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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 31 October 2010


Dear readers,

It seems a long time since I was at the Ercoupe Owners Convention in the US, but I had a great time, as you will read later. I've been grounded for 4 months with an engine overhaul, but the end is now in sight, with half of the air testing now completed. Hopefully I will be back to flying every weekend soon.

Do please contribute to this newsletter, no matter how small your contribution is welcome and will be enjoyed by others.

Happy flying,

Mike Willis, G-HARY

Quick links to contents of this newsletter:
Fly-in reports

Ercoupe news

Scrap it? Cessna who!

Jennifer Hoibraten writes:  Thanks for the email. Alas, I won’t be able to make it to the Popham fly-in this year. I was in England earlier to help move G-AWAW from the British Science Museum hangar to a container on a truck that will take her to America to be restored. This was (as far as we know) the only Cessna 150 to fly from England to Australia, and she was about to be scrapped when the lady who flew her on that trip, Jan Schönburg, alerted me of the aircraft’s imminent demise. I am also a member of the Cessna 150 Club in America, and put out a call to ask if we in the club could manage to save the aircraft.

The response was extraordinary – we passed the hat and raised 5,000 dollars which was what it would cost to freight it, a member donated space in his hangar in Florida so the plane could be worked on and restored, mechanics have volunteered their time and people are stepping up with their old parts. One chap has even donated a restorable engine! The goal is to restore the aircraft just as she was when she flew to Australia, replete with advertisement poster from The Sun who sponsored the trip (not page 3 though!!!). First she will be restored to static display, and eventually to airworthiness. They plan to take it around to air shows and events like Sun n Fun and Oshkosh as a testimony of what the type is capable of.

One of the members made a website which tells the story very well. See if you are remotely curious.

Tony Smith and his wife Anne helped us move the plane – I met them thanks to the Ercoupe fly-in at Popham last year! Hope to make it next year though instead.

Hope all is well and that G-HARY is on wing again soon!

Have a lovely weekend,  Jennifer

Phantom Ercoupe

Derek Tregilgas writes: Hi all, Looks like the big Goodwood event last weekend (September) was a really good event - not to mention the presence of  a certain little aeroplane that clearly stole the show !

Soon to be nestled in the bay at Oakley we hope ! Just waiting for the final rubber stamp from the FAA. Anyone got a spare set of rudder pedals I can borrow ?

Cheers for now, Derek  

Fly-In reports

Ercoupe Owners Club National Convention, Mount Vernon, IL, USA, September 9-12, 2010

Mike Willis writes: By coincidence this year's annual Ercoupe convention was around the time I had to be in the US on business, so I was able to attend.  Mt Vernon is a small town around 1 1/2 hours drive to the East of St Louis.  Being in the USA, the airport is of course fantastic for a small town, with a proper terminal building, restaurant, two runways and lots of taxiways.  However the only users are a small FBO and for a few days a lot of Ercoupes.

Sadly the number of 'Coupes was well down on those expected.  The weather was marginal on the Thursday, but unflyable Friday and Saturday.  Rain, overcast with a ceiling as low as 300 feet, it seemed more like the Ostend Robert knows than supposedly sunny America!  But of course the sun came out for a beautiful day on the Sunday as everyone was leaving. Instead of around 50 Ercoupes at Mt. Vernon there were only 24.

Larry Snyder and his team put in a lot of hard work to organize and run a superb convention.  Their hospitality was wonderful and everyone made a little Englishman very welcome.

I arrived at the convention around 5 pm on the Friday just in time to hear Linda Abram’s story of her forced landing in a field earlier this year. The details will be published in due course, but the cause turned out to be not that which was causing concern - the cork float not floating in the fuselage tank - but another problem no one spotted.  Linda very skillfully landed her Ercoupe without damage to herself or her plane, something that we all hope we will be able to do if and when we have to.

Because of the weather the planned schedule had been revised, and I quickly learnt that I had missed both the board meeting (sorry Robert) and John Wright's technical forum that had been brought forward.  I also missed Wayne DeRossi give his talk about restoring his beautiful Alon - it is absolutely perfect.

Friday night was picnic night, a chance for us all to network.  I was able to meet many people that I have corresponded with over the past few years for the first time - Skip Carden, Mike Jenkins from Skyport, Alan Fairclough, Dave Winters, plus I was able to put faces to names I have seen on the Ercoupe Tech forums and made many more new friends. Although there were only 24 Ercoupes, many had driven in so the total crowd was more like 100.  We were also entertained by Larry Snyder and his friends who played some country songs that everyone except myself seemed to know.

The flying trip highlight of this convention was to have the Ercoupes fly past the Archway in St Louis while a helicopter hovered and took photos. But the weather meant it couldn't take place Friday, and the rearranged time of Saturday morning was cancelled as well.

So Saturday morning a trip was organized for everyone to visit the huge craft fair that weekend in Mt Vernon.  However I hadn't come all this way to go shopping, so with Alan Fairclough we slipped away to the Spirit of St Louis air museum.  This was less impressive than I'd hoped, with just a small number of exhibits in an old hangar, but it was better by far than a craft fair!

When we left Mt Vernon Saturday morning the cloud base was very low, but by the time we returned mid-pm the sky was clearing and we found we had missed the spot landing competition.  So it was back to our hotels to scrub up ready for the highlight of the convention - the banquet.

The banquet was held in the ballroom of the nearby Holiday Inn, and began with Happy Hour, although the drinks prices appeared to stay the same throughout the evening. Larry had thought of everything, with his helpers having prepared table centrepieces of the St Louis archway with an Ercoupe flying under it - unfortunately a reminder of what had not been possible. We had a great meal of huge pieces of Southern Fried Chicken, followed by presentations of awards.  Then came the keynote speaker - me!

I had asked Larry a few weeks before if he would like me to give a short presentation about Ercoupes in Europe, and he had found a slot Saturday morning for me. However later I received an email "Surprise!" - I now had the Saturday night slot. It proved to be quite easy to put together some slides to show what we get up to, because thanks to the great European Ercoupers we have lots of meetings even though we are small in numbers.  I started with some fun about the language differences between the US and UK, and also the differences in flying between our two continents, for instance the costs! It went very well and everyone there now knows about our active community in Europe.

Sunday morning and the weather was perfect for the Archway fly-by.  There was a briefing at 8am where it was decide to fly in two "gaggles" of around 7 aircraft at 2,500 feet flying at 90 mph. The leaders would handle the radio comms and the others would follow.  Most would fly off home after the fly-by with just a few returning to Mt Vernon.  What could go wrong?

Initially there was a delay because the helicopter pilot hadn't turned up, but soon it was all go and off the Ercoupes flew.  At this stage I was thinking that the rest of the morning would be boring and maybe I'd set off for a slow drive back to St Louis for my flight home.  However boring it wasn't!  About 20 minutes after they had all left, one of the airport workers found a dip stick on the ramp. From the position of where it was found someone suggested it was a silver Coupe, and to my horror I realized who it might be.  I had said goodbye to Dave Winters and his wife Debbie right there before they left, and he had told me he planned to add a quart of oil to the engine.  Even worse he was running a new engine in, so a tight engine would not last long with all of the oil blown out.  Someone called the tower at St Louis Downtown airport who the groups should be speaking to so they could radio a warning.

We waited anxiously and soon came the news that 2 Ercoupes and another aircraft had left the second group.  Then we heard that Dave had diverted and successfully landed. Great relief. But after 15 minutes we were shocked to get an update - he had landed because of low oil pressure but he had not lost his oil cap!  Now back in worrying mode there was nothing to do but wait, after what seemed an age we heard that the other Ercoupe who had lost the oil cap had successfully landed at another airfield. It seemed the second group never really formed into a gaggle and only one Ercoupe from that group made it past the Arch! So in the end 14 aeroplanes left but only 8 made the fly-by, the other missing planes just up and flew home (we assume)!

Well, the Ercoupe convention was certainly an experience and I'm so glad I went!  Thanks to all involved who were so friendly and made a relative newcomer to the Ercoupe scene so welcome.  If anyone is in the US next year at convention time I can really recommend it.


1st French European Ercoupe Fly-In – 11th & 12th September at Nangis

Robert Rombouts writes: The 1st French European Ercoupe Fly-In organized by Jean Flacelière, the French wing leader, at Nangis was a real French-Friendly-Culinary-Ercoupe happening. We thank Jean that he organizes this first French Meeting at Nangis, his home Base.

Unfortunately my OO-PUS was not ready for the trip, due some mechanical problems on my Nose Strut and instruments, so I decide to do the trip by car, what’s not a pilots dream. The Nangis airfield is situated East of Paris, in the “Brie” (famous cheese) region.

A very warm welcome at Nangis airfield (LFAI); meeting Jean Flacelière again and Jérôme Villand I meet for the first time, he could not fly too due a carburettor problem on his F-AZOV. We expected also Ernst Viehweger with his D-EHIR if the weather conditions where good in Germany, who was not. For me it was so nice to meet Jérôme, the actual owner of my first Ercoupe OO-AIA, I owned from 1971 until 1979.

Our welcome lunch at the airfield bar, was a delicious salad with warm “Brie” cheese and a good red wine, a perfect start for the weekend. Afterwards we visit the airfield hangars and Jean’s Ercoupe F-AZDG, he is still renovating meticulously. Nangis is a wonderful asphalt airfield with all the accommodations necessary for an amazing Meeting. We sleep opposite the Railway station at Nangis and had a delicious diner in a typical Italian restaurant.

Next day after a French croissant breakfast, Jean showed us the country side around Nangis with a very old windmill “Le Moulin de Gastin”, and finished our morning with a fabulous lunch at the “Hostellerie Le Châtel”; warm Brie cheese en papillote, we savoured net of duck with a delicious sauce, ice-cream with fruits sorbet, Chantilly cream, topped with a St.Emillon red wine. Admit, who is not jealous he missed this French Culinary Meeting at Nangis.

We had a perfect 1st European French Ercoupe Fly-In, and are very pleased Jean promised us to organize next year the same glorious Meeting, thanks Jean and Jérôme we all were very happy we didn’t miss this one.


Solent Aviation Society Fly-In, Popham

Tony Smith writes: Popham was all but "weathered" off; it was a nice enough day but the wind was very strong and put a lot of people off I should think. There were only about 25 or so visitors, I didn't count them. It was still a good day however with sufficient interest provided by what did turn up and, as usual, plenty of aeroplane chatter!

Hope all is well with you; cheers - Tony S.

Fly-Ins 2010

Looks like that's it for 2010. Or is it? When I get G-HARY back in the air I will organise some UK EMUs - I have a lot of flying to catch up on!


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