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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 12 January 2009

Welcome

Dear readers,

The sad news reached us in December of the death of Dave Vernon, who took a great interest in Ercoupes and owned three before he had to give up flying.  He was very supportive of this newsletter, and wrote about his Ercoupe flying times in EEN 7 August 2008.  He was also hoping to meet up with us in the UK at an EMU, but sadly that is not to be. Most of this issue is dedicated to David. 

The weather hasn’t been kind to us in the UK either, so both the December meet-up at Duxford and the New Year one at North Weald were non-events.  Hopefully we will be more lucky in February.

Mike Willis G-HARY mike@ercoupe.co.uk


Dave Vernon 1930-2008 RIP

David VernonHere is his story in his own words:

I started flying age 17, learned on Austers and gained my “A” License in 1947 with a local flying school. I joined the Royal Air Force as a Cadet in 1948, went out to Southern Rhodesia (today called Zimbabwe) to learn to fly the RAF way. After five months ground school I started flying Tiger Moths and after 40 hours went on to Harvards (AT6’s) and gained my wings with about 200 hours total flying. Returned to the UK and after a short course on Harvards of instrument flying I was posted to become a Jet Day Fighter Pilot.

I went to Driffield in the North East central UK and learned to fly a twin engined fast jet. Then posted to Stradishall (near to Cambridge) I learned formation flying and gunnery before being posted to a Day Fighter Squadron (257 “Burma” Sqdn) at Horsham St. Faith and then Wattisham in Suffolk. I only flew Meteors for nine months before leaving the RAF to become a civilian.

For the next ten years I was in a family business but during this time I became an instructor with a local Aero Club and flew a Tiger Moth teaching pupils and amassed 1,000 hours on that one Tiger Moth, G-ANOD.

ViscountThen I took my Commercial Pilot’s License and joined a local airline flying DC3’s and Bristol 170 airplanes mainly around the UK and Ireland. After 15 months with a small airline (Silver City Airways) I left and joined a company called “Cambrian Airways” (the Welsh Airline) and I flew as a First Officer for 3 1/2 years before being promoted Captain on Viscount 700 and Viscount 800 aircraft.

In 1974 four airlines amalgamated to form British Airways. In 1978 I went to Heathrow, London to fly Trident aircraft and in 1981 I took early retirement from British Airways. I quit commercial flying in 1990.

G-ARHCAll this time I had been a keen light airplane pilot and flew many types. In 1961 I was introduced to the Aircoupe, a Forney F1A G-ARHC and flew it for over four years with the club who had flown the Tiger Moth all those years ago, they now had an Aircoupe. I instructed on the Aircoupe and in 1971 I bought an Alon A2 constructor’s #A5 from the original batch, this was registered G-AVIL and I kept it and flew it for twenty years.

G-BTOJI sold the Alon A2 and bought a Mooney Cadet in Los Angeles in 1991. I flew it to Miami, then shipped it in a container to the UK and flew it here for nearly five years before shipping it back to the Williamsburg VA where it was built up again so that I could fly to the annual Ercoupe Owner’s Club convention in Kalispell in 1995. After the meeting I continued over the Rockies to leave the Cadet at Pierce County airfield south of Seattle. In 1996 I flew down to Los Angeles, then across the southern states back to Williamsburg so that I could attend the 1996 convention at Manteo and Kittyhawk. After that I sold the Cadet and had to fly 2,000 miles to deliver it to Arizona.

Dave with spinnerHaving sold the Cadet I was without an airplane for the first time in 25 years and back home I felt I needed another Aircoupe. I was able to buy the only A2A in Europe in early 1997 and I flew it until December 2001 when I shipped it (in a container) to Tacoma and built it up at Pierce County airfield where I have friends. I keep it there (Reg. G-BKIN) and went over from time to time to fly it. I quitted flying at the age of 72 as medicals were getting more difficult.

That’s a run down of my career in aviation, it has been great and I have made many friends over the years, flying people are “Special”.

David Vernon; In memoriam

Jean Flacelière écrit: J'ai recu hier un mail de Kim, épouse de Dave Vernon m'informant de sa fatale attaque cardiaque. Ce n'était pas la première, et je savais qu'il se soignait pour cela.

Je regarde dans les différents et nombreux CD de photos qu'il m'avait envoyé les éléments à te passer pour écrire dans notre lettre mensuelle l'histoire de sa vie, très bien remplie sur le plan aéronautique que personnelle.

Sans cacher vraiment son age comme les vieilles dames, son premier cursus aéronautique commenca dans un école de formation au pilotage militaire dans la RAF au milieu des années 50, il précisait alors qu'il avait 20 ans et serait donc né vers 1936.

Du Tiger moth jusqu'au Meteor F8 chasseur de nuit radarisé, en passant par l'inévitable T6, sa formation de pilote militaire semble complète, mais il ne pu toutefois rester dans la RAF, mais passa rapidement Commandant de bord dans diverses compagnies qui furent réunies plus tard en British Airways ou il prit sa retraite.

G-BKINIl participa activement, par sa fonction d'instructeur an aviation légère, à l'introduction des Aircoupes, Forney ou Alon dans les midlands, plus précisément Cheltenham et Southport, et fut propriétaire du G-BTOJ, puis du alors seul Mooney Cadet M10 eoropéen, puis du Mooney A2A G-BKIN pour finir.

Il m'invita très gentiment à Southport ou il me recu fort bien, avec sa dernière amie de vie, Kim.

Très connu en UK, mais aussi aux USA, il vola beaucoupe a travers le monde et restait un inconditionnel du BAC Trident.

Très fier, à juste raison de son parcours, il donnait beaucoup de photos de sa formation ainsi que de sa carrière d'instructeur. puis de ses vols mémorables en M10 entre les deux cotes des USA.

Il fut donc por moi, le premier dans la culture "Aircoupes" en Angleterre, ou il pratiqua longtemps ces merveilleuses machines que nous aimons tant. Il était bien sur pour les palonniers, et ne semblait pas compren,dre pourquoi je m'en passait si bien. 415 C original oblige!

Nous volorons encore là-haut, Dave!

Jean Flacelière writes: I received yesterday an email from Kim, David Vernon’s wife, informing me his fatal heart attack. It was not the first one, and I know he was being treated for this condition.

I looked at the many and varied CD's and photos he sent me, to find items to write about the history of his life, well filled with aeronautical experiences as private.

Without hiding his age as old women do, his first aeronautical training as a military pilot was in the RAF around the fifties, and he told me he was then 20, so he was born around 1930.

From Tiger Moths until the Meteor F8 night hunter and the unavoidable T6, his military career was complete, but he could not stay in the RAF, so went rapidly as pilot in command in different airlines who where later conglomerated into British Airways, from whom he retired.

He actively participated, in his function as a flying instructor of light aircraft, of the introduction of Aircoupes, Forney or Alons in the Midlands of the UK, more precisely Cheltenham and Southport. He was also owner of G-BTOJ, then the only European Mooney Cadet M10, and G-BKIN, an Alon - A2A that was his last one.

He invited me to Southport, where he and his wife Kim were very friendly and kind.

He was very well known in the UK, but also in the USA.  He flew around the world a lot and was very keen about the BAC Trident airliner.

He was very proud, and of course he gave me a lot of photos from his training and his career as instructor, and also about his memorable flights with his M10 from the east to the west of the USA.

He was for me the first one who introduced the "Aircoupe" culture in England, where he promoted for a long time that wonderful plane we like so much. He was in favour of rudder pedals, and could not understand why I don't have them in my 415 C, as original built.

We will also fly high in the skies, Dave!

Tony Smith writes: Many thanks for the note re Dave Vernon - sad news indeed. Dave became a particular friend back in 1992 when, never having seen a Mooney M-10 Cadet, I contacted him and, as I was working in Knutsford at the time, made the journey up to Blackpool to meet him. I was armed with my embryo Ercoupe files and photograph collection and spent a happy couple of hours with Dave in the Blackpool Flying Club just talking Ercoupes. Then, to my great surprise, he took me for a "jolly" in the M-10 over Southport and the beach - you can imagine how "chuffed" I was!

Dave became a good supporter of the Air-Britain Fly-Ins, attending those we held at White Waltham and Wellesbourne Mountford. He has, over the years, sent me a wealth of data about his early flying days and up to his delivery flight with the M-10 from Los Angeles to Tampa, Florida. He will be missed!

Andrew Gardner writes:  David was a real enthusiast for the marque and of course knew my example well as it was the first one he came across and one his club flew extensively. He has written about 'HC and aircoupes a number of times in various publications and I still have a number of videos and photos that he took, particularly of his trips across the US to the various Ercoupe conventions and his flight across the US in his Mooney Cadet.

He let me fly his Cadet once and I was looking forward to returning the favour so that he could renew his acquaintance with 'HC; sadly that will not now happen.

G-AVILJim McMeekan writes: Sad news of Dave Vernon. I first met him I think in 1991, when he was still flying commercially for Gill Airways on the Shorts 360. He had been operating between Blackpool and Belfast City when he spied my Aircoupe sitting at Newtownards as he flew over. He then got in contact with me and we arranged to meet at Belfast City airport. After showing my son and I around the 360, Dave and I went for a flight in G-AROO from City airport down to Newtownards (about a 10 min flight) and spent the afternoon chatting about aircoupes .

We kept in touch after that first meeting and we met up again a year or so later at a fly in at Ronaldsway and he gave me a flight in his immaculately maintained G-AVIL. I hadn’t heard from him for a few years and was greatly saddened to hear of his passing. Please pass on my sympathies.

Ercoupe news

Derek Tregilgas writes: G-BZNO is now undergoing final assembly at Coventry would you believe, and although it's still very slow going I think I can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. I'll keep you posted of course.

You may remember that my brother and I are also restoring two Proctors. My brother is now totally immersed in wood chippings, glue, and Proctor components and is actually forging ahead nicely. You really must drop into Oakley one day and visit him in the workshop - he'd love to see you (I think we should all go! - see EMU's below). It's also quite a sight to see two Proctors sitting there side by side in their very early stages of resurrection.

History Corner

This is a follow-up to last month's story about G-ARHF and R.A. Nesbitt-Dufort

Forney F-1A  G-ARHF (c/n 5737)

Tony Smith writes: This aircraft was imported into the UK and registered G-ARHF on 26.5.61.  On 13.4.81 it was registered to R.A. Nesbitt-Dufort, Redhill and rebuilt at Chessington with its CoA renewed 23.4.85.  G-ARHF was the joint winner of the 1989 King's Cup Air Race at Leicester on 3.8.89, with R. Hayes in Beagle Pup 150 G-AXPN.  The Aircoupe's average speed on the circuit was 117.2 mph.  Pilot and owner R. Nesbitt-Dufort was also awarded the first-ever Sheila Scott Trophy for outstanding achievement in sporting aviation.  The event was reported in "Flypast", October 1989.

This aircraft was sold to C.G.H. Gurney t/a Disabled Flying Group, Northrepps, Norfolk in July 1993 but is no longer airworthy; it is in store at an unknown location.

Robert’s Flying Microbe

Robert Rombouts has recently completed a fantastic history of his life, or more particularly his flying experience. Rather than publish it in one newsletter, we have split it over three issues, so look forward next month for the third installment!

Part 2 The middle years

Unfortunately, my car with all my flying documents were stolen the 2 December 1970. I cannot find more precise dates and figures; I have to trust my memories. From the Belgian Civil Air Administration I received the following figures:Between 1961 until 1970 I did the following flying hours;

  • • Piper Cub, instructor-  D. Jordens – Dual 11hr42 – Solo 6hr84.
    • Morane S880B, instructor-  Raf De Vijlder – Dual 43hr18 – Solo 26hr12. OO-RAF
    • Marchetti S 205-18F, (RAAC) instructor- Guido De Brouwer– Dual 6hr39 – Solo 6hr84. OO-JDB
    • Cessna 150, (Sotramat) instructors- J.Vermeiren & Lady Cunna – Dual 26hr36 – Solo 18hr57 – Night Dual 6hr28 – Night solo 1hr25.
    • Simulator 9hr58.

The 14th October 1965, I did my Radio License in Brussel. Sitting in a small room with headset and hand micro, I had to simulate a flight from Antwerp to Liège. All the responses from the supposed tower, was so distorted that I you could hardly understand a word, but I passed. From 1971, I have all the figures; mainly Cessna 150 – Marchetti S 205-18F – Cessna 172, all rented planes from my Club, until September when “The Wonderful Ercoupe” stepped in my life.

OO-AIA20 August 1971 it was the beginning of a wonderful period; I bought my first plane an “Ercoupe” OO-AIA ser.nr.4834 a 90hp - 415CD. Flying was more fun, you could enjoy the pleasure to feel free and relax without controls all the time. After 1hr36 test flying with instructor Guido De Brouwer I was ready to fly my first own aircraft, based in Antwerp. Start with small grass hopping flying;

1971, 8hr53.
1972, 13hr18 only.
1973, 20hr85 not terrific.
OO-AIA Rombouts1974, 28hr22 get better.
1976, 13hr10 and less
1977, 8hr74 how possible.
1978, 8hr33 stability
1979, 2hr25 sold it.

Some special flying souvenirs are;

1972 a lot to Holland EHMZ.
1973 to Gent (airfield closed now), to Calais (France) with my two children Gregory and Dimitri.
1974 Egelsbach (Germany), then the UK Lympe, Blackbushe and Fairoaks, my sister lived in England. All the others flights where local Belgium’s hops. Thinking it was cheaper to rent a plane in the Club, logic when you look the hours I did during a year. I am now astonished how less I flew during those eight years. I was stupid, selling this beauty who gave me tremendous pleasure even with no flying hours.

The OO-AIA was stored in Kortrijk and sold to the UK, then to Ireland, back to UK for restoration and actually this Ercoupe is flying in France at St Rambert D’ Albon (LFLR), the F-AZOV, with the happy owner Jérôme Villand.

AstronautI apply even (1972) to be astronaut, but the Belgian Government retracts the budget, the co-pilot disappeared also.

In 1972, I had a Dutch and a USA license nr: 2055922 so I could fly the Dutch and American registered planes in Belgium, but never used it.

After flying alone all the time; my children where too small to enjoy the pleasure of flying and I could not find a nice co-pilot, and I did not enjoyed my grass hopping anymore. I did not rent any plane during 22 years and nearly stop flying between 1979 until 2001.

If I cannot find it in the air, I try to find it in the water. I started scuba diving in 1978 and bought a Zodiac boat. My family agreed with this adventure, everybody liked the water fun. My youngest son Olivier took also a diving course and we both had good fun. Diving in clear water, with the trim suite well balanced, give you the impression to fly under water; again that flying microbe.

In 1980 I made even a check fly with J.Vermeiren (RAAC) during 45 minutes, but only reappear in a real plane in 1993. With the Cessna 150 -1hr60 dual and 2hr59 solo.

I tried the Ultralight and had a training license from 20 August 1987 until 1989. I remember sitting in a kind of beach seat with a lot of noise, and anxious everything will fall apart, at Liernu airstrip near Namur. Not a joy and I aborted that type of flying machine. Ok, I was looking for alternatives.

We are now 2001- 2hr00 dual and 7hr48 solo; I rent a Cessna 152 at the RAAC, I had a training license and was obliged to start from scratch, passed my written exam for Reglementation in Brussel, yes, with a 20/20. My theory instructor was Raf De Vijlder, his method is incredible, and pumping the flight regulations in your brains as you force feed a goose for “foie gras”. Because my International license was not valid any more, I need also to pass a flying skills test with an examiner to obtain my PPL International.

OO-PUS Blue10 October 2001, I bought Ercoupe II, OO-PUS a 415D of 1947 ser. nr: 4577 – 75hp in Ostend from Gerrit Titeca. It was the only existing Belgian Ercoupe, assembled by Intair in Antwerp (1947). Now I have a plane and no international license. 2002: Was the training year with instructor, and realized that I have to learn all about navigation in a modern space. Before it was so easy, on a new Michelin map, put a line from A to B, make quick calculation with the slide computer, heading straight to it with the compass. That is still quite the same, but those new reference points, the transponder, VFR maps, incredible. Luckily, the flying itself was the same.

Flying in 2002; Dual 16hr50 – Solo 11hr20 all with Cessna 152 of the Club. With my training license, I may fly alone in Belgium and that was not my goal. 2003: better and better, still training with a Cessna 152 – 7hr62 dual, I asked if I could do the fly training with the Ercoupe, because the examinator agreed to do the skill tests with the Ercoupe; was not easy to obtain. With the Coupe 4hr40 dual – 9hr58 solo.

Next newsletter - The Later Years. Robert retires, restores his beloved OO-PUS, and begins his European travels.

Upcoming events

UK EMU's

These monthly Ercoupe Meet-Ups are designed as an excuse to fly! There is a separate email list consisting of UK owners and known Ercoupe enthusiasts who are updated 1 week and 1 day ahead so you know who will be there (weather providing). If anyone else would like to be included on the EMU email list then please let me know. mike@ercoupe.co.uk

Here are some suggestions for UK EMUs:

February 15 Vintage Aircraft Club Valentine Rally, Turweston
One of the very few events I've found for February. Any takers? Turweston details can be found at www.turwestonflight.com. PPR Tel 01280 705400 or VAC mobile (on the day only) 07731 991545.

March (date currently unknown), Bourn - The Bourn Butty Fly-In
This is an annual charity raising event held at Mike's home base. It is normally very well attended, mainly from the Flyer Forum crowd. Not much happens at Bourn, so this is your excuse to visit! I'm still waiting to hear what date it will be held.

April - tbd

May - tbd

June 20-21, Air Britain 2009, North Weald
A regular meet-up for Ercoupes as well as everything else. This year the celebration is "Wings across the channel" commemorating the centenary of Bleriot's crossing. Hopefully we shall see some Ercoupes crossing from France, Belgium and Germany also? Details at www.air-britainflyin.co.uk

July - tbd

August - tbd

September
I was going to propose we went to the Solent Aviation Society, Luscombe, Autogyro, and Pietenpol Fly-in like last year, but it is scheduled for September 20th and therefore sadly clashes with the Third European Ercoupe Fly-In, Antwerp (see below).

Suggested locations for this year (but please send me your suggestions too, particularly if we can piggy-back on other fly-ins):

Great Oakley, to enable Leslie Miller to attend, and to view the Proctor "twins" under restoration (see Ercoupe News above)
Halfpenny Green (close enough for Jim McMeekan to join us from Newtownwards)

Belgium 2009

Next year we have in Belgium the 100th anniversary of the 1st flying aircraft, we are getting old (Mike: England had her 100th in 2008!).  The following Fly-Ins or meetings I know already are :

12 June 2009 AVIA Show & International Fly-In, Ursel, Belgium
Ursel EBUL an Navo airfield (3200 mtr long) near Ostend will have an AVIA Show or International Fly-In the 12 June 2009.  I have only to fly 15 minutes, they are trying to make it fabulous, very kind people and 1st class service for pilots.

19-20 September Third European Ercoupe Fly-In, Antwerp EBAW
We will have the third European Ercoupe Fly-In !!!!!!

Classified ads

For sale

I have a panel mount and cable for a Skymap II or III GPS. Email me if you are interested. Mike Willis mike@ercoupe.co.uk

Wanted

Ercoupe project wanted
Hilde van Haarlem writes: My father is very interested in finding a "project"; an Ercoupe which needs some restoration. Do you know any project available? Thank you in advance for your response. With kind regards, Hilde van Haarlem Netherlands hildevanhaarlem@kpnplanet.nl

Links

Ercoupe mailing lists

For a continuous discussion on Ercoupes, or a daily digest, do register for these Ercoupe mailing groups:

Social and general content http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ercoupe-flyin/
Technical information http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ercoupe-tech/

Ercoupe Web sites

Ercoupe Owners Club www.Ercoupe.org
Robert Rombouts' site www.ercoupe-be.net
Harmut's Ercoupe Maintenance & repair site www.ercoupe.info
Ernst Viehweger's German Ercoupe web site www.viehweger.org/deutsch/fliegen/erco-0.htm
Mike Willis' site www.ercoupe.co.uk
SoCal Ercoupe Owners site www.calcoupers.org/ 
Al DeMarzo's site which includes his 'Ercoupe swap page' www.Ercoupe.net 
Ed Burkhead's site http://edburkhead.com/Ercoupe/index.htm

Don’t forget – any contributions to the next newsletter very welcome – email them to me at mike@ercoupe.co.uk