Oshkosh Report: The E-1 and More!

As always, AirVenture at Oshkosh was amazing! It just keeps getting better every year, with more people, more airplanes, more things to see, and an incredible airshow. The fireworks display at the night airshow on Saturday was the best I’ve ever seen — I didn’t think they were ever going to stop. Both of my presentations were well-attended and I even sold a few books.

The E-1, as promised, was on display on the grass outside the EAA Museum. My older sister Maureen took the photo below of my dad with the E-1 on Wednesday, July 25. I took the other photo the next day; it shows the Lesher Teal lurking behind the E-1. You may recall that Ed Lesher and the Teal held the C1a distance record from 1975 until 1984, when Gary Hertzler set the record in his VariEze that Arnold eventually broke. Gary still has his airplane and flies it regularly.

Arnold with the E-1 at Oshkosh/EAA Museum

The E-1 with the Lesher Teal in the Background

I also was lucky enough to fly the EAA’s T-6 on Sunday before I left Oshkosh. I flew with EAA’s Sean Elliot and I had a great time doing some introductory maneuvers such as steep turns, lazy-8s, and chandelles. No acro — we didn’t have chutes — but it was still a blast. Here’s a couple of pictures:

EAA’s T-6

Me after having a great time in the T-6!

Finally, on my drive back to Madison for my flight home the next day, I stopped by Fisk to see the FAA controllers who bring all the traffic into Oshkosh during AirVenture. As you can see from these photos, the set-up at Fisk is a pretty low-tech operation right next to a corn field! The controllers visually spot inbound aircraft and then push them in one direction or another as they fly directly over Fisk. The pilots don’t talk at all, they just listen to what the controllers tell them to do. I flew into Oshkosh once in the mid-1990s and it was both challenging and fun. On Sunday, the last day of the show, things were pretty quiet, although there was a steady stream of airplanes outbound.

FAA controllers waiting for some action at Fisk

The luxurious facilities at Fisk

And that’s it for Oshkosh for another year! I’m already making plans for next year.

The E-1 at Oshkosh (and Some Presentations, Too)

The E-1 is supposed to be on display during AirVenture this coming week! I’m not exactly sure where, but usually some of the aircraft not yet on display in the museum are towed to a grassy area behind the museum so people can see them during AirVenture. Arnold is planning to be there on Wednesday, along with my older sister, Maureen. I don’t arrive until Thursday, but once I find the E-1, I’ll be sure to post a picture! I’m hoping it will be on display with Ed Lesher’s Teal, which held the C-1a distance record from 1975 until 1984, when Gary Hertzler set the record that Arnold then broke in 2010.

Also, I’m going to give two presentations and will be signing books during AirVenture. The first presentation is on The Propeller under the Bed and will be at the museum on Thursday, July 26, 1:00 pm to 2:15 pm. It’s titled Homebuilts: Not the Usual Suspects and I’ll be signing books afterwards.

The second presentation will be 10:00 am to 11:15 am on Friday, July 27, at Forum Stage 3. It’s titled F-100 & F-8: The Forgotten Fighters. The material in this presentation is based on some research that Maureen has done on the F-100, along with some of my F-100 articles and an article I wrote on the F-8 a couple of years ago.

I’ll also be signing books 3:45 pm to 4:45 pm on Friday at the Sky Shoppe Authors Corner and again at 2:45 pm to 3:45 pm on Saturday, July 28, at the Wearhouse Authors Corner.

I hope to see some of you there!

EAA eHotline and Upcoming Events

My Decathlon is broken so I was going to try to fly in a rented Decathlon today in Leesburg, Virginia, but it was too windy. I guess I’ll have to settle for a picture of a Decathlon (the picture below is actually my older airplane; I often regret selling it, but I know the new owner is taking good care of it). Bummer! But the cancellation gives me some time to work on my long-neglected website.

1974 Decathlon

1974 Decathlon

Many thanks to EAA for a nice call-out about The Propeller under the Bed in their eHotline last week: Click here to read the short article.

I’m excited to be the speaker at the annual meeting of the Oregon Aviation Historical Society in Cottage Grove, Oregon next Saturday (April 14). I have to admit I’m a little nervous about giving a presentation on the history of homebuilt aircraft to a group of folks who know way more than I do about Oregon’s significant contributions to homebuilding!

I’m also going to be giving an interview and book reading to Authors of the Pacific Northwest. I’ll let you know when the podcast gets published and will provide a link to the website.

Oshkosh Schedule for The Propeller under the Bed

I will be giving my presentation, “A Brief History of Homebuilt Aircraft,” at EAA’s AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on Thursday, July 27, 8:30 a.m. After the presentation, I’ll be signing my book at the Sky Shoppe (EAA will be selling books) until 10:30.

I’ll also be signing books at the Sky Shoppe on Friday, July 28, 4:30-5:30 p.m. and then at the EAA Wearhouse on Saturday, July 29, 1:30-2:30 p.m.

If you have already purchased a book and would like me to sign it, please feel free to bring it to the signing.

I hope to see some of you there!

 

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!