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!

Propeller is Now Available for Pre-Order

Propeller now has an official release date: April 13! It can be pre-ordered at Amazon, B&N, etc (if you don’t want to click on the links, just go to the website and type “The Propeller under the Bed” into the search box and it pops right up). Both Amazon and B&N are selling pre-orders at a 20% discount. B&N shows it shipping on March 21, although that might be an error.

If you would like to pre-order with a 30% discount, you can call Hopkins Fulfillment Service at 1-800-537-5487; use discount code WST30.

I just about had a heart attack when I saw it for sale online! I’m starting to feel like a real writer now …

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:

Across the Continent in a Homebuilt

The Air & Space/Smithsonian article at the link below is a mini-version of “The Propeller Under the Bed.” The article describes Arnold’s record, along with the previous records set by Juhani Heinonen, Ed Lesher, and Gary Hertzler.

Click here to read the article: http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/across-continent-homebuilt-distance-180957787/

The print version of the magazine should be available in stores next week!

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!

Arnold Ebneter and Gary Hertzler to be Featured at AirVenture

If you’re going to AirVenture in Oshkosh this summer, please join us on Friday, August 1, 1000-1145, at the Forum 2 tent for a “World Record Holders Chat” that will feature Arnold along with Gary Hertzler. Gary is the current world record holder for the C-1a closed-course distance record, and he previously held the C-1a straight-line distance world record that Arnold and the E-1 currently hold.

Here is a link to the website for more information about the forum: http://www.eaa.org/eaa/event/World_Record_Holders_Chat?id=184C559A6B8544F48ACBC7049C340336

Both Arnold and Gary will provide short presentations on their respective flights, and then I’ll moderate a discussion in a question and answer format that will include plenty of questions from the audience. The presentation is sure to be both informative and entertaining!

Upgrading Charlie and . . . The Propeller Arrives!

AirVenture in Oshkosh is over so it’s time to get back to work! I’ll post a condensed version of the Oshkosh presentation on a separate page some time during the next few weeks once I catch my breath.

When we last saw Arnold and his family, they had just moved to Eglin AFB in Florida, where he was assigned to manage funds in the Air Force Armament Laboratory. Since he was no longer deploying all the time, he planned to start working on his record-setting airplane, but first he had one small project to do on Charlie, the family airplane.

Charlie was a Beech B35 Bonanza and had only enough seats for four adults. This was no problem when Arnold’s four daughters were small, but by 1969 they were too big to cram together into the two seats in Charlie’s backseat. Rather than buy another airplane, Arnold decided to equip Charlie with a second backseat. He designed a bench and installed it in the baggage compartment. There was still enough room to put small bags under the bench, and as long as the two girls in the backseat plus the luggage weighed less than about 200 pounds, everything would be fine. Of course, once the youngest girls got a little bigger and the rest demanded to take more luggage the solution would fall apart, but Arnold figured it would make Charlie work as a family airplane for a few more years. Plus, it gave him a chance to use his engineering skills that the Air Force seemed determined to waste, despite paying for his two degrees.

Arnold refreshed his mechanic’s skills by welding the frame for the seat and he found a local upholsterer to make the cushions. After getting a blessing from the FAA, he made the maiden flight with the family and realized he had forgotten that there was no window in the baggage compartment, so no one wanted to sit there. Fortunately, Beech already had a window kit that he was able to buy instead of heading back to the drawing board. A few weeks later, with the new window installed, the complaints from the back of the airplane died down.

With Charlie complete, another officer at Eglin presented Arnold with an opportunity to start building his dream airplane. All Air Force bases are full of pilots who can’t fly military airplanes for one reason or another, and Eglin was no exception. A second lieutenant who worked at the lab with Arnold had a civilian pilot’s license and owned a J-3 Cub that he kept at the airport in Crestview. The lieutenant decided to buy a new engine and propeller for his Cub and offered the existing ones to Arnold for only $100. The engine was a 65 horsepower Lycoming model that, even in 1970, was an antique. Parts were hard to come by, but at $100, it was too good a deal to pass up. Arnold decided to bring the wood propeller home to better protect it from the elements, and he found it fit nicely under the bed in the master bedroom. It was a good thing he didn’t try to bring the engine home — it wouldn’t have fit under the bed, and despite her own love of airplanes, Colleen probably would have objected to an engine as a centerpiece on the dining room table.

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.