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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 45 December 2012


Dear readers,

We come to the end of yet another year. Somehow it doesn't seem that the weather has been too kind. However, counting up I've actually flown almost 63 hours this year, compared to 49 in 2011. There have been some memorable flights, in particular flying Derek Tregilgas to Goodwood, then guiding him back to Great Oakley avoiding the Olympic restricted zone. I'm always looking for an excuse to fly, and there was no better excuse than that day!

Also memorable was a very windy but clear day flying along the North Norfolk coast. When the sun is shining on the sands you could be in the Caribbean or some other exotic place. In fact that day on the ground the temperature was really cold with a strong northerly wind blowing, but it looked beautiful from 2,000 feet.

In September came the 10th anniversery of my first flying lesson. Although the weather wasn't great and I had many other priorities, I had to make time to go up and mark the occasion. Some of you may know that when I was learning to fly I had to give up for 15 months because of medical problems, and I never thought I'd finish my course and get a pilot's licence, let alone own my own plane. I treat every flight as if it is my last flight, and enjoy every second of it.

But the great thing about owning an Ercoupe is the great friends I've made. There is no finer time spent than in the company of good friends. We try and meet up on a regular basis and in early October fixed on Headcorn. But there was heavy rain all week, and on the Saturday Headcorn was closed. We hastily rearranged for Lydd despite a forecast of low cloud. But the weather forecast was wrong, and in our favour for once. The sky became crystal clear and Robert could see the White Cliffs of Dover in the climb out from Ostend! When leaving Lydd for the return flight to Bourn I was told to report at Ashford. "No way" was my reply, "we are flying up the coast". The sky was so clear and the opportunity priceless. It was a day to never forget.

I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, and I wish you all a Happy New Year and lots of flying!



Ercoupe news

Gone to pot

Robert Rombouts writes: I will not comment on the weather because that will be to demoralising, but about my last annual I can write something, but also not so positive and costly.

Normally I try to do my annual every year earlier, because normally it was in December, and because to have better chances to fly over to Antwerp in November or even in October when the Meetings are rare, this year the intention was to do it the 3th November. But the controller was not available before 14 November.

The 26 October I had the chance to fly the PUS to Antwerp, we start immediately to check the motor because I found one black spark plug and had a bad feeling of carbon monoxide in the cockpit.

After checking the pressure in each piston, with a warm motor, we could not believe the results, very low figures.... so we decide to let rebuild the four cylinders. I took them to Loma-Air here in Belgium for rebuild, but that was not possible. The motor had 1,450 hours without any changes during the 65 years, and the only solution was to buy new cylinders who was immediately available at Loma-Air.

Now with new cylinders and also the magnetos had to be checked, every 10 years, the motor was quickly back in working order.

Lucky on Sunday 18th November, the weather was perfect in Ostend but drizzle in Antwerp with improvement in the afternoon, so I flew the PUS back and was a little worry for my first fly with the new cylinders, everything went well.
I have now Mineral Oil for 25 hours, and may switch over to normal oil afterwards, but if it continues to be such a bad weather I will not fly a lot.

On my main landing gear I have Belleville rings who are stuck, after enquiring by Univair and Skyport, the price of those rings are unbelievable ($80 a piece, and 14 for the two legs), for rubber donuts it is only $6.02 (8 donuts for the two legs), so I will replace the Belleville rings with the rubber donuts, I had the donuts before, and don’t need the washers because I still have them. That is a minor cost and enough for this year.

This is the latest news I have from my PUS. Now waiting for good weather, so I can fly, every second the motor turn, my investment is less painful, I hope flying for some years to come now, otherwise the new owner got a marvelous Coupe.

I hope you are OK, I saw your very nice pictures in Facebook, also the good news about Mary and Rodney who are flying again. A meeting in Manston is very good idea, I only went once.

Wish you all the best,

Best regards

Flying again

Rodney Tapp writes: After a very long gap mainly because of Mary's ill health, we finally took to the air! Poor G-ERCO hadn't flown since early July! Regards & congrats to Robert on 50 years of flying!

Mary adds: See you soon, maybe at Manston? Rodney & I can transport you to the Spitfire Museum (free entry, most interesting & excellent cafe). Please let us know if ever you come this way.

I haven't piloted since March-although I have really good days, am still seeing doctors! One day I will get sorted!

I think I clock up 40 years flying next spring - I started later than you, Robert!
Hope you both manage a bit more flying before Christmas. 

Regards from us both, Mary & Rodney


Been there, done that…

Mark Gerrard writes: I read with interest John Laszlo’s note in the last newsletter. I know of a few folks who have imported an Ercoupe from the US, myself included, but I have never encountered anyone who proposed to fly one across. I wouldn't pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I suspect that the cost of designing, installing and obtaining FAA approval for your turtle tank would far exceed the cost of removing the wing panels and shipping the aircraft by sea. I also suspect that with full fuel, the necessary navigation equipment and two people equipped with survival gear you'll probably be a tad overweight. The FAA takes a keen interest in those attempting to fly themselves across the pond, so you can expect some scrutiny from them.

I think $25K should get you a decent enough machine, and removal of the wing panels is straightforward. Three or four bolts, another couple to disconnect the aileron controls then the air tube to the pitot and the wiring for nav & landing lights, and Bob's your uncle! I shipped my Ercoupe (N99280, then G-COUP and now N99280 again after I sold her) that way, with the wings crated and the fuselage on a flat bed truck to Baltimore and on a car transporter after that. It worked a treat. It is possible to fit the fuselage in a container, but you have to take the tail off and even then it's too wide to fit in a container level on its wheels. You need to put it in at an angle and that can be a bit tricky. I know of one that got a badly bent spar from being in a container at an angle without being properly supported. Derek Tregilgas will have more up to date information than I on shipping, I'm sure. The car transporter deal worked fine for me.

The cost when you get it back to the UK is a "how long is a piece of string" question. My recommendation would be to get a good survey done on the aircraft you plan to buy, then have someone in the US bring all the AD up to date on it. It's likely that there will be a few outstanding and it will be significantly cheaper to have them done here than in the UK. After that make sure you get an export certificate of airworthiness from the FAA and you should be good to go. I guess you know Haim at Panshanger, and he knows Ercoupes; if he's overloaded and can't cope with more work, I can recommend Rob Wildeboer at Goodwood, who looked after G-COUP for many years.

I hope I don't sound like a wet blanket, and I wish you all the best. If you do decide to take the fly-across option then good luck!

I'll keep an eye out for developments in the newsletter.

Best Regards, Mark Gerrard.


Learning to fly (again)

Barry Harvey writes: Good Morning Mike, You do not know me, however John Laszlo has spoken to you or should have mentioned me.  I am a friend of John who has helped me beyond words, as you may know already.  I am ex RAF and yes I love flying, and with John’s help will be back up in the air again. Because of my disability the problem is finding the right aircraft to suit my needs as well as my disability.

I saw the Aircoupe and asked John that I would like to just get in without any help.  Unfortunately I am stubborn we I managed it with no problem at all, not only that I felt comfortable plenty of room and being tandem the cockpit was wider than the Cessna 150 etc .  For me the Aircoupe is in my mind ideal for me as will be for other ex Servicemen with disabilities. I have the flying bug I always have hence Joining the RAF rather than the RN as my father was ex Navy.

I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself to you as John has mentioned me to you and I thought it was only right to let you know a little more about me.  I have served 12 years + 6 reserves, then went straight in to the Prison service.  I started flying again after I moved down to Luton and flew the Cessna 150.  I have also flown the Piper Cherokee and flew from Luton to Le Touquet and back.  The flights both ways were interesting to say the least - head winds, low cloud base, rain, everything but the kitchen sink but although very tiring I loved it.

Once again I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself to you.  Thank you for taking the time in reading this email.

Barry Harvey
PS The photo was taken just after a 9 hour mission in a K2 55 Squadron prior to discharge from the RAF (regular Service), then it was Reserves after that.


Bringing the house down (nearly)

Sid Turner writes: As you may by now have perceived I have adopted a light hearted approach to aviation and to be fair most other things, I always prefer to see the humorous side of most situations except of course when things get serious as they have a couple of times in the Old Coupe.

Having taken a 100 kg friend to Le Touquet (I always head for destinations on the coast that have a 50/50 chance of being found) we had enjoyed a large and leisurely lunch, and after the usual undignified pushing and shoving we eventually squeezed into the aircraft, followed the head scratching departure procedures and computer generated flight plan and topped up with fuel.

It was around 3pm on a very hot summers day and to say that the runway was not the length I would have preferred is to give some indication of the concerns I felt when the end appeared and I was still driving the plane rather than flying, as by now we were quite close to the land speed world record and attempting to stop would have tested the seaworthy characteristics to the limit.  I pulled back the yoke and by the miracle that is aviation clawed my way over the chimney pots of the small seaside town of Etables.

I thought my companion had been oblivious to the drama (I may have given an involuntary scream), but after we arrived back he commented that some of the children we passed over in France had been reading Le Beano.

On another occasion, flying solo and having scorched into the sky on the back of the breath-taking power of the Continental O200, I was at 1000 ft and just clear of the circuit when thing went quiet.  No sound is more disconcerting than that of a glider.  After much pulling of things and pushing of others it coughed twice and returned to what’s loosely described as power.  As I turned onto final there waiting for me was the Fire Engine and half the airfield staff.  I had apparently made a Pan call or squeaked down the radio - they were all very polite.  One tries to keep these incidents to yourself but the following day my wife asked me if I had had a close shave, God knows how she knew?

Sid Turner



Air Britain 2013

Phil Kemp writes: Thanks for the latest Newsletter, interesting read.  I though I would give you an early notification for the 2013 Air-Britain Fly-In, it being held on 22-23 June again at North Weald.

As always all Ercoupers will be more than welcome.

All the best for now
Phil Kemp
Air-Britain Fly-In Director



Hanne Vandikkelen writes: The organization of the Fly/Drive-In would like to wish you happiness and prosperity in 2013.  In 2013 our new website will be available: .  The 30th Old Timer Fly-In is 17-18th August, 2013.

Kind regards, 
Hanne Vandikkelen
Fly/Drive-In Team member




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