Local History: Paine Field in Everett

Some of you may remember that Arnold took off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, to set his world record. Although he normally flies from Harvey Field in nearby Snohomish, Paine Field offered a longer runway for the fuel-heavy E-1 and a control tower in case there were any problems with the take off.

Paine Field is also home to the plant where Boeing manufactures their wide-body aircraft — 747, 767, 777 and 787 — so I see big airplanes flying around here all the time.

There’s a new book out about the history of Paine Field, and I learned that the airport was originally constructed in the 1930s. It was planned to be a large passenger airport, but during WWII, the Korean War and much of the Cold War, it was mostly a military facility, housing P-51s, F-86s, and F-89s at one time or another. Boeing didn’t move to the airport until the late 1960s.

I also learned that Paine Field is named for Topliff Olin Paine, who was a local airmail pilot. Most airmail pilots who have airports named for them died in plane crashes, but Paine was killed by an accidental gunshot wound in 1922, just a few days after his 29th birthday. He is buried at a cemetery near my house, so I walked there on Saturday with my sister and found his grave. From the marker in the picture below, you can see that he was also in the military during WWI. The larger headstone behind his marker is for his parents.

Paine Grave

Topliff Olin Paine grave marker — Paine Field in Everett is named for him

Up next: Another Amazing Aviation 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.”