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European Ercoupe Newsletter

No. 32 November 2010

Welcome

Dear readers,

Another year draws to a close, and for me there have been both high and low points. The worst news of the year was two fatal crashes. In March there was the fatal crash of an Alon A2 in Portugal. The final accident report has yet to be published, but it appears to have been caused by engine failure on take off. In April at Great Oakley I met my namesake Michael Willis, who was flying his Mooney in the air racees with his son James. Sadly they were both killed in a collision with another aircraft during a race at the Isle of Wight in September.

My own wonderful Alon got me all the way to Antwerp in May, to join Robert's fantastic European Ercoupe Owners Fly-In. This was my first time across the channel and I was naturally apprehensive. Perhaps I had every right to be - less than 2 months later my engineer found the engine completely worn out and at vast expense I had to have it overhauled.

This of course took a few months, and I finally went to see it. Starting up for the first time (for me) the engine sounded really sweet, and I taxiied it a short distance to the pump for fuel. "That taxi cost you £1,000 per metre" laughed my engineer! Hopefully I will get to amortise the cost over a few more flying hours, but since the pick up there has been very little opportunity. Winter has come early to Western Europe, and for the past 2 weeks the temperature has barely been above freezing in the UK.

Apart from the Antwerp fly-in, the other highlight for me was taking advantage of a business trip to the US in September and taking in the annual Ercoupe Owners Club Convention. Although the weather was terrible and there was little flying, the event exceeded my expectations. I was able to catch up with a few old friends and put faces to many I knew only by name. I was also very humbled to be asked to give the keynote speech at the convention banquet, and I introduced our American friends to the European Ercoupe scene, which has really been thriving this past 2-3 years.

So I wish you all Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year. In 2011 I hope you don't need any expensive engine work and that you will be able to attend as many fly-ins as possible. And of course, please contribute to this newsletter, no matter how small your contribution is always welcome and will be enjoyed by others.

Happy flying,

Mike Willis, G-HARY

“2010” - European Ercoupe Owners Meetings résumé

Robert Rombouts writes: We are very close of the year end, and it is appropriate to make a short résumé of the main meetings we had in 2010.

Normally you know better as I which flying activities you did this year, but my intention is to point out all the good opportunities we enjoyed together, or if you miss it to make you more sorry for not attending.

April (17-18) we had the Great Oakley (UK) meeting in full sunshine for the lucky English Ercoupers. The unfortunate Coupers on the other side of the Channel were grounded that weekend with fear of the Icelandic volcanic ashes, afterwards officially it was not dangerous to fly VFR, but safety first!!!

For more details about this meeting read Newsletter 26 or watch Mike’s youtube video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBjtrGnc-xA

May (15-16) was the 4th European Ercoupe Owners Fly-In at Antwerp (Belgium), an amazing Meeting, 8 beautiful Ercoupes attend, an European record, a bad weather in Germany, a reasonable in England for the Saturday, but the return was exactly the opposite, all arrived save and well home.

In Newsletter 27 you find all the details of the Amazing weekend or the Links:

http://www.mike_willis.dsl.pipex.com/EEN/EEN27/EEN27.html

Or Mike’s two fantastic video’s:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz2-Po4ZDCI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6rwJcngSSmM

Also view a video from “Airshows.be”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAWrb5lskt8

For 2011 we have already the date: 4th and 5th June don’t miss this meeting.

June (19-20) the 70th Ercoupe Anniversary at North Weald (UK) organized by “Air Britain” and also our 1st EEO Convention. A very memorable weekend, Sven-Eric Pira came with his SE-BFX all from Sweden in very bad weather conditions, Mike Willis from Bourn with his G-HARY and I with my OO-PUS from Ostend. Keith Peacock had a motor problem and came by car as Andrew Gardner. Sorry the weather was lousy, but the spirit was sky high, as always. More about that weekend:

http://www.mike_willis.dsl.pipex.com/EEN/EEN28/EEN28.html

Or a 3 Parts video of my trip to Bourn and North Weald:

Part 1 OO-PUS North Weald 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKF6GlvvLsY

Part 2 OO-PUS North Weald 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EspQt0Q1a4

Part 3 OO-PUS North Weald 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2hoHtPR_zA

August (7-8) the 2nd German Fly-In at Schönhagen-Berlin (Germany), Hartmut Beil organized a very ITM (Interesting Technical Meeting), personally I am very grateful he did a full check up of the OO-PUS. The weather was memorably bad, but even Sven-Eric Pira and his son came from Sweden with his Thorpe (faster). Ernst Viehweger and his wife came by car, a storm around Berlin obliged him. My trip was very long, but safe and enjoyable too. More details about that memorable journey are in the two Newsletters 29 and 30. No video, sorry, only photos.

http://www.mike_willis.dsl.pipex.com/EEN/EEN29/EEN29.html

http://www.mike_willis.dsl.pipex.com/EEN/EEN30/EEN30.html

August (28) a wonderful Meeting in Great Oakley (UK). Mike’s Willis Alon was still waiting for his renewed motor, and came together with Keith Peacock and his G-ARHB who had a perfect running motor with new cylinders. Derek Tregilgas with his wife and daughter organized perfectly this fantastic Meeting, thank you. For more information you find it in Newsletter 30:

http://www.mike_willis.dsl.pipex.com/EEN/EEN30/EEN30.html

September (11-12) 1st French European Ercoupe Owners Fly-In, this was a culinary Meeting. Organized by Jean Flacelière (F-AZDG), a friendly relaxed, topped with delicious food, explain in a nutshell this meeting. Jérôme Flacelière (F-AZOV) was waiting about some parts for his Ercoupe and came by car as I did, my problem was also mechanical. Jean gave us a nice tour at Nangis airfield, and the marvelous mechanical restoration of his Coupe. A wonderful airfield with the French cuisine in addition, is a must to fly next year to the 2nd French Fly-In.

http://www.mike_willis.dsl.pipex.com/EEN/EEN31/EEN31.html

September (18-19) Popham, due to bad weather it was not possible to do this Meeting, but next year, I hope we will have a better Météo.

I try to make a condensed view of 2010, Keith Peacock, Mike Willis and Stephan Vatter had motor problems who are now all resolved, luckily, their money also dissolved. We had very good Meetings this year and hope a tremendous 2011.

Only one small remark, some European Ercoupers are so quiet and we never hear or see them, we hope they have still an Ercoupe-Aircoupe. The language must not be a problem we manage English-French-German-Dutch-Flemish.

In addition “Airshows.be” did a very nice video about Heiko Binder (D-ENUC) and Stephan Vatter (D-EJOR) Ercoupes please watch it, you will enjoy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLOgtp4IFXo

We hope to see and admire in 2011 a few marvelous resorted Ercoupes; the PH-NCE or serial number 4765 of Rob Maatman, the G-COUP or serial number 1903 of Roland and Hilde Van Haarlem, and the N-99495 or serial number 2118 of Derek Tregilgas.  Perhaps in June during the Antwerp EEO Fly-In could be a very attractive surprise. It is possible the registrations will be changed, but we are full of admiration to whom are restoring and preserving the wonderful Ercoupe, thanks to all of you, keep Coupes flying.

More photos of 2010 can are on my site: www.ercoupe.multiply.com/photos

Wishing you all and your families a MARVELLOUS 2011, with blue sky and happy landings.

A VERY HAPPY YEAREND and a WONDERFUL 2011

Robert and OO-PUS

Ercoupe news

G-ONHH new old owner

Tony Crowe writes: Not sure if you know but G-ONHH is now owned by Richard Tarry again, and is back at Cranfield for its annual.

Regards, Tony

History corner

The English Ercoupe

Mike Willis writes: My son always looks out for interesting presents to buy me, and for my birthday earlier this year he gave me a copy of "Flight Handbook".  There is no date published in the imprint, but judging by the inclusion of Spitfires and Fairey Battles and no sign of anything jet-powered I assume it is late 1930's.  I finally got around to reading it recently, and was surprised when about half way through I came across a type I'd never heard of - the General Aviation Cygnet.  The reason it stood out was it looks remarkably like an Ercoupe!

It was a single engined low-wing monoplane, 2 seater, tricycle undercarriage, stressed skin and twin fins.  Like the Ercoupe it was designed to be easy and safe to fly. Even more interesting it was designed and flew before the Ercoupe!  OK, only just.  The first prototype was built in 1936 and flew in May 1937.  Originally it had a 90 HP engine, but was a tail dragger and had a single fin.  The designers were CR Chronander and JI Waddington who formed the company CW Aircraft to make it.  However no orders were received and CW Aircraft folded in 1938, the designs being acquired by General Aviation. 

By early 1939 the GAL 42 Cygnet II had twin fins, tricycle undercarriage, oleo main gear and a 150 HP Cirrus Major engine.  In addition the canopy slid back on runners, like an Alon.  By now it was considered a virtually foolproof aeroplane.  10 were built, but with the start of the war plans for mass production were abandoned.  General Aviation specialised in making gliders during the war, as used in the D-Day landings.

By 1946 there were only 4 survivors, and by 1969 only one, the others having crashed or been scrapped.

Here is the specification of the Cygnet II, interesting to compare to the Alon Aircoupe that I own.

Alon A2

Cygnet II

Span

30 '

34' 6"

Length

20' 4"

23' 3"

Height

6' 3"

7'

Wing area

142.6 sq.ft.

179 sq.ft.

Engine

90 HP

150 HP

Empty weight

930 lbs

1,475 lbs

Maximum weight

1,450 lbs

2,200 lbs

Cruising speed

114 mph

115 mph

Initial climb

640 ft./min.

800 ft./min.

Ceiling

17,300 ft.

14,000 ft.

Range

483 miles

445 miles


So there you go, just like the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic, jet-powered aircraft etc. the UK was ahead of their American cousins!

Many thanks to Brian Doherty and RA Scholefield for photos, and to Tony Smith for sending me some more information on the Cygnet, and for admitting he was old enough to remember them flying!

Mike Willis

 

Long lost article on Ercoupes

Peter Allison writes: Hello Mike - trawling through the web today I came across the March 2008 edition of your European Ercoupe Newsletter. In it was a piece by Robert Rombouts (OO-PUS then based in Ostende) about his aeroplane, one that I have flown and to which a story is attached.  I wrote up this story, entitled 'Camaraderie', as an article for Pilot magazine but they didn't publish it.  Nevertheless I thought he (and maybe yourself) might be interested in reading it and its reference to OO-PUS. For your information I am still flying - 44 years now and still showing no signs of growing out of it! - and am currently a member of a group operating a C172 based at Goodwood.
 
 I would appreciate being added to your circulation list - even though I don't have an Aircoupe/Ercoupe to fly any more!  I'd also be up for attending one of your get-togethers if time and location fit sometime.  And if you are planning a trip to Goodwood at any time do let me know.  I am a volunteer at the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, a mere two miles away and within the circuit for 32, and would be happy to show you around.
 
I really enjoyed the video of your Antwerp fly-in, it brought back pleasant memories of a place I have flown from and to a number of times.
 
Kind regards, Peter Allison amass@talk21.com

CAMARADARIE

To most pilots their First Solo is a significant and memorable event, and the details of that very special experience become deeply imprinted.  Mine came just after 5pm on an overcast but calm day back in September 1966. 

“OK, you’re all right, off you go for one circuit on your own.  Don’t be afraid to overshoot if you are not happy with your approach” and with those words Mr Carey stepped out of the Aircoupe and I was on my own.  I was excited but not nervous – after all I had a fulsome 5 hours 55 minutes in my logbook - as I lined up on runway 23 at Biggin Hill.  Now carrying only one person, X Ray Sierra accelerated and climbed a bit faster than I had experienced before but it was all going well and I was soon level on the downwind leg looking across the empty right hand seat at the airfield to position my turn onto base leg correctly.  I commenced descent on the base leg and very soon I was making my final right turn onto finals at 500 feet.  I concentrated on my approach.  Speed OK.  Descent rate OK.  I was nicely lined up.  Add a little power to counter the sink over the trees and then I was over the threshold, pulling the throttle fully back and flaring for what was to be a smooth landing.  Not bad.  Definitely not bad, and definitely memorable.

So it was that in early 1986 I had the idea of doing something to mark the twentieth anniversary of that event.  What could be better than to fly in an Aircoupe again?  I had always liked the aeroplane and hadn’t seen one for years.  I did not know if there were still any airworthy examples in the country.  So I wrote to Pilot.  Not knowing what the backlog was for letters appearing in Air Mail I sent my letter in late April hoping that, if selected for publication, it might appear in July or August and that someone might be able to tell me of an Aircoupe somewhere that I could follow up on.

But Pilot works quickly and my letter appeared in the June edition, just three weeks after I had sent it.  By 10 o’clock in the morning of publication I had a phone call from a man in Angelsey telling me of one based at Barton and giving me the owner’s name.  Next was a call that afternoon from a man in Bedfordshire (G-BKIN then owned by aircraft dealer Bob Crowe - photo shows Dave Vernon). He actually had an Aircoupe and I could fly it at 1705 hrs on September 9th – the exact 20th anniversary of my first solo.  This was marvellous, and frankly much better than I had dared to hope for.

Over the next week calls continued to come in from places as far afield as Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall.  All told me about one or another of the half dozen or so Aircoupes then still in Great Britain.  All were friendly and helpful.  Then the letters started arriving.  A Portuguese Air Force officer wrote to tell me of one near Lisbon – he’d be happy to contact the owner on my behalf etc.  The owner of an Ercoupe in Belgium wrote to tell me he would be pleased to let me fly his plane.  Not only that he’d be pleased to send me complimentary airline tickets to fly over to Antwerp to do so! (this was OO-PUS then owned by Kim Van Risseghem).  A man in Canada wrote to say he owned two Aircoupes and I was welcome to fly them anytime.  Two American pilots wrote with open invitations to fly theirs any time I was in their country.  Another American wrote telling me that there were thought to be around 2,500 Aircoupes/Ercoupes still extant in North American and giving me the address of an Aircoupe owners club.  He would be happy to locate the nearest one to any point in the States that I might be likely to come to and negotiate with the owner for me to have a flight.  No charge, he just liked helping fellow pilots.  There were others too. 

The flying started.  I went to Barton and flew the first Aircoupe I had been contacted about (G-AVIL then owned by retired BA captain and Aircoupe enthusiast Dave Vernon).   It felt really good to reacquaint myself with those broad flapless wings and I found that I had forgotten just how steeply you could approach or how you could haul the Aircoupe round in a tight turn with the wheel fully back and yet still it would not stall.  I flew in Bedfordshire and was impressed to circle over a field of burning stubble with the throttle fully back and actually gain height in the rising air.  The Aircoupe as a sailplane, another aspect of these remarkable little aeroplanes.  On yet another Aircoupe, rebuilt by the owner from parts of other now defunct Aircoupes, it transpired that the wings had come from one of the actual planes I trained on in the sixties.  G-ARHF owned by disabled pilot RA Nesbitt Dufort, whose father had been one of the ‘black Lysander’ pilots dropping agents into French fields at night during WW2.  This Aircoupe, which had been modified so that the rudder controls were linked to the control yolk since the owner was paraplegic following a helicopter accident whilst he was an Army pilot, had been reconstructed from the parts of other Aircoupes and in discussing this I found out that the wings were from the actual Aircoupe that I had flown my first solo in – how about that for a coincidence!  

The Ercoupe in Belgium was another delight.  Older than the others I had flown and with a canvas covered wing rather than metal, it was even more frugal on fuel yet still flew at the same cruise speeds as the Aircoupes, and we enjoyed a full flying weekend visiting other Belgian and Dutch airfields and meeting more fellow flying enthusiasts.  

The point of all this is that none of these people knew me.  I was just a name on a letter in a magazine.  They didn’t have to take the time and expense – sometimes considerable expense like the airline tickets to Belgium that they refused point blank to let me pay for – and go to considerable lengths to make arrangements for my benefit.  And none of them wanted anything from me.  Yet such is the camaraderie among aircraft enthusiasts that I ended up making many new friends – some of whom I still have contact with - and flying no less than 5 different Aircoupes/Ercoupes that year.  I learned about the flying fraternity from that.

Incidentally, my second first solo was in a Spitfire so if there are any readers who ……

PETER ALLISON     23/04/03

Fly-Ins 2010

Looks like that's it for 2010. Or is it? But then it might be tropical weather at Christmas!

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/ 
Ercoupe photo album www.Ercoupe.net 
Dave Abram's site http://ercoupe.com
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