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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 48 September 2013


To my horror I have just realised that I never published the newsletter I prepared in early September, so here it is! I have been busier than ever this year, and I'm also getting older, but how could I forget?

One item no longer necessary to publish was an ad for the late James McMeekan's Ercoupe G-AROO which his son Mark had reluctantly put up for sale. We understand this has been bought by a buyer from Ireland and will be restored.

In the UK the weather has been dreadful, or at least on all of the days when I have been free to fly. It also prevented me attending several fly-ins over the past couple of months, in particular the Solent Aviation Society fly-in at Popham.

Hopefully the clear winter skies will provide some flying days once a wet autumn is over.

Mike Willis, Alon A2 #188 G-HARY

Ercoupe news

Spot the difference

June 18, 2013
Derek Tregilgas writes: Hi Mike, Howya diddlin? My Ercoupe will soon be receiving the attention of the FAA inspector for its annual check that I'm sure it'll sail through!

September 18, 2013
Derek Tregilgas writes: Hi Mike, The FAA Inspector commenced the inspection for the annual on Thursday (my brother and I had already removed all the access panels/cowlings etc), and this is where we stand : -

1.  Excess play on left and right aileron rods - needs adjusting.
2.  Excess play on all control column bushes - needs adjusting.
3.  One elevator attachment rod corroded - needs to be replaced.
12. ...
(sorry Derek, article far too long and edited for reasons of space)

Leslie flies in a Proctor

Derek Tregilgas writes: Yesterday was awesome, Mike Corley (Chief Pilot of Classic flight at Newquay) flew the newly restored Proctor G-AKIU into Great Oakley with the specific intention of getting Leslie Miller aloft in her. I duly loaded Les (who sadly is getting extremely frail these days) into my campervan and off we went. All went like a dream from then on with David Hulme also pitching up in his beautiful Percival Vega Gull. We bundled Les into the Proctor and off he went for the flight of his life - brilliant! Poor old Les was in floods of tears by the time I got him home, but what a day out that was for him - he's finally fulfilled a lifelong dream of flying in a Proctor.

G-ARHC shines for the camera

Eric Girardi writes: I have been enjoying the lovely weather, and have just logged over 25h since the rebuild, which exceeded my expectations. After bleeding, the brakes have been faultless, and the rest of the aircraft has been doing fine, touch wood!

I have also been trying to contact the CAA to see if there's any way to allow the Coupe to be eligible for a Permit. So far I have spoken to one chap who said it was possible to make a case providing an aircraft of similar complexity that was not an orphan had made the switch. I have joined the LAA, and hopefully they can help dig up a precedent.

The new head of GA at the CAA is an ex-LAA man, who built and still flies his own RV, so maybe with this new broom there'll be some sweeping done. Obviously those who wish their Coupe to stay on Annex 2 could do so, but I think it would encourage the resurrection of some projects and maybe more imports if people knew they could rebuild it and fly it on a Permit. The CAA chap asked me why I wanted to switch. Answer - to keep costs down and be more involved... I would have thought it was obvious! As the summer season is winding down I will have more time on my hands, and as I'm 5 minutes' drive from the CAA, I can also do some lobbying if necessary.

I also thought I'd update you on the recent photo session with ‘HC and Pilot Magazine. An article in Pilot would raise the profile of the Ercoupe and derivatives, and I'll make sure to mention our little group, and also how well the aircraft was cared-for by Andrew and his dad.

The idea had come about back in February when I bumped into a former colleague down route. We chatted about aeroplanes and he said he knew some people who'd be interested in featuring the Aircoupe. Pilot Magazine contacted me shortly afterwards and we spoke about it. The Annual was due so we agreed to wait until afterwards. spring was a washout, then summer was very busy both for them and myself, and the opportunity came just last Friday, day 2 of a 3-day window they had for the job. The venue was White Waltham, and we had an afternoon slot, as the morning was booked for a shoot of a Steen Skybolt. The weather was decent, but with broken clouds high up and a very thick haze layer at 2000AMSL, then improved later.

The photo-ship originally was a Chipmunk flown by my former colleague Bob Morcom, but he was called out to do a Sim check at the last minute, so the guys went to plan B, which was to borrow James May's Cessna 185, to be flown by one of his mates. This delayed the proceedings til well after noon, the first shoot taking off round 1pm.

The editor of Pilot, Philip Whiteman, was going to do the test report, so I offered him the left chair, having shown him the operating manual and given him a few tips. He is a very pleasant and enthusiastic chap, and a very able pilot.

When the time came for us to fly, he evaluated the aircraft as if it were a new one, even commenting on the good ride quality as we made our way on the rough grass to the runway. He owns his own Cub, so the feel of a vintage US plane is not new to him. We took off with no problem, though we were near Max Gross, there being two six-footers on board and a modest 40 litres of fuel. The flight progressed towards Marlow, then the Buckinghamshire countryside, where Keith Wilson, the photographer, had seen some nice sunlight and effects. Phil flew a very close formation on the Cessna, and we flew round for about 30 minutes while Keith directed the dance. It was the closest formation I'd done in years, but I was never worried. After we peeled off, Phil needed to do a bit of handling for his report, so we did a few turns, and some approaches to stall with different power settings and attitudes, including one in a turn. They produced the usual Coupe 'mush', and brought a smile to his face. He then flew back, with minimal guidance from me on the handling.

We landed round 5pm, debriefed, then I flew home with my mate Mark in his Skybolt in loose formation.

It looks like the shoot was a success, Keith appears pleased with the quality of the pictures (the photos here were taken at Panshanger, not as part of the shoot). He said he'd send a few low-res photos soon, but with my promise not to share any until the article is published. Afterwards I expect to have a large file of pictures to keep. No date has been set for publication yet. I made sure to mention Andrew in the chat I had with Phil, and have also sent him links to Mike's site, as well as other US sites of Coupe interest. I must say he was very pleased with the aircraft. Fingers crossed for the front cover, but that will depend on whether the pictures, and in particular the light quality in them is of the right quality. As soon as I know more, I'll be sure to let you know, and of course, once I'm allowed, will send you some of these pictures. Given the equipment used, I should think they'd be suitable to turn into very large prints without blurring.

I hope you are well, and look forward to meeting you at some point soon.



Fly-In reviews

EMU Headcorn 13 July 2013

Robert writes: This Meet-up was an urgent with very short notice, Mike Willis proposed me to meet in Headcorn, we had to save a very kind Ercouper who was desperate. Derek Tregilgas found his Ercoupe N-99495 on his arrival back in England without dashboard, and needed also a Service Manual for his Annual. Poor Derek who hoped to fly with us in his newly restored bird during his holiday. For his dashboard he needed different instruments (radio-transponder...) who normally, he thought, it will be all installed during his last visit some months ago, but what he found was an immaculate empty dashboard.

Mike wrote mails to all the available English flying Ercoupers, and a Meeting was setup at Headcorn. I brought my Service Manual, because I have the same Ercoupe 415D as Derek.

The weather was not so beautiful, fog in Ostend and Manston who will be solved during the day, when it was possible in Ostend I depart at noon, the first leg to Konan (mid-Channel) started with haze and bad visibility, and I decide to fly low under the clouds over the water at 1200ft, but that idea was wrong because I was not even at Konan and the visibility was none. The best option was to return to Ostend, that I communicate to Ostend Approach.

But during my return I saw between the thin clouds some blue sky. I radioed Ostend Approach that I will climb to 3000ft and try a new crossing. At 2200ft I was out of the low clouds and had a certain horizon that convinces me that my 3000ft option was ideal.

Changing frequencies at Konan to Manston radar, with the usual good morning call, I realize that I was not the only one who likes to cross the Channel, three planes were fighting with the fog who was over the North Sea. Manston asked me what weather condition I was in, and I passed my situation that helped the others, I hoped.

Arriving on the English coast the low fog clouds disappeared and was replaced by haze, but very flyable. This trip over the Channel was completely different in comparison with all the previous. Arriving at Headcorn I landed in nearly sunshine, Mike was already on the parking spot; he also just arrived and had very hazy flying conditions.

Because I am obliged to send the “GAR” form to the UK customs, that I did the day before. I had again troubles with the customs, they didn’t received my form but luckily I had a copy with me, but I still need to fill a written GAR form again.  Do I look really so suspicious? This is the second time that I was nearly for a few days in a cool place free of charge paid by the UK taxpayers. But with Mike who found an old school friend, one of the customs guys, all problems were solved quickly. But I had to give Mike the Service Manual for Derek, this could be suspicious for them, but no everything was blue sky as the weather.

Shortly after we welcome Rodney and Mary with the G-ERCO.  They flew from Manston, and had also problems to depart with fog, but we all were happy meeting together and arriving safe. A chat with a cool drink, because the temperature was hot that day and under the plexi cockpit.

Rodney and Mary depart first, afterwards Mike who had to fly the Service Manual to take to Great Oakley for Derek’s annual; I flew back to Ostend mission accomplished.

Because I don’t intend undergoing the same morning problem crossing the Channel, I decide to climb until I had some visible horizon, 3500ft I climbed over land and crossed the UK border in full sunshine with haze down. But that wasn’t necessary as all the crossing was without low clouds and I arrive even with a nice visibility in Ostend.

Conclusion; each Channel crossing is different, that makes flying so interesting, but I like it save and enjoyable, this time it was again marvellous.

Thanks to Mike who arranged our Meeting, and Derek who needs his documents, I had my beautiful trip to the United Kingdom.

Robert & OO-PUS


Delightful flying weekend in the United Kingdom

Mike Willis proposed me a wonderful idea, why not to have a nice flying weekend during 18th until 21st July around the UK. I like the idea very much, and agreed immediately. But will the weather allow us to do so?

Mike’s programme was very nice; Thursday I will fly in the afternoon to Bourn (EGSN), he invite me to stay in Histon at his home, thanks Mike and Loraine I appreciate your hospitality very much. Next day, Friday, we fly each with our Coupes visiting at Great Oakley the poor Derek who cannot fly with his beautiful N-99495 without instrument panel (see report Headcorn). From Great Oakley we had different options, depends the type of weather.

Saturday 20th, a flight to Compton Abbas from Bourn, Derek could not join us because he intends to fix his Coupe. Sunday 21st, my last day, and return to Ostend. Are you not jealous about such a wonderful programme, I feel and see already your reaction.

Friday 18th July: In the morning we had in Ostend very low clouds (200ft) and poor visibility 2500mtr, and that was the all day with some improvements, I did the stairs to the Ostend Meteo more than five times, improving was possible they told me, but it was low clouds and fog over the Channel. I abandoned and lost my patience around 17:00 lc, put the OO-PUS back in the hangar, and was so down that I wrote to Mike that I will not come that weekend. Mike’s reply was very quick, “you can come tomorrow and we will change the programme, keep the faith”. Honestly I was not convinced about his proposal, canceled my GAR form and flight plan (delayed a few times) of the lousy waiting day.

Saturday 19th July: Nice weather, hazy but that we are used to, so from the early morning I fill my Flight plan and GAR form again. The plan was to visit Derek in Great Oakley first and afterwards we will choose a nice airfield to fly to. The Channel crossing was straight from Ostend to Vabik then Clacton VOR, 1hr05 over the Channel, at 2500ft initially later I flew at 3500ft in the nice sunshine with few clouds low over the water, that is flying at his best.

Landed perfectly in Great Oakley with a heavy three point landing, my speed was 80mph (too high) but the density of the air was less as expected, next time I had to do my calculations better…..
Mike arrived later, he had some low clouds in Bourn who delayed him.

Then we decide to fly north to Old Buckenham, a nice airfield 35 minutes trip. Because I had my luggage in the plane for the weekend, I left it at Great Oakley and with Derek together we depart in extended formation after Mike’s G-HARY. But Mike who departs first had to reduce his power to a minimum, his 90HP motor and my 75HP OO-PUS loaded on his maximum with two persons reduced my speed to maximum 90MPH. The extended formation that we agree was not easy, I will stay left of Mike, put the maximum power and he had to reduce drastically, but we achieve to fly and landed safe as usual.

After a nice meal and fuel for my bird, Derek met a friend who was flying back to Great Oakley, and he decides to join him for the return. Only one problem, my luggage is at Great Oakley, so I flew back alone to collect my luggage and Mike returned to Bourn. The flight I did to Great Oakley and join Mike afterwards at Bourn was pleasant for me, now I was quicker alone in comparison with the midday trip to Old Buckenham. A nice Indian meal in the evening with Loraine and Mike at Histon, a good sleep and Mike proposed as initially planned the “Compton Abbas” trip with his G-HARY for the Saturday.

Saturday 20th July: Again we were not lucky, low clouds in Bourn and even very low ones along the route to Compton Abbas, but as always it will improve. After drinking tea at the Bourn Clubhouse we decide to risk a takeoff, because the weather was much better in the south of the UK. Mike called Compton Abbas and the nice lady (Vicky) could not see any clouds, I think she was in the basement when Mike called her. The flight was reasonable; we could reach 1700ft without any problem during the trip. Arriving at Compton Abbas is very special, it is on a hill and looks as you had to land on a carrier, with the bushes before the runway you can expect some turbulence, we had it and Mike did a remarkable landing in front of the big crowd sitting on the terrace, well done Mike.

The food was fantastic at the airfield, I was amazed about how much visitors was in and outside, it is an example how an airfield must be run. Planes are continuing coming and going, a very busy airfield; I was very pleased that Mike chose this airfield as destination. From Bourn to Compton Abbas is not a straight line as Mike told me previously we had to avoid a lot of zones, a GPS is a must to do this trip.
We depart back to Bourn and Mike chose a different route, so we will have another interesting sightseeing.

Believe me it was interesting, we flew about 10 minutes and we had a burning smell in the cockpit. Mike realised immediately that it was the generator who was not charging the battery any more. A precautionary landing was a must; we decide that Popham was the best option who was 7 minutes away on our route. That was no problem, we landed safe, checked everything possible, and Mike phoned his mechanic for advice. We could continue if the trip was no longer than 1hr, what our return time from Popham to Bourn was. I consider also the option to return by train, but that was not necessary, we had a good advice from a good mechanic. We landed safe and without a problem in Bourn, but Mike switched all the unnecessary electric devices out to save power in his battery. Well done Mike, the best landings are those were you can walk away from your plane, and that we did. We decide to have a good beer in Histon on a nice terrace, how good a beer can be.

In the evening Mike show me his BBQ skill, it was delicious, thanks, we had again a nice day with a bad start and a special flight situation at the end, but I enjoyed it believe me.

Sunday 21st: What do you think, low clouds again, you are right, luckily we have the iPad to consult from the early morning, so we were not so in a hurry, but decide to drive to the Bourn airfield and prepare already my flight to Ostend. Flight plan filled around noon, weather improvement checked, but not so promising around Cambridge. After finding out that the ceiling was above 1500ft, I decide to depart because more south as the weather is much better. And it was, starting at 1200ft, gradually increasing my altitude to 1500ft > 2000ft and I was flying in the sun. Arriving at Clacton I decide to climb at 3000ft, because Manston was still in the fog. Before Vabik reference point, Manston radar asked me if I could fly between 3500ft and 4500ft, so I went to 3500ft. Missing the water again with the low clouds and the haze, honestly I didn’t see any land or water until arriving at Vabik. Checking the ATIS of Ostend was very promising, open sky, so nothing could go wrong. When I change my frequency to Ostend Approach they were very kind to propose me a direct approach, they gave me a vector to the airport, but with my GPS I could see exactly where I was. After 1hr58 I landed with a straight approach at Ostend, save and happy home again.

This entire story was not possible if Mike didn’t propose me that wonderful weekend, in addition he insist with the words “keep faith” after the first desolating waiting day. Thanks Loraine and Mike for your hospitality and very kind care, I have now again a beautiful experience more.

Robert & OO-PUS

Panshanger revival day 11th August

Mike writes: We were delighted to be invited to this members-only event, but then Haim is always happy to see Ercoupes at Panshanger.  G-HARY was out of action, but Keith Peacock kindly dropped into Bourn to collect me in G-ARHB and we flew the 20 minutes to Panshanger.


The airfield was alive with the sounds of interesting arriving aircraft, vintage cars, music and dancing.  The sky was blue, the sun was shining, what a great day.  And then the icing on the cake – Eric Girardi arrived in the recently restored G-ARHC.

The Panshanger team produced a video of the event, well worth watching although we don’t feature in it!

Sywell LAA Rally 2013, August 30-31 - How flying can be wonderful

My story started Wednesday 28 August, when I received a message from Sven-Eric Pira: “Hi Robert, I am over the sea now, there is a chance I can make EBOS before dark, will refuel at EDWE”. Unbelievable, Sven-Eric is close to Ostend. I was very happy with this wonderful surprise, he is flying again all from Sweden to join Sywell (UK) and will stop at Ostend.

Sven-Eric landed early at Ostend, and we had together a nice relaxing evening with a dinner at the EBOS airport, but before that we had to find a hotel, that was not easy because it was the last school-holidays in Belgium and all the hotels were fully booked. Finally we found a bed at a starless hotel in Middelkerke near Ostend for our amazing Swedish Ercouper. As he told me, he had a good rest, understandable after his already 11 hours flying. I admire his courage and persistence to do such huge trips, he is undoubted our European Lindbergh.

Thursday 29 August, we depart both together to Sywell after sending our GAR form and Flight-plan. Sven-Eric chose a different route as I intend to do; he will fly from Ostend to Dover, and then fly overland to Sywell. I did the long Channel crossing from Ostend to Clacton, my usual crossing when I fly to Bourn and Great Oakley.

That was my mistake, we had in Ostend fog in the morning, and the haze persisted over the Channel, the result was that I had no outside horizon during my crossing. Even when I climbed to 4500ft it did not improve my visibility, it was good instrument practice with only two important instruments; the Dynon Artificial Horizon and the GPS. Arriving 5 miles from Clacton I could see again the reassuring land-horizon, and was so happy I find out that over land the visibility was perfect. The multiple advantages crossing direct to Clacton are; I talk only from Ostend Approach, then Manston Radar, and afterwards to Southend Radar, I don’t have to worry about any funny zones or obstacles I had to avoid. Now with a headwind I was slower with my 75 HP motor, but it was a very interesting experience.

We both arrived in Sywell with only 10 minutes difference.  Sven-Eric was first with his SE-BFX 90 HP, so I did not so bad in 2hr25 with full headwind. This time I didn’t had problems with the customs, we may stay and walk freely in the UK. Because we arrived early, we park the Coupes nearly in front of the tower, the parking area was immaculate empty.

The best part after a flying trip is the nice cool beer that we enjoyed with Derek Tregilgas his family and friends, sadly he didn’t came with his Ercoupe N-99495, (I am so sorry for him). For me it is always very pleasant to meet Derek, a wonderful person, you don’t have a chance to be sad in his company.

After a good rest and perfect English breakfast, we had time to visit all the booths and tents who are full of very interesting flying stuffs. I was also very glad to meet Phil Kemp as official marshal between all the arriving aircrafts.

Around noon Mike Willis arrived with his G-HARY and co-pilot Andrew Gardner from Bourn, he manage to park his Aircoupe between ours, so we can take better family photos of the Erco’s.

Now 3 Ercoupes were standing together nearly in front, with a very cosmopolitan look, one from Sweden, an English and a Belgian, can you be more European?
All the latest news and technical problems were discussed during our happy talking, and believe me it was very interesting, the drinks depends on who is flying that day or not. Mike and Andrew flew back to Bourn in the afternoon.

It is amazing when you see all those planes landing in sequence during hours, with more than 10 in the circuit, landing on two runways parallel, one hard the other grass, it is scaring and beautiful in the same time. I like looking at all the landings, some pilots doing marvellous and others testing the solidity of the landing-gears, but you have to imagine the stress during those approaches each encounter, you can compare with formation landings. Then the diversity of planes you see is incredible. The spotters sitting along the baseline with binoculars, camera and notebook give you all the details of the incoming aircrafts, you have just to stay behind them.

The Sywell LAA Rally is a must to attend, and I was very happy I did it again this year. I must admit that the UK is a very friendly General Aviation country, with a lot of beautiful homebuilt’s and conventional. I love it and feel me home, perhaps because my mother was born in Glossop (UK) during the first World War, so my roots are definitely in the big island……

Derek invited Sven-Eric and I to join them with the evening BBQ at his camper, delicious food prepared by Anne (Derek’s wife), with unlimited cool beer, I had a very good time, thanks Anne and Derek for your very kind invitation.

My last Sywell day was on Saturday, first I had to find-out the weather and the possibilities to fill a Flight-plan, a perfect pilot assistance in the navigation-tent with all the necessary inquiries you need, a pilots dream, I received all printed; my route, all the frequencies, the weather and Notams, I could not prepare better my return, they used the SkyDemon program (commercial not paid yet). In addition we don’t need for the Belgian customs special forms, only you have at arrival the obligation to register verbally that you are back, or that you go, logic.
Ready after lunch and the last farewell-drink with Derek and Sven-Eric, I depart in full sunshine, as it was during my all flight. The Channel was this time very mild to me, a little haze, but a big difference with the previous crossing two days ago.

At 2500ft I enjoyed my return from Clacton to Ostend with a tailwind for my fifties crossing, it was a blessing, thank you weather. After 1hr55 I landed in Ostend, it was drastically shorter, if I hadn’t had to make a 360 before landing, I had a record time.

Each trip or flight is different, this one started not so good, but ended in beauty, I had a wonderful time with Sven-Eric, Derek with his family and friends, Mike and Andrew who came on Friday.

A huge display of an incredible multitude of planes, the beer was real English, the weather was also kind during the all weekend, what can you expect more, an amazing trip I had.

With all my thanks to everyone who give me a wonderful friendly time in Sywell.

OO-PUS & Robert


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