About Ercoupes

I'm not that familiar with my Aircoupe just yet, but I want to give here a flavour of what they are like and how they fly. For more detail I suggest you follow some of the links to other web sites for some excellent histories, what to look for if you want to buy one, and some of the more subtle aspects of flying them.

Most of my flying hours so far have been spent flying Cessna 152's and it was relatively easy to learn the differences. My good friend Colin flies a C150 and when we fly out together it is easy to compare performance.

The Aircoupe climbs a little better than the 150, and seems to cruise at much the same speed. But the 150 carries more fuel and so has a longer range, but not by much. The Aircoupe has no flaps. I am led to believe that you can fly steep and controlled approaches but I'm not going to try just yet. Therefore my landing rolls are longer than a 150, but again not by much.

Brian, ace flying instructor who learnt to fly
G-HARY at the same time as myself

Note the large dihedral which makes the Ercoupe very stable. The twin rudders are outside of the prop wash, making the rudders fairly ineffective at low airspeeds. There are no flaps, the plane has quite high drag at low speeds. The view over the nose is very good, and so is the propellor ground clearance.

I have no toe brakes, just a handbrake between the seats. This took some getting used to, as I'm used to using two hands elsewhere when I need to brake. Also fun is that the mixture and carb heat are in the reverse positions compared to a Cessna. So far I have only got this wrong once, when applying carb heat on downwind checks. Hearing the engine nearly stop was enough to make me remember that from then onwards!!!

The elevator trim control is an angled knob between the seats. I still couldn't tell you which way to turn it for nose up or down, but I can do it correctly most times now without thinking so part of the brain has worked it out.

There is no vacuum pump. Instead venturis mounted each side of the cockpit drive the DI and AI. This means that you need to set the DI when lined up on the runway just before take-off, although I have now got into the habit of setting the runway heading when doing power checks to reduce the twiddling time. The AI starts to work at around 700 feet once the gyro has been driven up by the airspeed.

The lack of flaps was disconcerting at first, particularly as this type is also known for its high sink rate at low speeds. For landing, basically on base leg you apply carb heat and throttle back as you would normally, in my case reducing airspeed to around 80 mph. Then half way down final I slow up to more like 70 mph, and then in the flare the airspeed drops to 65. If the throttle is closed then it seems to just drop onto the runway, not doing any harm as far as I can tell, but it doesn't impress anyone in the righthand seat. To avoid the drop I've found that leaving a little power on results in a smooth landing.

Crosswind landings are straightforward. You crab the plane right to the ground. As the main wheels touch they swing it around and that's it. The crosswind limit is 20 knots, quite a lot more than a Cessna, but beyond my personal limit at the moment.

Overall the Aircoupe is very easy to fly and steady in the air. It is a small aircraft so it does get blown around a bit. The visibility is excellent, particularly good for me as I'm on the short side. But I can see over the front much better than in a Cessna. The canopy slides back for easy access, and can be left open up to 100 mph, which will be great in the summer.

I spent a lot of time doing my homework before I decided what to buy. But all the reading I did failed to mention one thing. I learnt in a high-wing, and thought I knew all of the advantages and drawbacks of low-wings. But they forget to tell you one thing - how much walking you will do. Check the oil, open the cowling, where is the rag? In the cockpit! Walk around the wing and then back again. It needs a top up. Where's the oil? In the cockpit. Another walk around the wing and back again. And so on. I'm slowly learning a better routine, leaving things on the wing to move into the cockpit later. However, I took Trevor my flying instructor for a joyride, really impressed him with my landing, and then we found my lunchbox on the grass where I had been parked - the prop stream had blown it off the wing when I started the engine!

A happy Colin in the right-hand seat. Bear in mind though that this was his first flight in the Aircoupe and we hadn't landed yet!