The Propeller under the Bed: Getting Closer to Release

The books have been printed and I got my first author’s copy in the mail on Monday! I promptly repackaged it and sent it to my father so he would have the honor of seeing it first since, without him, there would have been no book. Here’s a photo of that first book:

Propeller Book Photo

The Book in Final Form

Yesterday (Saturday) nine more copies arrived for me and I noticed that Amazon moved up their shipping date from 13 April to 16 March. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I hope it means that those of you who pre-ordered will be getting your books soon! Barnes & Noble has always showed a shipping date of 21 March.

So what’s next? I had been thinking about having a book launch party in April, but with the possibility of a March release now, that might be a moot point. Whatever happens with the launch, I’m planning to have a book signing at Harvey Field on 6 May, from 11:00 am until 3:00 pm, so mark your calendars! I’ll give a short presentation at about noon and Arnold will be there also to talk and answer questions. There will also be some light refreshments. More details to follow as it gets closer. I’m hoping to do other book signings as well, in Washington State, at Oshkosh and in the DC area (I moved back to northern Virginia in mid-February of this year), but nothing firm has been set up yet.

Writing a book has been a lifelong dream for me, but I never expected that it would turn into a project about my family and the dreams of thousands of other amateur aircraft homebuilders throughout the world. During my research, I gained a much better understanding of not only the history of aviation in the United States but also learned much about my own parents and other relatives. I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity to document all of this for future generations to enjoy.

Many thanks to all of you who have helped me on this journey that began in September 2012 with a vague idea about writing a book using my mother’s idea for a title. Knowing people out there cared about this project was encouraging in itself, but many of you also provided feedback on my early drafts and I always appreciated the “Likes” and encouraging comments you made on the blog. The blog itself produced occasional surprises–I’ve lost track of the number of people who were stationed at Foster AFB in the 1950s who have contacted me! So thank you again for all your support and I hope to see you at a book signing!

Propeller is Now Available for Pre-Order

Propeller now has an official release date: April 13! It can be pre-ordered at Amazon, B&N, etc (if you don’t want to click on the links, just go to the website and type “The Propeller under the Bed” into the search box and it pops right up). Both Amazon and B&N are selling pre-orders at a 20% discount. B&N shows it shipping on March 21, although that might be an error.

If you would like to pre-order with a 30% discount, you can call Hopkins Fulfillment Service at 1-800-537-5487; use discount code WST30.

I just about had a heart attack when I saw it for sale online! I’m starting to feel like a real writer now …

Book Release Update

Last Saturday, the Spring 2017 University of Washington Press Catalog arrived in my mailbox, and what a nice surprise: Propeller is on page 6! Here’s a scan of the page:

Propeller's Page in Spring 2017 UW Press catalog

Propeller’s Page in Spring 2017 UW Press catalog

I finished the index on Tuesday and sent it in, so now there’s nothing to do but wait for the presses to do their thing. Assuming I did the index right of course–this was my first index, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets kicked back for some edits. Even with my dubious indexing skills, everything appears to be on track for pre-release copies in February and the full release in April. In the meantime, here’s a link to a “book trailer” if you’d like to check it out:

The E-1 Moves to Oshkosh

Last Tuesday, October 18, was a big day for Arnold and the E-1! Several helpers loaded the disassembled E-1 onto a truck for transport to the EAA Museum at Oshkosh. I just got word that the E-1 arrived safely in Oshkosh two days ago (October 25). The current plan is for the museum to put the E-1 on display in a few months.

When I was at AirVenture, we discussed the possibility of the E-1 being displayed along with Ed Lesher’s Teal, the aircraft that held the C-1a straight-line distance record from 1975 until Gary Hertzler broke it in 1984. Gary is still flying his VariEze, but maybe it will be in the museum someday also (don’t worry, Gary, I’m not trying to rush you).

The other homebuilt aircraft to hold the record (set in 1957), Juhanni Heinonen’s HK-1, is in the Finnish Aviation Museum near Helsinki; it is still the only Finnish aircraft to ever set a world record. But back to the E-1!

Here are some pictures of the loading at Harvey Field in Snohomish (all photos are courtesy of my sister, Kelly Mercier). First, lift the fuselage out of the hangar and load it.

Fuselage loading

Picking up the fuselage with a forklift

Next, lift the wings and load them:

Loading the wings

Loading the wings

Will they fit?

Will they fit?

Will they fit?

No sweat!

No sweat

Wings and fuselage in the container — not even close!

Next, tie everything down and add padding where the parts might contact the sides of the container. Say goodbye to airplane. Sob!

All tied down

All tied down and saying one last goodbye

Wave goodbye. Now I think my father must know how my mother felt when she waved goodbye at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix as he left for Vietnam in 1968.

Truck leaving for Oshkosh

Onward to Oshkosh!

I should be getting the proofs for the book in the next couple of weeks. More work, but I’m really looking forward to this last stage of the production process. I’m also working on a book trailer and will give you a peek at that once it’s respectable (many thanks to my niece, Mary Skomerza, for her help on that).

Editing, Editing

As I type this, Arnold is getting the E-1 ready to ship to Oshkosh, where it will become part of the collection in the EAA Museum. He had originally planned to fly the E-1 back to Wisconsin, but he’s been having some engine problems, so he decided to ship it instead. It will have to be disassembled for shipping, so I’ll try to get some pictures for posting!

I had a great time at Oshkosh in July, as usual (I can’t imagine NOT having a great time at Oshkosh). About thirty people showed up for my presentation on the history of homebuilt aircraft, and they seemed to really like it. Please let me know if you are interested in a presentation for your organization (e.g., EAA chapter or anyone interested in aviation). I can easily do something in Ohio or Washington State, and with some advance notice, I can travel to other places as well. The presentation is about 45 minutes long, but I can adjust to fit other time requirements.

I’ve been working with Propeller‘s copyeditor for the past couple of weeks and am down to the last three chapters. I hope to have everything completed by the end of next week so I can enjoy my long Labor Day weekend!

The next step in the process will be to review the proofs, which is the first time I’ll see what the book is going to really look like. If everything goes right, that should happen in November.

From there, I have to prepare an index. I’ve never done an index before, so that might be a bit of an adventure! Fortunately, I got some guidance from UW Press and I also found a book about preparing an index. I had no idea that preparing an index would be popular enough to warrant a book. These days, it seems there is a book on just about everything!

Publication Date and Oshkosh

Just a quick update — I’ve been very busy finishing up my manuscript and getting ready for Oshkosh! If the publication schedule stays on track, Propeller will be available in the spring of 2017. The title is now The Propeller Under the Bed: A Personal History of Homebuilt Aircraft.

I’m going to be giving a presentation at Oshkosh, A Brief History of Homebuilt Aircraft, on Thursday, July 28, at 8:30 a.m. in the Homebuilder’s Hangar (near the flightline). The presentation is based on material from the book. If you’re at Oshkosh on Thursday, please stop by!

I have also been in touch with EAA about being part of their Author’s Corner next year. It should be an exciting year!

WACO Air Museum & Historic WACO Field

Historical sign for the WACO Aircraft Company, Troy, Ohio

Historical sign for the WACO Aircraft Company, Troy, Ohio

First, just a quick update on my manuscript. My editor got back to me a few weeks ago with some suggested revisions and I hope to have those finished by the end of March. Then the manuscript will be sent out for a peer review, since the University of Washington is an academic press. So I continue to inch toward publication!

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a gem I tripped over this weekend in my own backyard, the WACO Air Museum and Historic WACO Field. There’s so much to say about this place that I can’t do it justice in a single blog post, so please visit their website for more information. Better yet, stop by if you are in the Dayton area! Admission is only $6 for adults ($5 for military).

WACO (pronounced, “WAH-CO,” unlike the Texas city) was the Weaver Aircraft Company in Troy, Ohio, about 20 miles north of Dayton. The company built aircraft in the 1920s through the 1940s, and a handful of flyable airplanes still exist; some even give rides and perform in air shows. Here is a picture of the “Cootie,” the first airplane they manufactured; it’s hanging from the ceiling of the museum:

WACO Cootie

WACO Cootie

As you can see, it wasn’t much, with it’s two-cylinder engine. Next up is the WACO 9, which was manufactured in 1926 and uses a World War I-surplus OX-5 engine. These engines were very plentiful and powerful for their day, having been built for military trainers, but they had a major drawback — like most early engines, they were water-cooled, like your car. Notice the box that resembles an air conditioner perched behind and above the engine. Not only did this make it hard for the pilot to see forward, the radiators and their hoses were prone to breaking in flight and, once all the coolant drained out, well, it was time to start looking for a place to land!

WACO 9, an example of a water-cooled engine

WACO 9, an example of a water-cooled engine

The next airplane is the WACO UMF-3, a later model that used an air-cooled radial engine. This particular aircraft was owned by the mayor of Moraine, Ohio, which has an airport where I used to keep my first Decathlon airplane.

WACO UMF-3, with air-cooled radial engine

WACO UMF-3, with air-cooled radial engine

One of the more interesting displays is about the cockpit remnant in the picture below. This is one of the few metal parts from a WACO glider used during World War II to insert Army troops into France. Click here for more information about this amazing story.

Remnant of WACO glider used during WWII

Remnant of WACO glider used during WWII

These are just a few of the airplanes on display. This is the first aviation museum I’ve visited that has only aircraft from one manufacturer, and I found it very interesting to watch the progression and advances from model-to-model. Unfortunately, WACO went out of business after WWII, at least partly a casualty of the market saturation by surplus aircraft.

The site isn’t just a museum, though. It’s also an airfield (WACO Field Airport, identifier 1WF) that you can fly into, and they have fly-ins and other events when the weather is warmer. Click here for more information about the airfield. The last picture below is an old gas pump that looks good enough to still work, although I don’t think it does.

Old time gas pump at WACO Field Airport, Troy, Ohio

Old time gas pump at WACO Field Airport, Troy, Ohio

Across the Continent in a Homebuilt

The Air & Space/Smithsonian article at the link below is a mini-version of “The Propeller Under the Bed.” The article describes Arnold’s record, along with the previous records set by Juhani Heinonen, Ed Lesher, and Gary Hertzler.

Click here to read the article: http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/across-continent-homebuilt-distance-180957787/

The print version of the magazine should be available in stores next week!

What Happened to 2015?

I can’t believe 2015 is almost over! As you have probably guessed from my lack of recent posts, the last half of 2015 was quite busy as I did tons of research and finished the draft manuscript for The Propeller Under the Bed, which I emailed to my editor on December 13th. I then collapsed for a few days before getting ready for Christmas.

I plan to start posting some of the material from my research that isn’t used in the manuscript. Many of the stories will be about the history of homebuilt aircraft, but I’ll try to relate it as much as possible to Arnold’s experiences and the E-1. My goal is to start posting once a week again.

A new article about homebuilt record-breakers, which includes Arnold and the E-1, is scheduled to appear in the next Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine, which should be out in late January 2016. I’ll post a link to the article when it comes out online!

Here is a link to the Air & Space article I wrote about the F-8, which was a contemporary of the F-100: http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/11_on2015-f8-crusader-at-60-180956611/?no-ist

I’ll also keep you posted on the progress of the book as it makes it way through the editing and review process.

I wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Propeller Has a Publisher: UW Press!

Just a quick post to let you know that I have found a publisher for The Propeller Under the Bed! I met with my editor this past Monday and I should have a signed contract with the University of Washington Press within the next few weeks. UW Press is primarily an academic publisher, but they also publish general interest books, such as Four Thousand Hooks, a book about fishing in Alaska written by Dean Adams, who attended UW at the same time I did. Many thanks to Dean for encouraging me to pursue UW Press as a publisher.

The final book will be a bit different than what I originally envisioned. It will have fewer stories about Arnold’s youth and more emphasis on the history of homebuilt aircraft. I think it will be a great mashup of my original manuscript and research on homebuilt aircraft I had hoped to turn into a second book. This way, I get two books for the effort of one! Many thanks to my editor, Regan Huff, who had the vision to put the book together this way.

I have some additional research and rewriting to do, but the good news is I’ll be posting most of the material I remove from the manuscript that I haven’t previously posted — there are quite a few “Arnold stories” yet to be told!