What Does the E-1 Have In Common With the B-17?

Well, beyond the obvious wings and a tail and so on, I was surprised to find that the E-1 and B-17 have an interesting design characteristic in common. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

I recently had the opportunity to do a second-in-command (co-pilot) check out in Aluminum Overcast, the B-17 that belongs to the EAA Foundation. Here’s a picture of the airplane:


Aluminum Overcast
(Eileen Bjorkman personal collection)

It’s a big taildragger, about 40,000 pounds — much bigger than anything I’ve ever flown before, but I had a great instructor, and after about eight tries I managed to make a decent landing.

The trickiest part of flying the B-17 is the throttles. Here’s a picture of the throttle quadrant:

B-17 Throttles

B-17 Throttles — What Engineer Designed This?
(Eileen Bjorkman personal collection)

The top lever connects engines 1 and 4 to move together; the bottom lever connects 2 and 3; and in the center you have control of all four throttles individually or you can grab them together. It sounds good, but 1 and 4 are on top of 2 and 3 instead of all in a row, so at first I was forever grabbing the wrong throttle.

As to what the E-1 and the B-17 have in common, they both use split flaps, which I discussed in a previous post. As you can imagine, the B-17’s flaps are considerably larger than the E-1’s flaps. I didn’t make any measurements, but I think it would be safe to say that the B-17’s flaps are probably bigger than the E-1’s entire wing! And the B-17 flaps are powered electrically, instead of the simple manual lever that the E-1 uses.

Arnold Ebneter Commemorates 70th Anniversary of First Solo

Arnold’s first solo flight was in a Piper Cub at Mael Field in Portage, Wisconsin, on April 2, 1944, about six weeks after his sixteenth birthday. On April 2, 2014, the 70th anniversary of that event, he took to the skies again in his current Cub, this time at Harvey Field in Snohomish, Washington. He flew with my older sister Maureen, so I guess it technically wasn’t a solo flight, but it was still the anniversary! Here is a picture of him after the flight:

70th Anniversary Solo

Arnold Ebneter on the 70th Anniversary of His First Solo Flight
(Eileen Bjorkman personal collection)

The Cub in the photo is the one that he rebuilt for my mother back in the late 1980s.

Arnold reminisced about how the 2014 flight was different from his first solo. The Cub he flew in 1944 had no radio and no brakes, and he flew from a grass field. His current Cub also has an 85-hp engine instead of the 65-hp engine of his original solo airplane, so he climbed a lot faster in 2014 than in 1944.

The traffic pattern in 1944 was also quite different from the typical modern pattern. In 1944, after taking off, he flew straight ahead until he reached 400 feet above the ground; at that time, he reduced the throttle a bit, leveled off the airplane momentarily, and turned ninety degrees left to his crosswind leg. After finishing the turn, he added power again and then climbed up to 600 feet above the ground as he turned parallel to the landing area/runway on his downwind leg. He stayed at 600 feet above the ground until he was ready to land.

Most modern patterns for light aircraft are flown at 1,000 feet above the ground (although there are some exceptions). The pilot climbs straight out until reaching 700 feet above the ground and then turns onto the crosswind leg and then downwind leg while still climbing. There is no power reduction, and Arnold isn’t really sure why they ever did that in the Cub in the first place. He thinks it might have had to do with making sure the airplane had enough airspeed so the pilot wouldn’t stall., but if anyone knows the answer, please let me know!