Arnold Ebneter Inducted to Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame

Saturday evening, October 26, 2013, Arnold was one of five honorees inducted into the Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame (WAHF).

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The ceremony was at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Museum in Oshkosh. In addition to me, other family members that attended included my sister Kate, Arnold’s cousin Carl, his sister Tere and her husband Si, and their daughter and son-in-law Cindy and Derek. Many friends showed up, including six of Arnold’s Portage High School classmates and three of his lightning strike research colleagues from New Mexico in the 1990s (I haven’t blogged that part of the story yet, but it’s coming up soon).

Prior to the event, several of us toured the EAA Museum, which holds dozens of aircraft that have made history in the world of homebuilts and and general aviation — mail carriers, racers, aerobatic airplanes and a replica of Voyager, the aircraft that Burt Rutan designed and that his brother Dick and partner Jeanna Yeager flew around the world non-stop in 1986. A section of the museum is devoted to the Rutan brothers, honoring Burt for his prolific homebuilt and commercial designs and Dick for his piloting achievements.

After viewing the Rutan display, I entered another room and discovered an F-100 cockpit trainer with steps beckoning me to climb in. There was no one around, so I accepted the invitation and immersed myself in what had been Arnold’s “office” 45 years ago. Many of the instruments were similar to those in the F–4s I flew in as a fight test engineer in the mid-80s at Edwards AFB. That shouldn’t be a big surprise — the F-4 was designed only a decade after the F-100. However, the throttle baffled me — I couldn’t figure out how to select the afterburner.

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Once I satisfied my own curiosity, I found the others and insisted they share my treasure. Arnold settled in the cockpit and showed me how to work the afterburner — you just push the throttle to the left and get the amount of afterburner corresponding to the throttle setting. He spent about fifteen minutes in the trainer, pointing out various features as the rest of us peered inside and took pictures. Arnold probably could have stayed all day reminiscing, but we had to go to the hotel and get ready for the event, plus a Boy Scout troop had arrived for their turn in the trainer.

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The induction began at 6:00 pm, with a family-style Wisconsin dinner of beef stew, roasted chicken and Thanksgiving side dishes. After dinner, a member of the WAHF introduced each honoree, and Arnold’s presenter was Tom Thomas, a retired Air Force pilot inducted to the Hall in 2007. Other inductees included Walter Kohler (posthumous), Bill Adams (posthumous), Ronald Scott, and Jeff Baum. Some previous famous inductees include Brigadier General Billy Mitchell, Paul and Tom Poberezny, Steve Wittman, Major Richard Bong, Deke Slayton, Generals Nathan Twining and Hoyt Vandenberg, James Lovell, Art Scholl, and Captain Lance Sijan. Arnold is in good company!