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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 25 March 2010


Dear readers,

Yet another long newlsetter, but sadly it includes the dreadful news of a fatal accident in Portugal earlier in the month. Any air accident is terrible news, when it happens to the type we own and love it is an even greater blow.

There is a bigger than ever fly-in programme in Europe for Ercoupes this year, with meetings planned for Belgium, UK and France. In Germany at Worms they just need to open the hangar doors and pull their Ercoupes out to have a meeting!

So please put all of the dates in your diaries and let us try and have the largest get-togethers yet in 2010!

Happy Flying,


Ercoupe news

4th European Ercoupe-Aircoupe Owners Fly-In, Antwerp 15 & 16 May 2010

Robert Rombouts writes: This year, it is already for the 4th time we have the Fly-In in Antwerp.  If you need any flight assistance, please let me know.


Saturday, May 15th
From 10.00 LT : Arrival of participants
From 13.00 LT : Social Gathering on the airfield
At      20.00 LT : Buffet and distribution of prizes

Sunday, May 16th
At      10.00 LT : Briefing
At      11.00 LT : Formation flight over Antwerp (SV4)
At      13.00 LT : Lunch
From 15.00 LT : Departure to the home base

We offer for all Ercoupe-Aircoupe pilots and crew:
One FREE tank fill up with 100LL.
FREE landing and parking during the Fly-In.
FREE drinks during the Fly-In. (non-alcoholic)
Weather, Flight Plan and customs, 24hr assistance.
On Saturday evening, a FREE BBQ, during the distribution of the trophy for the longest flight and oldest Ercoupe and a commemorating medal of the 4th Fly-In.

The Hotel accommodation is at social price, we can make the booking for you.

Because Antwerp–EBAW is an International airport, you need a Transponder; a Mode C is acceptable, Mode S is not required.

The organization of 20th SV4 Fly-In is so kind we may join them for the 4th time, you will have the opportunity to see a lot of SV’s and historical planes in the museum, and we expect a Spitfire and a lot of Ercoupes (I hope).

If the Ercoupers who confirmed there intention to come will be in Antwerp, then it will be a smashing fly-in.

Already I received the following confirmations:

- Stephan Vatter and D-EJOR
- Ronny & Sandra Druck and D-EOPI
- Mike & co-pilot with G-HARY
- Jean Flacelière & Françoise with or without F-AZDG
- Heiko Binder (perhaps) with D-ENUC
Sid & Keith with G-ARHB
- Me with OO-PUS
Rob Maatman will come but his PH-NCE will not be ready.

Meet you in Antwerp; do not miss this European Ercoupe Owners Fly-In.

Robert GSM: +32 475 470 775


Fatal Ercoupe crash in Portugal

MikeWillis writes: I am very sorry to report that on Saturday 6 March at Ciborro, which is 80 km to the East of Lisbon, Alon A-2A Aircoupe CS-AIG serial no. B-280 crashed with 2 fatalities.

The initial accident report has already been published by the GPIAA.

“On the afternoon of March 6, the owner of the aircraft, together with a friend, also a holder of a pilot's license, went to the farm “Pinheiro e Cavaleiro”, located in the parish of Ciborro, Montemor-o-Novo, where he kept the aircraft in a hangar near the farm strip there.

The weather that day was quite cloudy with moderate winds from south to southeast, but with some improvements by mid-afternoon.  Around 16:30 the aircraft took off on runway 31 for a local flight of an hour or so.

By 18:30, the owner of the strip and friend of the pilot, surprised that they had not returned, went to the strip to see what was happening.  He found the doors of the hangar open and the lack of an aircraft. He continued to search to the end of the strip and saw a white object in middle of the adjacent land, about 300m away, which seemed to be the wreckage of the plane.

After confirming that it was the aircraft he informed the police and a patrol found the site of the destroyed aircraft and found the two occupants, already dead.

The aircraft was very badly damaged and in an inverted position with a fracture of the fuselage and the left wing, lying overturned on the back of the fuselage, while the engine was lying on the lower surface of the right wing.

The cockpit was destroyed and the seats out of place.  An initial inspection of the instrument panel and flight controls indicated that the aircraft was set for take-off and therefore, the accident probably had occurred immediately after the take-off, that is, around 16:30.  The same could be inferred from the testimony of the farm owner, who said that he not heard the noise of the aircraft pass, it is common for the pilot to return south shortly after take-off, which puts him on a route near to his residence.

The damage to the propeller blades suggested a possible lack of traction at the time of the collision, with the set up also indicating a likely engine failure shortly after take-off, since engine controls were in the full power position.

All these assumptions need to be confirmed by a thorough inspection of the engine and the fuel system to clarify the sequence of events, which at the same time will include a study of the behaviour of the aircraft, especially taking into account the meteorological factors, especially of the existence of a tailwind during the take-off and initial climb.”

The pilot was a well know retired ex-TAP captain and at his side was a very famous Major of the 25th of April 1974 revolution that ended a large period of dictatorship in Portugal in favour of a democratic regime.

Cte Sousa Monteiro, the pilot and owner of CS-AIG, began his long career as a pilot in the Portuguese Air Force.  He flew DHC-1 Chipmunk and North American T-6 in training in 1964. He was a flight instructor in the Basic Flying School in the T-6 at the Air base nº 7, Aveiro.  He then began flying for TAP and flew the Caravelle, Boeing 707, 727, 747, the Lockheed L.1011 Tristar and the Airbus A340.  He had close to 20.000 hours of flying.  Since retiring from TAP  he was Director of the School of Aeronautical Sciences at Universidade Lusófona in Lisbon, and frequently made TV appearances discussing aeronautical matters.

The passenger was even better known in Portugal.  Air Force Colonel Jose Inacio da Costa Martins, 72, was in command of the troops who, on 25 April 1974, captured Portela Airport, the major airport of Lisbon.  Following the Revolution of 1974 he held various government positions.

CS-AIG was an Alon Aircoupe A-2A manufacturered in 1968 and had only 1.200 hours total time.  I will include further news of the accident report as it is published.

G-EGHB sold to Italy

Mike writes: The Gatwick Aviation Museum, run by the Ercoupe owner Peter Vallance, reports that G-EGHB has been sold to Italy.  It has been dismantled and moved to Italy by road on the 27th of February 2010.  The web site reads “More details as we get them and pictures of the departure from Redhill where she is currently resides”.

The floatplane saga

Andrew Gardner writes: Hi Mike, I have already got the photo that Leslie Miller sent of the 'coupe on floats as my current screen saver.  I managed to find some background information on this and apparently in order to get the aircraft to get up on the step, they had to remove the limited up elevator travel, the main characteristic contributing to the inability to spin.  When the aircraft was subsequently test spun it shed an aileron and the pilot had to depart the aircraft and parachute out.  The aircraft was destroyed.

Shame really as it looks quite cute on floats.

Cheers, Andrew

By coincidence the Ercoupe floatplane was also being discussed on the Ercoupe-Tech web forum. 

Syd Cohen wrote: From all that I have read in "A Touch of Class" and "From The Ground Up," those photos are of the test airplane.  After flying it in many areas, with many water landings, ERCO realized that the SeaCoups would have to have its rudders independent from the ailerons so it could be kicked straight when landing crosswind in canals or rivers.  It could not touch down in a crab because it might flip.  Due to this, before certifying the airplane for EDO floats, the CAA required a spin test.  The plane was flown to Arizona, in my recollection, and spun there.  As the old EDO guy said, the plane wouldn't come out of the spin (it was due to the pendulum effect of the floats,) and the test pilot bailed out.  I don't know of any other Coupe that was flown with floats other than that test airplane.

William R. Bayne wrote:  There were two Ercoupe seaplanes that I know of that actually flew.  The ERCO/EDO plane was N86951.  I have quite a bit of ERCO information on this factory "experimental".

As tested with floats in both Virginia and New York, it was an early postwar two-control airframe manufactured in November of 1945 upgraded to D model specification.  Photographer Hans Groenhoff may have been employed by EDO to take the many photos published around.  This aircraft was not destroyed in the testing, which took place in both Virginia and New York.  I have a copy of the Discontinuance Report dated 3/21/47.

Coupe Capers, June of '02 issue, relates an "old" newspaper date or publication name submitted by Todd Westfall (son of Dale Westfall).  It describes testing of an Ercoupe owned by Howard E. Cousins of Birmingham and flown by Dale Westfall "attached in the Civil Aeronautics regional office in Chicago".  The flight was to be the "final test" after two years of experimentation.  According to the picture in Coupe Capers, this coupe was N87960.  It is the only photo I am aware of of this float coupe.

So, there were TWO "FAA/CAA Tests. ""I have the names of the CAA/FAA test pilots in the ERCO/EDO tests - NOT Westfall."  Probably the guy you talked with at Oshkosh, though.  Not uncommon for someone like that to merge stories to enhance their resume".  Saletri got confused by these "facts" too.

All the best, WRB

Sebring crash report

A few issues ago in the newsletter we reported the fatal crash in Florida.  There was a lot of speculation of the cause of the mid-air break-up, in particular concern of spar failure.  This has now been dismissed.  From the final report:

NTSB Identification: ERA09FA087
Accident occurred Saturday, December 13, 2008 in Sebring, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 3/3/2010
Aircraft: ERCOUPE 415-D, registration: N99154
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

Witnesses observed the accident airplane as it performed a low-level, local flight in the vicinity of the passenger's home.  The witnesses reported that the airplane entered a high-speed dive before pulling up and rolling steeply left.  One of the witnesses reported that both ailerons were "fluttering" just before both wings separated from the fuselage and the airplane broke up.  Examination of the wreckage revealed that the wing spar failed in overload at its center, in an aft and downward direction.  Though a hole not specified in the design of the airplane was present at the point where the separation of the spar began, its effect on the preaccident structural strength of the spar could not be determined.  No corrosion or evidence of a fatigue failure was observed in the vicinity of the initial separation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot's exceedance of the design stress limitations of the airplane.

For a full narrative of NTSB probable cause report:

The ongoing saga of Derek’s Ercoupe

Derek Tregilgas writs: Hi Mike, I'll be setting off today on a 15-day jog with my trusty 747 strapped to my backside (first stop Chennai - or Madras to you and me), then Sharjah (Dubai), Amsterdam, Brussels, Sharjah again, and then to London for a few days before flying back to Singapore via Copenhagen.

Loved your video (see the link below) - really nicely done.  Looked very smooth up there, even with those threatening clouds lurking about. As you say though, this does get my juices flowing to think that this might just be the year that my little twin-finned beauty gets airborne.  She's actually ready to rock & roll but we're still having a bit of trouble with the re-registration.

There are a couple of planned events at Oakley this year which include a general fly-in for anyone that can find Oakley on the 29th May, and a vintage/classic fly-in scheduled for the 28th Aug.  Unfortunately I doubt if I'll be there for the first event but I'll certainly be present at the vintage one in August.  It'd be great to see the Ercoupe gang at both of those events, and perhaps we could have another specific Ercoupe meet during Aug/Sept as we did before - and who knows, there may just be a strange blue & white one parked at the end of the line this time. If not, I'm going to have a life-size cardboard cut-out produced which will look like the real thing when you put on the 3-D goggles !

All the best for now, Derek

Twins in Worms

This article appeared recently in Germany, about the two matching Ercoupes D-EJOR and D-ENUC based at Worms. There is also a hird Ercoupe in Worms, D-EOPI is owned by Ronny Druck.

New on-line aviation magazine

Thanks to Dan Hall in California for pointing this out!  It’s published from offices about 15 km away from me in the UK!

Trip report

A short visit to Los Angeles

Stephan Vatter writes: As a pilot for Lufthansa I am now and then in Los Angeles for a short layover.  LA is a wonderful place for aviators.  Many friendly operated airfields, very good weather conditions the year round, and a lot of outstanding airplanes on the aprons and in the hangars.

I had the idea to meet one of the southern Californian (SoCal) Ercoupers. I remembered an article in one of the newsletters, that Linda Abrams visited Mike Willis in the UK two or three years ago.

So I decided to do the same, the other way round.  I wrote an email to Linda, a very kind lady and asked her if it would be possible to meet each other in Torrance (the airport where the Robinson Helicopter company is located) and where her nice Ercoupe `Sky Sprite` is based.

Unfortunately her Ercoupe lost one of the rear windows two days before my arrival, so we were not able to fly.  But I got an impression about her nice Ercoupe and we talked a lot about Oshkosh, Ercoupers in the USA and in Europe.

We decided to meet again and then we give it a try to take the `Sky Sprite` up into the sky.  I`m now looking forward to my next flight to L.A.

Best regards from Worms EDFV, Germany

Stephan D-EJOR


Mike writes: I had to invest in a small video camera for my work so it was important to get some practice!  So far there are a couple of short videos available showing flying in England in G-HARY. They can be found at:

Flying to Leicester, February 2010

Sywell March 2010





Comedy corner

Nothing that appears in the press about general aviation should surprise anyone

This story appeared in the Ercoupe-Tech web forum recently: 

Seems once upon a time, a young, hard-charging reporter (think Dan Rather at 22) was sent out to cover a forest fire.  He got to the area, could see the smoke, but could not get close enough.

Being enterprising (and on a super expense account) he called the local airport and arranged for a pilot to take him out to take pictures.

He arrived at the airport at the arranged time and saw a plane with the motor running.  He jumped in and ordered a take off.  The plane taxiied out and departed.

When he got in the air, the reporter was asked which way to fly.  He pointed at the smoke and said "Go there!"  They headed off appropriately.

When they started getting close, the pilot turned to the reporter and said "Why are we flying towards a forest fire?"

The reporter shouted, "I'm a reporter and want pictures!"  To which the flyer replied, "You mean your not the flight instructor?"

Let this stand as a general comment on "the media."  Percy Wood

Ercoupe Fly-Ins 2010


April 16-18      Mesquite, NV EOC Region 8 Fly-in

EOC Region 8 [US states of Arizona, Colorado Nevada, New Mexico and Utah] Fly-in April 16-18 at Mesquite, NV. Any European coupers that are visiting the states in that area would be more than welcome. I hope your next newsletter will be in time to get the news out. Please list my email address and I will send those that are interested more detail. Tail Winds!    Curtis Smith,, Region 8 Director, 1127 Camino Hermosa, Corrales, NM 87048 8438 

May 14-15      Antwerp, Belgium - Annual Ercoupe Fly-In

June 19-20      North-Weald, UK - 70th Ercoupe anniversary and 1st European Ercoupe Convention

September 9-12   Mount Vernon Outland Airport, Illinois (KMVN) - 2010 EOC National Convention

September 11-12      Nangis, France - 1st French Ercoupe fly-in

September 19      Popham, UK- Solent Aviation Society Fly-in

UK EMUs – just some of the possibles for fly-ins this year

These monthly Ercoupe Meet-Ups are designed as an excuse to fly! There is a separate email list consisting of UK owners and known Ercoupe enthusiasts who are updated 1 week and 1 day ahead so you know who will be there (weather providing). If anyone else would like to be included on the EMU email list then please let me know.

Some upcoming suggestions:

April 17-18     Great Oakley, Royal Aero Club Race Day

April 18           Southend Visit the Vulcan Day

May 29            Great Oakley Open Fly-In

August 28       Great Oakley Vintage Fly-In


Ercoupe mailing lists

For a continuous discussion on Ercoupes, or a daily digest, do register for these Ercoupe mailing groups:

Social and general content
Technical information

Ercoupe Web sites

Ercoupe Owners Club
Robert Rombouts' site
Harmut's Ercoupe Maintenance & repair site
Ernst Viehweger's German Ercoupe web site
Mike Willis' site
SoCal Ercoupe Owners site 
Ercoupe photo album 
Ed Burkhead's site

Don’t forget – any contributions to the next newsletter very welcome – email them to me at