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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 49 March 2014


Let’s hope that after a poor start 2014 provides lots of glorious flying weather, although I am concerned that spring is beginning and we haven't had winter yet!  In England we have had a lot of flooding, and a couple of weeks ago I went from flying over Lake Mead, Arizona to flying over Lake Cambridge the following weekend.

Some interesting news sent in this issue, so please enjoy.  And remember, your last trip may seem routine to you, but will give others pleasure, so please do send in your stories to share.

Mike Willis, Alon A2 #188 G-HARY

Ercoupe news

Major feature of G-ARHC in Pilot Magazine

As Eric Giraldy described in the last newsletter, his beautifully restored Forney was photographed and flight tested for the UK Pilot Magazine.

It was published in the January 2014 issue, and although it didn't make the cover the article was 9 pages long! The author was very favourable to the 'Coupe, as he should be, and even gave the newsletter a mention.

Hopefully as a result we will get even more interest than before when we fly into airfields around the country.

Mini-Coup found!

Reg McComish writes: Hi Mike, a friend has emailed me a link to your newsletter which has a short article on Chris Tena 'mini coupes' and a pic of G-BPDJ, once based at Popham but now in my ownership awaiting restoration and an engine upgrade in my Devon workshop. As far as I am aware, DJ is the only example of this lovely little Ercoupe-influenced aeroplane based outside the USA.

I had intended it to be flying by now but have suffered endless diversions due to other rebuilds I have been progressing, notably a 'ground upward' restoration of a damaged 1942 Aeronca L3B/O58B grasshopper which is now complete and fully ticketed by the LAA.

Pending restoration I have been using the mini coupe as a mobile static display unit to raise funds for the British Legion at local events and it has gone down really well with youngsters and parents alike as I have 'dressed' her in US Navy livery and added false guns so that the 'kids' can have their pics taken as top gun stars - even out of service she has been giving service so to speak!

I am hoping to start work on the mini coupe in the forthcoming months and when finished perhaps I could attach to your organisation under 'sufferance' since you are the closest connection to this marque of machine? (Mike: of course I have already told Reg yes!) Though I'll not be anywhere ready for your fly-in next year, who knows, I might just make the year after if I qualify as 'Ercoupe' family. I leave you with every good wish for a fantastic event and flying season.

Reg addds: I feel very honoured that you have invited me into your 'fold' and delighted that I now have some interesting folk to share with outside of the Aeronca type club in which I have been a founder member since 1992. I look forward to a happy and mutually beneficial relationship and will keep in touch.

Very best wishes, Reg (AKA Rum) McComish

Gone but not forgotten

David Burke writes: Dear Mike, I am not a group member - however today myself and Bill Fern rescued 'TT' for the South Yorkshire Air Museum at Doncaster.  The aircraft is missing front and lower cowl, ailerons and what appear to be the fuel tanks. I would be grateful if you could publicise this in any way to help her restoration.  The intention is that she will be restored and displayed at the South Yorkshire air museum.  She will not be restored to fly. Any guides to where parts might be sourced would be much appreciated.

Best regards, David Burke, Tel: 01778-590092
Carlby, Lincolnshire 

Go on, treat yourself – Ercoupe for sale

Stephan Vatter writes: Hi Ercoupers, if you know someone who is interested in buying a very nice, ready to fly Ercoupe, please let me know! I am looking for a 4 seat classic! All the best for you in 2014 and always happy landings.

Check this:

regards Stephan D-EJOR

Mike adds – this may seem expensive but it might be cheaper than restoring an import from the US to pristine condition, right Derek?

From the far end of the Med

Gershon Joseph writes: I plan to start working on my private pilots license in 2014 and am thinking of buying an Ercoupe to build time in (both VFR and afterwards IFR). I suspect the Ercoupe will attract interest at local air shows, too, so I see it as a long-term investment... I live in Israel, but travel frequently to the USA on business.

I'm wondering what the best way is to get an Ercoupe to Israel. Anyone in Europe or the Middle East who can share how they got their Ercoupe over from the USA? Unlike most aircraft, I suspect we don't have the option of carrying fuel in the copilot's seat and pumping that into the fuel tanks to increase range... Any tips on a route or other hints are most welcome. I suppose I could ship it by sea, but I'm worried about corrosion and also how I'd get it from the harbour to an airfield.

On a separate note, what do y'all think is the point during training to start flying the Ercoupe? The local flight schools train mainly (perhaps even solely) in Cessna 150s, in case that's useful for reference.

Gershon L Joseph

European Ercoupe Fly-In 2014

Robert Rombouts writes: Dear Ercoupers, After a lot of discussions we will have this year again our “Stamp – Ercoupe” Fly-In at Antwerp EBAW, the 31st May 1st June 2014. You are all very welcome and hope to see most of the European Ercoupe Owners at this Meeting.

This year we will have some changes in comparison with the previous years:

A fee of € 50.00 per person must be send to confirm your participation in advance.
   Account ING Bank
   Robert Rombouts IBAN: BE97 3770 2554 1349   BIC: BBRUBEBB
   Fly-In EBAW 2014

This amount will be send you back if you are unable to come.

For this fee you will receive the evening of the 31th May the BBQ + 5 drinks + 2 sandwiches on arrival + commemorative trophy + no landing-fee + free shuttle to the Hotel “Tulip Inn”.
A free fill-up of fuel for the pilot who will win the fuel-lottery during the BBQ.

As every year the following Hotel “Tulip Inn” is the one we always propose.

Day-only Ercoupe visitors are free of charge and will receive only the commemorative trophy.

We hope to see you all, if possible, and I will be very happy to meet you again.

Also we have the 8 & 9 March here in all the International Airports in Belgium an Aviation Day, I will display for that day the PUS in Ostend, everybody is also welcome to join, it is a promotion-day for the General Aviation and the public will be invited, I don’t know how they will do it will all the security rules......

In August 1-2-3 at Koksijde (near Ostend) they have a Fly-In this is new.

Diest as always every year the 16th & 17th Augustus this meeting is for the 30th time.

North Weald is the 14th & 15th June, I hope not to miss that one.

For the moment this are the meetings I intend to go, and perhaps some Ercoupers.

With my best regards, Robert

Trip reports

Ercoupes seen on my travels in 2014

Phil Kemp writes: My name has been mentioned in at least the last two newsletters and some of you may wonder what my connection with the Ercoupe is, particularly as I am not a pilot or owner. 

Well I have been the Director of the Air-Britain Vintage & Classic Fly-In at North Weald (EGSX) for the last 13 years, which is where I first met Mike W and Robert R, as they have become regular attendees with their aircraft.  In addition we often meet at other flying events, as I can be also be found most weekends during the summer, usually dressed in an orange (high viz) boiler-suite, as a volunteer aircraft marshaller.

I can first remember seeing the classic red and white painted Ercoupes at Stapleford Tawney, when taken there by my late father as a child in the 1960s.  I have always had an interest in American classic aircraft and the more I met Mike and Robert the greater my interest has grown in the Ercoupe.

Anyway, enough of this waffle, whilst talking to Mike at the 2013 LAA Rally at Sywell in September, where I managed to park all three visiting Ercoupes together (see last newsletter),  I offered/suggested/was cajoled(?) to write a piece for the newsletter. 

As an aviation historian and enthusiast I travel to a number of aviation events each year and during 2014 I came across some Ercoupes, which may be of interest to you.

In April I visited Florida to the Sun n’ Fun show at Lakeland. This was my first visit to SnF, unfortunately by all accounts it was not one of the best, as poor weather to the north and the financial situation significantly reduced the numbers of aircraft present.  However there were three Ercoupes present during my visits, namely Alon A-2 Ercoupe N5685F from North Carolina, Ercoupe 415C N3239H and the immaculately polished Ercoupe 415D N94196 all the way from Wisconsin.  At the Florida Air Museum on the airfield N99741 Ercoupe 415C is also preserved.

Whilst travelling around Florida I visited a small grass field, grandly called Manatee Airport, (between Tampa and Sarasota).  As I arrived, touching down from across Tampa Bay from St Petersburg Albert Whitted Airport was 1946 built Ercoupe 415C N99282. The pilot and his passenger were both former US Navy veterans who had served in Europe and were keen to talk to me about their aircraft. I don’t think they get many Brits visiting Manatee! Among the anecdotes they delighted in telling me was that their combined age was just over 175 years! In one of the “sun shelter” hangars was also the 1945 built Ercoupe 415C N86997.

In August I travelled to Southern Germany to the massive “Tannkosh” Fly-In at Tannheim, where two regular Ercoupe attendees to the event were seen among the 1000+ visitors, namely D-EJOR and D-ENUC. On returning home we visited the friendly airfield at Birrfeld near Zurich, where I found HB-ERB sharing its small hangar with a Bucker Jungmann that was suspended above it to make most use of the available space.

Finally can I give a plug to our 2014 Fly-In at North Weald (14-15 June), as always there is an open invitation to all Ercoupe owners, so if you are reading this please come along and join us – particularly if you have not been before. You will always find a warm welcome and Air-Britain’s friendly hospitality. I look forward to meeting more Ercoupe owners on my future travels.

Best wishes
Phil Kemp
Air-Britain Vintage & Classic Fly-In 14-15 June 2014 

Polish visit

Hartmut Beil writes: Today was beautiful flying weather and I had the day off, so I decided to fly to the coast, check the water from the air and the islands in Germanys north and on my way back I planned a stop in Poland - Szczecin. I remember Robert landed there at one time and I figured if he can do that I can too.

The hangar from WW2 is impressive. The airfield is truly just that, an airfield. Landing was a bit speedy, because I had a strong crosswind perpendicular to the runway. I jumped over the grass, trying to avoid the holes, which were big enough to be a product of flocks of wild boars. I made it alright. There was nobody on the frequency and nobody that collected landing fees – almost like flying in the US. Cool.

Went to the hangar and asked for gas. Although the Polish AIP shows a fueling station at the APRON, there was none. Yes, they do have Avgas there, but don’t sell it. It is only for their two AN2s - Bummer. But they gave me directions to the local gas station, not far away and so I took my little canister, that I had with me in precaution and walked there ... three times. The canister was so small.

When I came back with the last canister, I had a few guys there admiring the coupe and taking possession of it by grabbing the wings and the cowling and everything. Ghee, don’t they know? Now I had to polish off all their finger prints!

Then on my way out I watched an Ultralight landing on what is supposed the taxiway. But the wind was favoring the taxiway very much, so I gave it a try too when taking off. I was not eager to mingle my way through the pig holes on takeoff anyway. Was off before I could believe it, so strong was the wind and made it home nicely.

The airport has potential. On one side the airport and on the other side there is a yacht port, what else do you want?

I can only hope, the folks there can see the potential in the future and create a nice landing spot with a nice hangout there.

Cheers from Berlin,

Views of Vegas

Mike writes: The start of 2014 brought a lot of business travel for me – 4 trips in the first 6 weeks. Over that time I flew over 50 hours in commercials, only one hour in my Ercoupe.  But I did manage to clock up a wonderful hour and a half doing a slow circuit of Las Vegas!

Trip number 3 was a visit to an annual conference run by my US business partner, this year in Las Vegas.  On a previous trip 3 years ago I’d searched for Ercoupes in the area, and came across Max Doubrava, a semi-retired doctor and lawyer, who hangs out at North Las Vegas every Saturday morning.  Here he hosts a gang of flying friends who gather for a BBQ and tell tall stories.  A few still fly, although none of them Ercoupes anymore, but there used to be a presence and Max has promised to get the Ercoupe simulator (a toilet pan on a trolley) fixed up ready for my next visit.

We met on the Friday evening for dinner at a local casino, with Jules who was to fly me the following day, and their wives.  Max’s wife insisted on paying for dinner, but it turns out she paid with a voucher – she is a regular customer of the casino.  In fact Max explained that she earned more from gambling a couple of years ago than he made as a doctor!

I look out of my bedroom window Saturday morning and the weather is looking good.  Actually, I forgot I wasn’t in England, the weather is normally always good here so they can fly when they want! At the airport Jules showed me his 3 aircraft.  First a beautiful polished Swift, fast and manoeuvrable, but unstable and a handful to fly. 

Next the nice Cessna 182 we were to fly in.  Jules told me he had flown his wife too and fro across the US over the years, but one day she complained it was uncomfortable and she was ready for something bigger with two engines.  So he showed me his 3rd aircraft, a Cessna 310.  This was bought at a bargain price as it had been used for drug running.  But when he proudly showed it to his wife her face had dropped.  It turned out she was thinking commercial flights and 737’s!

The mid-morning flight was great, after taxiing around the immaculate North Las Vegas airport we take off and head west to Red Rock Canyon, then south across the desert past old mines and villages.  And Jules pointed out mountains where aircraft had crashed in bad visibility.

Visibility was excellent as we cruised around at 6,000 feet.  Jules let me take the controls but there was nothing to do – the aircraft was trimmed perfectly and the air was stable. 

We reach the Colorado river and turn North East following it upstream.  And suddenly in front of us is the Hoover Dam. 

Jules takes us around in a slow orbit, telling me that there are 5 helicopters circling around 1,000 feet below us.  I don’t see any but then I am admiring the view and taking some photos. 

We then head out over Lake Mead, created by the dam.  The deep blue of the water contrasts with the varied colours of the desert, wonderful and so different from home.  After a while we turn west and head back to Las Vegas, which has been visible in the distance almost all of the time we have been flying.  Now I would have skirted back around the terminal area, but not Jules.  He calls McCarran and gets us a routing straight over Nellis Airforce base.  The number of aircraft parked there is incredible, I’m sure more at one airport than all of the Royal Air Force!

We taxi back in to the hangar, then go and find Max and his friends.  There are still many still at his hangar and the charcoal is still going, so time for a burger or two and to reminisce on a beautiful mornings flying. 

Jules will be in England in early May, so weather providing the favour will be returned!


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