Ercoupe

ERCO Ercoupe
TypeUtility aircraft
ManufacturerEngineering and Research Corporation
Designed byFred Weick
Maiden flight1937
Produced1940-1970
Number built5,685
Unit costUS$2,665-9,295
The ERCO Ercoupe is a low wing monoplane first manufactured by the Engineering and Research Corporation (or ERCO) shortly before World War II. It was designed to be the safest fixed-wing aircraft that aerospace engineering could provide at the time, and the type still enjoys a very faithful following today.

Pre-history of the Ercoupe

Enlarge picture
Fred Weick designed the W-1 with tricycle landing gear. It is shown in March 1934.


In late 1931, aeronautical engineer Fred Weick was the assistant chief of the aeronautics division of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). A group of co-workers and he designed and assembled an experimental aircraft in 1934 with a group of his colleagues. Responding to a Bureau of Air Commerce sponsored design competition to build an easy-to-fly, safe aircraft, Weick and his friends worked on the project in their spare time and paid for it themselves.

The test aircraft built by Weick, known as the W-1, featured tricycle landing gear, a high parasol wing, and a pusher propeller configuration. The single engine was used for economy of operation and the tricycle gear was intended to prevent “nose over” landing accidents where the aircraft would flip over on its nose. Weick's design was influenced by the Stout Skycar as well as NACA research, which was first incorporated in the Hammond Y aircraft of 1934.

Weick left NACA in 1936 and joined ERCO's fledgling aircraft team as chief designer, primarily to continue improving his aircraft design. Focusing his efforts on a number of design issues, primarily simplicity and safety, Weick strove to create a reasonably priced aircraft that would not stall or spin. Retaining the tricycle gear (for ease of maneuvering on the ground), Weick switched to a low-wing monoplane configuration in his improved model, powered by a tractor propeller configuration.

The refined W-1A (originally known as the ERCO 310), which included a fully cowled engine, made its first flight in October 1937 and was soon renamed the “Ercoupe.” The twin-tail Ercoupe became an instant sensation because of its easy-to-fly design and unique design features, including a bubble canopy for great visibility. Lacking rudder pedals, the Ercoupe was flown entirely using only a control wheel: a two-control system linked the rudder and aileron systems, which controlled yaw and roll, with the steerable nose wheel. This wheel controlled the pitch and the steering of the aircraft, both on the ground and in the air, simplifying control and coordinated turning and eliminating the need for rudder pedals. A completely new category of pilot's license had to be created for Ercoupe pilots who had never used a rudder pedal.

ERCO Ercoupe

Enlarge picture
First production ERCO Ercoupe, N15692.


The Ercoupe contained many innovative design features that produced an aircraft that was safe, easy to fly, and certified by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) as "characteristically incapable of spinning." The aircraft was designed by Fred E. Weick, a noted aeronautical engineer, who before coming to ERCO in 1936, worked for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The first experimental model of the Ercoupe was test flown at College Park airport in 1937. Construction of the production prototype was completed in 1939 and certification by the CAA was completed in 1940. The first Ercoupe, serial no. 1, was owned by George Brinckerhoff and flown at College Park Airport, and now belongs to the National Air and Space Museum.

Targeted at the non-professional pilot, the Ercoupe was also designed to be spin-proof with no dangerous stall characteristics. A placard, which was the first for any aircraft, was allowed to be placed proudly on the instrument panel reading: "This aircraft characteristically incapable of spinning." An elevator that could move upward and downward only a limited amount—13 degrees—plus automatic yaw correction, enabled the aircraft to actually fly itself out of a spin. Inexpensive to operate and maintain, the Ercoupe was able to fly into and out of small airfields, and its nose-wheel steering made taxiing almost like driving an automobile. The landing gear was also beefed up to allow for landing in a crabbed attitude in crosswinds since there were no rudder pedals to correct for runway alignment. When the main gear touched town, the side forces were absorbed and the nose would automatically swing forward to align the aircraft with the runway.

The two-seat ERCO Ercoupe 415 went on sale in 1940 but only 112 were delivered before World War II intervened, halting all civil aircraft production. By mid-1941, aluminum supplies were being diverted to war-related production, so ERCO decided to manufacture Ercoupes for military use by using wood as the principal building material. The substitution of wood resulted in a heavier Ercoupe, but the aircraft flew much more quietly because the wood absorbed vibrations from the engine and air flow. Ercoupes were flown during the war by the Civilian Pilot Training Program for flight instruction, and the Civil Air Patrol used them to patrol for German submarines.

Specifications (Ercoupe 415-C)

Data from EAA Museum[1], Federal Aviation Administration[2], Plane & Pilot[3]

General characteristics

* Crew: 1* Capacity: 1 passenger
  • Length: 20 ft 9 in (6.32 m)* Wingspan: 30 ft 0 in (9.14 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)* Wing area: 142.6 ft² (13.25 m²)* Empty weight: 749 lb (339 kg)* Useful load: 511 lb (233 kg)* Max takeoff weight: 1,260 lb (572 kg
)

Performance

Wartime Service

Enlarge picture
ERCO XPQ-13; serial number 41-25196


A total of three model 415-C aircraft were procured by the United States Army Air Forces for use during World War II.
Model 415-C Military Service
Construction
Number
Construction
Date
Civilian
Registration
Purchase
Date
Army Air Force
Designation
Army Air Force
Serial Number
Service
Date
11December 4, 1940NC28655January 4, 1941YO-5541-18875February 26, 1941
110NC37143August 19, 1941XPQ-1341-25196December 8, 1941
XXXunknownunknownunknownXPQ-1341-39099unknown
[4]

First Jet Assisted Takeoff

Enlarge picture
Take-off of America's first "rocket-assisted" fixed-wing aircraft, an Ercoupe fitted with a GALCIT developed solid propellent JATO booster with a thrust of 28 pounds force (125 N). The Ercoupe took off from March Field, California and was piloted by Captain Homer A. Boushey Jr.


On August 12, 1941, the first Air Corps rocket-assist takeoff was made by a Wright Field test pilot, Capt. Homer Boushey, using a small civilian-type Ercoupe aircraft. Subsequent refinements of this technique were made for assisting heavily-loaded aircraft in taking off from limited space. This technique is still used whenever needed.[5]

Post War Boom and Bust

Enlarge picture
In February 1946, ERCO ran this full page ad for the Ercoupe


Although World War II had interrupted production of the Ercoupe, general aviation manufacturers were enthusiastic about the prospects of post-war sales. Thousands of men and women were trained as pilots by the government, and the hope was that they would want to include flying in their civilian life. Production of the model 415-C resumed in 1946, and in that year alone 4,311 aircraft were produced and sold at a cost of US$2,665. This was the same price as in 1941. At its peak, ERCO was turning out 34 Ercoupes per day, operating three shifts per day. The aircraft was aggressively marketed through non-conventional outlets such as the men's department of the Macy's department store chain.



Unfortunately, however, private aircraft sales slumped after the war and the bottom dropped out of the civil aircraft market in late 1946, bursting the bubble held by many aircraft manufacturers, who had expected that post-war prosperity plus a huge number of newly trained pilots would translate into a boom market for civil aircraft sales.

Specifications (1949 Ercoupe 415-G)

Data from Plane & Pilot[6], Federal Aviation Administration[7]

General characteristics

* Crew: 1* Capacity: 1 passenger
  • Length: 20 ft 2 in (6.26 m)* Wingspan: 30 ft 0 in (9.14 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 6 in (1.7 m)* Wing area: 142.6 ft² (13.25 m²)* Empty weight: 815 lb (370 kg)* Max takeoff weight: 1,400 lb (640 kg
)

Performance

  • Never exceed speed: 125 kn (144 mph, 232 km/h)* Maximum speed: 99 kn (114 mph, 183 km/h)* Cruise speed: 96 kn (110 mph, 178 km/h)* Stall speed: 37 kn (43 mph, 69 km/h)* Range: 360 NM (4101 mi, 670 km)* Service ceiling: 13,500 ft (1,070 m)* Rate of climb: 550 ft/min (2.8 m/s
)

Other Manufacturers

Aeronca

Aeronca obtained a licence to produce the Ercoupe 415 as the Aeronca 12AC Chum in 1946 and built two prototypes: NX39637, with the Ercoupe twin-tail, and NX83772 with a larger, single tail, metal wings, and knee-action main undercarriage. No production ensued.

Sanders Aviation

ERCO sold its remaining Ercoupe inventory to Sanders Aviation in 1947, which continued to produce the aircraft in the same ERCO-owned factory. A total of 213 aircraft were sold by 1950.

UNIVAIR, Part 1

Universal Aircraft Industries of Aurora, Colorado purchased the Ercoupe design from the Engineering and Research Company in 1950. They provided spare parts and customer support to the then existing models. UNIVAIR sold the project to the Forney Aircraft Company in April, 1955.

Forney / Fornaire Aircoupe

In April 1955, Univair sold the Federal Aviation Administration aircraft type certificate for the Ercoupe to the Forney Aircraft Company of Fort Collins, Colorado, which later became the Fornaire Aircraft Company. This aircraft was similar to the 415-G except for engine and propeller combination, revised engine cowling, outer wing panels, metal covered, baggage compartment extended, modifications of seats and instrument panel. Production began in 1958 and ended in 1959
  • 56 of the F-1 Forney Delux were produced in 1958 for US$6,995 each.
  • 59 of the F-1 Forney Explorer, Execta and Expediter were produced in 1959 for US$6,995 each.
  • 23 of the F-1A Forney Trainer were produced in 1959 for US$7,450 each.
A total of 138 aircraft were produced.

Air Products Company Aircoupe

Between August 1960 and March 1964, the rights to the Aircoupe aircraft were held by the AirCoupe division of Air Products Company of the City of Carlsbad, New Mexico. The company was established by the city, with the hope of establishing aircraft manufacture as a local industry. They purchased the type certificate from Forney when a potential deal with Beechcraft had fallen through. Only a few planes were ever produced before the type certificate was sold to Alon, Incorporated on March 16, 1964.
  • 25 of the F-1A Forney Trainer were produced in 1959 for US$7,450 each.

Alon Aircoupe

Alon, Incorporated was started by John Allen (whose first two letters from his last name formed the AL) and Lee O. Higdon (whose last two letters from his last name formed the ON).

The two were part of a group of executives who retired from aircraft manufacturer Beechcraft to found their own company. They had previously negotiated with Forney Aircraft to purchase production of the Aircoupe so that Beechcraft could use the design as an introductory trainer. The deal was canceled by Olive Ann Beech, instead deciding to concentrate resources on the Beechcraft Musketeer. This decision caused the executives to leave Beechcraft. They set up shop in McPherson, Kansas where they purchased the type certificate for the Aircoupe from the City of Carlsbad, New Mexico on March 16, 1964.

"A new company formed by former Beechcraft executives Allen and Higdon, who have purchased all assets, jigs, tools, and engineering of the program from the city of Carlsbad NM. They expect to deliver the first of 30-50 Aircoupes to be built next year for about $8,000." (-- Aviation Week 3/30/64)


The Alon A-2 and A-2A Aircoupes were much improved upon models of the original Ercoupe which differed from it in several ways. The Alons featured a sliding canopy, a more powerful 90 hp (up from 75) Continental engine, separate bucket seats and a much improved instrument panel.

Over the period of production (1964-1967) Alon produced 245 A2s, with peak production of 137 in 1966. The last 25 A2s produced by Alon had spring steel landing gear in the place oleo struts.

Another aircraft produced by Alon (although only a single example was ever built) was the A4. The A4 was a low wing 4 place monoplane of aluminum construction powered by a single 150hp Lycoming engine. By accounts, it was a promising aircraft, but it did not go into production before Alon closed.

Production of the A2 ceased in September of 1967, and on October 9, 1967, Alon was purchased by, and became a division of the Mooney Airplane Company of Kerrville, Texas.

Specifications (1967 Alon Aircoupe A2-A)

Data from Federal Aviation Administration[7]

General characteristics

* Crew: 1* Capacity: 1 passenger
  • Length: 20 ft 4 in (6.43 m)* Wingspan: 30 ft 0 in (9.14 m)
  • Height: 5 ft 7 in (2.1 m)* Wing area: 142.6 ft² (13.25 m²)* Empty weight: 930 lb (420 kg)* Max takeoff weight: 1,450 lb (658 kg
)

Performance

  • Never exceed speed: 125 kn (144 mph, 232 km/h)* Maximum speed: 112 kn (129 mph, 207 km/h)* Cruise speed: 108 kn (124 mph, 200 km/h)* Stall speed: 45 kn (52 mph, 84 km/h)* Range: 450 nmi (520 mi, 830 km)* Service ceiling: 17,300 ft (5,270 m)* Rate of climb: 640 ft/min (3.25 m/s
)

Mooney A2-A and M-10 Cadet

"1968, Mooney now produced the twin tail Alon Aicoupe A2 as the Mooney A2-A. The factory moved to Kerrville, TX, late in 1968. There they re-designed the fuselage from the cockpit back. Now, the Mooney A2-A could be recognized by the square windows behind the sliding canopy. Even as they produced the A2-A Cadet, the Mooney engineers were busy re-designing the coupe into something uniquely Mooney and completely un-weick-like.

On February 23, 1968, the first Mooney Cadet M-10, single tailed in the conventional manner, flew. But meanwhile, the production line still turned out the A2-A twin tailed Cadet."

The Ercoupe A Touch of Class by Frank Rytenhyde Saletri

UNIVAIR, Part 2

The type certificate was sold again (and as of 2006, for the final time) to Univair Aircraft Corporation of Aurora, Colorado in October, 1974.

Legacy

Enlarge picture
On July 30, 2005, the United States Postal Service released a stamp with an image of the Ercoupe 415 as part of its' American Advances in Aviation series.


Although no new Ercoupes have been produced since 1970, many spare parts are still available. Univair has owned the type certificate since 1974 for all Ercoupe models, and continues to produce parts as well as provide technical assistance to Ercoupe owners. Ercoupe owners also enjoy an active type club that helps to organize and efficiently distribute updated information about their aircraft.

Renewed interest in the older models of the Ercoupe, the 415-C and the 415-CD, has been sparked by its status as the only existing, certified tricycle-geared aircraft that meets the FAA's new light-sport aircraft definition. This enables it to be piloted by holders of a sport pilot certificate.

Museum displays

c/n 1, NC15692: National Air & Space Museum in Suitland, Maryland [1] (in storage, not on display)
c/n 57, NC28961: EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin [2]
c/n 1188, N78X: Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona [3]
c/n 1265, NC93942: College Park Aviation Museum in College Park, Maryland [4]
c/n 1766, NC99143: Virginia Aviation Museum at Richmond International Airport, Richmond, Virginia [5]
c/n 1805, NC99182: College Park Aviation Museum in College Park, Maryland [6]
c/n 1876, G-EGHB: Gatwick Aviation Museum at London Gatwick Airport near Charlwood, England [7]
c/n 2364, NC99741: Florida Air Museum at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Florida [8]
c/n 2979, N2354H: American Airpower Heritage Museum (part of the Commemorative Air Force) in Midland, Texas [9]
c/n 3014, N2389H: 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum near Geneseo, New York [10]
c/n 3085, N3180H: Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina [11]
c/n 3234, CF-LAK: Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada [12]
c/n 3569, N2944H: Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington [13]
c/n 3813, N3188H: South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum in Doncaster, England [14]
c/n 4770, C-FFYA: Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada [15]
c/n 5055, N3430H: Mid-Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania [16]

References

1. ^ Ercoupe 415-C Specifications. EEA Aviation Center. Retrieved on 2007-01-18.
2. ^ (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration.
3. ^ Colby, Douglas; Corban, Bud; Cox, Bill (April 2005). "Flying for Peanuts". Plane & Pilot. Retrieved on 2007-01-18. 
4. ^ The Ercoupe is a "warbird".
5. ^ Rato. National Museum of the United States Air Force.
6. ^ 1949 Ercoupe 415-G. Plane & Pilot. Retrieved on 2007-01-18.
7. ^ (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration.

External links

Related content

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Designation sequence

Related lists

See also

An aerospace manufacturer is a company or individual involved in the various aspects of designing, building, testing, selling, and maintaining aircraft, aircraft parts, missiles, rockets, and/or spacecraft.
..... Click the link for more information.
Engineering and Research Corporation

Founded 1930
Headquarters Riverdale, Maryland

Industry Aerospace and defense

Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO) was started by Henry Berliner in 1930.
..... Click the link for more information.
Fred Ernest Weick (1899-1993) was one of the United States' earliest aviation pioneers, working as an airmail pilot, research engineer, and aircraft designer. A contemporary of aviation legends Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, he did not receive the same attention as
..... Click the link for more information.
The maiden flight of an aircraft is the first occasion on which an aircraft leaves the ground of its own accord. This is similar to a ship's maiden voyage.

The first flight of a new aircraft type is always a historic occasion for the type.
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1937 1938 1939 1940

19th Century · 20th century · 21st century
1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s
1934 1935 1936 1937
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monoplane is an aircraft with one main set of wing surfaces, in contrast to a biplane or triplane. Since the late 1930s it has been the "ordinary" form for a fixed wing aircraft.
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Engineering and Research Corporation

Founded 1930
Headquarters Riverdale, Maryland

Industry Aerospace and defense

Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO) was started by Henry Berliner in 1930.
..... Click the link for more information.
Allied powers:
 Soviet Union
 United States
 United Kingdom
 China
 France
...et al. Axis powers:
 Germany
 Japan
 Italy
...et al.
..... Click the link for more information.
1931 1932 1933 1934

19th Century · 20th century · 21st century
1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s
1928 1929 1930 1931
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Aerospace engineering is the branch of engineering that concerns aircraft, spacecraft, and related topics. Aerospace Engineering was originally known as aeronautical engineering and dealt solely with aircraft.
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Fred Ernest Weick (1899-1993) was one of the United States' earliest aviation pioneers, working as an airmail pilot, research engineer, and aircraft designer. A contemporary of aviation legends Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, he did not receive the same attention as
..... Click the link for more information.
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
NACA

Logo

The official seal of NACA, depicting the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Agency overview
Formed March 3, 1915

Dissolved
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experimental aircraft is an aircraft that has not yet been fully proven in flight. Often, this implies that new aerospace technologies are being tested on the aircraft, though the label is more broad.
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1934 1935 1936 1937

19th Century · 20th century · 21st century
1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s
1931 1932 1933 1934
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Bureau of Air Commerce.

The year 1934 also saw a crisis over airmail contracts that former Postmaster General Walter Folger Brown had used to strengthen the airline route structure.
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Tricycle gear describes a kind of aircraft undercarriage, or landing gear, arranged in a tricycle fashion. The tricycle arrangement has one gear strut in front, called the nose wheel, and two or more main gear struts slightly aft of the center of gravity.
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parasol wing monoplane is an aircraft design in which the wing is not mounted directly to the fuselage, but rather, the fuselage is supported beneath it by a set of struts. Parasol wing designs resemble biplanes lacking their lower set of wings.
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pusher configuration has the engine mounted with the propeller facing backwards such that the aircraft is "pushed" through the air, as opposed to the tractor configuration in which the aircraft is "pulled" through the air.
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1936 1937 1938 1939

19th Century · 20th century · 21st century
1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s
1933 1934 1935 1936
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For other uses, see stall.


In aerodynamics, a stall is a sudden reduction in the lift forces generated by an airfoil. This most usually occurs when the critical angle of attack for the airfoil is exceeded.
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In aviation, a spin is an aggravated stall resulting in rotation wherein the aircraft follows a downward corkscrew path. Spins can be entered unintentionally or intentionally, from any flight attitude and from practically any airspeed--all that is required is sufficient yaw at the
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tractor configuration has the engine mounted with the propeller facing forwards such that the aircraft is "pulled" through the air, as opposed to the pusher configuration in which the propeller faces backwards and the aircraft is "pushed" through the air.
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NACA cowling is a type of aerodynamic fairing used to streamline radial engines for use on airplanes. Developed by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics in 1927, it was a major advancement in drag reduction, and paid for its development and installation costs many times
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bubble canopy is a canopy made like a soap bubble, which attempts to provide 360° vision to the pilot.

History

Bubble canopies have been in use since World War II. The British already had the "Malcolm hood" which was a bulged canopy but the British Miles M.
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1940 1941 1942 1943

19th Century · 20th century · 21st century
1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s
1937 1938 1939 1940
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Allied powers:
 Soviet Union
 United States
 United Kingdom
 China
 France
...et al. Axis powers:
 Germany
 Japan
 Italy
...et al.
..... Click the link for more information.
The Civilian Pilot Training Program (or CPTP) was a flight training program (1938-1944) sponsored by the United States government with the stated purpose of increasing the number of civilian pilots, though having a clear impact on military preparedness.
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U.S. Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is the civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force (USAF). It was created on 1 December, 1941 by Administrative Order 9, with Maj. Gen. John F. Curry as the first CAP national commander.
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wingspan (or just span) of an airplane is the distance from the left wingtip to the right wingtip. For example, the Boeing 777 has a wingspan of about 60 m (200 feet).
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The Maximum Takeoff Weight or Maximum Takeoff Mass of an aircraft is the maximum weight at which the pilot of the aircraft is allowed to attempt to take off. The Maximum Takeoff Weight is the heaviest weight at which the aircraft has been shown to meet all the airworthiness
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