Measuring 12 feet long with a wingspan of 17 feet, pilot Peter Reny’s Bede BD-5 microjet looks more like a coin-operated kiddie ride than an aircraft capable of aerobatic maneuvers and hitting a top speed of 350 mph.

Reny, of Gardiner, flew his plane Monday from Augusta State Airport for the first time this year, and he plans to begin flying it at air shows. Most of the time, people don’t realize how small it is until they get close up, he said.

“You don’t get in the airplane. You wear the airplane. It’s that small,” Reny said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The Bede BD-5, considered the world’s smallest jet aircraft, became famous for being flown in the opening sequence of the 1983 James Bond film “Octopussy.”

Reny, 49, bought the plane in 2006, but he didn’t get it in the air until 2012. He said he hopes to fly it in the annual air show at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station in the fall of next year. The 450-pound plane can only fly for around 30 to 45 minutes at a time, but it’s capable of spins, loops, rolls and tail slides, he said.

“I’ve flown 50 different airplanes, and it’s by far the most fun,” he said. “You can’t even imagine. When you’re doing 350 (mph), you can tell you’re doing 350. It’s pretty loud and the controls tighten up, so you know you’re going fast.”

Reny, whose full-time job is flying Boeing 737s for American Airlines, said owning a Bede BD-5 had been a goal of his since age 12 when he saw the plane in an aviation magazine.

He learned to fly at Maine Instrument Flight at Augusta State Airport as a Cony High School senior, and he later became an instructor at the flight school, which sponsors his microjet.

Reny described sitting in the plane as snug but comfortable, like sitting in a recliner. To transport it, he has to take the wings and tail off to fit it in the trailer. He said he goes through a long checklist before he flies to make sure everything was put together correctly.

“If something isn’t right, the airplane will kill you,” Reny said.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig


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