Arnold Bronson owned a successful high-end Scandinavian furniture store in partnership with his brother in Syracuse, NY. In 1973 he and his wife got the travel bug, rented a 31-ft motor home, loaded their three kids and dog and headed West.
They traversed the western states, and connected with a friend with the Bureau of Land Management in Albuquerque who showed them around. They fell in love with the area, and right away contracted to build a home and new furniture store. Within the year, they’d pulled up stakes and departed alternately cold, snowy, overcast, muggy weather for 310 days of sunshine in New Mexico’s high desert.
Not everyone would have faith in a Scandinavian furniture enterprise in the heart of America’s Southwest, known for historic Highway 66, turquoise and silver, and beautiful native weavings. But Bronsons had the faith to work hard offering tasteful furniture options, and the community rewarded them with 25 years of success.
Their new community does share an Alpine sense with Scandinavia, although nearby Sandia Peak Ski Area tops Scandinavia’s highest peak by two thousand feet.
Arnold had always wanted to fly. He’d dream of being aloft at the controls, and landing safely. He finally had the time to pursue his passion, and was licensed in his 60s. In these twenty-plus years since, he’s flown a dozen different aircraft, and now enjoys his Rans S7 tandem Courier. He enjoys Idaho’s backcountry, and often flies off pavement in his home state, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. He usually flies to the SuperCub gathering in New Holstein, followed by Oshkosh. He endures AirVenture’s beehive of GA traffic, and summer humidity including riding out one tornado in his tent. “Buses were gathering people and sheltering them indoors,” he explained. “I held on to my tent side to keep the poles from snapping.” The rain pummeled him, and, “for an hour and a half, you could have read a book in the lightning.” He flight plans for 100 mph, and he can stretch the round trip to OSH to 40 hours, “when you stop at every grass field between here and there, which makes it more fun,” he says.
A memorable flying experience was his half hour in a B-17. “It was the most emotional experience I’ve ever had. Sitting in the left seat, thinking about all those poor kids during World War II that knew they probably wouldn’t come back.” He also had the chance to fly right seat in a Ford Tri-Motor from Albuquerque to Las Cruces for a restoration project.
Arnold has supported the RAF for a dozen years, helps man the RAF booth a couple a times a year; and also supports New Mexico Pilots Association, AOPA and EAA. He helps organize an annual weeklong mentorship program for teens at his home field, Double Eagle II airport in Albuquerque, KAEG. The kids get a chance to build aircraft parts, learn about flying, and take Young Eagle flights. “This year, we have eighteen boys and girls signed up,” he said.
Arnold just celebrated his 86th birthday. Daily, he rides his motorcycle to his hangar and usually flies, often sharing the flight with friends. When he’s not in the air, he pulls up chairs in his “man cave” that faces KAEG’s runway, and “my pilot friends and I smoke cigars, and critique others’ landings.”
He was an avid motorcycle tourer, but has given up his series of BMW touring and dual sport bikes for a sporty British Triumph Bonneville Bud Eakins edition, and is contemplating a long tour on it. You may cross paths with Mr. Bronson, but only if you can keep up!
Submitted on June 9, 2022.