Southern California to Mid-Atlantic in an Ercoupe

Discussion in 'Cool Places to Fly' started by Chesapeaketechie, Mar 22, 2018.

  1. Chesapeaketechie

    Chesapeaketechie Filing Flight Plan

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    I’m looking at buying an Ercoupe that’s based in Southern California. I am looking at taking a week to fly it back with my college roomate who’s a CFI to the Mid-Atlantic area. He’s based in Denver and is much more familar with the west than I am. That being said, I’m looking for recommendations on a good route / nice airports / hotels etc for the flight back to the mid-Atlantic. We would likely be making the trip in May, and would plan on 2 - 2.5 hour legs.

    Thanks very much and looking forward to everyone’s recommendations!
     
  2. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Congrats of finding yourself an Ercoupe! They are fun little airplanes.

    I have delivered/ferried 4 Ercoupe/Aircoupes to new owners in the last year.

    Based on that experience, here is my honest advice:

    You really are not going to enjoy flying coast to coast in an Ercoupe with another person next to you. It’s tight. Plenty comfortable for a single pilot, but you aren’t going to enjoy the length of the experience with two people. Plus, you really won’t have much room for luggage for the two of you on that length of trip.

    My advice is to get checked out and fly it home yourself, or perhaps fly from SoCal to Denver with your CFI and then leave them there and fly it home solo the rest of the way.

    I usually fly 2.5-3 hr legs in Ercoupes. Your main tanks in the wings will give you 3 hours and the header tank is your reserve. I like to have my destination in sight when the fuel bobber starts to sink.

    Where in SoCal are you picking it up? The biggest issue route-wise is going to be density altitude if you both fly together. An Ercoupe will do the route past Albuquerque/Santa Fe just fine solo, but you could have some challenges climbing out loaded, and with the small overall fuel capacity, it’s not like you can gain any appreciable useful load by reducing fuel onboard.

    If you go the southern route through El Paso, make sure you stop in Pecos for fuel and a free burrito.

    Feel free to ask any Ercoupe specific questions. I have really enjoyed the ones I’ve flown. Where in the mid-Atlantic are you bringing it?
     
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  3. Chesapeaketechie

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    @Fearless Tower - thanks for the info!! I weigh about 160 and my friend is about 190 if that helps at all.
    Yes I’ve been in some Ercoupe’s and realize they are pretty small. We’ll learn to deal with it lol.
    I’m picking it up near LA and then was looking at some routes east. How would the Ercoupe do trying to cross terrain that’s around 7k MSL? That seems to be some of the lowest I’m seeing on the chart quadrants.
    We are planning to pack very light and can take a week for the trip if needed.
    Haven’t sorted out a home airport yet, trying to sort out hangar / tie down options.



    Thanks!!
     
  4. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    An Ercoupe should be able to climb up to 7k without much trouble. That should get you through the El Paso route just fine. Most of the ferry flights I did in Ercoupes were low (like 1500-2500' AGL) but I did deliver one to Montana from Salisbury, MD and had to climb up around 6-7k. Also delivered one to western Nebraska and had it up around 6500'. How well/how long it will take to climb up there with two people and luggage I can't comment on. Personally I wouldn't want to try the ABQ route if you go with two people, but I wouldn't worry about being able to go via ELP. Biggest concern I'd have with doing that trip with two people is making sure you can safely depart. Ercoupes aren't great climbers. I'd be a little hesitant to depart from a field elevation much above 5000' fully loaded with two onboard.

    As far as crossing terrain, something to keep in mind is - you're gonna get beat up. I find that Ercoupes are tighter canopy wise than the later Along Aircoupes. My head/headset were getting bounced regularly off the side of the canopy in the Ercoupe I flew out to Nebraska. In May, you are almost guaranteed to experience turbulence going across the Southwest.

    I assume this one you are buying doesn't have rudder pedals? If it hasn't had rudder pedals added, that's a good thing if you are going to fly with two people. All the rudder pedals do on the Alons is take up legroom.

    Are you in the Chesapeake Bay area, or Chesapeake, VA?
     
  5. Chesapeaketechie

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    @Fearless Tower I’ve been in an Ercoupe with two people and full fuel and we were getting around 5-600 FPM on a hot summer day in MD. That was in a C-85. This plane has an O-200 if that makes much of a difference? I’ll take a look at the airports along the way to see what we can find elevation-wise. I’m pretty short (5’6”) so I should have some headroom to spare.
    How was your Nebraska trip?
     
  6. Fearless Tower

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    The O-200 helps. As far as elevation goes, you'll be able to get a feel for the aircraft's performance with the two of you onboard by the time you get past Palm Springs. I really see no issues going the southern route though. The highest you might see from a takeoff perspective would be if you stop for fuel at Deming or Las Cruces (a little above 4000' MSL) and there is no surrounding terrain issues around those, so you should be able to shallow climb out if needed.

    Since you are going in May, I'd try to make El Paso your first overnight stop. That would avoid any high DA afternoon takeoffs and allow you to depart from the highest point in the early morning. It's all downhill from there.

    The Nebraska trip…..sucked. It was late October. Cold. Windy (strong headwinds even down low) and bumpy and the airplane had some issues (I spent the entire trip watching the oil pressure gauge like a hawk). I can't say I enjoyed that one. I'm 5'11" so my headset was constantly coming into contact with the side of the canopy. I really did enjoy the one from Salisbury, MD to Montana and I enjoyed the one I did a couple weeks ago from Florida to Kansas.
     
  7. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    @Chesapeaketechie

    Man I am currently reading Flight of Passage about two teenagers flying from NJ to LA in a Cub. Where I am in the book they just went thru the Guadalupe Pass. They've had some scary portions of their flight. Might be a good read for you as you consider this flight. To me it sounds challenging and fun though.
     
  8. tinerj

    tinerj Cleared for Takeoff

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    Your choices are either I-8/I-10 (southern route max elev abt 4000 ft) or I-15/I-40 (old Route 66, max elev abt 6000) Once you get to Tucumcari in the Route 66 route you'll be home free.

    The southern route has brutal heat in summer and high winds in spring.

    I've flown both routes in a C-150. I now fly a no rudder pedals Ercoupe. I would only fly the southern route in it.

    The Flight of Passage book make a big deal of the Guadaloupe Pass, but that's totally not a problem.
     
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  9. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

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    Once upon a time, I did a round trip that was about the same distance each way as your trip in a Cessna 120 with another person and camping gear (Detroit to Fairbanks and back). I would assume that an Ercoupe would have similar speed / performance.

    You ain't getting there in a hurry. Enjoy the trip for the sake of the trip.

    Hot and/or high - be prepared for pretty marginal performance (We went over the Canadian Rockies (Alaskan highway)).

    No plan survives contact with the weather.

    We took turns switching back and forth between the seats, I think that made it more interesting.
     
  10. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Just curious tinerj why you say that? I'm just interested that's all, and does the routes you're suggesting avoid Guadeloupe Pass?
     
  11. BiffJ

    BiffJ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I flew a 41 taylorcraft with an A65 from the bay area (san francisco) to Albuquerque with no problems. Over tehachapi pass, across edwards and followed I-40. Very good route. From Albuquerque east is no problem. You can go around the mountains if you need to or fly the pass following I-40. I've been through there in all sorts of aircraft many times. The Ercoupe shouldn't have any problems either.....especially if you're leaving from Double Eagle. Depending on where you're ending up the route along I-40 pretty much takes you through some nice areas with enough airports to make your 2-3 hour legs no problem.

    Good luck and post pics

    Frank
     
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  12. tinerj

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    The word "pass" makes it sound like you are threading your way through a canyon with steep mountains on either side. The Guaduleloupe Pass is a wide, level shallow depression between slightly higher high lands.

    See the photo taken from ground level.

    Two other books, Flight of the Vin Fiz (first cross country flight in 1911) and Flight of the Gin Fiz in a Cessna 150 that follows the same route as the Vin Fiz), follow the southern route and make no mention of the Guadulope Pass.

    But I think what you suggest is true. There is no need to go north to Carlesbad, which would take the plane along the Guadulope Pass.

    I've flown the southern route twice, as well as several other trips to Pecos and El Paso and don't recall any problems in Texas EXCEPT FOR WIND. f1dac21c38ed16da5a35dac6af3d4ac8601abd21.jpg
     
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  13. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    No kidding. Seems like it is always blowing in El Paso. Wind is the biggest challenge with that route, but really not a problem for an Ercoupe other than getting tossed around. Ercoupes can handle quite a crosswind on landing.
     
  14. mscard88

    mscard88 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Thanks, appreciate it. Sounds like fun for sure. I've flown RJs into ELP a few times, that mountain just west of the airport gets your attention taking off to the west lol.
     
  15. Walboy

    Walboy Cleared for Takeoff

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    At least the winds are likely to be tailwinds and could substantially increase GS. If you were headed east to west over west Texas, you might wind up flying backwards and never get there.
     
  16. Chesapeaketechie

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    Thanks everyone for the additional info and insight! We will take a look at those routes and have more questions shortly
    Seems like Albuquerque would be more direct, while El Paso would take us much more south.

    @Fearless Tower do you see any major issues taking the Albuquerque route?
     
  17. Reggie

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    Hi folks, have any of you flown an Ercoupe in Colorado, or at any altitudes above 10,000 feet?
     
  18. tinerj

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    From the east, the Abq route looks imposing, a solid wall of mountains (or so it seems), but that is misleading. There is an S-shaped route through by following I-40. I asked ATC to transition (can't recall altitude, but it was lower than the top of their airspace) following I-40 with a landing at Double Eagle II for fuel.
     
  19. Fearless Tower

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    Main issue with the Albuquerque route is you will have to deal with a higher altitude/density altitude. Whether you stop in northern AZ or ABQ, at some point along that route, you are going to have to stop for fuel and then depart above 5000'. In May. I've flown alot out west and have plenty of experience flying in the mountains and making high DA departures, but never in a fully loaded Ercoupe. My experience flying in an Ercoupe in the summer at lower altitudes with just me in the airplane left me with the impression that there wouldn't be a great margin for error taking off at gross weight from higher elevations. I'm not saying it can't be safely done, but I'd want to get more experience seeing how the airplane performed at lower altitudes with two onboard before committing to that route.
     
  20. Chesapeaketechie

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    Ok that makes a lot of sense. Looking st the southern route it looks like there are some higher altitude areas also?
    What do folks rely on for performance tables for the Ercoupe? The closest I could find was a C150?
     
  21. Fearless Tower

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    The ones I’ve flown all had small ‘owners manuals’ that had performance charts in them.

    I pretty much flight plan for 95 TAS and 6.5 gph. At least for the first leg and then after the first fuel stop, I’ll have a better idea how that specific airplane performs. Those are safe/conservative cross country planning numbers. You’ll get a little better performance up higher both in TAS and lower gph.

    Big thing to keep in mind is you have 18 gallons in the wings (verify that with the seller) and the engine driven pump is only filling the header tank. The engine actually runs off gravity feed from the header.

    So when the fuel bobber starts to sink, that means you need to be looking for a place to land.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
  22. Chesapeaketechie

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    Ok that makes sense. Yep someone from the EOC sent me the performance tables for takeoff. Ummmmm wow. 6000 ft density altitude and 60 degrees is 5000 ft to clear a 50 ft obstacle.
     
  23. Fearless Tower

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    Yeah. You’re kind of limping into the air.
     
  24. Chesapeaketechie

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    @Fearless Tower in your real world experience is that realistic or did you see a bit better performance?
    Wondering if I need to seek out airports with suuuuuuper long runways for this voyage in the western parts.
     
  25. Joey4420

    Joey4420 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have and Ercoupe with a C85 with 0-200 crank and such, I get around 2.5 hours off of the main tanks then it starts using the header tank. I also get very good climb rates, at least in August in Ohio I was getting around 800 fpm climb with just me in the plane. Of course with more engine usually equals more fuel burn and the prop will make a huge difference as well... when I set it to cruise around 2200 rpm I am around 90-95 mph TAS. Your mileage may vary. A fellow Ercoupe owner on the field (KHAO - Butler County Airport, Hamilton OH) Climbs out on a good day around 500 fpm with his C85 and he might be 75-80 mph TAS at 2200 rpm.
     
  26. Chesapeaketechie

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    @Joey4420 thanks for the info. I’ll check and see what kind of prop is on the plane also. What kind of takeoff distances are you seeing when it’s higher density altitude?
     
  27. James331

    James331 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Sounds like a fun, albeit cramped, flight.
     
  28. Joey4420

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    @Chesapeaketechie I haven't had much issues with distance, 90% of the airports I have landed at have been long runways and Here in Ohio I haven't seen Density Altitude that was bad, maybe 2000 ft DA.
     
  29. BiffJ

    BiffJ Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Like most of us who flew marginally powered aircraft like the 65HP T-Cart we learned a lot about thermalling, ridge lift, and other means of climbing in places where our engines were not able to pull us at the rate we wanted. I used to fly the T-cart out of Moriarty, a field at an elevation of 6001 ft with a 5000 ft runway at the time. No problems getting out of there on hot summer days and sometimes with two on board. Climb to 9500 and head west across the Sandia mountains into Alb. Windy days tend to be westerly winds which can create some turbulance to the east of the mountains but can also provide lift in places. I never had a time where I was worried about making it through in the T-cart or Chief (65HP) or the J4 Cub (65HP). I don't think the Ercoupe would have any problems either. The guy in Tucumcari who had the hanger full of Ercoupes never had any issues going back and forth to Williams Arizona at 6690 ft field elevation. I flew the T-cart through there when it was hot and bumpy...no problems. Its all about managing your altitude and using available helper lift. Glider guys do it all the time with no engines.
    I'd take the I 40 route and avoid the el paso headaches. I don't think there are a lot of issues with mountains going the southern route but there are more MOAs, military aircraft and troubles with the border being so nearby. Maybe not a big deal but you never know. The biggest issue on the I40 route is really the part from Kingman to Flagstaf and its not that bad. Lots of places to land if you need them and airports if you need fuel.

    Frank
     
  30. Chesapeaketechie

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    @BiffJ Thanks very much for your advice! I think we will plan to climb to around 9-10k on our first leg and see how the plane performs. Then we can figure out from there which route would work better based on the initial performance and weather.
    Looks like 2-2.5 hour legs will work best for us right now.

    Any not to miss airports / scenery on either route?
     
  31. mario01

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    may be a pleasant trip[​IMG]