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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 27 May 2010


Dear readers,

What a fantastic time we had in Antwerp at the annual European Ercoupe Fly-In, organised by Robert Rombouts.  After last year’s disappointing two Ercoupes, this year he had 8!  See below for reviews plus links to the video I made of the event.

The next big fly-in will be in the UK, June 19-20 at North Weald.  Again, see below for details, and hopefully many will make it to this one too.  Later this year fly-ins are planned for German and France too!

Another long newsletter, but well worth a read.  Particularly interesting is 'Aircoupe memories' by Michael McRitchie, who found my web site and these newsletters while serching the internet!

Happy flying,

Mike Willis, G-HARY

Quick links to contents of this newsletter:
Antwerp fly-in reviews
Aircoupe memories

Ercoupe news

Air Britain American Classics Fly-In (including 70 years of the Ercoupe) & the 1st European Ercoupe Convention

North Weald EGSX, UK, 19-20th June, 2010

This is a major UK fly-in that we have been supporting for a number of years.  This year Ercoupes are again a featured type, along with the Stearman, Cessna 120/140 and the Piper PA-22.  We are always given a very warm welcome at this event, so we encourage everyone to try and come.

Robert Rombouts writes: Dear Coupers,  A FANTASTIC ERCOUPE weekend is going to happen in North Weald UK EGSX (just North of London). The 19 & 20 June at that airfield we will celebrate the 70th Ercoupe Anniversary organized by "AIR BRITAIN" it will be an "American Classics Fly-In".  In addition we will have our 1st European Convention, so don't miss it.

All Ercoupes will receive from Air Britain 30 litre fuel FREE, a trophy for the Best Ercoupe and also other rewards.

Please advise me as soon as possible, if you are FREE and INTERESTED to join us on this Fly-In.  A lot of UK Ercoupes will come, and even if you like it is possible to fly on Friday the 18th.

Already confirmed Ercoupes:
- G-HARY with Mike Willis
- G-ARHB with Sid and Keith (if their annual is finished)
- G-ERCO with Arthur & Mary Tapp
- OO-PUS with Robert

This is the actual confirmed attendance, it is growing every minute.

For the Overseas Ercoupes I can propose to join me in Ostend, I take care of the landing fees and even a free lunch. From Ostend EBOS it is only 2hrs with my OO-PUS, then it is possible to fly in formation until North Weald. About the hotel, we can book for you if necessary, just fill a Flight Plan and come to this unique opportunity. PLEASE reply me a.s.a.p. to organize all the weekend.

Hoping to see you all,

Best regards,  Robert

Mike adds: It is OK to arrive at North Weald on Friday 18 June, and PPR is not required that day.  However if you plan to fly in on Saturday or Sunday you MUST phone the ‘Squadron’ who operate North Weald on +44 992 524510 before you fly (in fact several days ahead at least) to book a landing slot.  I am sure they will be sympathetic if you do not arrive exactly on time: it is to make sure that 100 aircraft do not arrive at the same time! 

North Weald is situated under one of the stubs of London Stansted airport’s CTA with Class G airspace having an upper limit of 1,500 feet.  It is also now a transponder mandatory zone.  The approach is quite easy, particularly if you use Farnborough LARS radar service beforehand.  So for example, if you are flying from the English channel you can request a basic service from Farnborough on 132.8 and they give you a squawk.  Then when you are 8nm from North Weald request frequency change to North Weald on 123.525 and squawk 7010 remaining below 1,500 feet QNH!  The squawk tells Stansted that North Weald are talking to you!

There is an event web site that explains all of this, plus lots more, you can find it here:

Hoping to see a large crowd at North Weald!


G-ARHC has a new owner

After nearly 30 years, Andrew Gardner has parted with Forney G-ARHC.  We very much welcome the new owner David Hewitt to the Ercoupe family and hope to see him at a fly-in soon.  David is the one on the left with a big grin, Andrew on the right.

Andrew hopes to continue to join us at meets when he can, and I’m sure will be sitting in G-HARY’s right seat from time to time.

Ercoupe for sale

Tord Nilsson writes from Sweden: Hello Mike, I have a Ercoupe 415, with 240 hours after total overhaul of the Continental 0-200.  I want to sell this bird. 

best regards,

Tord Nilsson, email:

According to the Swedish register SE-BEE is a 1947 Ercoupe 415-CD serial no. 2614.

European Ercoupers logo

One thing discussed at the Antwerp fly-in was a desire to have a logo that we can all use, either as stickers on our aircraft, badges and so on. 

Robert got some artwork from the Ercoupe Owners Club and Hartmut has come up with an excellent design for European use. 

If everyone likes it then we will sort out some ‘merchandise’ for us all to use and wear.



Mythical Ercoupe may actually exist!

For several years now Derek Tregilgas has been putting around a story about owning an Ercoupe, but no one has reported a sighting.  Now Derek has sent us photo evidence, although one must remember the tricks possible with Photoshop.

Derek writes: Herewith a few pictures of N99495 taken recently at Goodwood as living PROOF of her existence. Just a few minor issues to sort out followed by inspections and she'll be ready to rock & roll. Apparently the engine runs as sweet as a nut which is really good news.

I'm not totally happy with the colour scheme though, and no doubt my brother and I will set about putting that right in due course. This is more or less how she looked when I bought her so it'll do for the time being - still looks quite smart though.

I'd honestly love to be at North Weald on the 19th/20th June but I think I've been sending the wrong sort of chocolates to the Rostering Gods of late (Derek flies a 747 cargo for Singapore Airlines) - will probably be in Anchorage!

Anyway, it does look as if I'll soon be joining in the fun, and just can't wait for my first appearance at one of your EMU's.

All the best for now,

Derek N99495

Fly-in reports

4th European Ercoupe Fly-In – Antwerp (EBAW) – 15 & 16 May 2010

Robert Rombouts writes: For the 4th year, our Fly-In together with the 20th Stampe Fly-In (SV4 aircrafts), was a success in Antwerp. We thank; the commandant of the Antwerp airport Mr. Wim Verbiest, Mr Karel Bos, Mr. Danny Cabooter president of the Stampe Museum, Mr. Dirk Buytaert president of the Aviation Society of Antwerp (A.S.A.) and all the members volunteers of this society for the wonderful work they did to make this event a real success.

During the two days, we had a fair flying weather in Belgium, but not for all Europe.

We had many public visitors, the nice weather, a lot of publicity; newspapers, radio, posters and personal invitations, were part of this success.

For the first time in Europe, 8 Ercoupes joined meeting at Antwerp, a never seen picture of delight, the tarmac was full of Ercoupes. The weather was terrible in Germany, flyable in the UK, fair in Belgium. Each Ercouper steer their lovely bird in this awful conditions to attend Antwerp, they receive all the credit of this never seen before success.

From England, Mike Willis and his friend Brian came one day before on Friday, after trying to find fuel in Kent. Headcorn was out of fuel; Mike was obliged to land at Lydd to feed his G-HARY before reaching Antwerp. This was the first visit of the white-blue Alon in Antwerp, well-done Mike; you did all what was possible to join us, thanks a lot.

On Saturday arrived at first from Sweden, Sven-Eric Pira with his polished and nice SE-BFX, as for the 4th year in a row he received the trophy “Longest Flight”. With more than 11 hours flight, trying to avoid the bad weather in Sweden, Denmark and Germany, he finally arrived safe at Antwerp. He didn’t miss one Antwerp Fly-In, the first time it was in 2007, thank you very much Sven-Eric, you are fantastic.

Then a wonderful formation from Germany came in around 14:30, with three Ercoupes from Worms, D-EJOR of Stephan Vatter, D-EOPI of Ronny and Sandra Drucke and the last D-ENUC with Heiko Binder and his father. Two magnificent, identical, silver Ercoupe twins D-EJOR & D-ENUC was the big surprise of the Fly-In, amazing restoration, fantastic Ercoupes and marvellous Ercoupers, thanks for coming Stephan and Heiko.

The oldest European Ercoupe D-EOPI, serial number 541 came for the second time to Antwerp, but now with a new enthusiast owner, Ronny and Sandra Drucke welcome to the Ercoupe world, we were all happy to meet you and Sandra. Their flight was not without problems, first the bad weather over Germany, but the skill’s of all three professional pilots made it possible to welcome them in Antwerp with a small delay. A very appreciated thanks to you.

Just after, Sid & Keith landed with the yellow-black Forney G-ARHB, for the second time we welcome these two nice Ercoupers in Antwerp. Your flight was not in perfect weather conditions, but you find Antwerp and we were so happy to meet you again. If we had a prize for the best attendants of meetings in the UK, you will deserve it. All our thanks to be present at the Antwerp meeting.

Happy as a fish in the blue sea, we admired the wonderful row of Ercoupes and thought, this is a European “Grand Cru” never seen before in Europe.

Very wrong, late around 18:30 another Ercoupe was landing, N-3330H from Schönhagen near Berlin. The whole day I was in full desperation, no news from Hartmut and Rainer Beil. But they did it, how, it is an horror story; flying between mountains with a minimum visibility, returning and trying to find a hole in the low clouds, then landing at an unplanned airfield to resume the situation, afterwards trying again and again until they found finally in rather bad conditions a way to Belgium. Luckily, the situation was better in Belgium and reach after so many hours Antwerp.  Sorry Hartmut and Rainer, I didn’t foreseen a price for the “Most Merit” but it will be yours. In addition, the spotless, best mirror polished Ercoupe of Europe, and technically perfectly running motor as a watch, is the N-3330H. Congratulations for your plane and coming for the second time to Antwerp in such bad weather conditions. We appreciate also the kind remarks you find on all our birds.

For me it was a 45 minutes flight with the OO-PUS from Ostend to Antwerp. I did it on Thursday because I intend to visit first the Chipmeet at Zoersel airfield. Due to the lousy weather the last 15 minutes, I decided to land immediately at Antwerp and abort the Zoersel visit.

In order of arrival at Antwerp:

OO-PUS with Robert Rombouts (Ostend)
G-HARY with Mike Willis and Brian (Bourn, UK)
SE-BFX with Sven-Eric Pira (Sweden)
D-EJOR with Stephan Vatter (Worms, Germany). This is an imported Coupe from the USA in 1947 in Antwerp.
D-EOPI with Ronny and Sandra Drucke (Worms, Germany)
D-ENUC with Heiko and his father (Reichelsheim, Germany). This is also imported and assembled at Antwerp in 1947.
G-AHRB with Keith and Sid (Earls Colne, UK)
N-3330H with Hartmut and Rainer (Schönhagen, Germany)

Because Heiko had to work on Sunday he flew back the same day to Reichelsheim, he had a problem with the fuel pump and could only fly for one hour. Luckily he arrived save and well at his home base.

More Ercoupers came, Hilde van Haarlem who bought the G-COUP and restoring it now, joined us to take a lot of pictures and information in order to make the most original Ercoupe.

Rob Maatman, owner of the PH-NCE flew in with a beautiful restored red Stinson and hope to join us next year with his restored Coupe. This means two more for the next year.

We missed Jean Flacelière, he intended to come and send me a message two days before the fly-in that it was impossible to attend. We hope to see him on our next meeting.

In the evening we had our BBQ together with the SV4 pilots, instead to have a friendly talk together, it was more a loud shouting, our table was just before a huge loudspeaker, next year we improve it. But the trophies were given to all the courageous Ercoupe pilots who participate this Fly-In, it’s YOU who made this success, thank you to all; Mike – Brian - Sven-Eric – Stephan – Ronny – Heiko – Sid – Keith – Hartmut – Rainer.  Surprise came from Mike, who gave me a reward for the “Best not flying excuses during 2009-2010”, thanks Mike, a very good remember for a bad flying year.

After a silent and peaceful night, the return home had to be prepared. The weather checked, the flight plans filled the planes full with fuel, and one by one all the Coupes left Antwerp for home. The final lap of a too short visit, but we had that wonderful friendly Ercoupe feeling, belonging together with a marvellous modern plane designed by a genius “Fred Weick”.

Now we had an opposite weather situation; for the UK pilots, Belgium was fair with a nice head wind, but flying direction Germany, they break all speed records in good flying conditions. Hartmut & Rainer arrived in Schönhagen after a little more than 3hrs, normally it is 5hrs flying. Mike & Brian and Keith & Sid had poor visibility and rain in the UK.  Sven-Eric was the same day already in Sweden but needed some more hours to fly home.

Very dear friends, this Antwerp Fly-In was a real smashing one, next year the Fly-In will be renamed to the “ERCOUPE & SV4 Fly-In” instead of the opposite.

I cannot repeat enough, THANK YOU to all of you who made this meeting a wonderful “GRAND CRU”. Next year we will do the same, and the weather will be much better, promise.

A very happy Robert.

Robert Rombouts

4th European Ercoupe Fly-In – Antwerp (EBAW) – 15 & 16 May 2010

Hartmut Beil writes: The forth annual European Fly in was a great success. 8 Planes participated including mine.  Unfortunately we were late in the arrival and one plane was already gone when we arrived. Bad weather mainly held us back. My brother and I actually planned to arrive around noon, but we needed to circle around low hanging clouds in the Harz mountains and had to land twice for fuel.  That expanded our trip from Schönhagen to Antwerp to 7 hours.  Besides the rain and low clouds we experienced a loose fuel fitting that we had to take care of.  This all took time.

Arriving in Antwerp we realized that we never will win a prize again if it goes on like that.  I don't own the oldest Ercoupe nor do we fly the farthest way.  If there would have been a price for the best polished Ercoupe, that would change the picture.  Many thanks to Robert Rombouts who made this event happen and also for his hospitality and his great efforts to enable this meeting location the fourth time in a row.

The next Ercoupe meet in Germany is planned for August 7 and 8 in Schönhagen by Berlin. Any Ercoupe/Aircoupe pilot is invited.

The Catering of the Antwerp fly-in is hard to beat, but we can use the local airport restaurant instead. Schönhagen also has a hotel, so one can stay overnight, but even camping out in a tent will be possible. The best of all - no landing fees for airplanes old as ours.

One of the downsides of the Antwerp meeting was the seating during the event . We had a hard time to keep the conversation between all participants rolling. The band in the background was nice, but not helping in this regard.  This will be different in Schönhagen.

Our trip back to Schönhagen was quite interesting.  I took the liberty NOT to file a flightplan, putting the single sky Europe idea to the test. It worked out normal.  We made it through the Netherlands with the transponder switched off - the new rules there add not much to safety IMHO.  And the strong tailwind carried us in 3.1 flying hours back to Schönhagen in one leg.  We saw ground speeds of up to 146 MPH making the almost 400 miles possible in 3 hours.  Hopefully we see such conditions again both ways when we meet next year.

I noticed that many European Ercoupes and Aircoupes share a history of repairs and alterations that were driven by outweighing costly imports of parts versus approved repairs that altered the original setup.  We should raise awareness for this and come up with a solution that allows maybe for swapping parts that are already in Europe.

All the best,


Antwerp – the movie

Mike writes: if you were at Antwerp you might have noticed me roving around with a video camera.

Now the event is captured for posterity on YouTube. I had to split it into two parts - total running time is just over 14 minutes. I hope you enjoy it!


Bourn Bacon Butty Fly-in

May 22, 2010

Mike Willis writes: This fund raising event enjoyed good weather.  I taxied G-HARY out for the event, and even went for a short flight later in the day.  Keith flew in with G-ARHB so we had 2 Ercoupes parked together.  Not quite as impressive as the previous week in Antwerp, but there you go!

Overall there were 29 flying visitors, 2 more than last year.  We generated a healthy profit of £547.18 to go to the Burned Children's Club and there are three cheques on the way, so by next week  have £647.18 at least.


Memory corner

Aircoupe Memories

Michael McRitchie writes: It seems like yesterday that I learned to fly on an Aircoupe, but I’ve found this is one of the things that happens one grows older. In fact it was well over 40 years ago, and despite my efforts the little Coupe is still flying 20 years after I hung up my headphones.

The Aircoupe not only helped me through my pilot’s licence, it brought me my engineer’s licences as well. And while almost anyone can obtain a PPL, we grease-monkeys believe our licence is much harder to win. Think CPL and the full British Instrument Rating, which I would achieve long afterwards, and you’ll get the idea.

Finding this site has brought back many happy memories of carefree days at the Ulster Flying Club in Northern Ireland. The club was founded in 1961 with a few Tiger Moths and Austers (which I think you folks Stateside will know as a Taylorcraft). Within a few years these were replaced by Aircoupes G-ARHD (s/n 5735) and G-AROO (formerly N25B, s/n 5750).

The Aircoupes’ C90 engines proved very reliable but they had one severe failing. In Ireland’s damp climate they are incredibly prone to carburettor icing. After a few scares and a forced landing in a field a few miles from our airfield, our CFI ‘Tubby’ Dash decreed that carb heat would be applied before throttling back in the climbout, and kept until shutdown unless full power was needed en route. Thereafter we had no problems.

My father served in the RAF and I grew up on RAF bases around the world. My first trip was a DC3 from Karachi to Bombay in India, and I was hooked for life.

Forty-five years ago the chief engineer at the Ulster Flying Club was Sammy Deane, who had been a master cabinetmaker before joining Shorts’ Belfast factory during the war to work on Stirling bombers and Sunderland flying boats. After the war he became chief inspector at the Miles aircraft factory at Newtownards, building the wooden Messenger and Gemini twin. When the club was formed with the support of Shorts, he became its engineer.

If I was going to fly, and one day have my own aircraft, I would need an engineer’s licence because I could not afford to pay for maintenance. In those days an engineer needed three years’ general experience and at least a year on type before you could even sit the exams. Sammy did not suffer fools gladly and was lukewarm about my proposal of working with him by day and doing my paid newspaper job by night, until one Friday afternoon I wandered into the hangar to find him working on Double Oscar’s front leg.

Like many old-timers Sammy could waste nothing. While the Aircoupes performed well on training at up to 1000 hrs per year (and £3 per hour, oh happy days!) they had their weaknesses. These included a ferocious appetite for Belleville undercarriage springs, and as for those Goodyear discs rattling around in the securing blocks, or rattling clean out of the securing blocks ... eventually we got the Cleveland conversion. When the club bought our first 150 we were delighted to find its bent-wire undercarriage took the endless touch-and-gos on our rough wartime runways without effort, save for the tyre wear.

All our Aircoupes were inclined to wear the bronze bush which carries the front oleo leg, and while it was possible to obtain outsize bushes these had to be reamed at great expense (we charged only £3 an hour, remember?) So they were hand fitted.

“You needn’t come in here to rush me”, he said without looking up. “It will be ready when it’s ready, and it’s our wedding anniversary tonight so you can forget this weekend”. When I offered to help he hesitated before pulling a half-round file, a scraper and a tin of engineer’s blue from his box and telling me to lock up when I finished.

Shortly after 2 am next day I staggered homewards leaving the oleo loosely assembled on a perfectly fitting bush. Next time I saw Sammy he remarked that HD would need a new bush as well, I should book it out from the store, and remember to log the jobs in my experience book.

After a year in which I changed to a night job in order to spend time at the airfield by day, I was ready for initial checkout by C. H. Taylor, the Air Registration Board surveyor who visited us for every C of A renewal. At first cautious about a part-time engineer, he said I needed some major repair experience before I could be considered for examinations.

At that very moment the crash alarm sounded. We all tore out to the airfield where poor Hotel Delta was sitting with its tail in the air. A student had veered off the runway and embedded the nose wheel in the boggy ground alongside. “Well?” asked Mr. Taylor. “Prop strike, engine out. Engine bearers bent, front oleo bent, maybe bulkhead mounting points damaged, spar rivetting ahead of main gear legs may have failed so tanks must come out to inspect inner wing area”, I replied.

“What are you standing there for?” growled Sammy. “And where’s your book, don’t forget you have to log all these jobs!”

A year later Charlie Taylor took my engineering logbook and quizzed me for over an hour on all the jobs I had described therein, followed by half an hour on how we had recovered Hotel Delta to minimise damage, what I had found on the survey, and how it had been put right. Some time after that I received the coveted maroon folder and became the third ARB licensed engineer in Ireland.

There was nobody more pleased than Sammy Deane, without whom I would never have had my own aircraft, first a share in a Tiger Moth, then a Tiger of my own, then a Piper Arrow which took us all over Europe. All were rebuilt under Sammy’s expert eye.

The Aircoupe was easy to fly but its lack of rudder requirement proved a disadvantage when I moved to older aircraft. I had problems getting the Tiger Moth to turn left onto crosswind leg until I realised that I had to push with perhaps 10% of my strength on the left pedal to overcome the torque, and almost as much on the right when throttling back. Gliding presented similar problems, it takes a good jab to overcome the inertia of those long wings and yaw in and out of the turns. But the three-point technique applied to an Aircoupe, I found, produces a ‘greaser’ every time.

G-ARHC was bought by another flying group in Northern Ireland and worked very hard. Its present owner in England has had it beautifully restored in its original paint scheme. G-ARHD did not fare so well. As I recall, some 30 years ago it ran out of fuel and crashed onto a remote hillside, fortunately without injury.

Sadly, European flying has been strangled in red tape. In the last days of the Air Registration Board before it became the vast bureaucracy of the Civil Aviation Authority with more managers than engineers, Mr. Taylor the surveyor told me that if the weight of the paperwork equalled that of the MTOW, then the aircraft would be fit to fly. The skies where once I taught myself aerobatics by turning upside down at 6000 ft are now controlled airspace with base at 2000. And I don’t think I could fly a Tiger Moth non-radio from Ireland to Paris again, for 40 years on southern England and the Channel seems to be one vast control zone.

But I’m glad to say that G-AROO still lives at Newtownards in the caring hands of Jim McMeekin, who has owned it for more than a quarter of a century. Now and again in my garden I hear its distinctive hollow exhaust note, quite different from the O-200 or Lycoming in the Cessnas, and I look back to the happy days when once I flew an Aircoupe.

Michael McRitchie

Fly-Ins 2010

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

Full details at the top of this newsletter.

August 7-8      Schönhagen, Berlin, Germany (EDAZ) German Ercoupe Fly-In

Ercoupers,  our next fly-in come together is planned for August 7/8 in Schönhagen by Berlin, Germany (EDAZ). The airport offers no landing fee for old-timer aircraft (Ercoupes). It has a nice restaurant and a hotel for those that wish to overnight. Camping out under the wing of your plane even seems possible. Please advise of any interest and I will ask for Camping permissions or hotel space availability. We will have more time for aircraft talk plus get to know each other better.

Attached a PDF file of the Jeppeson airport chart showing traffic pattern and airport facilities. A better quality file will be delivered on request.

Now in German:
Unser nächster Ercoupe Fly-in ist für den 7/8 August in Schönhagen bei Berlin (EDAZ) geplant. Schönhagen berechnet keine Landegbühren für Old-Timer Flugzeuge . Es gibt ein schönes Restaurant und ein Hotel zur Übernachtung. Caping unter den Flügeln ist eventuell auch möglich. Falls da Interesse besteht, sagt es rechtzeitig an und ich werde mich um Verfügbarkeiten im Hotel oder auf dem Platz zum Camping erkundigen. In Schönhagen haben wir mehr Zeit zur Fachsimpelei und man kommt sich etwas näher.

Die angefügte Jeppeson Karte zur Information über das Landefeld und Anflugverfahren. Eine Datei in höherer Qualität kann bei Bedarf versendet werden.

Greetings to you all,

Euer Hartmut

August 14-15       Schaffen-Diest (Belgium)   International Old-Timer Fly-In

A very popular annual fly-in. Full details at Already 114 aircraft are registered to attend.

August 28       Great Oakley Vintage Fly-In

Deatils to foloow, but this could be the debut of Derek Tregilgas's Ercoupe N99495!

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

The annual Ercoupe National Convention in the USA is in Illinois this year. Full details at

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

September 19      Popham, UK- Solent Aviation Society 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