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Arnold Ebneter's Daughter Telling Story of His World Record Pursuit


Arnold Ebneter
Arnold Ebneter and his E-1. (Photo by Michael O'Leary/Everett Daily Herald)

Eileen Bjorkman
Eileen Bjorkman

January 17, 2013 - Eileen Bjorkman, EAA 435061, is blogging her way to a book about her father, Arnold Ebneter, and his 50-year quest to design, build, and fly a world-record-setting airplane: the E-1.

The blog and website, titled The Propeller Under the Bed, recount Arnold's lifelong involvement with aviation, beginning in rural Wisconsin and ending with his most recent world record in 2012 for airplane fuel efficiency.

The blog and book will chronicle Arnold's flying adventures - and misadventures - as he crisscrossed the United States and the world flying research balloons in Minnesota and New Mexico, fighter airplanes in Vietnam, a cargo airplane hauling fish in Alaska, and a thunderstorm research airplane in New Mexico. Through it all, Arnold continued to pursue his dream that resulted in the E-1, in which he achieved his first world record for the longest nonstop flight in an experimental aircraft weighing less than 1,100 pounds in 2010.

As for the blog/book title, Eileen explains where that came from in this blog post.

"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," she wrote. "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.

"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 his wife (Bjorkman's mother), Colleen, to store the propeller under their bed, where it remained for many years. 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."

Bjorkman said public reactions to her father's record accomplishments motivated her to take on this project. "I realized he had an incredible and unique story to tell," she said. "He's had many unusual and interesting aviation experiences throughout his entire life that make for entertaining stories. I also believe his story of perseverance and dedication to his dream can appeal to a broad audience."

A private pilot, Bjorkman is a retired air force officer and served as a flight test engineer. She flew in more than 25 different types but mostly F-4s, F-16s, C-141s, and C-130s.

"My dad definitely influenced my career in aviation," Bjorkman said. "Since I was around airplanes growing up, I was very comfortable around them and it was very natural for me to go in that direction. Plus, it was always nice to have someone I could call on for advice or questions!"

These days she flies mostly Cessna 172s. "I'm making the transition from round dials to the G1000."


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