At LoPresti’s First Saturday event, held April 5, aircraft designer Jim Bede thoroughly entertained a group of more than 100 aviation enthusiasts. Between colorful jokes and outstanding humor, he recapped many of the highlights of his career.
Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Bede graduated from West Technical School in Cleveland in 1952 and attended Fenn College and the University of Wichita. After receiving his aeronautical engineer degree in 1957, he started work as a performance engineer with North American Aviation, where he worked on the FJ-4 and A3J projects for the Navy.
He returned home to Cleveland in 1961 to form Bede Aviation with his father James, to produce the Bede BD-1, a kit-built aircraft of his design. Bede later reformed the company, in 1968, as American Aviation, to produce the design in complete form as the AA-1 Yankee. After Grumman purchased the company, it became Grumman American.
This event was also a Grumman Fly-in, which brought pilots in from all over the southeast region.