Sketch by Mary Skomerza

On July 25, 2010, Arnold Ebneter flew across the country in a plane he designed and built himself, setting an aviation world record for aircraft of its class. He was eighty-two at the time and the flight represented the culmination of a dream he’d cultivated since his childhood in the 1930s.

Eileen Bjorkman ― herself a pilot and aeronautical engineer ― frames her father’s journey from teenage airplane enthusiast to Air Force pilot and Boeing engineer in the context of the rise, near extermination, and ongoing interest in homebuilt aircraft in the United States. She gives us a glimpse into life growing up in a “flying family” with two pilots for parents, a family plane named Charlie, and quite literally, a propeller under her parents’ bed.

From early airplane designs serialized in magazines to the annual Oshkosh Fly-in where you can see experimental aircraft on display, Bjorkman offers a personal take on the history of building something in your garage that you can actually (and legally) fly as well as how the homebuilt aircraft movement has contributed to aviation and innovation in America.

Watch the book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8PvowEMkmQ

9 thoughts on “About

  1. I know Arnold through EAA Chapter 84. Although aware of his service Viet Nam, ( getting him to talk about it is like pulling teeth), and the E-1, I was surprised to learn of his balloon exploits. As his daughter, you know well his reluctance to discuss his exploits. I look forward to this book, it will be an important addition to the stories of those who have paved the way in aviation.
    I have an idea to further Arnold’s story, and I would appreciate your help. As you probably are aware, the EAA has a division called “Timeless Voices In Aviation”. The concept is simple, folks interview via video and audio media those they think have contributed to aviation. I think it would be a wonderful project to include your Father. Please let me know what you think.
    I can be reached via email at: mrburkesir@comcast.net or by phone at: 425.346.6509 I look forward to hearing from you.
    Best Regards,
    Jim Burke
    EAA Chapter 84
    Snohomish, WA.

  2. I know Arnold because he is our FAA designated pilot examiner in Snohomish Flying Service. He is a kindly humor gentlman. I ever flew with him twice in my progress check. I just can say ” Amazing Arnold “~ He just fly as a bird.
    Expect to fly with him again ASAP.

    Kindly Regards
    Student Pilot
    Andrew Chang
    Snohomish, WA

  3. I remember 1968, Pleiku Vietnam, Major Ebeneter arrived at the base. Our assigned aircraft SM133, F-100D model had taken a round through the speed brake that entered the main fuel cell. I was 3 days tdy with sheet metal, fuel systems & hydraulics, specialist. We met after a pressure check of fuel system. The runway at Pleiku was about half as long as home base ,Tuy Hoa. He did some figuring and Gave me a needed amount of JP-4 to be loaded( Tuy Hoa was approx. 100 miles by air). Quite a gentleman..and PILOT..

  4. Just finished reading your book and enjoyed it. In your very first paragraph, Boeing is actually at the north end of Paine Field, not the south.
    You dad certainly has had an interesting life. Is he still flying Charlie?

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the book! And yes, Boeing is more to the north than south at Paine — thank you for pointing that out. And my dad is still flying Charlie out of Harvey!

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed your book, “The Propeller Under The Bed,” We actually stored the first propeller for my Pietenpol project under a bed in our guest room for several years as the airplane took shape.

    The book is a great introduction to the world of homebuilt aviation to one who knows nothing about it, but is also a great read for someone who is pretty familiar with it.

    My only beef – I think you give Bernard Pietenpol and his timeless Air Camper a bit of short shrift. Ed Heath was perhaps the shooting star of homebuilding in the mid to late 20s, but Pietenpol’s design continues to be built today, with dozens under construction and hundreds flying, using a variety of engines. In my humble opinion, the Pietenpol is a better airplane than the Heath Parasol – it’s a bit faster, it’s a two seater, and it has proven to be adaptable to a variety of design changes in the true spirit of experimental aviation

    I know I’m prejudiced. I built an Air Camper, finishing it in 2011. I just think any design being built for almost 90 years must have something going for it. I do think it has been at least as big an influence on the amateur-built community as the Heath.

    This is no criticism of your book. It’s a great read, and I read it through in one 24-hour period. Your dad is one amazing person, and your admiration of him is very evident in your writing. Thanks for your efforts to weave together a very good history of the homebuilding movement, and your father’s and your family’s personal journey.

    Matt Paxton
    Pietenpol NX629ML

    • Hi Matt,

      Thanks for writing and I’m glad you enjoyed the book! I really wanted to give more ink to some of the other early pioneers like Pietenpol and Corbin, but in a 70,000 word manuscript, something had to give. I chose to focus on Heath because of the magazine articles on how to build the Parasol and his flamboyance. I agree with your comments about the qualities of the Pietenpol — perhaps there’s a magazine article yet to be written comparing the two airplanes (and maybe others of that vintage)!


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