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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 37 September 2011


Dear readers,

In the UK it has been a bit of a miserable summer. Though it has been warm at times it has been hazy and very wet. So now we have to keep our fingers crossed for a nice autumn!

I'd like to draw your attention to the next UK fly-in, the Solent Aviation Society meeting at Popham. This is a great occastion, attracting aircraft of all types, but will again this year feature Ercoupes. It would be wonderful to see as many as possible there on Sunday September 18th. More details at the end of this newsletter.

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

Popham fly-in

Paul Rushton writes: I hope that we will see some Ercoupes at the fly-in this year, attached is this year’s poster to help jog memories!

Could you pass it on to the other pilots, perhaps they could post it at their clubs in order to attract more aircraft to the fly-in (not just Ercoupes).

I’m off in France during this year’s fly-in, so Duncan Luther will be doing the honours.

Fingers crossed for good weather and a good turn out this year.

All the best, Paul Rushton


Rome Restoration

Hello Mike, I am Giorgio Pace from Rome. 

I bought and brought to Italy from Gatwick at the end of 2009 Peter Vallance’s Ercoupe 415-D G-EGHB. 

I wish to inform you and the friends who read the newsletter, that you kindly send us regularly, about the restoration work I'm doing on EGHB.

The aircraft was fully disassembled and luckily I have not found signs of corrosion. 

The fuselage, wings, rudders have been stripped and polished. 

The cockpit has been completely rebuilt, giving it the original look with chrome strip and the glove box, the electrical system and the fuel system was rebuilt. 

I removed the rudder pedals and restored the mixer. 

The tanks were removed, cleaned up and treated with specific enamel for tanks and inside was mounted foam against explosion. 

The leather seat and side panels have been rebuilt, and we have changed the side and rear windows.

The engine mount and nose gear was disassembled, checked and repainted.  The engine still has 600 hours. 

The compressions are good, I did overhaul the magnetos and changed some gaskets.  I'll keep you informed and I attach some photos of restoration.

This is the only Ercoupe in Italy.  The last one was canceled about 25 years ago

Best Regards, Giorgio







A Winter's Tale

Dave Winters writes: Mike, Thanks for this latest issue!  We continue to be exceptionally pleased with Frolic’s performance since removing all the vacuum gadgets drag and weight.  She’s taken us for some 200+ mile flights, and the improvement in climb rate, speed and fuel economy is noticeable - much greater that one would intuitively expect.  The down side is that we no longer have an artificial horizon or gyrocompass.  However, with newly cleared space in the panel, I’ve installed a Garmin 196 dock (and hung a hand-held radio beside it) thereby considerably clearing my windshield view.

We’ve experimented with making instrument approaches using only the Garmin 196 and remaining panel gauges.  Surprisingly, the results were positive.  The “glass panel” feature on the Garmin is invaluable.  Though it is by no means legal, still, it is nice to know that in a pinch, this gear can get us to the ground in a gentle and dependable manner.  So, I feel more confident even without my gyro instruments.

Now that the operational stuff is under control, we just need to “pretty up” the interior.  As you can see from the third pic, we’ve been getting the exterior shined up nicely.


Passionate about Ercoupes

Dear Mike, My name is Liam Boyle, I am passionate about Aircoupes.  I am a PPL at the Ulster Flying Club in Newtonards.  Could you please send me the Ercoupe newsletter?  Flying an Aircoupe changed my life as pilot.  I flew G-AROO, a Forney F1 with James McMeekan.  I’ve got to know him well over the last year.  I would love to get involved with Aircoupes.

 I was flying with James last Sunday, he let me do most of the flying.  I have read through all the past Ercoupe newsletters, found them to be very interesting.  Also I found out recently that G-ARHC belonged to the Ulster Flying Club many years age - I know two pilots who trained on her!

 As I understand you are the owner of G-HARY, I would love to photograph her, possible in December.  The Alon Aircoupe is the only type of Aircoupe I havent seen in real life, I have only seen an ERCO and Forney F1, so would be very interested in seeing G-HARY.

 Thanks, Liam Boyle

50th flight anniversary

Steve Mayrs writes: Hello Mike, I am about to celebrate an anniversary!  On 28th Aug 1971 I went to Eglinton Flying Club and took my first flight in a light aircraft Aircoupe G-ARHC!!  The instructor was Tubby Dash.  He was CFI at both Eglinton and Newtownards Flying Clubs.

Today I found photos of this air coupe on the internet.  I am wondering where ‘HC is now and who owns her.  If possible I would like to contact the owner just for a chat and maybe more photos.  I joined Are Lingus and flew for 33 years ending my career last year coming off the Airbus A330.  A bit different to an Aircoupe!

Hoping you can help, Steve Mayrs.

Mike replies: Hi Steve, well nice to hear from you.  G-ARHC was owned until a year or so ago by Andrew Gardner and before that his father, since 1979.  Andrew now regularly flies with me in G-HARY, a 1966 Alon.  There aren't many Ercoupes around these days, but your old friend is.  It’s now owned by Dave Hewitt and based at Halfpenny Green (Wolverhampton) and in fact Andrew and I dropped in to see it a couple of week's ago!  I’ve heard Dave isn’t very well at the moment, but his friend Gary Blunden is giving it some exercise in the air when he can!


Fly-in report

Sywell LAA Rally – September 2nd – 4th was more Syfog than Sywell

Robert Rombouts writes: This year I intended to join with OO-PUS the Sywell LAA Rally, and Mike Willis had the genius proposal to plan some trips around the UK countryside before the Rally.  Enthusiastic and happy to do some flying over the English landscape, I flew already the Wednesday 31 August from Ostend to Bourn (EGSN).

A wonderful trip over the Channel at 2,500 ft via Vabik and then straight to Clacton, with a reduced visibility over the water (haze), but from Clacton to Bourn it was perfect, a total trip time 1hr35 from Ostend.  Arrived at Bourn, nicely secured the Ercoupe and closed the Flight plan before we drove to Histon, Mike and Loraine’s home.

Mike Willis and his wife Loraine invited me for the weekend at their home, I thank them sincerely for the homely hospitality I received during my stay at Bourn, very kind, thanks.

Already we start planning the flying weekend, Mike with his Sky Demon computer programme plotted the next day trip to the North East; around Cambridge to Old Buckenham for refuelling then joining the East Coast, afterwards along the coast full South to Clacton, visit Leslie Miller in Clacton and back to Bourn.

An amazing nice blue sky in the morning of Thursday, was a gift we accepted with pleasure, I was pilot of the OO-PUS and Mike proposed to do the radio, it works as a perfect team.  The landing a Old Buckenham was impossible because no radio contact could be made, so we decide to continue until Beccles (EGSM), that was a perfect diversion because we meet very kind people who propose to drive us for lunch outside the airfield.  Luckily, I had a very good co-pilot because the runway at Beccles was tricky, I could not find the numbers on the runway, but the usable runway was a small strip beyond the large disused concrete, and across a road!  Mike was already at this airfield and knows the secret of Beccles, you need good friends to help you in difficult situations.  A good lunch we had at  Posh Pigs, a lunch house in the industrial estate, if you don’t know it you will never find it.

After Beccles we had a dream trip along the East Coast down to Clacton, smooth with an unlimited visibility, an enjoyable flight you wish to have at all times. Then Clacton, yes Clacton, small grass runway, avoiding as much as possible the built area, Mike trying to tell me as much as possible which altitude to keep, it was also full crosswind, a dream without rudder pedals, but my speed was far too high, also a path is crossing in the middle of the runway 18.  Down we were, but could not reduce enough my speed, touched the grass before the path, bumped again in the sky, then touched down on the second half of the runway.  Close to the runway-end and with the bushes and road rapidly approaching Mike advised me “you can brake now if you like!”  The runway was dry, otherwise it was a go-around for sure, next time I prepare better my approach speed and hope not to have a crosswind.

We visit then Leslie Miller, I promised him already more than a year ago to visit him, and this was a good opportunity, we all hope that his sad health problem will be improved soon, he is a very nice person.

Our return to Bourn after the Clacton story was in the same nice weather condition we had during the all day.  Safely landed after an amazing day and ready for a good beer, that we sip in a typical English Pub at Histon who have more Belgian beers as my Pub here in Belgium.  Afterwards we had delicious Indian food, a marvellous time  for my first day in Bourn.

Then for the next day, Friday, Mike had a slot for his G-HARY at the LAA Rally at Sywell very early, and we intend to leave Bourn airfield around 9:15.  Big disappointment, fog, but we are not so easy to collapse and we prepare G-HARY for a local flight, it was a minimal visibility and the slot was already passed, we tried a second time and decided not to attend with the Aircoupe.  Plan B was driving to Sywell and meet Andrew Gardner who expected us already but not by car.  Arrived at Sywell the weather was much better than Bourn and perhaps we could have flown but now too late and also it was some hours later.  To our surprise, Derek Tregilgas was also at Sywell, a very nice Ercouper who is still looking how to get his Ercoupe finally in the air, we will be very glad to see his mythical beauty (N-99495).  We had a close look at all the booths and the special LAA aircrafts, with the usual hamburger and a beer in the beautiful huge hangar of Sywell.

Because we had the feeling and the spirit of the Rally already, we decided not to fly the next day to Sywell as originally planned, but to do some nice trip to the South.   The dinner in the evening was also in a fabulous Chinese restaurant at Histon, it was delicious, I never had such a good Chinese. In the evening, Mike prepared again a nice trip we will fly the next day, Saturday. Sorry it was such a complicate route, South and West of London, which you have to excuse me not to give all the details.

After a good sleep and not so early as yesterday, strength with a good breakfast and power enough to move the world, we drove to the Bourn airfield.  Again, that fu…fog, why are we so unlucky, with a desperate look we were searching on the hills around the airfield how far we can see, waiting was the only thing we could do.  Around midday it was better but not enough to fly what we intend to do, and the time did not stop and became too late to do what we intend.  The expectations for the next day weather, Sunday, was bad with heavy rain and in Belgium even thunderstorms, a reason to depart for Ostend as soon as possible.  After sending a flight plan, that was not so easy, and refuelling the OO-PUS, I took off around 14:00 local or 15:00 Belgium time.

Hazy, but still fair for an overland flight until Clacton, I had to avoid the Duxford area because a display was going on, I had the privilege to see even a jet quiet close who passed at low altitude, nice but very loud.  After Clacton and over the sea I climb until 3,500 ft to be on top of the haze, smooth and relax I had 1hour over the Channel waters before arriving in Ostend.  About 20miles from Ostend, I even did not see the Belgian coast, I had to descend for the approach and then the visibility was improving for the final landing at 26 in EBOS.

It was a good choice not to fly on Sunday, because we had here first fog in the morning and afterwards rains with some sun between, a typical unstable weather.

The conclusion is simple, Sywell we went, not with the Ercoupe, but I had a good time with Mike together even in the fog, the Thursday was marvellous and I will keep that wonderful trip as very good memory for that Syfog weekend.  Thank to Mike and Loraine, who give me an amazing good and friendly hospitality during this weekend.

Next Meeting will be Popham the 18 September, hoping we will meet all the English flying Ercoupes and Ercoupers.

Robert Rombouts & OO-PUS – Sweety II

Comedy corner


Ed Benguiat writes: Younger Ercoupe pilots forget that we older pilots had a career before we retired.  I'm a new retiree-greeter at Wal-Mart, and I just couldn't seem to get to work on time.  Every day I was 5, 10, 15 minutes late.  But I was a good worker, really tidy, clean-shaven, sharp-minded and a real credit to the company and obviously demonstrating their "Older Person Friendly" policies."

One day the boss called me into the office for a talk.  "Ed, I have to tell you, I like your work ethic, you do a bang-up job when you finally get here; but your being late so often is quite bothersome."

"Yes, I know boss, and I am working on it."  "Well good, you're a team player. That's what I like to hear.”  “Yes sir, I understand your concern and I said, I’ll try harder.”

Seeming puzzled, the manager went on to comment,  “It's odd though you’re coming in late.  I know you're now a retired art director and fly a little aeroplane, and you were also in the Armed Forces during WWII.  What did they say to you there if you showed up in the morning late and so often?"

I looked down at the floor, and kind of smiled.  I chuckled quietly, then said with a grin, "They usually saluted and said, "Good morning, Sir, can I get your coffee, sir?’

Fly-Ins 2011

18 September, Solent Aviation Society Popham, UK

One of the last big UK fly-ins of the year, and always a favorite in the Ercoupe calendar. This is the 30th Anniversary year for Solent Aviation, and the fly-in is for all aircraft types. Those featured are Luscombe, Pietentol, Autogyros, Chipmunks and Ercoupes! We hope all UK Ercoupes will try to attend, and Robert is planning to fly OO-PUS across fromBelgium. There are no landing fees on the 18th. Popham's web site is Let Mike know if you plan to attend at Hoping to see many of you there!


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 www. e
Robert Rombouts' site
Harmut's Ercoupe Maintenance & repair site
Ernst Viehweger's German Ercoupe web site
Mike Willis' site
Cal Coupers site 
Ercoupe photo album www. e  
Dave Abram's site
Ed Burkhead's site

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