Justin Lewis to Fly BD-5FLS Microjet at AirVenture
Justin Lewis and his BD-5FLS are set to appear at AirVenture 2013.
Lewis fits snugly in the BD-5FLS.
March 14, 2013 - Not since the late 1990s has a BD-5 microjet appeared and flown at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, but there's one coming to the
show this year, and it's definitely not your father's BD-5.
EAA has confirmed that Justin Lewis, owner and pilot of the world's first BD-5FLS version, will attend AirVenture 2013 and debut the
upgraded version of the world's smallest jet, performing in air shows here for the first time. It's not his first visit to AirVenture -
Lewis, EAA 392017, was here through most of the 1990s. But this will be his first as an air show performer.
He attended the EAA Air Academy in 1992, was a Young Eagle, and joined EAA Chapter 186 in Manassas, Virginia, where he says he learned a
"EAA has been the most influential part of my life when it comes to building skills and support," he said. In flight training since age
14, Lewis soloed at age 16, earned his private pilot certificate at 17, and that year flew about 10 Young Eagles. The World's Largest
Logbook notes that he has flown 25 Young Eagles overall.
Lewis likely would have attended Oshkosh many more times over the past dozen or so years were it not for his day job - he became a naval
aviator after graduating from the University of North Dakota in 1999. He flew the F-14 Tomcat, E-6B (nuclear command platform), and T-45
as an instructor. Lewis logged more than 1,200 hours instructing and more than 3,400 flight hours overall.
For the past two years he has served with the Arkansas Air National Guard's 188th Air Wing flying A-10 Warthogs. He was deployed in
Afghanistan from July-October 2012. Since his return he's been preparing for the 2013 air show season.
The significance of coming back to Oshkosh as an air show performer is not lost on Lewis. In fact, he says he has to pinch himself
sometimes to realize it's going to actually happen at AirVenture's air shows, which are presented by Rockwell Collins.
"I can't use the word 'humbled' enough," he said. "As a kid I remember seeing Bob Bishop and Corky Fornof and the Silver Bullitt Team, and
to think I'm now going to fly this aircraft at Oshkosh. Well, I'm kind of beside myself."
History of the BD-5
The BD-5FLS microjet is a high-performance, single-seat, aerobatic, low-wing, all-metal, jet-powered aircraft built from an amateur
homebuilder kit originally developed in the 1970s by Jim Bede of Bede Aircraft Inc., of Newton, Kansas. It was a public sensation and
fueled homebuilders with dreams of owning a high-performance propeller or jet aircraft at a fraction of the normal cost.
Instantly coined the "World's Smallest Jet," millions of people soon saw the aircraft flying in the James Bond movie Octopussy. Over the
years, air show teams captivated fans all over the world, but today only four flying BD-5Js still exist. Famous past sponsors include
Coors Light Silver Bullet and Bud Light Air Force.
The aircraft, however, was well ahead of its time and proved too difficult for most homebuilders to build. This and several other reasons
caused Bede Aircraft Inc. to close its doors in 1979.
In 1992, Ed ("Skeeter") and Richard Karnes started BD Micro Technologies Inc. (BMT), beginning a long journey to update the BD-5 with
modern technology while using current building techniques. After many years of research and development, BMT has successfully incorporated
many improved design features in an aircraft lineup called the "Flight Line Series" or "FLS" kits.
FLS safety advances include improved stall characteristics, increased pitch stability, reduced airframe fatigue, and modern technology
integration focused on increasing systems reliability while reducing pilot workload. Lewis, who formed Lewis & Clark Performance LLC,
collaborated with BMT to build the first complete FLS Microjet - the airplane that Lewis is bringing to Oshkosh this summer, currently
sponsored by BMT and US Fleet Tracking.