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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 34 April 2011


Dear readers,

The weather is warmer, and good flying weather is with us again. I just wish I could fly too! I'm not going to deescribe my problems right now, but hopefully I will be up in the big blue soon now!

Do please contribute to this newsletter, no matter how small your contribution is welcome and will be enjoyed by others. And thank you to those who write in with kind comments. The newsletter is read around the world and brings back happy memories to many!

Happy flying,

Mike Willis, G-HARY

Ercoupe news


Les Slifkin writes: Mike, Thanks for your great letter and including my aircraft in it.  For future reference my last name is spelled Slifkin.  I have known Max at North Las Vegas for many years.  He and his lovely wife are warm and friendly hosts.  They used to host the Fly-In to Jean NV each year, but lately it has turn out to be just too work much for them.  Max would put on a show pretending to be a Professor with a white coat and it was hilarious and all had a great fun time.  Some day I hope to meet you either in the USA or over the pond.

Best wishes always, Les 

N99495 will fly soon!

Derek Tregilgas writes: Hi Mike, I am still in the process of chasing up my engineer who has been insisting that N99495 will be ready for collection "within days" for approximately seven years now. All being well I will indeed be able to get myself down to Goodwood and fly her back to Oakley when I'm back in the UK in May.  The Ercoupe was quite a modern aircraft when I bought it, but it’s been so long now it's turned into a classic !

Cheers, Derek

Mike adds: I was completely taken in by this email for a moment, then realised that Derek had sent it on April 1st!

Free and useful flight planning tool for UK

Mike writes: In the UK, NATS which provides the air traffic control services and is 42% owned by the airlines, has been taking initiatives to make GA flying safer. Of course the real motive is to reduce the number of infringements of controlled airspace, saving expensive diversions of commercial traffic, but anything to increase safety is welcome.

First of all we saw the introduction of Farnborough Radar services around London. Get a basic service from them and you get subtle hints if you approach airspace. For instance, just as I throttled back to drop below 1,500 feet under the south Stansed stub last year I was asked what my altitude was!

Next they produced last year a very low cost GPS - the NATS Aware at GBP 159 - which highlights controlled airspace.  Lots of pilots have bought this, some as a primary device and some as a back up.

The latest development is that in conjunction with Sky Demon they have launched a free flight planning system.  I think this will be great - and especially for those of you on mainland Europe when you come to the UK. It is easy to see NOTAMs etc.  The bad news – it doesn’t work on iPad as it uses Silverlight, but try it on your PC or desktop Mac. You need to have pop-ups permitted to get started. Here is the link:

Once you have plotted your route you can move it around, check NOTAMs, controlled airspace and airfield info., then print out a blog. The intention is for it to be a PLANNING aid. You need to pay for the commercial version to print out maps.

UK goes for new Olympic record – how many pilots can be grounded

Mike Willis writes: In case you haven’t heard, airspace around London will be restricted in the summer next year because of the Olympics Games being held in London.  In fact it is much worse than that – a huge area will be restricted to requiring filing of flight plans and requiring transponders, and will last 2 months during the busiest flying season.  For anyone with an aircraft based in the region this will be a major hindrance to flying; anyone running a flight school or maintenance will be losing a severe amount of business for 2 months.  Details of the plans can be found here .

 The CAA and NATS (who run the air traffic services in the UK) were preparing plans to cater for the increased amount of air traffic that the games will generate.  However the major mover for the restrictions has been the UK Ministry of Defence and the Home Office, who are treating the terrorist threat during the games as ‘severe’.  It is believed that what’s left of the Royal Air Force will be on alert with AWACS, fighters and helicopters, and there is a rumour that the US wishes to moor an aircraft carrier in the Thames Estuary.

Restricted ZoneThe restricted area is drawn around Class A boundaries of 2,500 feet and above, and extends to include airfields such as Headcorn, Rochester, Southend, Earls Colne, Duxford, White Waltham, and so on.  You want to stay outside the area you can fly around, but from Essex to Kent you have to fly across a lot of water and though a danger area.  Some airfields close to the boundary can apply for concessions allowing aircraft to enter and leave without flight plans, so likely Sid and Keith at Earls Colne will have no excuses for not joining fly-ins.  Within the zones flight plans will not be needed for flying circuits, but a transponder will still need to be on.

The requirements to enter the restricted area are that a flight plan must be filed 24-2 hours beforehand on-line, and then if it gets approval you need to quote the access code on first radio contact. Radio contact must be maintained throughout the whole time and the flight plan must be adhered to.  A transponder is required, but even mode A is OK, no need for altitude encoding.  Gliders are not exempt, so presumably will need to have a really good idea which way the wind will blow and where the thermals will be.  Microlights, etc. without radio and transponders will just be grounded.

There are arguments about who will operate the flight plan service and carry out the traffic monitoring.  Unfortunately for the UK Government, they privatised the air traffic service some years ago and the airlines who own it say they are not trained or responsible for defence.  Certainly nothing more than a Basic Service will be offered.

So why the restrictions for 2 months when the games last 2 weeks?  Well, first of all there will be training before the games begin.  Then a few weeks after the games there are the Paralympic games.  Rather than open the airspace in the intervening period, the decision was made to run it for 2 months so that us poor pilots “don’t get confused”.  Of course if we get confused about whether our flight plan has been filed then we get fined, lose our licence and potentially get shot down.

I felt many years ago that the Olympic Games had grown into a monster, driven by sponsorship, advertising and attracting TV viewers (hence beach volleyball) and had moved well beyond any kind of friendly sporting event.  Now I know for sure!

Rant over.  Mike.

PS At my home field Bourn, just outside the restricted zone, plans are afoot to find space for pilots wishing to re-site their aircraft temporarily.

Humour corner

Old timers

Recently posted on Ercoupe-flyin discussion group: Four old retired guys are walking down a street in Yuma, Arizona ..They turn a corner and see a sign that says, 'Old Timers Bar - ALL drinks 10 cents'.  They look at each other, and then go in, thinking this is too good to be true.  The old bartender says in a voice that carries across the room, "Come on in and let me pour one for you! What'll it be, Gentlemen?"

There seemed to be a fully-stocked bar, so each of the men ordered a martini.  In short order, the bartender serves up four iced martinis... shaken, not stirred, and says, "That'll be 10 cents each, please."  The four men stare at the bartender for a moment, then look at each other.  They can't believe their good luck.  They pay the 40 cents, finish their martinis, and order another round.  Again, four excellent martinis are produced with the bartender again saying, "That's 40 cents, please."  They pay the 40 cents, but their curiosity is more than they can stand.  They have each had two martinis and so far they have spent less than a dollar.

Finally one of the men says, "How can you afford to serve martinis as good as these for a dime a piece?"  "I'm a retired tailor from Phoenix," the bartender says, “and I always wanted to own a bar. Last year I hit the Lottery jackpot for $125 million and decided to open this place.  Every drink costs a dime... wine, liquor, beer, it's all the same."

"Wow!!!! That's quite a story," says one of the men.  The four of them sipped at their martinis and couldn't help but notice seven other people at the end of the bar who didn't have drinks in front of them, and hadn't ordered anything the whole time they were there.

One man gestures at the seven at the end of the bar without drinks and asks the bartender, "What's with them?"  The bartender says, "Oh, they're all old retired pilots.  They're waiting for Happy Hour when drinks are half price."

Fly-Ins 2011

Start putting these dates in your diaries!!!

Fly-In Poster4-5 June, 2011, 5th European Ercoupe Owners Fly In, Antwerp

More details at Robert's website

Robert Rombouts,

16 - 19 June, 40th EOC National Tahlequah, Oklahoma USA

Further dtails at:

2 - 3 July, Air Britain Fly-In North Weald. UK

A regular event for Ercoupe owners. Details of this year's event at:

16-17 July, 2011, 3rd German Ercoupe Fly-In, Schönhagen

During those days a Classic old-timer cars and planes is organized, a very good combination to do an Ercoupe Meeting.

30 - 31 July, Old timers Fly-In Keiheuvel, Belgium


12 - 14 August, Old timers Fly-In Schaffen-Diest. Belgium

Further details at:

26 - 28 August, Tannheim Fly-In. Germany

17 - 18 September, Solent Aviation Society Popham, UK


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 
Dave Abram's site
Ed Burkhead's site

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