Longest nonstop flight in a lightweight
plane - world record set by Arnold Ebneter
Fredericksburg, Va., USA -- The Experimental
Aircraft Association (EAA) reports one of its members,
Arnold Ebneter, 82, recently flew his Jabiru 2200-powered
home-designed and built aircraft, dubbed ‘E-1’, from Paine
Field, Everett, Washington, to Fredericksburg, Virginia, (2,327.85
miles) to set the new world record for the longest
nonstop flight in an aircraft weighing less than 500 kilograms.
Photo: Arnold Ebneter stands before his
E-1. Photo by Michael O'Leary / The Herald (enlarge
The flight covered 2327 miles without stopping
over a time of 18 hours and 27 minutes. He broke the record
by just under 114 miles.
Ebneter, now 82, first imagined the
E-1 while studying at Texas A&M University in the 50s, but
didn’t complete building the aircraft until 2005 with the
help of CAD and flight simulator programs.
E-1 is a strictly all metal, stressed skin,
tapered low-wing aircraft powered by a Jabiru 2200, a four-cylinder
four-stroke horizontally opposed air cooled engine.
Ebneter said he made the plane of metal
because it was the lightest and most reliable material. He
could also seal the wings so they could carry fuel, something
called a "wet wing." He spent $25,000 on building his lifelong
His plane weighs 263 kilograms (580
pounds) empty. With Ebneter in the cockpit and just enough
fuel in his tank to beat the record, the plane weighed 498.9
Th E-1 has a 74-gallon fuel capacity, but Ebneter
said he used 58.5 gallons for the July 25-26 flight due to
the weight limits for the record attempt.
“We put the airplane on a scale when fueling
and stopped at 500kg,” said Ebneter, a former United States
Air Force fighter pilot.
Top speed for Ebneter’s E-1 is 175kts,
and when he landed in Virginia at the end of the flight he
figured he could have flown another 100 miles as 2.5 gallons
remained in the tank.
Ebneter started flying when he was
15 years old. He grew up on a farm that was beneath the flight
path between Chicago and Indianapolis, where many airplanes
of the time flew low.
"People now fly as a way of transportation,"
he said. "I just wanted to fly for the sake of flying." He
spent 22 years in the Air Force, 15 of them as a fighter pilot
and the rest as an engineer. He flew 325 missions and retired
following the Vietnam War as a lieutenant colonel.
After he finished his military service,
he worked designing and testing balloons. In 1952, he was
a test balloon pilot for General Mills, where he once flew
325 miles overnight.
He gave his plane the same registration
number as that balloon: N7927A.
In 1974, he came to work for Boeing when
they were developing the 767. In 1977 he started his job at
Ebneter has previously won two awards from
the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAA): The Wright
Brothers Master Pilot Award and The Charles Taylor Master
Mechanic Award. He still works out of Harvey Field a few days
each week as a flight instructor and FAA inspector.