Posts Tagged ‘Ercoupe’

The Ercoupe: a must-try for a student pilot

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015
The very thin pilot's operating handbook for a 1946 Ercoupe. Photo by Chris Rose

The very thin pilot’s operating handbook for a 1946 Ercoupe. Photo by Chris Rose

Student pilot Matthew Orloff is an intern for AOPA Communications.—Ed.

At first glance, the Erco Ercoupe may appear to belong in either a vintage aircraft museum or Evel Knievel’s garage, but surprisingly, it’s a very compatible match for a student pilot, especially if you’re just starting out. As a student pilot with a mere 10 hours of flight time, I can say when I started taking flight lessons in a Cessna 172, I was overwhelmed. I wished flying an airplane was as simple as driving a car, where you just start it up, look out the window and go, as the great learning curve certainly intimidated me.

After seeing the Ercoupe for the first time, the last thing I would’ve ever expected was to praise it for how wonderful it is as a training aircraft. It may be easy to judge a book by its cover and conclude that than an airplane from 1946 is unsafe and ineffective to learn how to fly in. After all, it’s an old airplane, with old technology.

In fact, the airplane flies by the same aerodynamic principles, along with being just as smooth and responsive as a 172 minus all the more confusing bells and whistles.

Not to mention, flying with the canopy down is more fun than just about anything. I would compare it to learning how to drive in a classic convertible as opposed to your mother’s SUV. Speaking of which, the Ercoupe was originally intended to introduce people to flying, so when taxiing, instead of steering with the rudder pedals (which may throw you off if you’re very used to using the rudder pedals for taxiing), you actually steer with the yoke as if you are driving a car.

Since the airplane is so small, it is easier to visualize the aerodynamic principles that you learn about. For example, just by sticking your arm out the side of the airplane, you will see that you begin to turn to that same side. It’s the perfect lesson on how the deflection of air affects all the movements of your aircraft, and it’s also just flat-out cool.

If there is one thing I want to stress to other student pilots out there about this airplane, it is that it’s just so easy to fly. Since the cockpit of the Ercoupe is minimal, the likelihood of “cockpit juggling” is lessened. The checklist (another great source of intimidation) is easily accomplished because there are no fancy gadgets. The flight controls are simple, and daunting tasks such as landing are way easier. Landing an Ercoupe will certainly boost your confidence as a pilot, because chances are, you’ll nail it. Right now, I’m absolutely terrible at landing, but thanks to how small, simple, and visually unobstructed your view is in the Ercoupe, I had made my best landing to date.

If you are ever lucky enough to come across the opportunity to fly in an Ercoupe, by all means take it. Your flying skills are sure to improve and therefore your confidence will strengthen. Look at it as a steppingstone before pursuing more complex aircraft. With the student pilot completion rate being relatively low, the simplicity and sheer excitement of flying the Ercoupe is sure to keep your eyes on the prize. It is also worth mentioning you will probably save a bit of money since it’s such a small airplane, and of course, you will have an absolute blast!—Matthew Orloff

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Photo of the Day: Anderson-Greenwood AG-14

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Anderson-Greenwood AG-14Is it a high-wing Ercoupe? Is it a forerunner to the Cessna Skymaster?

The Anderson-Greenwood AG-14 is neither, but its history is a fascinating look back to the post-World War II boom in aviation that was widely predicted but never materialized. (The thought was that military pilots would come home and continue to fly, thus propelling the need for new airplane designs.)

A few characteristics of the AG-14:

  • 90-hp Continental engine with a pusher prop
  • Four (yes, four) pedals to operate: two for the single rudder, one for the hydraulic brakes, and one (actually a foot button) used to engage the electric starter
  • Two seats plus a baggage compartment that could hold 250 pounds

There’s much more in the pilot report that Barry Schiff wrote for the November 2004 issue of AOPA Pilot, and I hope you’ll read it. The AG-14 he flew is one of only five built, and thought to be one of just two in existence.—Jill W. Tallman

Photo of the Day: Ercoupe

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012


Often imitated, never duplicated, the Ercoupe is one of the nation’s quirkiest and best-loved GA aircraft. A  brief history: It was born in 1939 (its designer, Fred Weick, later worked on the Piper Cherokee line). Weick gave it tricycle landing gear and trailing-link main gear to help make challenging landings tamer, and he limited elevator up-travel to help reduce the potential for a stall. Oh, and he did away with rudder pedals, and interconnected the ailerons to the rudders–so you steer it like a car. You can fly it with the canopy open, and AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne swears that you can stick your arm out the window and turn the airplane that way. He wrote about it in the March 2012 issue (;&WT.mc_sect=gan ).—Jill W. Tallman