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:

The E-1 Moves to Oshkosh

Last Tuesday, October 18, was a big day for Arnold and the E-1! Several helpers loaded the disassembled E-1 onto a truck for transport to the EAA Museum at Oshkosh. I just got word that the E-1 arrived safely in Oshkosh two days ago (October 25). The current plan is for the museum to put the E-1 on display in a few months.

When I was at AirVenture, we discussed the possibility of the E-1 being displayed along with Ed Lesher’s Teal, the aircraft that held the C-1a straight-line distance record from 1975 until Gary Hertzler broke it in 1984. Gary is still flying his VariEze, but maybe it will be in the museum someday also (don’t worry, Gary, I’m not trying to rush you).

The other homebuilt aircraft to hold the record (set in 1957), Juhanni Heinonen’s HK-1, is in the Finnish Aviation Museum near Helsinki; it is still the only Finnish aircraft to ever set a world record. But back to the E-1!

Here are some pictures of the loading at Harvey Field in Snohomish (all photos are courtesy of my sister, Kelly Mercier). First, lift the fuselage out of the hangar and load it.

Fuselage loading

Picking up the fuselage with a forklift

Next, lift the wings and load them:

Loading the wings

Loading the wings

Will they fit?

Will they fit?

Will they fit?

No sweat!

No sweat

Wings and fuselage in the container — not even close!

Next, tie everything down and add padding where the parts might contact the sides of the container. Say goodbye to airplane. Sob!

All tied down

All tied down and saying one last goodbye

Wave goodbye. Now I think my father must know how my mother felt when she waved goodbye at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix as he left for Vietnam in 1968.

Truck leaving for Oshkosh

Onward to Oshkosh!

I should be getting the proofs for the book in the next couple of weeks. More work, but I’m really looking forward to this last stage of the production process. I’m also working on a book trailer and will give you a peek at that once it’s respectable (many thanks to my niece, Mary Skomerza, for her help on that).

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!

The E-1 Gets a New Engine

The E-1 is finally getting its new engine! The replacement Jabiru arrived from Australia in May, and Arnold has been installing it over the past several weeks. Normally, it would have been a relatively simple swap out, but Jabiru has made some modifications (I assume they are improvements) to the engine, and it didn’t quite fit Arnold’s original installation.

The overall engine size is the same, so he didn’t have to make a new cowling, but he had to modify a bracket that holds the oil cooler, among other things. Here’s some pictures:

New engine installation in the E-1 (Photo Credit Kelly Mercier)

New engine installation in the E-1 (Photo Credit Kelly Mercier)

The oil cooler with new "features" (Photo Credit Kelly Mercier)

The oil cooler with new “features” (Photo Credit Kelly Mercier)

On the other hand, the challenge of making things work is some of the fun of homebuilt aircraft, so it looks like Arnold is having a lot of fun!

No word yet on the transport of the E-1 to the museum in Oshkosh — I’ll keep you posted on that. In the meantime, Arnold and I are both planning to be at AirVenture in Oshkosh, especially since an F-100F is scheduled to fly. AirVenture dates this year are July 20-26, a little earlier than normal. My work schedule right now is a bit hectic, so I may only make it for one or two days, but I will be there!

E-1 Getting an Upgrade

We’re into the rainy season in the Pacific Northwest! The forecast said the fog would burn off by 10 a.m. this morning, but I took the picture below at 10:05:

IMG_0016

Even if it does clear up here, because a valley separates my house and Harvey Field, where I keep my Decathlon and Arnold keeps the E-1 and his other airplanes, it’s not unusual for the weather to be clear over my house but still foggy at the airport.

Fortunately, the Harveys have this nifty weather cam you can use to check the weather (click here for the weather cam). One good thing about days like this is there is no temptation to go fly, so I should be able to get some work done. Unfortunately, I have yet to drive a single rivet on my RV-8 tailkit. But I have managed to do a few things towards setting up my workshop.

In other news, click here for a story of mine that ran in the October issue of Air&Space/Smithsonian. I don’t think Arnold had this same problem on his record-setting flight!

And yes, the E-1 is getting an upgrade to the engine! Arnold has found a modification kit that should make the engine run a bit cooler and take care of the problems that have grounded the E-1 since last summer.

It’s not unusual for experimental aircraft to have problems with the engine overheating. The vast majority of small piston-driven aircraft use air-cooled engines, and getting the cooling right is more art than science. You want the cowl that covers the engine to be as small as possible to reduce drag and weight, but a smaller cowl also means less room for the air to move around.

No word yet on an installation schedule for the modification, but I’ll let you know as soon as I have more details. In the meantime, the E-1 move to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Museum in Oshkosh has been rescheduled for next spring.

E-1 Schedule Update

Arnold got the original engine on the E-1 back together again and, after doing some additional engine runs, he thinks the current engine may be okay after all. But given that we are now into late fall, he has decided to wait until next spring to take the E-1 to the EAA Museum in Oshkosh. The E-1 has no heater, and the weather is also getting a little too iffy to launch on a long cross-country flight that has to be made without flying in the clouds. The delay will also give Arnold a chance to do some more troubleshooting on the engine and perhaps make another attempt at the efficiency record, so stay tuned!

In the meantime, here is a link to a short article I wrote about the control tower at Paine Field in Everett, Washington, which was the departure airport for Arnold’s record-breaking flight in 2010: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20140921/NEWS01/140929877.

I haven’t gotten much more done on the RV-8 — I hope my next post will show a little progress!

E-1 Selected for EAA Museum at Oshkosh!

On Monday, May 5, Arnold found out that the EAA has chosen to add the E-1 to the collection at the EAA Museum in Oshkosh. The E-1 is still flyable, so that should make the donation process a lot easier than if we had to tow it to Wisconsin!

E-1

The E-1 (Arnold Ebneter personal collection)

We don’t have any details yet on specifics regarding the move of the airplane or when it might be on display — I’ll keep you posted as I learn more!

I think it is very fitting that Arnold learned this good news on May 5 — that day would have been Colleen’s 82nd birthday. I’m sure she is smiling over the news of this wonderful birthday present!

Streamlining the E-1

E-1 Wheel Pant

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.

 

First Flight of Arnold Ebneter’s E-1

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: