Hobbies & Family
Hobbies & Family
Hobbies & Family
Jonathan Arnold lives in Chicago, Illinois where, outside of his career in economics, he has several interests and a beautiful family to keep him on his toes and his life full.
Growing up, Jonathan’s first language was Polish, where he lived until age three. The son to an American diplomat, he lived in Vienna, Austria from age nine through 13, where he learned to speak German and French as well. From there, his father’s work took Jonathan and his family to Santiago, Chile, London, England, and Bonn, West Germany.
Flying for the U.S. military was something Jonathan aspired to from a young age. But he University of Chicago did not serve as a feeder to the military. Instead, after college, Jonathan obtained a flying license privately, and subsequently signed up for Officer Training School and then pilot training, where he subsequently joined class 87-03 at Laughlin AFB, Texas. Being a military pilot involved all the things a young pilot dreams of – supersonic flight, formation flying, low levels, formation takeoffs and formation landings, pulling 7Gs, aerobatics, spins, ejection seats, parachutes, and more.
After separating from the Air Force, Jonathan bought an old warbird in 2001. It was an SNB-5 (known commercially as a Beech 18). The French Air Force took delivery of this particular aircraft just after World War II, and later transferred it to the Dutch. In the 1970s it was under civilian ownership in Europe, and ultimately purchased by a retired U.S. Army Colonel in Germany.
Jonathan bought the plane in the summer of 2001. After patching the plane up and performing a few check flights, he departed Aalen airport in late August 2001. After refueling in Lille, the plane headed for England—passing right over Calais, with Dunkirk several miles up the road off the right wing, and the white cliffs of Dover shining bright on the other side of the Channel.
Read Jonathan’s Story:
Starting with three operational radios out of Aalen, comm radios 1 and 3 died by the time landfall was made in England. Over London (with Buckingham Palace directly below the plane) Comm 2 went out, rendering the plane “Nordo” (as in “No Radio”). This displeased ground controllers, who directed the plane to land at Luton airfield using a specialized communication method.
After patching up the radios, the plane was off to Prestwick airfield in Scotland. Thus ended Day 1.
At first light, the plane was off for Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides—a short jump from Prestwick, but essential to top off the tanks with oil and gas for the next leg. Upon landing, a post-flight inspection of the airframe revealed that the exhaust pipe for the #1 engine had split along its welded seam. Hot exhaust escaping through the failed pipe burned a hole through the engine shroud. The repairs took the day and delayed the flight a bit. But the repairs had to be done of course.
Day 3 generated some new challenges. The flight to Vagar (the capital of the Faeroe Islands) started with clear weather. We immediately went “feet wet” and flew several hours until some of the outer Faeroes came into view. Clouds started to form below, and around, the plane. The approach is one of the more challenging and unusual in the world. It is a localizer approach taking the plane over several islands with rather high hills. As a result, there are multiple (one dozen?) step-downs along the way. Some are quite steep. In the end, the approach, at the MAP, our choice was to execute a missed approach or duck under. Every pilot knows that ducking under is a very bad idea and should never be done. But we were in the middle of the Atlantic, with clouds closing in tighter and thicker with every passing minute. We ducked under, touched down on the numbers, and then rolled out up-hill to the ramp. It turns out that the runway runs more-or-less, from ocean on one end to ocean on the other, and on a hill. The ramp and facilities are at the top of the hill (middle of the runway). We were greeted with many enthusiastic airport workers. While our plane was being refueled, they encouraged us to “stay a while.” They need all the visitors they can get, I guess.
We politely declined and taxied to the bottom of the bottom/end of runway 31. By then the clouds had cleared a bit and it looked good to takeoff to the North. During the runup, the prop wouldn’t come out of feather during the feathering test. Just as we radioed the tower to this effect, they announced that a passenger jet was on approach and to expedite take off. Not so easy, but my co-pilot jumped out of the plane with a prop tool and unfeathered the prop. While he was getting back in and stowing the tool (which is as tall as a man), Jonathan restarted the engine, ran a quick feathering check, and we started rolling. We took off just in time to avoid forcing the passenger jet to go around.
By the time we took off, clouds had returned and shrouded a small uninhabited island off the north end of the runway. This isn’t any island—it rises almost 2000 feet into the sky. Since we couldn’t see it, we decided to execute a short-field takeoff maneuver – in which the pitch and airspeed are set in order to gain the maximum climb angle. Once comfortably clear of the obstacle, we resumed a normal climb and contacted Atlantic Center. They acknowledged our call sign and let us know we were coming in garbled. Not a good sign. We tried several more times, to no avail. Happily, a Royal Navy Cobra heard us clearly enough to relay our position and intentions. From that point on, it was just the sound of the engines and the sight of the water below that consumed our senses for several hours. We made landfall near Kirkjubæjarklaustur. At least now we could dead stick it into a landing rather than ditching in the North Atlantic…
From there, we flew along the coast to Reyk. Under international flight rules, when a plane on an instrument flight plan goes Nordo, the destination airport is shut down to takeoffs and landings at the ETA. Such it was at Reyk, with 747s and 767s flying in holding patterns waiting for us. Not a way to make friends, but beyond our control. Reyk tower welcomed us to Iceland with “Clear runway 31, taxi to [the visitor ramp], all further travel is canceled UFN.”
It took days, with many false starts, to find the radio problem. In the end, it wasn’t the radios at all, but rather a $5 connector at the antenna. Once fixed, we had three radios again and were good to go…
Except for the weather. Low pressure approached from the West. “Never fly into a low” is the key teaching for pilots flying the North Atlantic. So we sat. Then another day. And another. When the weather cleared, we headed West – for Kulusuk.
Kulusuk is a town on the island of the same name. It is more-or-less West of Reyk and is just off the main island of Greenland. For planes that have a range of under 600 or 700 nm, it is a necessary stop on the way across the Atlantic. The flight to Kulusuk has a special attribute for the Beech 18: it has a PNR. A point of no return. As soon as the pilot elects to commence descent into Kulusuk, there are only three ways the flight ends and only one of them is good. One can ditch, one can land “off-field” (that is, crash), and one can land on Kulusuk’s sole runway. Weather reporting is not available en route, so we assessed the weather at the PNR. Low clouds were starting to form, with about 10-20 percent coverage. We could see the 14,000 foot (plus-or-minus) in the distance, which was behind Kulusuk Isle. So down we went. We dodged clouds, descended towards approach altitude, and received clearance to land when we were 50 miles away from the airport, since there was no one else around. This is not La Guardia! We spotted the small glacier/mountain on Kulusuk, rounded it counterclockwise, rolled out on final and touched down at a near-deserted airport.
Out post-flight inspection revealed some problems with the cowling and some missing rivets. Off came the cowling, some basic repairs performed, the plane reassembled, but by then it was too late to continue in daylight to Kangerlussuaq, on the East side of Greenland.
A couple of days later we lifted off into a low cloud deck. The big glacier to our West, shown in the picture nearby, rose to 14,000 feet “plus or minus.” The most recent geological survey, taken 18 years earlier, shows the height as “approximate” and the even the location as “approximate.” So how to avoid when one is in the clouds? We cork-screwed up and up and up until we hit 16,000 feet. By then we had to don oxygen masks. This was near the absolute limit of the aircraft. It was flying very near to stall speed. And we were near the edge of the weight-and-balance envelope. Over time, we burned off fuel and the lighter load improved performance. By then we were out of clouds and over low rolling hills of Western Greenland.
Kangerlussuaq, formerly Sondrestrom Air Base, was reportedly a B-52 based and an emergency landing strip for the space shuttle. Put differently, it has a long runway. A very long runway. Especially for a plane that can land in less than 1000 feet when called for. For us, this meant shooting the ILS approach, and then flying down miles of runway before touching down and rolling up to the ramp for gas and a sandwich.
Flying Back to Canada
One hour minutes later, the plane was in the air heading for Canada. Iqualit to be exact. On Baffin Island. We arrived to find that their fuel tanks were empty. All they had were 55 gallon barrels of fuel. And no pumps. Except for two that were inop. So we disassembled the two inop pumps, combined the parts into one semi-working pump, and started hand-cranking the fuel into the plane. That took quite a few hours, but good exercise after days of sitting.
We were 2/3 of the way through our journey (measured in miles). The next morning, we took off and made it all the way to Chicago, by way of Chibougamau, Quebec and Toledo.
We landed on September 6, 2001. A few more days’ delay on account of weather and/or mechanical issues, and we would have been stranded in a distant airport for weeks on account of the international shutdown of air space after the tragedy of 9/11.
Nowadays, Jonathan Arnold is first and foremost a loving father and a supportive husband who loves to spend quality time with his wife and three children. His wife, Stephanie Arnold, is an accomplished author who wrote the well-known book, 37 Seconds. Some of the most important parts of Jonathan’s life are the little routines: Shabbat on Friday nights with challah bread, cooking meals together, and visiting the farmers market. Jonathan also enjoys the big moments, the ones where he has a chance to travel the world with his family and explore new places alongside his wife and kids. Together they’ve visited Israel and Mexico internationally and all across the United States visiting family and friends.
The children all performed in their school’s version of The Sound of Music and are eager to visit Salzburg. So that may get on the list at some point.
Jonathan and Stephanie also stay busy with his kids’ numerous hobbies. Two children are budding equestrians; all three are learning instruments. One is an aspiring guitarist, another a drummer, and the third a pianist.
For more on Jonathan Arnold and his hobbies, interests, and family, check out his blog!
Jonathan Arnold’s latest post:
Juggling anything with children can prove to be a daunting task. Work, hobbies, and fitness tend to take a back seat when it comes to raising your children, rightfully so - nothing is more important than family. Kids require attention, supervision, entertainment, and...
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