes! We thought he was one of the most brilliant minds we’d ever met once engaging in more serious conversations. Jim became a good friend to us and was a huge hit with our family and friends when he and his wife Jane attended Roger’s 65th Birthday party! We will never EVER forget him and our hearts go out to Jane and family!!! Lorraine & Roger Turner

  • Although meeting Jim only once, many years ago, his BD-4 design had a profound influence in my life, as a model builder, and model aircraft book author and publisher.

    While designing my first BD-4 model, total cooperation was received from the Bede staff, and my model was even mentioned in the September, Volume 1, No.10, 1970, BD-4 Newsletter, and BD-4 Newsletter Vol.3 No.2.

    When my book “PEANUT POWER!” was published in 1980, it included plans for the model, which resulted in BD-4 models being built by numerous readers, worldwide, often documented by their photographs.

    Now, at age 84, I marvel at this chain-of-events, and feel a profound loss at Jim Bede’s passing…


    Bill Hannan, Magalia, California

  • With great sadness we extend our deepest sympathy to Jim’s family. Our BD-4 (325BD) was a beloved family member from WI to KS to FL – thank you, Jim. Working for you for 5 years in Kansas were the most fun years we could have asked for. RIP special friend. We love you.

  • I am no more than a BD4 builder. From Mozambique. What a coincixence it was that after a few years having stopped flying for good I resumed flying my BD4 again on the day afterJim left us. I feel the utmost respect for him and for his creativity,. No other experimental is as much experimental as the BD4 is. He desigsigned a base plan foran airplane with which buiders can be creative as well. The main characteristic of Jim’s BD4 is that there are no 2 Bd4’s built alike. Still, Jim is present in each one of them!

  • Jim: thanks for 64 years of great memories and so much fun and laughter, Jane and family: Hugs and tears. Such a loss, so hard to cope.

  • Jim gave me my very first ride in an airplane when I was a teenager and his mother-in-law was our neighbor.I have never forgotten that ride or Jim, as everytime I saw an article in the paper or elsewhere I was first to say”I know him”. God is now trying to keep him from buzzing the clouds.

  • Because I fly
    I laugh more than other men
    I look up an see more than they,
    I know how the clouds feel,
    What it’s like to have the blue in my lap,
    to look down on birds,
    to feel freedom in a thing called the stick…

    who but I can slice between God’s billowed legs,
    and feel then laugh and crash with His step
    Who else has seen the unclimbed peaks?
    The rainbow’s secret?
    The real reason birds sing?
    Because I Fly,
    I envy no man on earth.

    God’s speed, Jim.

    Thank you for your warmth and kindness.

    Fare winds and following seas, shipmate.

    Chris, Lesley Tyler & Nick Brocato

  • Jim, Designed the thing I enjoy doing most in life, …working on and flying my BD-4 N579SC has been flying for 30 years now and covered a distance equivalent to circling the earth 10x I was lucky to meet and talk with him a few times, Each time, I learned something new, It was thoroughly enjoyable and fun. Jim had a passion for not only aviation but people too

  • I am so very sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. Private experimental aviation owes its very existence to Jim. In my opinion, he lit the spark that inspired so many great ideas and individual careers.

  • We will miss him this year in Oshkosh. He always dropped by our booth and told us one of his “special” jokes or had a riddle to solve.

    Our condolences to his family and friends.

  • I feel honored to have known Jim Bede. He was a true gentleman. We’re it not for Jim’s personal help I would not have been able to remove the wings from my BD -4 for transport. He suggested several things, but none worked. Then I received a call from Jim early one morning. He said he hadn’t been able to sleep that night thinking of my problem, and had come up with a plan that had to work! It did! And my BD-4 is in my hangar today. Much of my interest in aviation I owe to Jim. I was the last person to fly the BD-2, and added over 10,000 more non-stop miles to the total that the plane flew. It was a beautiful plane and it truly flew as good as it looked! Jim has touched many lives, and has moved on to the next. My heart felt condolences to his family. I am certain we have all learned many valuable lessons from this great man.

  • Condolences to the family of a wonderful man. Very sad to hear the news of Jim’s passing. I just spoke with him last week. He always greeted you with a smile and a joke. I will never forget him! Rest in Peace.

  • We are so sorry to hear of Jim passing. Our sincerest condolences to the Bede Family.
    Cathy & Joel
    Treasure Coast Avionics Inc

  • I have owned many BD designs a 1976 BD-4 which I flew for 1100 hours, 1970 AA-1, 1972 AA-5, and currently own a 1971 AA-1A. , and flew the BD-5 simulator at Newton KS where I put a deposit on a BD-5. Jim thank you for 50 years of design, research, and entertainment. Your optimism, triumphs and failures were legendary, you were a dreamer, who dreamed big, and many of us shared in the bounty of your dreams. You were a poet with a slide rule before computers invaded our lives and wasted our time. Soar with the angels, and I will think of you fondly everytime I take to sky or spy one of your many designs on the ramp or in flight.

  • I Retired from the Boeing Phantom Works way back in 2004 but was involved with many of our Engineering and Design Build Team members for some years afterwards…..and so often Jim’s name would be mentioned in some of those late hour special project meetings at The Boeing Wind Tunnel which is located across the street from Boeing Field Tower in Seattle Wa.

    Jim’s memory will live forever and especially in those who just love “ANYTHING THAT HATH WINGS!”
    He was truly an amazing innovator and gifted gentleman.

    (Shultzie or “SKETCH”)
    The Wind Tunnel Model Design Team member.

  • I have always bragged about my grandpa. Not because he broke world records, was featured in a museum, had a Wikipedia page, or that he was considered a genius, I bragged because he took me to ToysRus every single Sunday, flew over my house and dropped candy in our yard for my birthday party, flew over my house in a blimp that said “hi Brad and Jill”, took us to steak and shake and let us eat fries covered in nasty cheese, took us to airports to watch planes and eat ice cream, let me draw all over his white board at work, bring a telescope over and show us astronomy I’ll never understand, and the list goes on. As a kid he was the coolest grandpa ever, and as an adult, I understood he was the most kind, caring man alive. When he was 80 he tracked a small plane I was on to make sure the pilot, my friend, was doing everything right and that I was safe. When he was 82, I text him and said “grandpa, do you still text?” And he responded, with his iPhone, “only when I drive”. He never lost his drive to learn, his humor, or his love for his family and planes. Although he is gone now, I will continue to brag, because I did have the best grandpa ever. I will miss him so much. I will never forget all the things he did for us, and although I’m not cool enough to fly a plane for my grandchildren, I will certainly try my hardest to follow in his footsteps.

  • There are today 40 Grumman singles sitting at KBXM in Brunswick, Maine where we are holding our annual American Yankee Association convention. Jim started this with his AA1 Yankee design, which evolved into the AA5 Traveler, AA-5A Cheetah and AA-5B Tiger. Thanks, Jim!

  • My sincerest condolences to the Bede Family.

    We meet him at Oshkosh at one point and it was an honor.

    BD-5 owner and pilot from Puerto Rico.

  • My thoughts and prayers go to the Bede family during this difficult times. Jim will always be remembered as one of the pioneers of kit planes and homebuilt aircraft.

  • Jim blessed me with his smile and sense of humor everyday at The Corkscrew. There wasn’t a day I walked in there and didn’t look forward to seeing his smiley face and hearing that unforgettable laugh. He has given me memories and jokes that I will do my best to pass on! I will miss you always.

  • I first learned of the BD-4 from Popular Mechanics (I think in 1967) I was in 5th grade. WOW! you can build your own airplane. Then in high school, the BD-5 came out. What an exciting aircraft. Being a teenage dreamer, I was going to do airshows in the BD-5 and have a BD-4 as my chase plane. I was not even a student pilot yet. Those dreams never came to reality, but I was very lucky to be able to that story to Jim Bede at Oshkosh 2012. These days I think I am wider than the BD-5, but we still have hope for the BD-4.

  • I know he is flying high with the angels. A fantastic man, mentor and father. So sorry Nancy, Brad, Jill, Jim and all the family. Mother Bede, please know Jim touched my soul.

  • We just learned of Jim’s passing. We are so sorry Jane and family for your loss. I think back on times where I / we hurt so bad from laughing because of Jim’s crazy sense of humor! We so enjoyed the time we spent with him and you all. He was a wonderful man and will be missed by many. We send you all our love and will keep you in our thoughts and prays.

  • Jim was an inspiration for me to follow an engineering career. He was 17 when I was born. Mom had him stand up and be my Godfather. I missed being around his aviation activities when I moved out of town. He was always doing something exciting. Any family get togethers always involved a trip to the hanger to see what he was building. I remember watching him take off in the BD-2 powered glider for the round the world attempt. The BD-1 which became the American Yankee, the simplified kit for the BD-4, the exciting BD-5 including a JET! We always tried to follow his various business activities. He believed that everyone who wanted to should be able to fly! He did his best to advance the field of aviation for the common guy. A great mind and a great engineer. His assing is a loss to aviation and a dear memory.

  • I first met Mr. Bede as he flies his Baron to OU to visit his son (my freshman year roommate). He was like a rock star coming in the night, bright lights in the sky then lights hitting the runway, stepping off the plane to meet us. I think he cracked on Jim Jr. about the weight gain and having something to do about beer! The laughs for me just began. One joke after another. Never quite met a dad like this guy!
    Years later a request for cans to assist with his impact/crash tests for the prop driven automobile in a Cleveland warehouse. We “obliged” with many, many beer cans from watching the Kardiac Kids. Many years later in Arizona, my wife Maria and I pull off the road to some random hotel. On the wall behind the bar, a picture of Mr. Bede in a group of “friends”. (He made friends everywhere he went). The bartender proudly tells us about “the funniest man ever” (not knowing…we know him and his family.) He continued…”Mr. Bede is hilarious…oh ..and he’s in aviation! I call my friends to stop in when he shows up.” Again…like a rock star!
    So many laughs and memories. The last joke I heard from this legend…was him greeting Maria for the first time in year or more (he enjoyed this joke!). It was his Knock, Knock joke…”M..R””… “M..R..who”… “em are some nice… ____” as he is looking at my wife….. You know it, No wonder he tells this one… he gets a huge hug from every woman he tells that to! Genious!
    His legacy with aircraft will live on. More importantly, HE will live on …in his family. They have been blessed with his keen sense of humor. To him, that most likely is most important. To live life with a special joy in your heart. A joy you pass on to others…EVERY TIME you meet or see someone. Most of us can’t provide this, but can share it through his family, because of him. Thank you Mr. Bede!

    The angels and our Lord will have many laughs with you in their presence.


  • JIM BEDE, not just an aviator icon, but our neighborhood icon as well. Mr. Bede travelled much when the kids were growing up, however, when he came home….the entire neighborhood gathered for his arrival. As he would load up his plane with tons of CANDY at the Cuyahoga Airport and do a “personal” fly by for ALL the children in his children’s neighborhood and DROP candy EVERYWHERE. We scattered like zombies collecting as much candy as we could. It was a high. OH, did we have FUN! He was loved by all, but not just for his candy drops…but his jolly laughter and love to all. So, on behalf of the entire DISTLER clan….Rest in Peace Mr. Bede, your plane just arrived in HEAVEN, the GREATEST PLACE to be !

  • It was such a thrill to see Mr. Bede in action over the years, whether at an airshow or with his family. He was a great guy. Denise & I send our condolences to the entire Bede clan.

  • We were saddened to learn of Jim passing. We wish all the best to Jane and family in their time of grief. Laughter and humor is a healthy way to heal pain. With Jim, all those he knew and loved knew his love of humor. His soul right now is telling the Angels’, “Did you hear the one about ……”. To a special friend who will always be in our memories, God Speed.

  • Wow, he’s gone know. Oshkosh will seem empty. What a ride, Jim. Thank you for letting me share, The BD-1 (Yankee), BD-2, BD-4, BD-5, BD-6, BD-7, BD-8, BD-10, Autocycle, I’m probably forgetting some. 10’s of thousands of design hours, countless problems and also countless solutions. Endless stories, I don’t know where to start and wouldn’t know where to stop. All the best to your family, and I will see you later. Oh, if you could take a break from telling jokes, every now and then, would you keep the runway clear, never know who will show up and when, I hope to keep you waiting for a long time. PEG

  • You were the most amazing man! I loved being one of your stops during “Happy Hour” you always told the best jokes! To this day I still the Son of a Birch or Son of a Beach joke. The angels got a good one! xoxoox

  • Sad news… he was truly a legend. BTW Jim, could you arrange for delivery in Heaven of the final shipment for the BD-5 I ordered in the 1970’s as a college student. I never got all the parts. I’m hoping you’ll have plenty of time before I join you there … After a career in the cockpit in military Fighters and Part 121 Airliners and almost 25,000 hours I still think the BD-5 is one of the coolest little airplanes ever designed. .. and I hear the Hirth Snowmobile engine runs great up there. May God bless you Jim!

  • I am so sad to hear of Jim’s passing. We first met Jim, it was at Applebees in Medina, he would drop in on occasion and love to tell jokes and make everyone laugh. Such a warm and caring person who often spoke about his family and how much he loved them. I lost my youngest son, Jared to colon cancer this past September . I could only hope Jim and Jared and sitting on a bench catching up and sharing jokes. My thoughts and prayers to his family and every life he touched with his warm smile.

  • Jim, thanks! Your vision and skills gave this kid from the woods the kick in the butt to get out and DO SOMETHING! RIP friend.

    Jeff Pelton
    AWC NAC USN (Ret), pilot and mechanic, SR Electronic Technician, Union Pacific Railroad

  • I have always loved Jim’s designs, and own 4 of his wonderful Kitset Planes (3 BD-5’s and a BD-4) I was fortunate to have met Jim at 3 AirVentures, and he always greeted people like old friends and made them feel welcome. I loved his infectious Laughter and mischievous twinkle, and shared a few of his jokes. He was the unsung hero of Homebuilding Design in my Books, and the Corner of the Two Runways by the Bede Tent will have a huge emptiness this year for me. My heart goes out to you who loved him and spent your lives with him. We mourn with you. I suspect he will already be discussing better ways of flying with the Angels right now. Fly in freedom Jim, you always were a Star anyway !!

  • I remember how he carried that 3-legged cane-chair and when you asked him a question he would sit down and talk to you. I always enjoyed his openness and his sense of humor. I will miss him.

  • I met Jim Bede trough my boss Robert Stack SR, we traveled to Peru over 10 years ago, and I had the chance to spend lots of time with him and know about most of the planes he designed. Also he enjoyed (loved) the food from South America, what a great person. He is leaving a great legacy, he will be miss. RIP
    Bill Castaneda

  • I was fortunate to work for a gentlemen who bought a BD-10 Kit and together with some help from dear friends we built it in less than a year! It was the high point of my aviation career, building and flying such and awesome aircraft. The thing I always like about Jim is that he thought outside the box. Sometimes I think that no one ever told him about the box. Truly enjoyable and brilliant man. Will miss him as he was a big part of my life.

  • We will miss you. Instrumental in stirring my flying dreams as a teenager, I had the privilege of flying Jim on our airline. He visited me in the flight deck to make a lifetime memory for me.

  • I was there when Jim showed the BD 4 in Rockford att the EAA convention. I have been involved withndifferent forms of the BD4 since. To say the name Jim Bede was with me almost as long as I have been flying. I think the complement to him isthe many times we interacted. Sometimes he questioned me, but was always there withnanswers.
    Thank younfor being such a part of my life Jim. You WILL be miss d by many.

  • Jim, You gave me so many years of enjoyment in building my BD5. Pilot Heaven has added another pilot’s wings and I believe you are enjoying now another flight with so many others from the Wright Brothers and on . It’s a good place to fly as you are now among the Best in Pilot Heaven! Bob S.

  • Jim Bede, was the original person that brought the spotlight to homebuilt aircraft. His imagination and designs brought attention to the average guy being builder and pilot.

    Thank you Jim Bede

  • Jim, thank you for all your incredible work! One of your designs, the BD-1 evolved into the American Trainer which was the aircraft I learned to fly in (N9300L) in central California. You helped me develop a passion for flying. Rest In Peace, my friend.

  • It was great sorrow to hear about the passing of Jim Bede. Jim gave me great inspiration and drive to build a homebuilt aircraft. Meeting Jim at Oshkosh was always an experience. His knowledge of aircraft design was ahead of others at that time. There was never a dull moment. I built the Bede- 4, and flew it for many years. Oshkosh was always on my destination list. Thanks to Jim I have met many wonderful Bede -4 builders, owners over the years. My thoughts go to the family.

  • Jim was a great inspiration for me. the various airplane designs triggered my youthful ambitions and inspired me to think in non-traditional avenues.

  • I worked for Jim on the Autocyle project and will always be grateful he took a chance on me. Sadly that project didn’t end well and we didn’t part on good terms. However the personal connections I made with people during that time still benefit me to this day. I deeply regret not putting in the effort to repair my broken connection with Jim. He touched a lot of lives in a lot of ways but in the end the world is a much better place because of his contributions and inspiration. Best wishes to his family.

  • We send our belated condolences…our thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Jim was a great friend to us!

  • Please accept my deepest condolences. I met Jim in the late eighties having bought the BD4 from Don Hewes . Jim and I shared some good ideas which are now incorporated in my aeroplane and it is still flying. 1500 hours which is a good testament to Jim’s design, he was a remarkable man. My thoughts are with the family.

  • I have known Jim since the development of the Yankee and the dream of a single place high performance aircraft. Burt Ruton was an engineer in Kansas working on Jim’s creation at that time. Jim was a forward thinker. Most of all he was an honest and a really good guy. I went with him to meet Congressman Daniel Flood for aid in building an aircraft plant in Shickshinny Pa. It didnt work out but Jim pushed on never wanting to give up the ball. I became the owner for a short time of N400BD, a 200 mph, 4 place built by Jim and Bede Corp. It was a plane that should have replace the Cessna 172. It was that good.
    I have two stories to tell you: The first was the time we flew from Kansas to Northbrook, Illinois and back at a barely legal altitude. I suggest if you havent done so to try it sometime if you can. The view was amazing. The second story was really unique. Gordon Cooper the astronaut came to see the BD-5. Jim’s Daughter who practiced the balance beam in the family room told her teacher that the astronaut was in town. She asked if her Dad would ask Gordo to come and talk with her class. Well as it turned out the entire school came to the auditorium to hear Gordo talk.
    That night Jim asked his daughter what happened at school. She told him both questions and answers of all parties. One of the questions raised Jim’s Eyebrows. One of the kids asked have you every seen a ufo in outer space. Gordon answers no I have never seen a ufo in outer space. I was in the family room with Jim at that time. He turned to me and said, Why didnt he say he never saw a ufo rather than answering with specificity. So right then and there Jim called Gordo and repeated the question and answer. Gordo said he saw ufo’s not in space but while he worked for the Airforce. The first time he saw a ufo was when he was stationed in German. He an a couple of pilots saw the ufo over the airbase the commander said what are you waiting for go get it. So he and a nother pilot got into there planes and chased it. The second story was in California area. He was on night patrol practicing combat manuvers when he was asked to intercept a commercial aircraft being tracked by a UFO. He intercepted and the UFO took off. The third was more interesting. There was a group testing space suits in the desert. They were being photographed in color, black and white, video and stills from every angle. This was being done to determine how an astonaut could move and get up after a fall on the moon. By knowning how the astronaut landed Houston could guide the astronaut in the procedure how to get up. That when a ufo landed a 100 yards away, The cameras just turned towards the ufo and kept recording. The unit called there supervisor who was back at base. This was Gordo. He told them to get back to base with the pictures as quikly as possible. They came back with loads of pictures. Wide angle close up. The film was taken into the lab for processing. While in the lab the base commader called Gordo to tell him someone was coming to collect the film. He should give that person the film on arrival. He did. He never saw or heard about those pictures again.
    I have three pictures on my wall in my office. N-400BD, The control panel for N-400BD and a picture of a BD-5
    with the following inscription: To my good friend, Stuart Cooper 1-1-1977.
    Keep her flying, Jim. We will all miss you till me meet again. Your friend, Stuart Cooper

  • I was so sorry to learn of Jim’s passing. I had the pleasure of working with Jim back in 1966/67 as an artist at the Cuyahoga County Airport location . The camaraderie in the engineering room with Paul Griffin, Roger Flickenger , Frank Scott, and Michael Antonio (test pilot) was memorable with Jim leading us on. Jim was a great story teller and his sense of humor was always present. He would walk into the room and say, ” Hello everybody; you too Tom!”
    My sincere sympathies to the Bede family.

  • When I heard about the BD-5 , I said “I’ve got to have one”. I wasn’t even a pilot. I received a low serial number and started building in Alaska–trucked to the Mexican border- where my work took me. When The govt. sent me North again, I sold the kit. At 6’2″ I probably would not fit very well anyway. Anyway, I’ve always had the feeling that Jim Bede was one of our county,s truly great designers. I was happy to finally meet Jim and mrs. Bede at the copper state fly in a few years ago. That was a great moment for me. I was impressed with both of the Bedes. They were so friendly and warm. Mrs. Bede took a picture of Jim and me which I will always treasure. The world has lost a great man and one who will be warmly remembered as long as we live and beyond. Thanks for the memories Jim.

  • Jim Bede, a legendary genius who turned dreams into reality. Pushed the envelope of “nearly possible” into very probable. Not too many men as this in any century.

  • keeping the dream alive for jim in Australia with my half finished bd5 . you are a great inspiration and legend of aviation and I cried my eyes dry for you and all your family and friends over there ,best wishes to you all.

  • So very sad! Wherever you found him he had a good joke to tell and made everyone laugh and smile. My heart breaks for grandma jane and my best friend, his granddaughter, kelly and his whole family. They are all a wonderful family! They are always and will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers!


  • My condolences to Mrs. Bede and the Bede family. Mr. Bede was the inspiration for obtaining my pilots license. I remember the stories my brother shared about working for Jim at Cuyahoga County Airport and the trips to “Oshkosh”. Mr. Bede driving his hover craft on the street. The BD-4 in the back yard for the kids to play in. The candy drops for our block parties! These are the memories which fill my mind and heart along with the years spent on Rockledge Ln. with the Bede family. May Mr. Bede be enjoying the best block party of his life! CAVU Mr. Bede!

  • Anytime we loose a man like Jim the whole world mourns, Jim always had a smile,a joke
    And a kind word to a stranger….his genius and big heart will be missed

  • Heard of Jim Bede when I was in high school in Oregon in the ’70s. Actually used a copier to copy the whole plan set from a book on the BD-4 which is such an ingenious design what with the tube spar that happened to be the fuel tank too. Then read about his many other accomplishments. What a huge surprise and honor to realize that he lived so close to me when I moved to Ohio and had the opportunity to actually meet him through Discovery Aviation’s events. Had some very pleasant conversations with him and once he gave me a small souvenir of a honeycombed structure that he made that was super light and strong. Still have it on my mantle as a treasured object. A great designer, pilot and fine gentleman. Hope he gets all the designing and flying where he is going. Regardless, his name is assured in aviation for the ages.

  • I only had an opportunity to meet Jim once. He was a legend and I knew his stories as if he were a Celebrity.
    It is sad when someone as brilliant as Jim passes away that all of their Knowledge and experience goes away with them.
    One thing for sure, he came to this earth and left it better than he found it.
    Thanks for all of your contributions and inspirations you left behind to make such a difference in this world!

    God Bless you and Rest in Peace.

  • Jim was an aeronautical genius and a good man. He always had time to talk to my son and I when we stopped by the shop. He even took time to host our cub scout troop a few years ago. One of the best outings the troop ever took, thanks to Jim and his son. Thank you Jim for being kind and for being such a creative person. You inspired many people and will be missed. My sincere condolences to Jim’s family. God bless you Jim.

  • EAA Chapter 1252 will not be the same without you Jim Bede. You were a friend and a mentor to most everyone you met. What I remember the most about you was your crazy humor…you loved to tell a joke and laugh about it… you never seemed unhappy or in a bad mood around the chapter, we all could learn life lessons from you.! I didn’t know you well but you left a positive impression and will be missed. Your legacy will live on in aviaiton along with your airplanes and the peoples lives you touched. Thoughts and prayers go out to your family as I am sure they have a HUGE hole that will never be filled the way you filled it.

  • Have been in the field for 2 months and just got back and discovered this sad news. My condolences to the Bede family and aircraft co. Wishing Jim GOD speed and thank you for all that you have done for aviation. Your presence will be missed.


  • How heart breaking. You pulled the chocks for the last time. I saw Jim just the week before at his favorite watering hole, The Cork Screw in Medina OH. I listened to his latest flurry of jokes and we talked airplanes and politics. Jim I promise you this : Every time I visit The Cork Screw I will lift my class and say” Here’s to you ol’ buddy. By the way did you here the one about ………………………

  • Worked for Jim on the -10 project early on. Learned much and, of course, enjoyed Jim’s jokes and demeanor. All my best to the family. I’ll raise a glass of “smoke-oil” in his honor.

  • what a sad sad day, what a difference he made in the aviation world and mine, i couldnt believe an aviation great such as jim would take the time to talk to me on the phone about my dreams of flying and the dream of one day owning a bede 5 j knowing i would never have the money still he talked and planned it with me,even inviting me to the airstrip to show me his birds. i wish i could have gone. but never the less he made me feel important and like a friend. god bless you jim bede may you fly the surly blue skies with the angels. may god ease your pain to the bede family. he will sorely be missed

  • Prayers for Jim and Family. Jim was one of a kind and a wealth of knowledge. Jim fly down and visited when I my wife and I first purchased the Taylorcraft Airplane company. We spent several days discussing designs, Regulations and of course Jim’s Jokes. It was a pleasure to have spent time with him and we became close friends. Jim you will be thought of and missed.
    Chairman Booth Aerospace, Aerospace Group, Former owner and Chairman Taylorcraft

  • Even though I never had the privilege of meeting the man behind the legendary name, I would like to offer my deepest sympathy to his family for the loss of someone very special.
    The light that shines for us all in the world of Aviation is not as bright right now as it normally is.

  • Never met Jim Bede but spent time with the BD boys and Jim Jnr at Sun and Fun 2015. He had inspirational designs and building ideas. I will miss his creativity and contribution to aviation

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