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Bennett Winch SC Holdall

Bede BD-5J 'Acrostar' Jet

An Acrostar on display at the Bond In Motion exhibition in London. "Fill her up, please!"

In the opening sequence of the movie Octopussy (1983), James Bond (Roger Moore) flies the smallest jet plane in the world, the Bede BD-5J.

Bond uses the little jet to escape from an army base in an unidentified Latin American country. The jet is hidden in a horse trailer, pulled by a convertible Range Rover. When Bond's cover as a general Toro is blown (and his chance to blow up a plane in a hangar lost), he takes off in the Acrostar. When a Rapier missile is fired at Bond, he evades it with the agile Acrostar and eventually uses the missile to destroy the hangar. When the fuel runs out, Bond lands the plane on a road and stops at a gas station. "Fill her up, please!"

This remarkable airplane that plays such a prominent role in the opening sequence of the film actually exists and was designed by Jim Bede in the 1960s and 1970s. The Bede BD-5 was first designed as a propellor-driven plane and made available, after many design changes, as a built-it-yourself kit. Two different wing shapes were available, the A and B shape. Due to problems with the engine supplier, many kits were sold without the engine, causing people to look for their engines themselves. Hundreds of kits that were sold never flew due to the lack of the engine and the much longer than promised building time. The plane proved to be somewhat dangerous: of the first 25 completed, 14 crashed with 9 fatalities, according to Wikipedia.

In the 1970s, Bede introduced a jet version, the BD-5J, with an engine discharging a fast moving jet from the back that generates thrust by jet propulsion. The 'J' wings of the plane were based on the 'B' wing but slightly different. This Acrostar, as some of Bede's jets were named, became a popular plane for airshows and promotional purposes even into the 1990s. The jet version, with a top speed of 320mph / 515kmph was much faster than the propellor model of the BD-5.

The Acrostar seen in the film was one of many built by John William "Corkey" Fornof and Bobby Bishop and piloted for the film by Corkey Fornof and stunt pilot Rick Holley (both mentioned in the credits of the film).

In July 2013, the Acrostar jet used in Octopussy was auctioned by Profiles In History, but the item was a passed lot in the auction and was returned to the consigner.

Scale Models
The 1:43 scale Acrostar is offered as a part the James Bond Car Collection, issue nr. 90 (find it here).

In Japan, several models were available: Arii created 1:72 scale model kit of the BD-5 and BD-5J, which come together in one box. Kyosho offers a ready-made 1:72 scale Acrostar, available as Type A (with landing gear) and Type B (with a nice stand, no wheels). This Acrostar is part of a small series of Bond vehicles. Another Acrostar was available in Japan when buying Suntory Boss coffee, also part of a collection of several Bond vehicles. Some of these can be found on eBay.

In China, a remote control propellor model with a 150cm (59") wingspan very similar to the BD-5 is offered, the Skywalker BD5, for example here.

A small pewter model of the Acrostar can be found in the USAopoly Monopoly James Bond 50th Anniversary Edition (2012). You can find this small model as a replacement part on eBay.

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I was flying a Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter on the Arizona Strip fire contract when the movie was filmed. The film crew saw one of my JetA fuel trucks at the St. George airport and noticed it was licensed for the highway, so they rented it from me to fuel the BD-5 aircraft on set near Hurricane Utah. Most fuel trucks for delivery to aircraft are not licenced to leave the airport and go on the highway. Filling the aircraft with gasoline from a service station would actually toast the jet engine, but it works in the movie.

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