In 1953, Arnold started pilot training as an aviation cadet at
Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas. He earned his military
wings with Class 54-E the following March. Having graduated
near the top of his class, Arnold had his choice of assignments.
“At that time the F- 86 was what everybody wanted,” he
said. After a year in the Sabre, Arnold moved up to the even
hotter F- 100 Super Sabre. From 1955 to 1958, his unit pioneered in-flight refueling tactics, mating the F- 100 with the
KB-50 tanker for flights as long as a 4,000-mile nonstop from
South Carolina to Morocco.
By 1958, Arnold had accepted a regular commission, and
the Air Force sent him to Texas A&M to finish his degree. It
was there, while fulfilling the final requirement of his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering, that Arnold first
conceived the E- 1.
“The aero department required that every senior write a
research paper,” Arnold said. “I had been looking through
Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, and I ran across the Heinonen
HK- 1, an airplane designed by a guy in Finland. It was a little
aerobatic airplane with a 65-horse Walter Micron four-cylin-der inline engine.
“In ’ 56 or ’ 57, Heinonen had hung a big fuel tank under-
neath the thing and flown from Spain to Finland to set a
distance record of 1,766 statute miles for this class of airplane.
And I thought, well, that’s kind of interesting.”
If a distance record could be set in an airplane designed for
aerobatics, Arnold thought it would be a worthy challenge to see
what could be done with distance as the primary design criterion.
“So I took a cut at writing it, and the profs just went gaga,”
Arnold’s thesis laid out the design parameters of the air-
craft that would eventually become the E- 1. Recounting his
process, Arnold said, “Obviously, you want an airplane that’s as
small as possible. And you don’t want to hang the fuel under-
neath like Heinonen did. You want to put it in the wings so the
bending loads go way down. So you make the wing just big
enough to carry the amount of fuel that’s going to be required,
and that determines the wing area.
GET TING STARTED
After graduating from Texas A&M, Arnold went back to flying
F-100s. He characterizes his assignments in the late 1950s and
early 1960s as spending a lot of time overseas “sitting on alert
with a big bomb strapped under you.”
If a distance record could be set in an airplane
designed for aerobatics, Arnold thought it would
be a worthy challenge to see what could be done
with distance as the primary design criterion.