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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 51 July 2014


A mammoth newsletter this month, with long reports on the European Ercoupe fly-in, Air Britain Fly-In and Hartmut's trip to Northern Denmark. Unfortunately sad news about G-ERCO and Rodney & Mary. Before you get started I suggest you get a coffee or beer and sit comfortably!

I've been out of action for a while for a various reasons, but now raring to fly. But it looks like I've missed all the action! If anyone fancies joining me for some flying in the UK get in touch.

Don't forget, if you enjoy reading this newsletter then others will enjoy reading about your trips too, so please write about your flying for the next issue.

Best regards,


Mike Willis, Alon A2 #188 G-HARY

Ercoupe news


Rodney Tapp is very sorry to confess that G-ERCO is an insurance write-off.   He writes: I had not flown for about 6 months, and was asked at the last minute before the closure of Manston to move the aeroplane to Pent Farm, with which I was unfamiliar. I had to carry out an S-turn to line up with  the strip, for the turns I had to keep the speed up, touched down too fast, hit a bump, bounced violently a couple of times, and the nose-wheel collapsed, shock-loading the engine.

The estimated cost of repair was within the insured value, but the VAT liability made it a write-off. The insurance company has promised to pay up, minus the value of the 'wreckage'. We have good reason to hope that G-ERCO will be rebuilt, but sadly not by us. Luckily no one was hurt, and no damage apart from the aircraft.

Mary Tapp adds: We hope to meet up with you by car, maybe one day! Rochester is easiest. After 40 years of flying and over 20 years of Ercoupe flying, because of ill health I was going to give up flying, with much regret anyhow! We have had so much fun and will miss it. Hopefully we will get to fly in G-ERCO when it has been rebuilt. Regards to all Ercoupers, Mary Tapp

Fly-In reports

The 2014 European Ercoupe Owners Fly-In

Robert Rombouts writes: Again we had for the 8th time our European Ercoupe Owners (EEO) Fly-In at EBAW. Normally we didn’t expect to organize this year a Fly-In, and intend to do it every two years, but the Commandant of the Antwerp Airport insisted we continue the yearly event as a promotion of the International Airport.

Some changes concerning participating inscription, the  lottery for a fuel tank fill-up, in addition we order beautiful weather, and as result we had a positive response of 5 Erco’s with happy Ercoupe pilots. For the 7th time Sven-Eric Pira came again from the North of Sweden (Strömsund ESNA) to join our yearly event, I admire his tenacity, adventure and friendly character, thanks Sven-Eric that you did it again with more than 12 hours flying, a real challenge.

We welcome also a new Ercouper, Ulrich Hertig and his son Adrian who flew with his D-ENUC from Reichelsheim (Germany), his wife came by car with their adorable dog. I was very happy to meet them all for the first time.

We had a very good surprise on Saturday to see Hilde Van Haarlem with Peter arriving unexpected with their N99280, they flew with their beautiful Coupe from Lelystad (Nederland), luckily they could find the time between their scheduled commercial flights to join us, a very pleasant surprise.

In addition we welcome the new owner of the Mooney M10 Cadet N9516V, based in Antwerp, the new owner is Danny Bals, a commercial pilot who fly business flights by Flying Group. It is typical that all ERCO pilots are so fantastic, I hope Danny will join us during some Meet-ups with his very rare M10, a beautiful plane and sister of the ERCO family, welcome Danny in our group.

We had this year an ideal flying weather, it was a good opportunity or excuse to join us during this event (words of Mike Willis), and I understand that some private matters make it impossible, I am so sorry for all of you who could not do the trip.

Already on Friday Ulrich landed 20 minutes after I arrived from Ostend around noon, Sven-Eric touch his wheels on the runway exactly at 18:00 local coming from Helgoland. An unbelievable good timing, we could not do better. During the evening Ulrich and his family did some Antwerp sightseeing, I went with Sven-Eric to eat near his hotel.

The next day we met around midday at the airport, had some cool drinks because it was sunny and hot, looking at all the beautiful incoming planes, and this year we were spoiled with amazing different rare War birds. The Spitfire didn’t come, he had to return back to Duxford when he was over the Channel, the reason I don’t know.

We may park in front of the entrance, that means that we were the eye catcher of the display, an honour. From the UK we welcome two SV4, but considering visiting aircraft we beat them all with 5 marvellous Erco’s.

The enthusiastic spirit and friendly atmosphere we had during all of our Meetings, was this time as usual excellent, the beautiful weather was a good partner this year.

We enjoyed as usual every year the BBQ, what means good meat, the wine too, the expected singing three sisters too, and the tombola. We participated with 6 Ercoupe Lovers; Sven-Eric, Ulrich-his wife-Adrian his son, Gregory my oldest son, and yes I was also present. We had a good time but talking was difficult during the singing performance. Ulrich won the fuel tank fill-up lottery, with the distribution of the commemorative trophy, the official side of the FlyIn ended, and we were ready for the last night in Antwerp.

On Sunday we could admire the formation flight over Antwerp with at least 12 SV4, always a very impressive show. After filling the flight plans and refuelling our Coupes, Sven-Eric depart around midday followed immediately with Ulrich.

Both arrived well at home, the excellent weather gave them a nice enjoyable flight, Ulrich with his son Adrian did it in two hours, and Sven-Eric arrived the next day at Strömsund save and well.

The 8th EEO FlyIn at Antwerp is already a past Meeting, it was an excellent one, all the necessary ingredients were available for a wonderful flying weekend, I am so sorry for the ones who could not come, you missed an enjoyable flight, next year better I hope.

Thanks to all the participating Erco’s; Sven-Eric Pira (Sweden), Ulrich Hertig (Germany), Hilde Van Haarlem with Peter (Nederland’s) and Danny Bals (Antwerp), I hope you enjoyed it as I did, we will continue the next year with the same enthusiastic spirit, see you all then.

Robert & OO-PUS

Air Britain Fly-In
North Weald, 13-15 June 2014

Robert Rombouts writes: This year North Weald was for me a Must Meeting to attend, because last year I didn’t attend due to bad weather, not suitable for my skills. Robert was double motivated to fly this year to the so friendly and wonderful historical airfield EGSX, and the weather conditions was promising good.
Phil Kemp, who organize already for years the Air Britain FlyIn at North Weald, and for whom I have a lot of sympathy, is already a good reason for the jump over the Channel, thanks Phil for your dedication and kindness.

Mike Willis wrote me weeks ago that he will be during that weekend in Milan for business, but I expect perhaps one of the multiple UK Ercoupes to join me during this event.

I depart on Friday afternoon, a sunny blue sky, little wind coming from the North at 30° only 7 kts, a dream for enjoying a wonderful trip over the Channel. My route was very simple, from Ostend to Konan (mid Channel), then Dover VOR, finally direct to North Weald (EGSX). As usual I had a hazy crossing, but at Konan I could see Dover with a little of imagination. I usually call Manston Radar because the controller is so friendly and helpful, but Manston is now closed. This time I had to call London Information, busy-busy, that I nearly arrived on the UK coast before I could send my message, in addition I was flying at 2000 ft and that’s too low for a good reception in Mid-Channel. Very quick London Info propose me to change the frequency to Southend Radar (I call that delegation) and was connected with them until I had to change to North Weald Radio.

The total fly-time was with the headwind just less as 2 hrs. (1h47), but I enjoyed incredibly that flying trip, I was sorry to have to land. The speed was not supersonic with a 78 – 85 mph, but who cares, I love it.

On my arriving in North Weald, runway 02 right-hand circuit around 4 PM local, Phil with his brother Nigel were marshalling me to the usual parking-lot for visitors, a so wonderful friendly welcome is already a beautiful reward after a nice flight. I was the first arrival as usual on a Friday, or one day in advance of the FlyIn. A good cold flat beer was my dream when crossing the Cliffs of Dover, strange, but I was too early, the bar opened only at 5 PM (6 PM Belgian time), so I had to wait with a thirsty throat, but not for long.

Soon I received company on the parking-lot from a fully equipped German Mooney D-EMMZ from Mainz (near Frankfurt), they were aware about the opening hours of the bar. I booked my hotel in the Park Inn Harlow as usual, Phil was so kind to drive me and the two Germans after I had my cool Foster.

Next day, the Saturday, we share a taxi to the airfield, and what a fantastic surprise when I saw Derek’s Tregilgas camper driving in (Mike: it would have neen even more of a surprise if he had flown there in his Ercoupe!). I followed him until the campers parking-lot, I didn’t expect him with his family joining the FlyIn. I was very happy to see him and his family again, the last time we met it was in August 2013 during the Sywell FlyIn, already one Ercoupe Lover in North Weald, I will not be alone.

For me it was time visiting the exhibitors who are always interesting, and finding some extra gadget. Soon I did my tour, and join the Squadron with the bar and hamburgers, always some nice drinks makes the talking easier. The weather was not as marvellous as the previous day, low ceiling (500 ft) was the reason that we didn’t see a lot of arrivals, but some very interesting aircrafts came in, you missed that too. Two friends from the Aviation Society Antwerp, Bob and Willem Rongé were also visiting the FlyIn, looking for new registrations and types of aircrafts, which was an extra surprise for me. The time goes always fast when you are busy talking about aviation, a passion…..

Booked for the evening the Fish & Chips at the Squadron, was another experience for me, it was really good, delicious fish with not really the real Belgian frites, but I enjoy it as an experience.

Phil drove us after to the hotel with Bill, an American owner of a Staggerwing model 17 from Beechcraft, whose intention is to fly with his plane solo to the US. He is now already two years touring in Europe, and even he was in Antwerp by Raymond Aircraft (my mechanic) for a few days. A very nice 78 years young aviator, I have a lot of appreciation for this very kind airman.

The last day was Sunday, checking the OO-PUS, preparing the flight-plan and route back to Ostend was my first concern. Arriving at the Squadron again guess who was standing near Derek - Tony Smith, that was also an unexpected meeting. Happy to see him but sadly without Anne because her illness obliged her to stay home, hoping to see them both next year in perfect health. Also a very nice surprise, and so we were with three Coupe friends together.

All the latest news, personal and Ercoupe related stories were our main talking, it is good to see friends again in such a beautiful historical airfield. But it is not finish. Tony & Edith De Bruyn arrived with their Siai Marchetti sf 260 from Kortrijk Belgium, a very nice couple whose passion is aviation. His second aircraft is a North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco, a beautiful aircraft that he use for displays internationally.

The time for return arrived, some drizzle rain and a few dark clouds was locally, with an improvement during the afternoon, but at 3 pm I started my departure. The route was the same as on Friday but in reverse, logic, and after all it was very good over the Channel, the usual haze but the French coast was slightly visible.

The return was quicker, 1h35, landing in Ostend on runway 08 with a straight approach, so busy it was……. A crosswind of 50° and 14 kts was the welcome I had after a wonderful weekend.

An amazing weekend I had at North Weald, my impression is that Ercoupe’s are getting rarer and rarer when I see how many we were at this yearly meeting, so I have to pamper mine for the future. Very nice friends I met during this weekend, a very VIP treatment I receive from Phil and his brother Nigel, thanks to everyone who gave me again an unforgettable North Weald weekend.

Next intention I like to attend is Sywell, during the last weekend of 29-30-31st August, hoping to have the same good weather.

Robert & OO-PUS

Trip report

Our midsummer Flight to Denmark.

Hartmut Beil writes: A friend of mine approached me a few years ago with the idea to fly up Norway's coast up to the Nordkap to celebrate summer solstice. We would experience the sun not going down for days and on our way back we could fly along the Baltic coast of Sweden. Besides all the difficulties that flying in Scandinavian airspace brings for us VFR pilots, the biggest obstacle is to find flyable weather during the days around June 21. Many things have to be put into consideration; the range and the ceiling of the aircraft setting limits that we have to obey. I realized that flying the suggested route in an Ercoupe requires a lot of luck and time, when we run out of good weather. So we never did it.

This year though I had the feeling that I needed to do something in that direction and looked out for a substitute route. I settled for flying up all Denmark , far up north, to an airport where we could walk to the beach and sit there and watch the sun never go down. We are going to Thisten. Thisten is 331 nautical miles from Schönhagen away, a long stretch for the Ercoupe, but with the help of a tailwind, we may get there in one leg. June 21 was a Saturday and therefor perfect for our time schedules. We would fly up there on Saturday, watch the sun, come back to Berlin the next day and start the week with the feel to be world travelers and the experience of one of the astronomical anomalies of our planet. I checked the route - no darned special airspaces would hinder our progress once we left the Berlin area. We could use any altitude along the route - perfect.

The passage over water is always in proximity of huge islands, nothing to worry, but I took the life vests anyway. All we would need now was flyable weather along the way. It looked promising a few days before the week-end. So we decided to go and there was no turning back. Following intuition I checked the opening hours of Thisten on their website. Experience has shown that airports in the north are closed at certain times for noise abatement reasons. I found Thisten to be closed over the week-end. Bummer! A closed airport in Germany means that it is illegal to land there. (Don’t get me started on the sense-making of this rule). Now, Thisten is closed on week-ends, ruining our brilliant plan. I emailed the airport , asking if this is a mistake and if not, what can be done about it. I received an answer that was not promising, confirming closure times and suggesting arriving during the week. A few e-mails went back and forth and finally the airport manager suggested to land anyway, and take off as we want, but leave a significant amount of Danish Kroners in the glove compartment of airport car.

With workable instructions and the code for the gate in my hand, the last obstacle was removed. All we needed was good weather now. Ideally we’ll have tailwinds both directions and little clouds. The weather is that part that we can’t solve per email and thus we have to submit to whatever is being offered. As it turned out , Saturday was less than flyable over the north of Germany, strong winds, low clouds and rain made flying over Mecklenburg not promising. Sunday looked much better and we settled for Sunday, going back Monday, solving that way the refueling problem during official opening hours.

And up we went. We faced strong westerly winds of 10-15 knots, a fact that would not change during the next days, so I gave in and calculated our best range. In no wind condition, the 331 nautical miles, being 380 Statute miles is within range for the Coupe, if you fly conservatively for best range. But a head wind can offset that a bit. I calculated a 10 to 15 miles head wind component. It looked like we would have to refuel along the way, unless we gained speed with some luck. Checking the wind forecast at different altitudes I found that we would face the least wind at 5000 ft over Germany but would need to go down as close to the ground over Denmark for the lesser head wind component.

My flight plan was filed for 3.5 hours initially, the new estimate was 4.5 hours and briefly after take-off, after establishing cruising speed, the GPS calculated 5 hours flying time. I usually plan for 3 hour legs, after which the main tanks are usually empty and only the header tank has fuel, bringing us close to the minimal VFR reserve of 0.5 hours . This time I used the wind table off my checklist to establish power for the best range. We had a 15 miles headwind cruising between 80 and 90 miles at around 2000 rpm. We should burn 3.9 gallons/hour or 20 gallons in 5 hours, leaving us with the required VFR minimum at the destination. Oh well I told myself, let’s see how far we’ll get, if luck has it, and the winds are in our favour, we will make it in one leg, else we just tell ATC that we need to refuel and land somewhere.

The flight through Germany was uneventful, we were fighting the wind and after some time reached the Baltic coast. We slowly progressed into Danish airspace and reached Langeland a little behind schedule.
It seemed like the wind was stronger than estimated, our ground speed was meager, lousy at times. However, we were progressing, handover from the controllers were smooth and after the header tank float started sinking, I made my calculations whether the gas is enough to bring us to the final destination. It finally came down to probably making it to Thisten, but with no reserves, we were burning more fuel than we should and I decided to divert the route for refueling. I did not want to take the chance to come down a few miles before the runway.

So we landed at Skive, 30 minutes before our final destination. The controller assured us there would be fuel, but we would have to pay with cash. I don’t know where they get their information from, but other than that there was fuel on the airport nothing else was true. There was nobody to sell us fuel with cash. Helpful skydivers called the airport manager, who drove 20 kilometers one way to unlock the fuel pump and let me pay with credit card. It turned out that basically all smaller airports in Denmark are “closed” over the week-end, yet you are still allowed to land and take off. It is expected to fill in your data in a book in the pilots room and also to put the 100 Kroner into an envelope that you then put somewhere - where I could not find out, the instructions were written in Danish, which has similarities with German at times, but then sometimes, when it comes to the secret locations for money envelopes, not. However, since the manager came out himself, he collected the 100 Kr, 14 Euros or 11 pounds for the landing as well – cash.

Ghee. The whole thing was holding us back for two hours at least. I wish European airports would go the route of airports in the USA, a modern fuel pump, where you just stop, swipe your credit card and fill her up. That would make the life easier for pilots and airport personnel. On the downside, we would not meet so many people anymore. Flying in Europe would be less personal. But sometimes I could save the chat with the locals.

During our last hop to Thisten , I realized, we could have made it, maybe with a 5-10 minute reserve. If it is good for anything, I learned that my Ercoupe has an endurance of at least 5 hours and that was new to me.

Thisten was a windy spot. I could not find any tiedowns for the Ercoupe, so I took her behind bushes between two buildings. The airport was deserted, even the local flying club was lonesome.

We arrived in the afternoon – plenty of time to discover the area and prepare for the short night, the sun may be visible at all times, who knows. So we did a hike to the coast. One reason that I chose Thisten airport over others was the close proximity to the coast and also the fact that this coast had been used 45 years ago as a location for one of the Olsenbande (Olsen Gang) movies that we loved to watch during the seventies.

Old German bunkers from WW2 were used as a backdrop for the story around a hidden treasure left by the Nazis. Olsen found the treasure back then, we were up to find his bunker. They look like this:

Weird objects at the beach. Hard to imagine how they had been built there, no sense making pattern is visible, but one thing is clear. They will stay there for quite some time. The initial plan was to camp at the beach and watch the sunset (if ever) and have a nice talk about the future and women and stuff, but not so. It was stormy as hell at the beach.

The water current was visibly dangerous, the cold wind almost a storm, it was clear we would need shelter. But not in these bunkers. The close by benches did not provide the shelter we were seeking and after a few hours we needed to head back to the airport. We knew at least one safe spot there – where our Ercoupe was parked.

We put our tents on the nice cut grass at around the Ercoupe and talked almost until midnight. The wind turned into a cold storm and we were happy not to be at the beach. At 11:30 local time, I still could see the sun shining from the beach. Admitted, it was 11:30 summer time, adjusted for normal, it was 10:30. Still, impressive for us south landers. The night did not go dark completely. I know that pretty precise, since I had trouble sleeping because it was so cold that it hit us hard. My friend admitted to have frozen through the night. But next morning turned out to be very nice. As soon as the sun came out, the wind calmed down, the earth warmed up, freeing us from our hibernation, a coffee was prepared and we met Bo , the airport manager. He turned out to be a nice guy, flexible and helpful. He offered another coffee, gave us access to weather forecast, re-submitted our flight plan and was there whenever needed. Thanks Bo. At around noon we decided to go back to Schönhagen directly. Before we discussed some excursions to either Danish or German territory, but after the sleepless night, we both didn’t feel the urgency of another adventure.

So we went back. After having here filled to the neck with fuel by Bo – you never know what you run into – we are better prepared. The way back should be faster by all means. My positive estimate was 2.5 hours, but the winds calmed down , so it still was 3.5 hours. Still, it felt fast compared to the day before. We had to solve one little problem yet. During flight on the flight plan with a discrete transponder code, over the Baltic Sea at 7500 ft the electric system went out completely .

This was not such a problem, since navigation was simple, the islands easy to make out in the ocean. Also the GPS switched over to battery power, assuring us guidance for another 2 hours. But we were approaching soon the handover to the German airspace system. We should at least be able to talk to the controller. But radio, transponder and intercom were all dead. I did the emergency procedure, looking for a failing fuse, just to find that the system still delivered power, yet it did not arrive at the radios. We had to check  behind the panel. And so it came that I took the right cover off, where the glove box used to be and where now all power is mounted. Sure enough, a broken wire was found and quickly repaired and re-attached while my friend kept the plane in level attitude at 7500. We were back on the radio so fast, the controller did not even miss us.

The remaining flight was uneventful, apart from the fact that we flew above a broken cloud layer in Germany, and we did not see Berlin approaching that fast. The Controller advised us to “prepare for descent” and I was thinking that he was showing some optimism about our speed, being still 60 miles out of Schönhagen. But on his second call a few minutes later it hit me. Berlin airspace was in our way and until we find a hole in the cloud layer, we kinda scratched the class C airspace in a diving turn. Oh well. The controller did not mind and then we were back to bumpy 2000ft . The wind was shaking us for the remaining 50 miles, reminding us of the long flight of the day before.

We landed in Schönhagen just a day after we left and were greeted as if nothing had happened, like on every other ordinary day. For flight times we needed 5.2 hours to Denmark and 3.5 hours back to Schönhagen.

Hartmut Beil


Peter White, Chairman of The Aeronca Club of Great Britain has offered a standing invites to Ercoupes at their events

US Classics Fly-In
12/13 July, Shobdon
Hosted by Aeronca Club

VAC 50th Birthday Celebration
26/27 July, Popham, UK         

Revival Day
10 August, Panshangar, UK  
This is invitation only, but as we fly Ercoupes we are invited! It was a great day last year, so join us this time.

Robin Hood Fly-In
16 August, Hucknall (Nottingham), UK (if it proceeds after June crash)

US Classics Fly-In
16 August,Goodwood, UK    
Hosted by VPAC (Vintage Piper Aircraft Club)

International Old Timer Fly-In
16-17 August Schaffen-Diest, Belgium

LAA Rally
29-31 August, Sywell, UK

Richard Tarry’s party
6 September  Pytchley (Northampton), UK     


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