YouTube – Ercoupe
20 ft. 9 in.
144 mph (VNE)
The Ercoupe is said to be the world’s easiest two seat aircraft to fly. It was first produced in 1939 by the Engineering Research Corp. (ERCO). Although the Ercoupe was generally well received by the civil aviation public, when the aircraft was introduced there were a few complaints about the lack of a tail wheel and rudder pedals.
Flying the Ercoupe
In keeping with its primary missions of being easy and safe to fly, the Ercoupe was one of the first aircraft to use tricycle under carriages. A nose wheel simplifies ground handling and is said to make landings easier than if the aircraft used a tail wheel configuration.
Ercoupe controls are designed with limited elevator movement and no rudder pedals. There is a brake peddle on the floor, similar to a car. The ailerons and rudders are internally linked, to help coordinate turns.
The Ercoupe is almost impossible to spin or stall, and it can quickly recover and fly out of trouble. Cross wind landings are simplified for novice pilots. The combination of a tricycle under carriage and linked controls provides for an average pilot to set the aircraft down without drama, even in cross winds of over 20 mph.
The small engine and propeller of the Ercoupe produce minimal torque pull. The small amount of torque produced during take off and climb is further lessened by a propeller that is angled slightly to the right of center, and a tail that keeps prop wash from hitting the twin rudders.
Ercoupe pilots tell us that things happen in slow motion while flying. The takeoff run is long and climb rate slow. Trying to stall the aircraft by slowing down and pulling back on the controls only results in loss of altitude. The wings stay straight and level and the nose does not drop. The same method of dropping quickly while trying to induce a stall can be used to quickly lose altitude while executing a short approach. Ercoupe ailerons, combined with rudders, do have a fair amount of authority at cruising speeds, and coordinated turns are easily accomplished.
Cross wind landings take some getting used to, especially if you are used to piloting other aircraft. The Ercoupe will pretty much point itself towards the direction of the wind, while keeping its wings level. Upon touchdown it will straighten out right down the runway.
When World War II started, Ercoupe ceased production. After the war, production was resumed. Over 4,300 of the aircraft were sold in 1946, the first year of resumed production. However, sales of civil aviation aircraft soon slumped, especially two seaters.
ERCO sold their business. Sanders Aviation, Fornair, and Alon Inc. continued to produce the Ercoupe in different versions and relatively small numbers through 1967.
Through the years, changes were made to the original Ercoupe design, including lighter, more powerful engines, additional streamlining, and replacing the cloth covered wings with metal. There are even kits to fit rudder pedals to the aircraft.
A total of 5,685 Ercoupe aircraft of all types were produced. Many continue to fly to date.
Pictured immediately above is Dick Pettit with his RC Ercoupe built from a Balsa USA kit. It is 1/3 scale with a 120 in. wingspan and 84 in. length. You can power the approximately 29 lb. RC airplane with from 45 to 65 cc gas engines.
The RC Ercoupe for sale from Nick Ziroli Plans has a 80 in. wingspan and a length of 53 in. Power can be a 26 cc gas engine or 1.20 glow engine. Weight is about 16 lb.
Pats Custom Models has the full Dare Hobby RC Ercoupe kit for sale. It has a wingspan of 60 in and is 35 1/2 in. long. It can be propelled with a Speed 400 motor geared 4:1 turning an 11 x 7 propeller. Weight is approximately 1 lb. 9 oz.
The AMA has plans for a 34 in. wingspan scale, gas powered RC Ercoupe. It is plan no. 35342.