Events, Events!

I’m adding an events page, but here are some upcoming presentations and book signings:

April 22, 2017: Presentation on “A Brief History of Homebuilt Aircraft” at the EAA Chapter 186 meeting in Manassas, Virginia. I’ll sign books for anyone that brings a copy, but I didn’t have time to arrange for book sales for this event. The meeting starts at 10:00 am and my presentation will be at about 11:00 am followed by a BBQ! Click here for more information.

May 3, 2017: Literary Voices at the University of Washington, beginning at 6:00 pm. I’ll be one of about thirty authors at this event! It’s a bit pricey, but click here for more information if you are interested.

May 6, 2017: Book signing at Harvey Airfield in Snohomish, Washington, from 11:00 am until 3 pm. I will be giving a short presentation at noon and my father will be there also. Books will be available for sale and we’ll also have refreshments. Click here for directions to Harvey Airfield.

July 7, 2017 at 10:15 am and July 8, 2018 at 12:45 pm, I’ll be giving a presentation on “A Brief History of Homebuilt Aircraft” and signing books at the Arlington Fly-In in Arlington, Washington. I believe we will have books for sale, but I’ll confirm that at a later date. Click here for more information on the Fly-In.

I’m planning to do something at Oshkosh of course, but I don’t yet have confirmed dates/times, etc.

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!

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:

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!

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!

Writer’s Retreat Produces Outline for The Propeller Under the Bed

I’m spending the weekend with friends in Sandia Park, New Mexico, where I’ve been having a “mini-writer’s retreat.” There’s nothing like getting away from home for a few days to clear the mind and make forward progress! In addition to the solitude and lack of distractions, the gorgeous New Mexico view from their dining room helped me stay focused. See below:

Mead_view

I finished the first chapter except for a few minor tweaks and finally (I think) finished my outline. Here is the list of chapters (still subject to change, of course):

1. The Pilot’s Rock

2. The Itinerant Pilot

3. The Accidental Engineer

4. The Balloon Pilot

5. Safer in the Air?

6. The Dream Begins

7. Vietnam, Part I

8. Vietnam, Part II

9. The Propeller Finds a Home

10. Sidetracked in Seattle

11. Colleen’s Cub

12. The Thunderstorm Pilot

13. Loss of His Co-Pilot

14. Airplane on a Diet

15. First Flight

16. Seepless in Seattle

17. Are We There Yet?

18: Aftermath: Accolades and Awards

Epilogue

 

I’m planning to post a little more material from the first chapter later this week. Talk to you then!

About the Website Title


The title for this website and soon-to-be-book was inspired by Arnold’s wife Colleen (and my mother).

In 1970, while stationed at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle, Arnold bought a propeller, along with a 65 horsepower Lycoming engine, for $250 from a second lieutenant also stationed at Eglin. Arnold planned to use the propeller on his world-record-setting airplane. He soon decided not to use the engine and sold it, but he kept the propeller (shown below).

theprop

Arnold needed a place to store the propeller that would keep it away from the humidity and salt air of Northwest Florida. Since he didn’t have a garage, he convinced Colleen to store the propeller under their bed, where it remained for many years, occasionally interrupted by five local and cross-country moves. Sometime in the late 1980s, the propeller somehow graduated to a corner of their dining room, creating quite a conversation piece.

Colleen always joked that if Arnold ever finally got around to building and flying his airplane, she would write a book called, “The Propeller Under the Bed.” However, due to her untimely death in 1999, she was unable to realize her own dream, so I am here to see it through.

Welcome to The Propeller Under the Bed!




On July 25, 2010, 82-year-old Arnold Ebneter took off from Everett, Washington and flew his small airplane more than 2300 miles across the United States to set a world distance record for aircraft weighing 500 kilograms. His non-stop flight took about eighteen hours, but the design, construction, testing, and pre-flight preparation encompassed fifty years. Although most significant aviation world records in modern times are set with the help of large teams of people and corporate sponsorships, Ebneter did everything on his own. He designed the airplane in 1960 as a project to finish his college degree, collected parts for more than thirty years, built the airplane for ten years in his garage, and finally tested and refined the design for five years before the airplane was ready to set the record.

What drove Ebneter to set a world record in the first place, especially one that requires sitting in a cramped cockpit for more than eighteen hours straight? And how was he able to hold onto his youthful dream for decades despite the realities of a full life that included work, family commitments, and other life events?

My name is Eileen Bjorkman, and I am one of Arnold’s daughters, and also a pilot. I will offer answers to these questions through this website and a book I am writing titled “The Propeller Under the Bed: A Pilot’s Fifty Year Pursuit of an Aviation World Record.”

Written in non-technical jargon, the book will chronicle Arnold’s flying adventures and misadventures as he crisscrossed the United States and the world flying research balloons in Minnesota and New Mexico, fighter airplanes in Vietnam, a cargo airplane carrying fish in Alaska, and a thunderstorm research airplane in New Mexico before finally settling down to build and fly his record setting airplane, the E-1. Along the way lay tales of loss, hope, resiliency, creativity, and finally, the satisfaction of fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Please check back often! As I write the book, I will post excerpts from the book, photos, and content that is interesting but won’t be included in the book. Please e-mail me at eabjorkman@aol.com if you have any feedback or suggestions for content.