THE NEW ERCOUPE

By LEIGHTON COLLINS

''It's fast, it climbs right,and it lands so well that you will do best to let it have its own way.''

The new Ercoupes are coming out now, several a day, all bright and shiny and into about as eager hands as ever paced a hangar floor. When one finally gets delivered in your area and you get a crack at it you'll surely find it about the most interesting airplane you 've ever flown.

The new one has a 75 H.P. Continental engine, carries 23 gallons of gas for a range of at least 4:30 hours. The price is $2995.00, and for $150.00 more you can get a starter, generator, battery, navigation lights and an adjustable-position green top section in the cockpit canopy. Weights? Even with this extra equipment the baggage allowance is still 65 pounds. So, if you want, you can spend twenty-five pounds on a two -way radio and primary group and still have an adequate baggage allowance. With the side windows down, you get in by pushing the green top section over to the opposite side. There's a flap attached to the front of the seat cushion which you can fold back over the cushion and step on if you have mud on your shoes. The guy who thought that one up didn't get up early, he stayed awake all night. Stepping on down to the floor and turning the flap down as you lower yourself, you find the cockpit has good leg room, the seat reasonably soft and with comfortable angles. Sliding the top section of the canopy over to your left to let your passenger in, you work the seat flap for him and then get busy with the belting down, putting the green section on top and getting the windows up. With two aboard it is snug, but not objectionably so.

To fire up, the gas lever is on the instrument panel and the wire-float type gauge in the 5 gallon tank behind the instrument panel will tell you about that tank. This tank provides a gravity feed into the carburetor, and it stays full as long as there's gas in the two nine-gallon wing tanks. The fuel pump continuously puts gas from them into the center tank just a little faster than it is used up, so there's an overflow line back into the wing tanks from the center tank. At the right side of the cockpit there's a float-type gauge which indicates the fuel in the wing tanks. Behind it, on the floor, is a shut-off valve. In case of a fuel line failure between the wing tanks and fuselage tank you'd turn it cross ways so that the fuel pump would, in effect, be made inoperative.

THE NEW ERCOUPE brings to the postwar market both new standards of safety and a new method of flying. In addition it is an excellent cross country airplane. The De Luxe model is $3145.00, has a Continental 75, cruises around 105.

The primer is over at the left lower corner of the instrument panel, if you want to give it a couple of shots. After that you'll probably push the single pedal on the floor, the foot brake, and lock it by pulling out and turning a quarter-turn the brake lever on the instrument panel. Starting is just a litde awkward at first-you feel you've turned loose something you shouldn't have, maybe. Cracking the throttle a little, you pull the knob on the right side of the panel marked "Starter" way out and, after a few revolutions, turn the ignition switch. Unless you pulled the starter knob with your left hand you may find it awkward reaching the ignition switch, as the steering wheel on the right side gets in the way. The "lost" feeling probably comes from having both hands full, as it were, with neither of them on the throttle ro "catch" it if necessary. But it starts readily, and what a blessing that starter is on this ship. It's a hard one to crank by hand as the propeller is so low. And who wants to crank one anyhow these days?

THE ERCOUPE'S standard instrument panel has two glove compartments which will readily accommodate two-way radio. There's also plenty of room in the center for a second row of blind lying instruments and a clock.

Finally warmed up, you find it will turn 2000 r.p.m. standing still and into the wind, so you release the brake and the fun begins. If you have even only a few hours solo it's a pretty good bet that if your first turn taxiing is to your right you're going to push that lonely brake pedal with your right foot as you start to turn. The taxiing is, of course, novel,

sitting up there with good visibility,level, steering as in a car and with little attention to any special taxiing speed. But don't get too fast. The brakes are good, but it doesn't stop like a car does with four-wheelers, and you also have a tendency at first to try to turn both shorter and faster than you have any right to expect. For the take-off, there's a trim tab crank, or rather bungee crank on the right side of the instrument panel behind the right wheel Unfortunately there's no position indicator so you just hold the wheel about half way back and turn the trim crank counter-clockwise until the wheel is tugging rather strongly forward. After a little practice you can ell whether you've about the right trim for take-off by how hard the wheel wants to go forward. It is important that a take-off not be attempted in the early stages with the bungee cranked all the way to the right because you'd find it would take quite a surprising push on the wheel to keep the nose down in the climb.

So you're all set. Now let her go. As the throttle gets wide open and the roll starts, she wants to go to the left for a moment due to torque, but just go on and steer and make her keep the heading you want. There are several ways of getting the ship off. This time, since you're headed straight into the wind, just keep a little back pressure on the wheel all during the run. If the nose starts to lift upward a little early let it alone as the nose wheel oleo extends and keeps the wheel on the ground in this attitude and thereby still permits steering.

In a rather short distance the airplane will leave the ground, and when it does, increase your back pressure slightly. Next thing you know you'll be climbing briskly at around 90 indicated with the engine turning around 2275. If you are impressed with the way it is getting up, though, just go ahead and pull it up to where it climbs best : 70 indicated. You are in for a real surprise if you can coax yourself to keep the nose that high. It really gets up. ERCO gives the rate of climb with a full load in standard air as 750 f.p.m., but this time of year with cold heavy air and a good gradient wind you can often time it for 30 seconds from the time it leaves the ground and have the altimeter reading go up something over 500' in that first half minute. That's not only a good rate of climb but that rate at 70 m.p.h. also gives a good angle of climb. This is all with two aboard, and also the 100 lbs. of starter, generator and battery.

As you level off it is likely that you will find it necessary to add another "Nose Down" turn or three to the trim crank for as speed builds up it gets noticeably tail heavy if you were trimmed about right for the climb. There's a red line on the tach at 2275 which was taken to mean maximum cruising rpm. The figure doesn't seem too high in view of the fact that the engine will turn 2700 wide open in level flight. 2700? That's quite a rise from the 2000 it turned on the ground, and could mean surely only one thing: a good speed range.

Now as to speed. The Ercoupe is a safe airplane but a dangerous one to write about. Henry Berliner, who put a high stack of blue chips behind it ten years ago, is on the tempestuously jealous side about its virtues. Fred Weick, its creator, is on the easy going side, but he's still an engineer : he had to be to wind up with that 65 pounds baggage. You can miss your weights as you go along by a reasonable percentage of error, but you can't miss them 10 % and have any baggage left. So if you want to start talking in figures, he'll pin you down if they aren't arrived at with considerable accuracy. And, of course, in this case they weren't.

The temperature was 20, the barometer 30.20, wind and wind angle negligible. At 1000' above sea level the indicated airspeed was ll0-115 at 2275 rpm. with half a load of gas, no baggage, and two 170-pounders aboard. Flying between the same two points as used in the Voyager 150 test, which are right at ten miles apart, the time down was 5 : 50 and the time back 6 :00. Which figures out 101 m.p.h. There are, of course, differences in tachs, props, and in the airplane themselves. Someone said they claimed 110 cruising at 2350 r.p.m. That seems reasonable. Mainly the object on timing these is simply to avoid having one get through which AIR FACTS is advertised to cruise say 105 and whose owners later all agree cruises an honest not to exceed 85 at anything much less than full throttle. That's just too much difference.

As to the Ercoupe, then, lee's just say it certainly seems to have no trouble proving up between 100 and 105 at the rather reasonable r.p.m. of 2275 . After all, an honest hundred is something which thousands of two-place airplane owners have long thought they've had when they were actually ten to twenty miles shy. Wait till you fly all day in one that goes an honest hundred. You are going to get a new kick out of your cross country flying. And there's an even bigger sales potential in having this along with ease of flying. Can you think of any two-place, honest 100-cruising airplanes of the past which were as easy to fly as they should have been? It is not an easy thing to build one that is.

The noise level is a little higher in this ship than was expected. More power always complicates that problem, and they countered it with both a muffler and a certain amount of soundproofing material around the lower part of the cockpit and engine compartment bulkhead. The situation is by no means extreme, however, and, of course, there's bound to be steady progress in the improvement and use of soundproofing materials.

HERE'S HALF Ercoupe's safely-secret: when you get scared in a turn (right in this instance) and give it the works trying to unbank you take lilt from the high wing and do not try to add lilt to the low wing and consequently stall it. In this illustration wheel is all the way to left. Note right aileron flush, how high left aileron travels and automatically coordinated full left rudder. A large percentage of our fatal accidents are due to ailerons which don't work when you need them most These do.

Now let's settle down to a little air work. Right off you can see that this airplane is way ahead of its predecessor. It feels more solid and far steadier. Flying along level in smooth air, you find the rudder travel at cruising is just right for the rate at which you normally roll into and out of turns: There's no way you could improve on those turns, for the adverse yaw just isn't there. Then on a later day, in good and rough air, you'll be surprised at the vast improvement in the way the ship holds its course. Narurally the nose swings some when you hit some air which happens to be moving across your flight path, but it tends to swing right back and there isn't that hunting or "wallowing" tendency which early Ercoupe owners used to mention. The reason it doesn't yaw as you go along using your wheel to keep it level is because the rudder is set better for cruising speed, as mentioned above, and also because at the present somewhat higher speed you get, in effect, more fin. So, you get a steady , well coordinated ride and pretty soon begin to enjoy resting your legs. Up to now you've probably been pushing on the comfortably slanted floor board every time you moved the wheel. And you'll probably soon agree, too, that not flying with your feet not only saves physical but also mental wear and tear.
Power stall? All right, start easing back on the wheel, ever so slowly. After quite a while the nose is sky high, the airspeed is wavering between 45 and 50, wheel all the way back, and it seems all settled down to an afternoon of climbing at that speed. There's no buffeting, and it's still definitely flying and climbing.

Now for the real test. Keep that wheel back, all the way back, and roll over into a left turn. Don't let that wheel forward, now, not even an eighth of an inch. There are lots of airplanes which will behave quite well if you ease off only a hair at this point. So keep it back, roll to the left, and you go right around into left turn with the nose coming down to the horizon and then going on below a little until the airplane picks up enough speed to fly a level turn at that new airspeed. With the wheel still back, now roll as abruptly as you want to into a right turn. Well, there's no point in going on: the ailerons always work. But maybe you want to be convinced on just one more point in the power condition : a steep turn. Go ahead and make it. If you bank up to about 60 you'll find yourself riding under about 2 g's, wheel soon full back, and a little altitude being lost. Rolling it back and forth laterally in this situation shows full control. The Ercoupe, of course, won't spin, but it can be stalled and for that reason it is probably quite desirable that its highly praiseworthy safety characteristics not be overemphasized to the point that the stall part is ignored. As a matter of fact it would seem quite reasonable that a good Ercoupe pilot should learn to experiment with and demonstrate stalls and slow flight situations and recoveries to just as high a degree of proficiency as the pilot of any spin-able airplane. First, he might well get into one of those power-on, wheel-back climbs and simulate an engine fail-sure on a take-off and attempted turn back.

THE OTHER HALF of Ercoupe's safety-secret is having the airplane so that power-off with the wheel back it won't quite glide into a full stall. Note how they tilt the propeller down to keep it from stalling Itself with power on.

When the power is cut, the nose comes down all right; and as it does, hold the wheel back and go into your turn just as you might if you wanted to postpone things and stay up there awhile till you got it all figured out. No, you don't go out of control, but you can see for that moment there the ship is nosing down in the turn making a little recovery all by itself, and that by the time it has gotten enough speed to level up as you come out of your 180, wheel still back, you've lost two or there hundred feet. Obviously you couldn't perform this maneuver starting at 100 feet. You wouldn't spin at the point that the pilot of the uncoordinated control airplane does, but you would fly into the ground with the nose down some 20 or 30 degrees. Even if you do the maneuver without holding back all the while on the wheel you can still see that, having no surplus speed to lose in the turn, you have to trade some altitude for the turn at a constant speed. So you still land somewhere in one of the quadrants ahead of you on the take-off unless you are at least 500 feet.

* The carburetor heater is linked with the throttle, so you get heat automatically with the throttle fully closed; but use the manual control for heat in cruising flight.

Now, with the throttle closed* you find the airplane too nose heavy to glide without an objectionable amount of holding back on the wheel, so you reach over for the trim crank. It is unfortunately an irritating little gadget. It's not only awkward getting to it behind the other wheel, but you hit the surrounding knobs trying to turn it. And it takes too many turns. Maybe later they can get into some sort of push pull arrangement which will give both easier and quicker action and will also serve to give some visual indication of how you're trimmed for takeoff purposes.

With the bungee completely undone the airplane seems to glide a little on the slow side. Coming back gradually on the wheel you find it doesn't get so nose heavy as you slow down, which suggests to you that in trimming for approach glides it might always be well to leave a little spring tension in the system, for the air load on the elevator doesn't seem to increase enough to give you as accurate a speed warning as is desirable. 90 then, 80, 70, finally 60. Note this speed particularly. It is too slow for an approach. The ship feels all right, but it is floating along there nose well up and you are sinking fast, so fast that you'd sink right on into the ground if you glided down at that speed and attempted to flare out. Coming on back, depending on the cg situation due to varying gas, passenger and baggage load, you may get into a 55 m.p.h. glide, wheel back with still good controllability, or you may get a little lower speed, a slight buffeting, a slight drop of the nose, and finally wind up gliding around just a hair nose down with an occasional buffeting at the tail. If you try to turn in this minimum speed condition, you don't lose control-just extra altitude with always a more steeply nose down attitude during the initial stages of these turns. Now get into a glide of 70 and pull up about half as fast as you usually do in practicing power-off stalls. You get a mild little whip at the peak, it buffets, the nose drops down sometimes as much as 45 and pops right back up if the wheel is held back. Whether you ease off or not doesn't seem to make much difference in the altitude you lose in getting back to a level attitude, as the elevator seems to be set just right to give the quickest possible recovery without loss of control. The point is, though, that you can get a clean stall with an abrupt little pull- up and therefore you want to-be just as speed conscious in this airplane in approaching the ground as in anything else.

As a matter of fact, it seems that the Ercoupe pilot should get particular stress on the speed situation in approaches. It is just as important to use proper speed control here as in anything, and maybe a little more so, for the minimum approach speed that is proper in the Ercoupe is a little higher than usual, and therefore minus the slow speed warnings that usually come with an approach speed which is closer to stalling speed. In other words, it is a little more difficult to judge accurately 20 miles above stalling speed than it is, say, 15; and with the Ercoupe it is the 20 which you want to hit, and not go below.

The compensating factor is that if you want to be on the high rather than the low speed side with the Ercoupe getting the speed a little high doesn't complicate things as it might were you not landing level. On the other hand, there's really no point and far from enough technique in steaming in with these little ships at 90 mph. For one thing, it takes sometimes a little more than the last half of a small airport to get stopped from such an extreme landing speed. Anyone ought to be able to learn better speed control than that for the approach.

On the other hand, you don't want to come in mushing too much with an Ercoupe because you won't be able to check the rate of sink as quickly as you can in a spinnable airplane. If you glide in at, say, 60 with the Ercoupe, or 65, or some indicated speed that is just about ten miles too slow for that particular ship, you'll find that as you get to the flareout point you already have the wheel nearly all the way back and what is left doesn't check the descent soon enough for you to keep from landing flat and much too hard. Or, if you come staggering in this way you may come down into a much more slowly moving layer of air dose to the ground and have this induce a moderate dropping of the nose- just enough to nose you into the ground short of the intended landing spot. Maybe this is doing the airplane an injustice and making it sound too scary. In any other airplane, if you break the slow speed rules this way, you fall off and spin in. That doesn't happen in the Ercoupe, but still you don't want to bring them in too slow, for power-off, they can be stalled almost as readily as anything else.

Well, so much for the air work. We're flying around the field with a 10 mile ground wind. You take it in.

First, on closing the throttle, there's that considerable nose-heaviness and the little trim crank to twirl much too many turns. About that time you realize that this is a clean airplane and that it goes on awhile after the power is off, and you didn't allow for quite such a slide before you got to a proper gliding speed. But you just run a little farther on your base leg and then turn in. 80 feels pretty good, the nose is not down too far, and as you come in you keep pulling on the throttle. That's an occupational disease among pilots when they have too much speed but just think the engine is idling too fast. Down you come and flare out. For a level landing you flared a little late as just pulling the nose up to slightly more than a level attitude doesn't give the angle of attack necessary to stop the sink in a short distance vertically. But you're still off the ground, and while you are wondering if you should hold it off, you feel those rear wheels gradually begin to roll; in a second the nose lowers itself, and you realize you haven't put one on like that half a dozen times in your life. Don't let anything cause you to forget and pull the wheel back at this point. You may still have flying speed.

You can push the foot brake as hard as you like, though it seems that this is usually considerably overdone in demonstrating. For one thing, if you are on grass and one brake tends to grab a little you can gradually turn sort of sideways and it is an uncomfortable feeling. Anytime one does this, if you'll just release the brake immediately, it will straighten out and point, and roll where it was originally going. It's worth remembering, for sliding onto a slick or gravelly surface with the brakes on can bring on the same sort of skidding tendency, and it is instantly curable just by releasing the brake momentarily.

Well, that's it, and the chances are you are going to turn around and taxi back fast for some more. It's just hard to believe that anyone else ever landed an Ercoupe as softly as that.

Even at the risk of overdoing the thing, it seems desirable to shoot a few more verbal landings. You can see that airwise the Ercoupe will take care of the customers as never before, so if anything is going to happen it will have to be in take-off and landing accidents.

This time try a different take-off technique. As the throttle reaches full position, pull the wheel about half way back, and after the ship has rolled about 100 feet pull the wheel all the way back and keep it back. That is, of course, assuming that the take-off is being made straight into the wind. If you have only about half gas in the wing tanks, you'll probably find that right soon the nose rises well up and before you know it the ship flies off. If you are loaded so as to permit it, this is by far the shortest take-off you can get. It comes off rather suddenly, though, and your impulse is to nose down quickly so it can get some speed. But don't let it down more than just a little right after you first get off, as it will touch back if you don't look out. Wait till it gets ten feet up before you ease the nose down to about what would be a normal initial climbing position.

On your second landing try 70 in the approach. You may still take a glance or two at the tach and pull on the throttle during the approach, for it will still seem to be idling too fast; but fast or not, this is slow enough for average conditions. This time flare out and then keep coming back on the wheel, and hold it off until you have the wheel all the way back but still aren't quite on. You can see that if you had held it only level after flaring you'd have been on the ground way back there and could have used the brakes and stopped much shorter, even though the landing would have been at a higher speed. As it is, you've held off, floated quite a ways, and finally landed tail low at a noticeably low speed. You'll like this slow landing just for the feel of it, but will realize that when space ahead is at a premium the thing to do is to let it settle on from a level attitude right out of the flare-out and get on the brakes rather than sit there sailing across valuable airport waiting until you can land tail low.

Now let's try some approaches on the high side (just as if the last two hadn't been!). When you finally sense that you are too high in an Ercoupe towards the last of an approach, you suddenly feel as if you'd swallowed your gum. It just ain't there anymore. Nor is that airport either-its much too far under the nose by now. The reason it startles you is because you feel so helpless - you can't slip and you probably feel you are already in trouble enough with extra speed. Like so many things do, this all dissipates with just a little practice.

As is true of all airplanes, the big thing, of course, is to recognize that you're overshooting early, when there's more rime to do something about it. There are numerous remedies for overshooting in the Ercoupe, each one best adapted for some particular situation of speed, altitude, and distance from the field. S turns, for instance, are as good as ever if there's room for them. Due to the spin protection in this airplane you'd be willing even to make them a little steeper than you would otherwise. Or, as a variation of S turn, if you are fairly close up but not terribly too high or too fast, you can just rock the ship laterally, putting the wing down about 30 each time. Another way is to nose the airplane well down the instant you realize you are too high. The ship is clean, but if the dive is fairly steep, you check a lot of the speed in the pull-out. Still another device, if you are high but way back is to hold the nose up until you get around 60-65 and then glide it awhile at that speed. It will come down fast this way and after you get down to about 150' you can nose down and get your normal glide speed and go on in. Slowing like this, however, is not a good maneuver to use late in an approach. For one thing, you'll run up on the field too much while you are slowing down, and then you just don't ever want to get caught close to the ground with these settling too fast. Below 100' the airplane should definitely be gliding, not mushing. When you're caught late that way the best thing is to nose down, not just a little but all the distance will permit and still leave room for a little mushing in the pull out.

All in all it seems that the Ercoupe is just a little slippery in the approach, that it's just a little too easy to be either too fast or too slow rather than just right. Weick is, of course, not on the wrong track in holding tenaciously to the principle of having only a throttle, wheel, and brake in the cockpit, for you can't keep flying simple and keep putting in gadgets.

On the other hand, when you see

this airplane achieve such a high degree of perfection in combating the spin-in, and so easy to put on the ground after it is flared out, you can't help wanting it to be equally perfect in combating that third diabolical element in flying: the approach. If you could just put the nose a little farther down without going past an indicated 70 in winter and probably an indicated 65 in summer, that would seem to be all that would be needed. Maybe fairings on the rear landing gear legs which would spread with the first slight movement of the brake pedal would do the trick-or just anything to add a little more drag than the ship now has at its proper approach speed . Even a two-position prop might do the trick.

About the only thing left now seems to be in the cross wind department. Well, cross and wind, for a couple of days were put in during which nothing else was flying except really heavy stuff.The first thing you notice is that a ground wind of 25-30 doesn't complicate the taxyiog situation in the least. Then you find that as far as into the wind take-offs and landings go there's surely many a dollar in these for the operator on windy days when he doesn't now fly.

Now, on this cross wind business you've just got to believe that this airplane can think. It is easier, however, if you sort of ease up to the idea. That is, make your first takeoff just a little out of the wind .

The first rule in cross wind takeoffs is that the airplane should be either on the ground or off the ground-no in-between stuff. So here we go about ten degrees out of the wind which is 25-30 with gusts. With the wind from the left adding to the initial torque effect, you start right off with a good deal of right wheel. As soon as you get rolling you don't have to hold much pressure to the right but you do realize that you are keeping straight by reason of the fact that that little nose wheel is scuffing along turned slightly to the right. It then becomes quite clear that you don't want to unload the nose wheel by pulling the wheel back as that would tend to let the ship turn into the wind. So you keep it on the ground till you have flying speed, and then with a positive backward movement of the wheel lift it off the ground and keep it off. Just as you leave the ground there is a very mild flat turn towards the wind-just about the amount you'd turn anyhow in order to make your flight path go straight on our the runway. If you want to drift, just turn the wheel to the right and turn to the heading you want and level up. On the trip around you'll find that the airplane rides good in such rough air and that you are flying with less nose swinging and with far better coordination than you can usually produce yourself under such conditions.

Around for the landing now, you throw in a little extra for the probability of a strong gradient wind, and glide 80 indicated. As you glide into that slower moving air close to the ground you realize the 80 was an excellent idea and not a mile too much, for in that last 50 feet your rate of sink increases abruptly, your airspeed suddenly seems to be not 80 but 70, and of course it actually is about that much less for the time being.

Meanwhile, you've come in crabbing, and as you flare out you realize that if you leave the nose over to the left like it is you are going to land moving sidewise - to your right. Well, just go ahead and let it go in that way, tail down just a little. And the second it hits either ( 1) turn the wheel loose, or ( 2) turn it slightly to the right and push it forward. In either event, the nose is going to swing to the right so as to line the ship up and send it on pointing in the direction you were moving as you approached. You have to get on it, of course, after it has straightened out, and hold a little right wheel pressure to keep it from weathercocking into the wind.

Ercoupes have been "groundlooped" and when they have it is usually some pilot with a good deal of experience who has jumped in and taken off without so much as looking the airplane over real good. What happens is that he lands holding his crab all right, like someone said to, but the second those rear wheels touch he feels that due to a slight tipping sensation to the right he should pick up, say, his right wing. That means he moves the wheel to the left, it goes onto the ground cocked to the left and immediately nullifies the effort the airplane is making to do the right thing : swing the nose to the right. Not only that, but as soon as the wheel touches, cocked to the left, it starts the airplane into a left turn, adding from centrifugal force a real tipping force to the right. And, of course, the more the wing goes down the harder he tries to pick it up, the shorter he turns, the more surely it goes down and there you are: it "ground looped" on him. It never occurs to him that he was in effect just fixing to roll along at high speed with the ship automatically straightening itself up out of a slight skid, when all of a sudden he tried to make a sharp turn to the left. His trouble is that once the airplane touched the ground he continued to operate it upon aerodynamic rather than automotive principles. You have to set up a little switch in your mind: the second it touches forget your aerodynamics: either let it go or else be sure to turn towards your low wing. Never try to pick up a wing with ailerons when you are on the ground. The second that nose wheel touches it is a far more powerful directional control than your ailerons and will overpower them completely. Besides, it steers in the opposite direction. It's the same in a car: If your rear end starts skidding around to the right you don't turn left and swing it all the more : you turn right and immediately stop the skid.

If you don't like the idea of landing going straight down the runway all right but slightly side-wise (the wind's still from the left, remember) then you can use a different system. Come in crabbing as necessary to keep moving down the center of the runway. Then, as you flare out, make a turn to the right until the nose is pointing down the runway, level up and then sit tight. The main thing here is to be sure and get straightened out of your turn before you touch the ground. After you've straightened up, drift will start immediately, of course, but there will not be time enough for it to move you either. far or fast before the ship sinks onto the runway. If it feels like

it wants to lean to the right when it lands, the rule's the same: either don't monkey with it directionally and let it have its head for a second, or else turn slightly towards your low wing. Don't succumb to your impulse to pick that low wing up even just a little bit with ailerons.

The only effective control you have now is that nose wheel and with it you turn towards the low side and let centrifugal force tip you back upright; or, more accurately, turn cowards the "lower" wing and relieve yourself of your slight "tipping" sensation.

The reason this is gone into in such detail is that the mark of the alert pilot has always been a trigger- quick set of reactions to any tipping or nose swinging tendencies as an airplane lands. The point for such pilots is that in flying the Ercoupe you do not need or use these reactions and in fact have to be on guard against them: they will make you do exactly the wrong thing, i. e. try to pick up a wing with ailerons when you should be using the wheel to turn slightly towards it in order to "pick it up."

Assuming now that we've made several more takeoffs and landings, each time a little more cross wind, let's go whole hog. With presently at least 20 miles wind from the south, let's start our takeoff run headed just a little short of due west. This, you can tell right way, is going to be a little different.

Right off as you open the throttle you have to turn the wheel a good deal to the right and as she starts to roll you feel the nose wheel needs even more load and probably push the wheel almost all the way forward . As speed is gained you don't like rolling along there (this field isn't what you'd call smooth either) with the wheel turned almost a quarter turn to the right, but you are committed now and concentrate on being sure not to let that nose up until you know you can fly off. Finally, in your overconservatism, there comes a time when you've got enough speed that the aileron actually does begin to work and your right wing starts down. You feel all that's left now is to haul back, bur don't be in too big a hurry . It won't couch. Finally you are sure you have flying speed, and pull the wheel back. You come off good, there is a rather quick swing of the nose to the left, and you're on your way. Frankly it is just a little terrifying the first time or so, but on the evidence that it always works why talk about it? The main thing is just not to pull back on the wheel too soon and get that nose wheel off the ground before it can fly, as you'll roll along on your rear wheels and turn into the wind. If you should happen to pull it off too early and realize you are going to settle back on, go back on tail-low and give it its head for a second as the rear wheels touch just like you would in across wind landing.

GOOD VISIBILITY, even to the rear, is another Ercoupe feature that you'll like.

Landing in the same direction as the take-off you find that landing is much less eventful and that your hair will stay down. Of course, it takes a little faith to come in and flare out and get the nose up a hair and sit there for a second with the right wing seemingly pointing in almost the direction you are going. But just sit tight. As the rear wheels touch put just a little forward pressure on the wheel and no matter how you feel about it don't start trying to manhandle that wheel. Whatever the nose wants to do laterally, let it do it for it apparently can do no wrong. And, you know, you can.

Under as extreme conditions as this landing was made, the second crosswind landing system mentioned earlier doesn't work so well. You flare out crabbing so much that it takes too long to make the turn. If for instance you have 20 to turn you probably aren't going to bank steep enough to make it in less than seven seconds, then there's a few seconds before you land, so in all you've had at least 10 seconds in which to acquire drift. But under extreme conditions a combination of the two systems might still be best, say take off a third of the . crab before contact-remembering still to leave that wheel free so it can have its head.

There's just one more point on the cross wind landing, and that is that a level landing at too high speed is hardly desirable because if it is so fast that the ailerons will still work after you get on the ground, then you are going to get aileron action when you don't want it. It will not cause anything more than having you find yourself running along on one rear wheel and the nose wheel, with the nose wheel gradually winning out and a very slight turn out of the wind meanwhile having been made.

There is finally one small question that tags onto the cross wind situation by indirection. It is important in landings that when the ship touches its rear wheels, or all three simultaneously, the steering wheel be in neutral, i.e. not turned either right or left. In other words, you want the nose wheel pointing straight ahead when it touches the ground, and free to caster. So you ask, "What if a gust or bump lowers one wing just before contacting the ground?" This sounds like a good question, one which might get an Ercoupe devotee backed pretty well up into a corner. But it isn't that good a one. The answer is to pick it up if you have time to do so and still straighten the nose wheel up before contact. If you don't have that much time, then you are too close to the ground for it to have made any difference anyhow. But if you do get caught in the act, well, let's try once more to put the Ercoupe touch-down into a nutshell: the secret is turn it loose just as you touch the ground, and leave it alone for at least one full, maybe two full seconds, then keep the wheel forward and steer.

The public is, of course, never kind to something really different: rather than look at the progress it represents, it seems natural to first point out what the new article lacks in being perfect. The Ercoupe has had its full share of this as far as cross wind landings go. (Actually, the crosswind takeoff is more of an experience.) But the funny part is that many of us already have to look back to some crosswind landing in an Ercoupe to find the one we made with the most crosswind! All in all, the subject is overworked. There's a special technique, as outlined, and it works, but how often do you have to make either a takeoff or a landing in a 20-mile crosswind? When it's that windy, you can usually land crossways of the field or on the short runway, and you usually do, no matter what you're flying. Still we ask for crosswind takeoff and landing demonstrations in the Ercoupe in winds in which we don't even fly our other light planes.

In conclusion, by any reasonable standard it must be admitted that saferywise the Ercoupe represents most of the progress which has been made since the private type airplane came into vogue, about twenty years ago: it eliminates the type of accident in which several times weekly pilots and their passengers come spinning down, stick back, power on, control having been lost in turning flight at low altitude. The airplane can, of course, still be stalled and also whip-stalled and that fact needs to be brought out a little more clearly by dealers and distributors than it is right now, for they are overdemonstrating the airplane both in high speed landings and slow approaches and creating the impression that you just don't have to know anything at all to fly it safely. That, of course, isn't true, the truth being that in the end there is very little difference in the skill required to put a thousand hours on an Ercoupe

without any damage to it and the skill it takes to put a thousand hours on anything else. The difference is that it is a much more readily teachable skill than we've ever had a chance to merchandise before, and one which will serve the customer far more dependably than ever before.

In that respect, then, the airplane represents a new opportunity for the seller and also a new opportunity for the buyer; and things are, consequently, going to happen. You just can't have an airplane which is as easy to learn to fly, which has such visibility, which is so warm in winter, which climbs so well, which goes so fast, which makes so much sense from the standpoint of personal risk and expect anything less than a major turn of the worm.



Page last modified on July 04, 2014, at 01:59 PM