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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 43 August 2012


Dear readers,

The Olympics are over, although the Paralympics are due to start in a few days time and there is still some temporary restricted airspace around. The Paralympic opening ceromony will supposedly include a fly-over by the Aeromobility aircaft!

Quite a bit of news this newsletter, dominated by the story of Myth-One, the Ercoupe that Derek Tregilgas has been restoring for as long as living memory, finally flying and making it's way to Great Oakley.

Apologies for the delay in getting this newsletter out. Demands of running two businesses and trying to find time to fly means less time for this publication, particularly when I have to write large chunks of it. It would be great if all of those who enjoy reading it also wrote a short piece - just small contributions are great and will be appreciated by everyone.

Best regards,

Mike Willis, G-HARY

Ercoupe news

First solo 46 years ago

Peter Allison writes: Hi Mike - thanks for the newsletter, another good effort! I was very interested to see the piece on GARHC, an Aircoupe in the same colours as the ones I trained in in the mid sixties and registered only two letters away from the one in which I did my PPL solo cross country (G-ARHA) in September 1966. And then I find, as I read the article, that it is based at Slinfold - only fifteen minutes up the road from where I live!

I'd really enjoy the chance to see an Aircoupe from the very same production run as the ones I used to fly 46 years ago so I wonder if I can meet up at the strip sometime. Hope so.

Best wishes, Peter Allison

G-ARHDFirst solo 42 years ago

Jim McMeekan writes:

Hi Mike, I came across this photo of the unfortunate G-ARHD taken on 11th June 1970 with myself having just competed my first solo.

Also attached is an interesting photo taken at the Air Products factory in Carlsbad of the first Forney to be completed at the factory.

Cutting the ribbon is Miss New Mexico. This was on the site which has a few more interesting photos of the factory - actually an old WW2 hangar.

Best regards, Jim McMeekan



Hard stuff

Derek Tregilgas writes: Hello chaps, check this out. Great picture, but it WASN'T me ok !!! On the date this was taken I was 'greasing' one on at Copenhagen. I bet that one rattled his fillings somewhat eh!

Cheers, Derek

Mike notes: Strange thing for Derek to make fun of this when he was about to make his first landing in an Ercoupe with potentially similar results!

Evening flying

Liam Boye writes: I have attached some great photos of G-AROO doing some evening flying recently. These photos were taken when Karl was doing a flying lesson. Some of the staff of the UFC (Ulster Flying Club) took them.

Best Regards, Liam



Great flying video from Argentina

Daniel Arditi writes: Hi Coupe friends, I just wanted to share with all of you a new video from Argentina. Here is the link: . Enjoy!

Daniel Arditi, Ercoupe Argentina Group Regional Director

Swedish restoration

Göran Stenborg writes: Hi, I’m looking for some parts for an Ercoupe 415D from 1947. It has been standing in a museum for over 35 years and we have discussed for many years to start to restore her to flying again. The wings were restored 20 years ago with new fabric but have been standing at the mechanics workshop. Sadly there was a fire 3 months ago and the wings burned up. I still have the ailerons. The owner of this Ercoupe also has another standing in his exhibition with good wings. So I’m looking for a wing set that doesn’t need to be airworthy. He just wants the machine that is inside museum to be complete, and then I can use its wings to this machine. It’s located in South Sweden and reg nr SE-BFY. I am also looking for a pedal set. I hope someone can help out.

Best Regards, Göran Stenborgm, Sweden

Mike writes: I have already put Göran in touch with someone with the wings, just the pedals now!

Stephan's bird

Stephan Vatter writes: Hatten vor einigen Wochen ein Fotoshooting bei uns am Flugplatz. Mein Ercoupe war auch dabei!!! Check this!

We had a few weeks ago a photo shoot at our airport (Worms). My Ercoupe was also present!

Grüße Stephan


Special report

Mission Impossible - From Goodwood to Great Oakley

Mike Willis writes: After years of waiting it's finally happened.  Derek Tregilgas has finally flown his Ercoupe and got it back to its new base at Great Oakley.  This didn’t happen without a lot of effort.  After years of restoration, it took several test flights by willing volunteers to check it out, and then three attempts waiting for the right weather conditions to fly around the Olympic restricted airspace to Goodwood to collect it.  But of course it was all worth it.  Derek now has an ear to ear grin that’s not going to go away for months, or at least not until he gets the bill.

N99495 was imported so many years ago Derek can’t actually remember exactly which year it was.  However, he did write and tell us in the 2nd EEN published March 2008 that it would be ready to fly very soon.  I suppose nearly 4 and a half years is fairly soon?

Derek got over from Singapore in early July with high hopes of collecting his bird.  Test flying had recently been carried out by Eric Girardy (who recently bought G-ARHC) and his colleague Chris Applegarth, both pilots for Monarch Airlines.  Although the weather wasn’t bad unfortunately his N495’s windscreen needed some adjustment and wasn’t ready.  To cheer him up Keith Peacock flew G-ARHC and I flew G-HARY over to Great Oakley and took him for a short flight. To my amazement he had never flown in an Ercoupe before!  We were only up for half an hour around Clacton, but he was happy and even more determined to get flying his own.

Derek was back in the UK in August, but now the Olympic Games were taking place in London and an exclusion zone was in place within a 50 mile radius.  True you could fly through it by filing a flight plan, but you needed a transponder and radio, and N99495 has neither.  There was a small GA corridor past Southend to the East of London, but Derek called Southend and they said no deal, even if in convoy with an aircraft suitably equipped.

So we came up with a plan.  Unfortunately the plan required the weather to be good all day across the whole of Eastern and Southern England, something that hasn’t happened much in 2012.  Eventually we thought that the day had arrived – 8th August.  Everything was planned, charts marked up, weather forecast was good.  I went to Bourn in the morning at 9:00 ready to fly.  Unfortunately the cloud cover was 800 feet.  By 10:00 it was no better and the forecasts were now reflecting actual conditions.  I went to the office to work.

The next day the forecast was also good.  At Bourn at 9:00 again, this time fog.  But the sun will burn it off quickly won’t it?  Eventually at 11:25 I judged it was clear.  Derek tells me at Great Oakley, where I will collect him, the sky is blue and the visibility perfect.  I set off and about half way find the fog and haze is still around.  I descend lower and lower, do some orbits, it doesn’t look like I can get through.  But I hear traffic on the radio about 20 miles North that are flying OK VFR so I go the long way.  Eventually I get to a very hazy Great Oakley after one hour’s flying instead of 35 minutes. We check the weather for our route and there is no way we can fly along the South coast. So after some lunch we fly to Old Buckenham and try to make a day of it.

Third time lucky, Friday 10th August, a day that Derek will never forget!  The plan is for me to fly from Bourn to Great Oakley across the North of the Olympic restricted airspace to collect Derek.  We then fly South over the Thames Estuary, turn at Ashford, and fly West across Southern England to Goodwood.  The whole time we are within a few miles of the restricted zone and an infringement means your license is suspended.  I tell Derek he is P1!

But after 1:45 hours flying we arrive at Goodwood (just as a Spitfire and ME109 are departing) and we taxi around the maintenance hangar to park next to N99495.  Chris Applegarth is there to greet us and tells us he has been up that morning for a final check.  Derek walks around his new Ercoupe, caressing the wings and tail. His poor wife is going to have to get used to a rival in her life from now on!

After a couple of hours it’s time to think about leaving.  We can’t fly around the East side of London, so the plan is Derek will follow me in loose formation the long way around the West side of the exclusion zone.  We go over the briefing again, Derek will take off first, head North, I’ll catch him up and then he’ll fly off the left side.  I’ll be talking on the radio to anyone we need to contact, what can go wrong?  It’s going to be another 1:45 hours to Bourn where we will stop for a pit stop and check the plane over.  Derek can also make his first landing in an Ercoupe without the audience of his home crowd!  What can go wrong?

To begin with, Derek tries to fool both myself and the tower by initially lining up on runway 14L instead of 14R, but quickly corrected himself – you had us there Derek, well done, good joke!  He also allowed the length of a 747 between himself and the end of the runway, lining up about 200m from the threshold.  Off he goes, climbs out well but I’m staying with him.  Where’s he going?  He’s heading about 300 degrees, not North?  Ah, now he’s turning.  What?  Now he’s heading 060!  Realising this isn’t going to work, I power past him earlier than planned and take up the leading position.

First waypoint is overhead Popham, then north to Benson.  Instead of being slightly behind my left wing, Derek is half a mile behind, hidden behind my left fin.  I try slowing up but Derek doesn’t close up. Oh well, maybe he didn’t understand.  Benson is a military airfield, so I have to radio for permission to cross.  There’s quite a lot of traffic but eventually I get through and get permission for us to cross at 2,000 feet.  This is the busiest time for me, concentrating on precise navigation, maintaining an exact altitude, working the radio and keeping an eye on Derek.  But there’s also an aircraft not talking to Benson, who I am warned will pass in front of us within 300 feet vertically.  So I have to keep a good look out as well.  This is when Derek goes into what I can only describe as ‘puppy mode’.  Maybe I slowed up, but suddenly he is alongside off my wing, then in front, then behind, then closer, higher, lower, all over the place!  Later he tells me he has had problems keeping up and was just trying to decide how he should ‘formate’!

We have to fly around the top of Milton Keynes, then Bedford, but then it’s a simple approach to Bourn.  There isn’t much wind but I’ll choose the runway most suitable so that Derek has it as easy as possible.  Looks like runway 18 will be the best.  Unfortunately, with everyone else gone home by now the farmer, his combine harvester and a couple of tractors are parked on 18!  Oh well, Derek needs some crosswind practice, so we go for 24.  He follows me in and taxis safely behind.  I park up for the night, my mission done, dreaming of a cold gin and tonic within half an hour.  Derek plans to fly the final leg to Great Oakley on his own by dead reckoning.

I walk over to Derek, who is like a dog with two tails, but weary.  He tells me immediately that the compass has been wandering all over the place – that’s why he didn’t know which way was North when we left Goodwood.  He also says he’s been so busy learning to fly a new plane that he hasn’t had time to even look at his chart and work out where he is going.  He also complains that I’ve been flying much faster than we planned, although I’ve been flying at an unusual nose-high attitude at a snail’s pace for me, around 85-90 mph.

So it’s back in G-HARY to lead him to Great Oakley. No need to land, just until he can see Ipswich and the coast.  Off we go again, the gin and tonic will have to wait.  The sky is completely clear by now, a beautiful evening, and no traffic at all.  This time I fly at 80 mph and Derek keeps up.  We pass Cambridge and over the lovely countryside towards the east coast.  Once in radio range of Great Oakley I give them a call, expecting no chance of anyone being there at 19:00.  But there is, Derek’s welcoming committee!  I tell them he is on the way, about 10 minutes to run.  I apply full power, zoom past Derek and do a climbing turn to the right.  He waggles his wings.

I fly at normal speed back to Bourn, it seems to go very quickly.  While I enjoy my G&T I tot up the hours flown today.  5 hours 45 minutes, I’ve never flown anything like that before.  A complete circuit and more around the Olympic exclusion zone.  I’m as happy as Derek.  Mission accomplished.

Mike Willis, G-HARY

A happy Ercouper

Derek Tregilgas writes: Hi Mike, I'm still pinching myself at the sight of '495' tucked up in her bay at Oakley - I was seriously beginning to think I'd never see the day.

Back in Singapore now after a gruelling 13-hour flight in EY (Business Class full with Olympic refugees).  I managed to grab a few more hours in her before I departed and she's now safely tucked away inside the bay. I also did an hour with the instructor to sign off my biennial that went very well so all in all I achieved quite a lot on this little trip.  We did a few PFL's to see how it copes, and I have to say that it's not as easy with this as a conventional machine is it? On the first two attempts I would have touched down well short of my aiming point, and to get anywhere near you really have to bite the bullet and maintain a much higher than normal descent profile. You can always do a couple of 'S' turns if you do end up a bit high, but to fly a 'normal' glide approach is a little tricky methinks. 

I'm back again on the 26th of August and will be around until the 14th September. From the 30th - 3rd Sept I'll be camping out at Sywell with a full set of ribs this time (I hope).

I'm off to Hong Kong in a few hours where guess what? Another massive typhoon is fast approaching and due to smack HKG just a few hours after I'm supposed to arrive! What the f*&^! The weather is fast becoming a major pain in the backside, both here and in England! Oh well, at least it's not getting there a few hours before I arrive!

All the best Mike, great to finally be indoctrinated into the Ercoupe Mafia.

Speak soon, Derek


Fly-In reports

N-reg and American Classic fly-in, Turweston, 22 July

Mike writes: Keith suggested we fly over to Turweston in July, as they were having an N-reg and American Classic Fly-In.  Surprisingly this was not well advertised and I had problems finding out about it. For once there was a break in the dreadful weather we have been having, and off I flew for a delightful half hour’s flight to Turweston, which is just to the west of the Silverstone racing circuit.

As usual Keith and Sid in G-ARHB and myself in G-HARY managed to arrive at almost the same time, but not quite sequentially so we didn’t end up parking next to each other.  Almost all the other aircraft present were high wings, just us two Ercoupes almost sitting out of place with the rest.  Quite a pleasant day out.

Mike Willis

Trip reports

From Ostend EBOS to Le Touquet LFAT – June 14 2012.

If the weather look good, and you have the possibility, jump immediately in your Coupe, and enjoy the nice feeling your plane will give you…..

This was my thinking, especially after waiting days for flyable weather, and missed already incredible Meetings this year.

June 14 was such a day, sunshine, friendly wind, good visibility, ideal we go…..

Passing the security at the Ostend airport, flight plan send, pulling the OO-PUS on the tarmac for refueling, happy and ready to fly to France “Le Touquet” (LFAT).

From Ostend Approach to Lille Information, straight to Boulogne, little haze around Calais, bumpy all the way until “Le Touquet” CTR.

Lille Information gives me the message, that I was not the only one who choose that destination (6 in approach). Because I am not so fast, reduce to 80mph, and follow on the radio the landing aircrafts (from UK, NL, FR and BE) I was just in time to execute my left-hand circuit for runway 14, then receive from “Le Touquet” tower to report on Final, but an aircraft was still on the runway lined-up for take-off! He went on time, and I could land nicely with 18kts cross after a 55 minutes trip.

Le Touquet, as mention in the airport Chart, is mostly windy and fog can appear quickly, but that was not today.

Very friendly reception, no landing tax for “Avions de collection” (Antique Aircrafts), cheap fuel, € 2.25/ltr instead of € 2.69/ltr at EBOS, a very good restaurant “L’Escale” with a nice Day-Menu or ”à la carte” is already an excuse to fly to LFAT.

During the good Menu I degust on the terrace in the sunshine, I was thinking why not to make with the Erco’s a Meet-Up at LFAT…….now the weather is slowly improving, I hope. A proposal will follow soon, be ready.

The flight back to Ostend was also perfect. Happy and relaxed I pushed the OO-PUS back in the hangar, Ercoupes are wonderful.

Why do I write such a small flight; only to remind all the European Ercoupers that sharing a trip, or special event you encounter, how little it is, is worth to tell us all, jokes are also welcome. Mike is happy to enclose everything (after censuring the porn) in the Newsletter. It is wonderful to have a free copy every time, already 42 editions, but please try to contribute how small it could be.

Thank you.  Robert & OO-PUS

Ostend local June 30th

Mike writes: After spending a week running courses what could be a better way to relax than to stop on the way home at Middelkerke, just outside Ostend and home of Robert Rombouts and OO-PUS? 

Robert as usual was generous with his hospitality and Loraine and I were treated to some fine dining over the weekend.  On Saturday morning Robert drove me to Ostend airport to see OO-PUS.  Ostend is a large international commercial airport but with hardly any flights.  A cargo 747 had landed the night before just after we got to sleep in our hotel, which was conveniently located almost under the flight path and with a beautiful view of the runway!  Entering the terminal just 2 charter flights were operating that day. But because there are passengers then it was full security checks and the metal detector to get airside.

But soon a gleaning OO-PUS was pulled out of the hangar, and checked ready for flying. Again departure is not as straight forward as at Bourn where I’m based, where you are lucky if anyone is there manning the radio.  At Ostend there is full ATC service so you need permission to do anything.  And then there was the taxi, as long as some flights I have made!

But soon Robert’s beautiful Ercoupe was in the air climbing out towards the coast.  He takes me inland and then over the lovely town of Bruges.  It looks even prettier from the air.  We hit the coast again at Zeebrugge and fly down the coast back to Ostend.  It’s a lovely morning and the view is delightful.

As we turn on to finals again at Ostend, Middelkerke is in the distance, on one side the sea and sandy beaches, on the other the airport.  Robert’s apartment is there, he can sit drinking on his balcony watching both ships and planes.

Thanks Robert for such a good time, a great way to relax after a busy week.

Mike Willis



LAA Rally, 31st August to 2nd September, Sywell

The annual Light Aircraft Association rally is again at Sywell, UK. G-HARY is already booked in for a Friday arrival piloted by Andrew Gardner. Derek Tregilgas is planning to drice and camp there for the duration. Any other Ercoupers planning to attend? If you are flying in you need to book a landing slot, just follow the link from the LAA Rally page. There is also a link to the event AIC covering the arrival and taxiing arrangements which needs to be studied in detail.

Hundreds of aircaraft will attend, highly recommened.

Solent Aviation Fly-In, September 16, Popham, UK

This friendly fly-in is a regular on the Ercoupe circuit, so plan on flying in if you can. Details at and


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