AVmail: April 26, 2004

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Reader mail this week about keeping ATC current on emergencies, fans of Ercoupes, and more.


ATC Training Issue

This radio exchange actually took place between a Cessna 172 (with an instrument student and instructor on board) and a Class C ATC controller in the Midwest. One day prior, the instructor contacted the tower by phone to determine the best time that workload would allow controllers to perform an Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR) approach for instrument training. The controller said any time would be fine and that they could help us out. (The name of the approach facility and the airport are removed to protect the ATC facility, which is -- in fact -- an excellent facility and Iím sure would provide excellent guidance in an actual emergency!)

C172: Approach, Cessna 123, request.

Approach: Cessna 123, go ahead.

C172: Cessna 123 is 5 east of ABC VOR, at 3000, requesting an ASR approach to XXX for instrument training.

Approach: Squawk 4567 and standby.

C172: Squawk 4567.

Approach: Cessna 123, we havenít done an ASR approach here in three years. We donít have anybody here who can even do them.

C172: Well, that will be helpful in an emergency!

Approach: Say again?

C172: I phoned the tower yesterday and spoke with a controller who told me that your facility would be glad to help us out with this training demonstration.

Approach: Standby.

Approach: The tower chief said unless youíre having an actual emergency we will not provide this service for you.

C172: Roger.

Jim Kagel


Don't Dis the Ercoupes

Enjoy your e-publication every week. However, I must take strong exception to your article on the gentleman who is taking a 13,000 mile solo journey in an Ercoupe (NewsWire, Apr. 22).

1) The Ercoupe is not a "quirky" airplane.
2) The landing gear is not castered to allow cross-wind landing.

The Ercoupe is a design far ahead of it's time, considering it was first conceived around 1937. It is still by far the easiest airplane to fly and -- on a 85 horsepower engine -- sports a very decent 100 to 105 mph cruise speed.

A person learning to fly can still solo in fewer hours in an Ercoupe than any other conventional airplane in existence.

In fact, back in the 1940s, the CAA allowed a person to get a private certificate in an Ercoupe with only 25 hours of total time compared to 40 hours for a "conventional" designed aircraft.

As to the crosswind capability, the landing gear was designed to take the load of landing while crabbing into the wind. One just points the plane into the wind to compensate for the drift and land, relax your grip on the wheel when touchdown occurs and the plane will swing around straight with the runway centerline. At that point all one has to do is steer it with the control wheel just as one would do an automobile. Safe and simple.

The goal of the Ercoupe was to make the mechanics of flying as safe and simple as possible. Another feature was the inability to stall the Ercoupe. No stall, no spin!

Quirky? I don't think so. Still ahead of it's time? You bet!

Cormac Thompson, Jr.

AVweb Replies

I'll defend our use of the term "quirky" in the context that the plane was (and still is) unusual. As for the landing gear, the nose wheel does caster, according to the Ercoupe.com Web site, but the mains do not. Howard Fried wrote a nice column about them several years ago that has many more details.

Thanks for writing and for using AVweb.

Russ Niles
AVweb Writer


Engines Certified to Run on Motor Fuel

I note the recent comments in AVweb (NewsWire, Apr. 16) regarding what may be the first engine certified to run on motor fuel, and it was suggested that Rotax may be first. I note in my copy of the DH Gipsy Major Aero Engine Care and Maintenance Manual, 1938 edition, that the recommended fuel is "Good grade automotive fuel."

I guess this pre-dates the Rotax by a bit.

Jim Hammond