Airborne Awesomosity

A Plane In Every Garage – The Ercoupe

Now Think About That With Modern Americans

Just Remember The Useful Load is 511 Pounds With Two People AND Fuel

Making the claim of the safest plane in the skies in the late forties is rather risky but that is what this designer did and it lead to six thousand copies of the aircraft being produced.  How do you make this claim?  You use linked controls and have  no rudder pedals in the aircraft. So follow along as we talk about the odd story of the ERCoupe and it’s modern revival.


After the war there was a belief that the thousands of freshly minted pilots would all want aircraft to fly when they came home. These pilots would be taken care of by the established aircraft manufacturers.  Other companies started to work on Joe Average who was looking for a helicopter or aerocar to put into his garage. Into the last niche fell the little ERCoupe and the ace up it’s sleeve. Revived from a pre-war design it would produced by several companies straight up through the early seventies. These companies would make it easy for local airports to train pilots quickly and easily with aircraft like this one.



And No Room For Modern GPS's or New Toys

Nice Simplified Controls For Every New Pilot


To make the claim as the safest aircraft to fly the ERCoupe was designed with a linked flight system. All flight controls would go through the control stick. There were no rudder pedals in the aircraft. For those with any flight hours in their past this will take a minute to acclimate themselves to. Understand that the controls have been unlinked since the time of the Wright’s themselves. In an age when we are trying to think about the aircraft as an automotive replacement it needs to be as simple to use as a car.  All of those autogyro or helicopter variants have complicated setups. Along comes the ERCoupe with it’s nice simple flight controls. Assuming one thing which is that the person is taught to fly from day one on this setup.


You Didn't Expect Me To Post Everything Normal Did You?

Yes That’s A Siamesed Ercoupe And It Worked And Flew Well

Image credit –



My standard readers will start to looking for things like oddball engines or the fact that this was a one off prototype. Into this I will stand back and say both are incorrect. The Ercoupe used a normal aviation engine and there are nearly six thousand copies.  It was a hit just like its designer had hoped. A lot of you have seen them at airfields but have never known what you were looking at. Others are reading this and know that you have seen rudder’s in them. Which is correct because most owners have retrofitted theirs back to normal controls.  I really wanted to use quotes there for normal but resisted. As someone with flight hours myself I can only imagine the light hand you would need to use with a linked control but it would be doable. It would also take someone who was able to forget their training switch back and forth between normal aircraft and that type of flight. Not something that could be asked for on a daily basis.




Data from EAA Museum, Federal Aviation Administration

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Capacity: one 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)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental C-75-12, 75 hp (56 kW) at 2,300 rpm


  • Never exceed speed: 125 knots (144 mph, 232 km/h)
  • Maximum speed: 96 knots (110 mph, 177 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 83 knots (95 mph, 153 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 42 knots (48 mph, 77 km/h)
  • Range: 261 NM (300 mi, 482 km)
  • Service ceiling: 13,000 ft (4,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 550 ft/min (2.79 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 8.83 lb/ft² (43.17 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.13 hp/lb (210 W/kg)



Also How Well It Shows Male Pattern Baldness

Note How It Shows The Lack Of Rudder Pedals


If you note some of the performance numbers you will see a few things of notice. Things like how the engine only has seventy five horsepower. This is what has lead to a sort of second life for our little aircraft.  I was one of those oddballs who had a special place in my heart for this aircraft and its history. For something to date back to the prewar years and last to the seventies is impressive on its own but thanks to the new FAA Sport Pilot License which was created in 2004 due to the older pilots who wanted to avoid the medical requirement of the full license. We have a list of existing aircraft that fit into this lower level of pilots license that includes the oddball little Ercoupe . If you look through the list you find what connects them is that they are slower, underpowered, two seaters.



  • So as a "husky gentleman" I have a choice between passenger or fuel, but not both.

    • fodder650

      Pretty much.

  • cruisintime

    The performance of the metal skinned Ercoupe proves why most small aircraft have fabric covers.

  • I was about to question why we don't have linked controls when I remembered we've just boughten this little monster

    <img src=""&gt;

    a narrow aisle forklift. All of the controls, except steering, are one a single joystick, and the steering is done by a window crank. Oh, and you stand sideways in it, because designer says F.U.

    What's on that joystick?
    Drive Forward and Reverse
    Forks Up and Down
    Forks shift Left and Right
    Forks tilt Forward and Back
    Forks extend Away and Back

    Mein Gott! I was the first to wipe out a light fixture in a low hallway with it, but it was less than a week before someone else wiped out a light fixture in the same hallway. (I got extra points for breaking the fixture but not the bulb, BTW&gt;)

    • fodder650

      That is a pretty cool description of single control. Thank you.

      • It gets worse, the 4 directions of the joystick are Forward/Reverse (remember, you're standing sideways) and Forks Up/Down. So driving along you want to take a turn; thirty years of video games are telling you to tilt the joystick over, but all that does is raise your load! (or drop it on the floor.) Then you merrily crash straight into whatever you were trying to steer around, because the steering is the window crank.

        • monkey_tennis

          Even worse; On a hot day you want to wind the windows down; but it veers off to the left!

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