The E-1’s Innovative Wheel Pants
(Arnold Ebneter Personal Collection)
After doing some tests, Arnold found that he needed to coax a few more miles per gallon out of the E-1, so he decided to streamline the landing gear.
Reasoning that most of the drag came from the turbulent flow behind each wheel and tire, he decided to cover just the backs of those parts, fashioning two wheel pants that looked like little flat footballs. When he was finished, the simple solution looked a bit odd, but it worked.
Arnold and the E-1 took off for the first time at 12:06 p.m. on July 9, 2005. Here’s the takeoff video:
Arnold circled the airport, climbing higher and higher until we could barely see him. After checking out engine temperatures, doing some turns and checking out the landing configuration at altitude, he was ready to come back and do the hard part – landing.
He aimed for the grass runway, figuring it would make for a shorter landing, but the E-1 didn’t want to stop flying – half way down the runway, the airplane was still too fast to land, so he added power and climbed back up to the traffic pattern for another try. The second approach was better and he touched down about one-third of the way down the runway, but there were still some problems. Here’s the video: