Harvey Field Book Signing

I just wanted to post a few pictures from the book signing at Harvey Field last weekend (May 6). The weather was great and 50+ people came out; at least a few of them flew in! We sold almost 40 books and Arnold and I gave a short presentation about noon. Everyone ate most of the sandwiches, fruit, and spreads we set out, but there were plenty of chocolates and cookies left over for the hungry flight instructors.

Here’s a few pictures:

Some attendees at the book signing

The books!

Some E-1 memorabilia

Many thanks to all who helped me get this set up: Christi Otness, my sisters Kelly and Maureen, Vladimir Ursachii (who helped with the computers and celebrated forty years of skydiving a few days after the event), and all the Harvey Field employees that helped with every little detail from Facebook announcements to ordering the books for sale.

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 …

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!

Amazing Aviation Tales: Homeless French Fighter Aircraft

I’ve been caught up in moving so have been away from the blog for a while. But I’m back with another Amazing Aviation Tale, this one brought to you by Tom Mead, a retired Air Force colonel. Tom was a fighter pilot and later a test pilot, and he once stumbled across an interesting sight while visiting his 1970’s stomping ground in Europe. I think this one is best told through Tom’s words, and then I’ll add my thoughts at the end. Here’s Tom’s narrative:

In 1986, while I was attending Command and Staff College, I had the opportunity over the Christmas break to take a quick trip to the Headquarters of the United States Air Force in Europe (USAFE) at Ramstein Air Base (AB), Germany, to research some material for a school project. During my stay, I had time to visit my old squadron at nearby Bitburg AB for a day, and while winding along the flight line, I noticed two ragged-looking French Etendard fighters parked near the end of the runway, well away from the transient aircraft ramp where visitors would normally park. [Eileen note: The photo below is not from Bitburg — the aircraft below is on display at Fréjus Saint Raphael, France.]

Etendard IV Fighter ("Dassault Étendard IVM" by www.netmarine.net - Courtesy of http://www.netmarine.net. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dassault_%C3%89tendard_IVM.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Dassault_%C3%89tendard_IVM.jpg)

“Dassault Étendard IVM” by www.netmarine.net – Courtesy of http://www.netmarine.net. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dassault_%C3%89tendard_IVM.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Dassault_%C3%89tendard_IVM.jpg

I drove on to see my old squadron, and during that visit, I asked a pilot in the squadron what the French aircraft were doing on the base. He explained that one day, two French fighter pilots flew the airplanes in, parked them on the transient ramp, shut down, and walked into the Base Operations building (like all visitors). However, unlike most visitors, this pair each carried a two-foot stack of aircraft maintenance forms. They found the Dispatch Office, entered, and dropped all the forms on the desk, saying, in that understated way that only the French can pull off, “Here are your aircraft back.”

Before any of the stunned airmen at Base Ops could think of what to do, the pair had disappeared.

It turned out that these aircraft were part of some very old loan agreement with the French military and when the loan period was up, the French returned the aircraft per terms of the agreement. No one on the US side (at Bitburg, anyway) was aware of this, so were totally caught off guard. With no way to fly the airplanes (no mission, no trained pilots, and no spare parts, among other things), the base leadership decided to use the aircraft as decoys. At some point, they were finally disposed of.

Eileen here again. I love this story, but after scouring the Internet, I can’t figure out what the US was doing leasing/loaning French airplanes to the French! There were some programs back in the sixties where the US was trying to help NATO forces acquire more equipment like tanks and fighter aircraft to help achieve a better balance between nuclear and conventional forces, but I can’t find any evidence that these aircraft were part of that.

I looked on some website pages for Bitburg AB, hoping to find a photo of the “Bitburg Etendards,” but came up with nothing.

Does anyone out there know anything more about this story? Please pass the story along to others who may have been stationed at Bitburg AB in the 1980s. If anyone has any more information or some pictures, please pass them along and I will post them with the next tale!

 

Bleriot Medal Winners

I’m almost done with another Amazing Aviation Tale, but in the meantime, here’s a picture I took tonight of Arnold along with another Bleriot Medal winner, Norm Howell, at our Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 84 meeting. Since only 62 people have ever been awarded the Bleriot Medal, having two awardees in the same place at once is quite unusual (although it did also happen last summer when Gary Hertzler and Arnold gave their presentations at AirVenture in Oshkosh).

Norm Howell and Arnold Ebneter, Bleriot Medal Awardees (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Norm Howell and Arnold Ebneter, Bleriot Medal Awardees (Eileen Bjorkman photo)

Norm is a test pilot at Boeing, and I’ve known him since the early 90s at Edwards AFB. He received his Bleriot medal in 1987 for straight-line distance in a 300 kg “Quickie” airplane. According to the FAI website, Norm has held thirteen aviation world records at one time or another, and he currently holds seven records, including one which has been retired by rule changes (meaning it will never be broken).

The Louis Bleriot Medal was established in 1936 in memory of Louis Bleriot, who was the first to cross the English Channel in an airplane and was also a former Vice-President of the FAI. Three Medals may be awarded each year to the respective holders of the highest records for speed, altitude and distance in a straight line for airplanes weighing less than 1000 kg. The medal is not awarded every year; in fact, the medal awarded in 2014 to William Yates for an altitude record is the first one since Arnold and Richard Young received theirs in 2010 (Arnold for distance and Richard Young for speed).

You can also read more of Arnold’s F-100 adventures in the March 2015 issue of Aviation History (available in stores now). Unfortunately, the article isn’t available online — sorry! The article starts on p.54 and is called “Cold War Airpower Laboratory.”

Getting Some Tools for My RV-8

But first, the E-1 status update. Arnold got the parts this week for the engine repair, but then he found he needed yet some more parts. He was also looking at some engine operating data from some previous flights, and now he thinks he might have yet another problem, so ….

Long story short, he is reviewing his options, including possibly replacing the engine altogether. I’ll keep you posted!

I’ve been matching my tools and Arnold’s tools against the Van’s recommended list, and I just about have everything I need to start working on my RV-8 kit. I took advantage of an online sale at Grizzly to pick up a 1″ belt sander and some unibits (see picture below — the unibits are in the small box).

My new toy

My new toy

There just happens to be a Grizzly store near me in Bellingham, so this project may require a trip up there to see what other sorts of interesting things I might need (make that want). While I’m at it, maybe I’ll just go ahead and cross the border into Canada and do some Christmas shopping … oh wait, I’m supposed to be building an airplane!

I hope to start setting up my workshop in about two more weeks. Stay tuned!

E-1 Status Update

We are still hoping that Arnold will be able to fly the E-1 back to Oshkosh this fall so it can enter the EAA Museum. However, he is still waiting for an engine part to arrive, so we don’t have a good estimate on when the engine will be repaired. I will keep you posted!

In the meantime, I didn’t have enough to do in my life already, so I decided to start building an airplane. I visited Aurora, Oregon two weeks ago planning to just fly an RV-7 or RV-8 at Van’s Aircraft to help me decide whether to buy a kit. I had so much fun on the demonstration flight that I drove home with an RV-8 empennage kit in my trunk! The empennage consists of the elevator, rudder, horizontal stabilizer and the vertical stabilizer.

The first order of business was to unpack everything and take inventory of all the parts. The picture below shows all the pieces. Some assembly required, but just think of it as a giant piece of IKEA furniture — anyone who has dumped out a bag of 1,000 small parts from an IKEA box knows what I’m talking about!

RV-8 Empennage Kit Unpacked in My Basement

RV-8 Empennage Kit Unpacked in My Basement

The packaging material makes for a good cat toy as well.

Butterball

Next up is to get my workshop set up, make sure I have all the tools I need, and then do a little practice riveting on some scrap sheet metal. With all that, it will probably be at least another month before I actually start doing any real assembly on my RV-8. Wow, it feels good to say “my RV-8!”

Heading to AirVenture at Oshkosh!

Arnold and I will be heading to Oshkosh and AirVenture Thursday morning. We’re going to be driving this year, so I hope I find something really heavy to buy and drag home!

We’re going to be stopping by Felts Field near Spokane to deliver Arnold’s BD-5 plans to Clark Taylor, who acquired a used kit with no plans.

Arnold and Gary Hertzler, who holds the current closed course distance world record for C-1a aircraft and formerly held the world record that Arnold now holds, will be talking about their records at an AirVenture Forum on Friday, August 1 at 1000. I’ll be attempting to moderate the conversation, if that’s possible. If you’ll be at AirVenture, please stop by for what should be a very interesting conversation with lots of time for questions and answers!

Also, I’ve posted all the material from my manuscript that I planned to, so I’m going to scale back on my posts to about once every two weeks. I’m planning to provide posts about other record setters and general aviation topics of interest. Also, if anyone has anything specific they would like to ask Arnold, please leave a comment or send me an email at eabjorkman@aol.com and I’ll post the answer in a future blog post.

Arnold Ebneter Awarded Bleriot Medal in 2011

In 2011, the FAI awarded Arnold the Louis Bleriot Medal for his 2010 distance record. Gary Hertzler, Edgar Lesher, and Junni Heinonen, the previous holders of Arnold’s record are also Bleriot Medal recipients for their respective flights.

Here’s a picture of the awards ceremony in Southern California in November 2011:

Bleriot Medal

Bleriot Medal Award Ceremony (Eileen Bjorkman personal collection)

The ceremony took place at the Flight Path Learning Center and Museum near LAX, which explains the flight attendant statue in the background!

Many EAA members have received Bleriot medals, so Arnold is in good company. In addition to Hertzler and Lesher, some of the EAA members include Dick Rutan, Robert L. “Hoot” Gibson, Brian Bohannon, Jon Sharp, Norm Howell, and Steve Wittman (this is by no means an exhaustive list)!

Arnold Ebneter and Gary Hertzler to be Featured at AirVenture

If you’re going to AirVenture in Oshkosh this summer, please join us on Friday, August 1, 1000-1145, at the Forum 2 tent for a “World Record Holders Chat” that will feature Arnold along with Gary Hertzler. Gary is the current world record holder for the C-1a closed-course distance record, and he previously held the C-1a straight-line distance world record that Arnold and the E-1 currently hold.

Here is a link to the website for more information about the forum: http://www.eaa.org/eaa/event/World_Record_Holders_Chat?id=184C559A6B8544F48ACBC7049C340336

Both Arnold and Gary will provide short presentations on their respective flights, and then I’ll moderate a discussion in a question and answer format that will include plenty of questions from the audience. The presentation is sure to be both informative and entertaining!