Flew the Coupe! – Part 4- Ercoupes and the search for mine!

vintage-ercoupe-ad

So I had settled on a plane.  Sadly I couldn’t  just buy a new one.  At one time you could buy a new one from department stores like Macys!

macys

I’d need to find a used one.  There seemed like a lot of ways to find one.  There are some great publications to list airplanes for sale.  These include “Barnstormers” and the old standard of “Trade-A-Plane”.  I had regularly subscribed to Trade-a-Plane for some years but had dropped my subscription by the time I decided to move forward and buy a plane.  I also knew there was word of mouth and the occasional plane for sale at fly-ins.  I started regularly keeping an eye out for that perfect plane.  Here are some of the places I looked to find planes listed for sale:

Barnstormers

Trade-a-Plane

I pretty quickly learned a couple of things.  The first is there isn’t just a single type of Ercoupe.  Over the plane’s lifetime several companies had built them and the designed had evolved.  So it was clear to me I needed to decide what model I thought fit my “mission” the best.  Recap of the mission:

  • Affordable
  • Safe
  • Classic and interesting for fly-in appeal
  • Not likely to required major expenses in the first years of ownership

At first I really didn’t know much about the differences.  As I started looking the first plane I ran across was in “Barnstormers”.  This seemed like a promising lead.  The plane in question was being sold by the founder of a great little Air Museum at one of my favorite regional airport.  Pt. Townsend.  Here is that museum, if you ever get a chance it is worth a visit.

Port Townsend Aero Museum

If you visit be sure to make time to eat the the wonderful Cafe on the airport.  Definitely try the pie!  All the pilots I know that go there love the pie!  Me personally I am a breakfast person so I can also recommend the chicken fried steak!

Spruce Goose Cafe

So the ad basically said the plane was a 1947 Ercoupe.  There wasn’t much details listed other than that.  To be honest I still didn’t know what to look for,  So I made a few calls and made arrangements to have a look at the plane.  I learned the “story” and found over time it was a pretty common story.  The fellow that was selling it really didn’t know much about it.  (this will become a reoccurring experience) He had known the previous owner who was an older gentleman that had a terrible health turn.  He had gone back to Texas and was not expected to live.  So he sold the plane while he still could.  The current owner had the plane put in the museum workshop and gone over to prep it for sale.  He really wanted to make it clear that the plane had nothing to do with the Museum and he was selling very much “where is-as is”.

I also got the feeling he did not believe this was the right plane for me.  He didn’t really have any interest in going through the airplane’s logs with me , he sort of showed them to me and said some lame comment about “do I even know what they mean”?  Kind of condescending.  All airplanes must maintain their histories in log books.  These log book are the legal record of the plane’s mechanical history.  All mechanical work on the airframe and engine must be maintained in these logs.  Not having complete and accurate logs can dramatically reduce the value of an airplane.  As we spoke it also became clear he had no fondness of Ercoupes!  I have found this a lot.  Many pilots really look down on the Ercoupes. 😦

The plane had been cleaned up a bit and polished up.  It was a pretty little plane.  My friend Olan really liked it! Also to be fair I was pretty freaked out at the idea of buying an airplane.  In the end I did confirm that I fit in an Ercoupe.  I had heard I might find them too small.  But honestly I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at or even to look for.

There was a older teenager there helping with the plane (it had a dead battery) He made the odd comment about the plane being under powered because it could hardly taxi up hills!!??  So as I ate a great breakfast at the “Spruce Goose” I planned my next step.  First off I decided not to taxi up hills!

I also  let the seller know I was interested and to let me know if another buyer came along.  When I first talked to him he didn’t think there was a rush on my part.  I found out you can order the complete record set that the FAA has on any particular plane.  So I ordered that.  It comes on a CD in about a week for only $10!  Sadly within a couple of days I came home to a voice mail on my phone.  Someone had bought the plane!  I see now it is registered to someone down in Oregon.  I hope it is a wonderful plane for the new owner!  Maybe we’ll meet up at a fly in and we can compare coupes!

Well, I needed a plan “B”!.  Here is that plane I missed:

img_20160626_093641168_hdr

So I missed this plane.  But I did finally get the FAA records on the plane and I learned a lot.  In fact I figured out that I may have dodged a bullet.  The plane had been basically crashed at least once.  Now if a plane is properly repaired that may not be an issue.  But still.  I also learned that I could not accurately determine how many hours this plane had flown.  I also could not verify the time on the engine.  This is important in particular with the engine.  If the engine has run too many hours it will require expensive rebuilding.

Basically this airplane came with a lot of risks.  I would be gambling on just how much work that I might expect to perform to keep it airworthy.  A couple of other things stood out.  The the fabric on the wings was replaced in 1964.   The good news is that the material used can easily be good that long but the paint used may not be good for that long if it spent time uncovered.   There is something called a “punch test” that is supposed to be performed on this covering regularly.  Recovering the wings on this plane could cost as much as $10,000.  I should mention newer materials are used and if the plane is stored in a hangar or under a cover they may last for decades.

I learned some fun thing about this plane though.  In the early 50’s it was owned the newspaper in Everette Wa!  If I had purchased it I think I would have removed the military markings and added some of the newspaper logos from back then.

In finishing this entry in the blog series I looked back at the records on the plane again.  There would some good things.  It had been upgraded to an alternator.  I am considering doing that to the plane I bought and it will cost me around $800.  It also had shoulder harnesses installed, again I need to do this and that will be another $800.  Finally it has the large baggage compartment modification which might be nice and that is another $700.  But it has the smaller 75 HP engine and has the lower gross weight limit.  Again there is the damage history.  Another thing looking at the photo again I see it has the larger rear windows.  Not as “classic”. Here is what that damage repair looks like in the FAA records:

damage

Again there was a troubling thing missing in the FAA records.  There is no record that the engine has ever received major work.  So there is no way to know what the true condition of the engine was.  If it needed a new engine that would easily add $10K to the cost.  It had changed hands a lot and been based in a variety of places.  Shelton, WA., Olympia, WA., Big Sandy, MT.,  Mesquite, NV., Las Vegas, NV., Alderwood Manor, WA., Mt. Vernon, WA., Snohomish, WA., Seattle, WA., Everette, WA. and Vancouver, WA.  The plane had dropped off of registration after some time in 1971.  It looks like the plane was registered in Canada as CF-CLP.  The original “N” number for this plane was NC3262H and it was changed to the current number when it was returned to the US.  The owner in Las Vegas requested N1210H, maybe that was a lucky number or something!  Again looking through the airworthiness records there seems like a lot of stuff missing.  Maybe there was more information in the logs but since the seller clearly had no interest in letting my study them I’ll never know.  By the way the guy selling it may the curious remark I should at least find one with the 85HP engine.  He didn’t seem to know how easily the 75HP engine was to upgrade to the 85HP engine.  Oh well.

So I’d missed a plane but I think I needed to have that experience to get my head wrapped around the process.  I call it the “waffle” theory.  The first waffle is never very good but they get better after that!  So I started asking around.  I was lucky enough to have become part of  a regional pilots group for the Pacific Northwest.  One of those members had a very nice Ercoupe.  Here is his Ercoupe:

moorecoupe

He made some great suggestions.  The first was that he believed there was an Ercoupe on an airfield called Apex Airpark that the owner had lost interest in.  So I decided to see if I could find that plane and drove out there.  Turns out it is an airport community. A runway surrounded by homes with hangars. What a really cool place to live!  It was on the other side of the Puget Sound from where I lived so I got a nice reason to take a drive.  Apex Airpark:

apexairpark

So I drove around not seeing any easy way to get on the airfield and ended up finding a resident that could help me.  Once I explained why I was there she took me to see the Ercoupe in question and shared there was a second one on a hangar that was also likely for sale.  So the first plane has been tied up outside and looked a bit neglected.  I may very well could have cleaned up nice and it may be airworthy.  It wasn’t clear.  The second one was in a hangar with a very small window.  Turned out that the owner of that plane was out camping and I did speak with him briefly on his cell phone.  His plane looked nice but I was told by the neighbor they thought he might want a lot of money for it.  They also said they thought it had an O-200.   In an amazing coincidence it turned out I had met this friendly woman who showed my the coupe and her husband  before at a fly-in event at the Paul Allen museum in Everette, they have a wonderful “straight tail” Cessna 172!  Airplane people are everywhere!  🙂  I hope to see them again someday at a fly in when I can show them my plane!

So I drove home, even got to take the Bremerton ferry home.  It was a nice day out and about and I thought may have a lead on two possible airplanes.  I called the number given to me for the first plane and left a message.  I never heard back from that owner.  I later saw that the hangared coupe had been posted to Barnstormers.  I hope they found it a good home.  That owner did eventually try to reach my by phone but my plane quest had taken another path by that time.

In the mean time the fellow with the Ercoupe that had given me the Apex Airpark lead suggested that he had considered creating a list of every registered Ercoupe from the FAA database and sending them all a postcard when he was looking for his. Basically, see if someone with a Ercoupe was thinking about selling theirs.  Made sense.   Hey, I am a data driven person.  I liked this idea.  So over a couple of days I scoured the FAA database for every Ercoupe in WA, OR, AZ and CA.  I felt these states would be easier to inspect and buy a plane for me since I lived in WA.

Turns out that exercise taught me a lot!  I also found another online database with the records of any accidents these planes have been involved in.  I also learned I needed to once again focus my search parameters.  I was drinking from the fire hose of possibilities and I needed focus.  So here is the summary of the data I collected.  I had 148 planes to search among.  I had a range of types.  The 415-c, 415-CD,  415-D,  415-E and 415-G. Engines ranged from the C-65, C-75, the C-85, the C-90 and the O-200.  I found out the FAA listed a full range of manufactures.  Engineering and Research Corporation, ERCO and Forney.  I had decided at this time that I didn’t want an Alon and maybe not even a Founaire coupe.   I found the Erco coupe to offer the most “classic” experience that I had decided was key to my perfect plane.

I should get one thing out of the way.  How do you say Ercoupe?

You say it like “Errr” Coupe, not “AIR” coupe.  Now the last manufacturer Forney renamed them to be Aircoupes and those you do call “AIR” coupes.

I should also mention that Mooney acquired the rights to manufacture the Aircoupe and modified it to serve as a primary trainer for folks interested in Mooney aircraft.  This was the M-1o or Mooney Cadet.  They changed the tail to look more like a Mooney and fitted a sliding bubble canopy.  I decided against those.  Here is an M-10 Mooney Cadet:

mooney-cadet

So a quick summary of the relative factors, first engines.

When the Ercoupe was originally designed there wasn’t a suitable engine available so Erco decided to build its own engine.  The came up with a great inverted inline four cylinder engine.  Here is what the engine looked like:

erco-engine

Here is what that first plane looked like with this engine:

il116

Pretty cool engine but it was expensive to make. So when Continental came out with an engine about the same HP for a quarter of the price the decisions was easy.  So they redesigned to cowling and the first production Ercoupe came with the C-65.  A 65HP flat four engine.  Here is a C-65:

a65_8

These engines lacked support for an electrical system and are rare to find in a coupe today.  The most common engine for the majority of the early Ercoupes was the C-75 or the 75 HP version.  Soon it was discovered that by slightly modifying the Carburetor, changing the prop so the engine ran faster you could get 85HP!  That was the C-85.  The C-75 and C-85 could support generators and electrical starters.  After some time Contential did a revision of the basic engine and increased the HP to 90HP by increasing the displacement and some other internal modifications.  This was the C-90.  My research found that the C-90 was the best engine for a coupe.  There was a 100HP engine, the O-200 that could be put in a coupe but because the propellor was not ideal the C-90 performed better.  So I decided I’d prefer to find a C-90.  But I knew now what the differeces were.  I should mention there is a hybrid engine that you can find where you combine a C-85 with the crankshafe of an O-200 with some other mods and you end up with something like a C-90.  Some folks believe this is the ultimate engine for an Ercoupe.  Sometimes this is referred to as a “Don’s Dream Machine” engine.  A topic for a future blog maybe!  So engines:

  • C-75
  • C-85
  • C-90
  • O-200

Now the variants of the coupes.  The first production coupes were the 415-C.  These were built by Erco.  There was a very limited run if 415-D coupes.  These features a higher gross weight.  This required reduction of the elevator travel and the result was that some pilots complained that they were difficult to land.  So Erco stopped making the “D” model and came up with the “CD” which was back to the lower gross weight and previous elevator travel.  There are very few real original “D” models but it is common to find “C” models that have been modified to the “D” spec.  Because there was a demand for the higher gross weight Erco developed a “split” elevator that combined with a spring that made the last of the elevator control noticeable to the pilot.  This was the 415-E and had the increased gross weight again. Some people have changed their elevator for this split elevator to “improve” the landing of the Ercoupe.  Erco went on to release a “F” and “G” model that were largely minor differences in trim level.  Here is the “split” elevator:

split

So then came the sad day where Erco left the airplane  business completely.  The rights eventually come to be owned by a company called Fornaire.  Supposedly Forney which largely sols welding equipment  was interested in the coupes to provide transportation to its salesmen!  With that change the Ercoupe became the Aircoupe.  These were the F-1 Aircoupes.  These came with the C-90 engine.  Fornaire basically sold the rights to a company called Alon.  These coupes can be found as the A1 and A2.  The have a number of differences.  They changed to a bubble style canopy the slid back to open and a host of other features like a larger backage compartment and a more “modern” dashboard.  They also came with the C-90 engine to start with.  I believe towards the end they came with the O-200 engine.  So airframes to chose from:

  • 415-C
  • 415-D
  • 415-CD
  • 415-E
  • 415-F
  • 414-G
  • F-1
  • A-1
  • A-2

I should also mention the Mooney Cadet,  they are rare and have a single tail.  I decided early on I wanted a dual tail!  🙂

Still I’m not done naming all the variables.  There is a category of planes call Light Sport.  You can fly these with no FAA medical, this was a desirable thing for some pilots that worried that they may not be able to qualify for a standard medical. The Ercoupes elegible for this category were the 415-C or 415-CD.  If an Ercoupe was ever updated to a “D” model it can never be used for Sport Pilot flight.  I didn’t care about as I had gotten my medical and the way the law recently changed I probably never have to get one again.

The other consideration was rudder pedals.  The Ercoupe was designed to not need rudder pedals.  They could be ordered as an option but were not needed. You can even add them if you want to for reason.  In Ercoupe the brake was still a single seperate pedal.  In Aircoupes you find the more conventional rudder pedal where the breaks are part of the rudder pedals as well.  So they allowed for differential braking.  I had decided early on I didn’t want rudder pedals.  By the way a woman that was born without arms got her pilots license in an Ercoupe because of the Sport Pilot rules and the lack of rudder pedals!

womanercoupe

There were a couple of other factors.  The windshield of the Ercoupe was originally a flat piece or wrapped Plexiglas.  Later on they came up with a bubble styled windshield.  The rear windows were smaller at first and later on some where fitted with larger rear windows.  Ercoupe wings were originally fabric covered but later on covered with thin metal.  Ercoupes came polished and with very little paint.  Over time many have been painted.  So as I studied coupes here was my dream plane list:

  • flat windscreen
  • small rear windows
  • fabric wings – lighter – more classic – my plane would live in a hangar
  • polished finish
  • Ercoupe not an Aircoupe because I wanted a true “classic” airplane for the fly-ins
  • a C-90 or at least a C-85
  • no damage history
  • hangared – reducing the corrosion fears
  • original styled yokes

So I was still looking at Barnstormers while I was creating my database.   If the plane was one I had the FAA records for I’d look it up.  I also was interested in several planes I saw ads for.  One of the first that caught my eye was this plane.  It is still for sale but I think it might be a sweet plane for a decent price.  I kept it on my short list.  The ad said there was damage history so I was little slow on this one.  I knew I had some work to do to learn this plane’s history if I got more interested.  Here is that plane, I hope its a nice plane and goes to a good owner.  From Barnstomers(it is now listed in Trade-a-Plane):

ercoupe1

I also made one more attempt to contact the owners of the two “apex” coupes with no success.   Here is a picture of the first Apex “coupe” I mentioned from Google Earth:

apex

There were some other planes on the market that did catch my eye.  A former grand champion winner from the Arlington fly-in was for sale for $40,000.  Here it is and now at a slightly lower price:

grandchamp

I felt this was more than I’d spend.  There was a beautiful one in TWA colors that was also pricey in Trade-a-Plane for a similar price.  Again too much money.  I also found someone from that Facebook group I mentioned that seemed to have a wonderful one.  It was painted red and featured a recently rebuilt/upgraded engine.  A crankshaft from an O-200 was used with other internal parts.  A very desirable engine.  Finally he had upgraded the electrical system to an alternator from the original generator.  This again a desirable upgrade.  He was asking a little over $30K and I did think about it seriously.  He was down in Oregon so picking up the plane would be simple.

Here is the very nice one in Oregon that sold very quickly:

06-11-2012-1

So that plane went on my short list.  I also found a very reasonably priced one on Oklahoma.   Seemed like maybe a good value but as I looked into how long it would take me to fly it back to Washington I decided to keep looking.   Here is the Oklahoma coupe:

ercoupe

But my search took an interesting turn.  One nice looking plane in Barnstormers looked interesting.  So I looked up the registration and found out that it had expired.  For some reason the registered owner had not bothered to renew the registration for over three years!  So on a whim I sent an email to the person listed in the ad to ask what the story was.

Well it was a the story I have heard before.  The owner had become ill years back (Parkinsons) and it finally was clear he would never fly the plane again.  The fellow that emailed me back said the plane was in annual and he had just flown it.  He said it was in beautiful shape and flew great!  It turned out to have an amazing for an Ercoupe instrument panel.  So I suddenly got the feeling I may have found the plane I was looking for.  My friend Olan pointed out the the in dash GPS was a good one and still worth $1K + alone.

gx150

I am going to confess that Olan’s comment about the GPS affected me more than it should of, but OK.  So once again the fellow that was managing the sale was not the registered owner and really didn’t know him or anything about the plane.  In fact he didn’t know anything about Ercoupes.  He was part of a groups of folks that hung out at the Compton airport and had agreed to help this fellow sell this plane.  Somehow he’d drawn the short straw!  He confessed he’d just dropped the price by $9K after a buyer had come up to look at it and was interested in buying it but later discovered this plane was a “D” and could never qualify for “Light Sport” status.  There had been some unpleasant exchanges about false advertising and the fellow managing the sale just wanted it over!

But still this one looked nice.

The price was affordable so I scheduled a flight down to LA to look it over.  I was so excited I booked the flight for the wrong weekend!  I scheduled it a week later than I intended.  I also realized I needed to get my pilot chops back.  I hadn’t flow a plane since late 1997.  I had gone ahead and got my FAA medical so now I was ready to get a Biannual Flight Review or BFR to make me legal to fly again.  So I had some work to do!

So I got down and discovered that this looked to be a very nice Ercoupe.  Here is what I found:

img_20160917_153212435

I looked over the logs and answered a few questions.  The engine had been totally rebuilt and upgraded to the 85 HP engine.  The airframe had been well maintained and the wings were covered with a modern Stits fabric.  There had been a little scare as during trying to get the airplane ready for my visit when the engine showed signs of a stuck  valve.  (that would come back later) So a mechanic had serviced the valve guide and that problem seemed solved.  Also the A&P who has maintained the airplane had decided he wanted to see the mags rebuilt.  So when I got to the hangar the mechanic was finishing off installing the fresh mags.  This work was not going to add to the price so I saved $1000 already!  So I taxied the plane around a bit and committed to buy the plane.  The plane looked to have an honest and documentable total airframe time of 1943 hours and 943 hours since total overhaul on the engine.  Very reasonable times.  The fabric looked awesome.  Add a new battery and fresh mags it seemed like a find.  A little of last minute haggling and I was going to buy the plane for $20K.  I couldn’t be sure how long it would take before I could take delivery so I have them a $500 down payment to cover a month of hangar rent.  Rodney, the fellow that was organizing this whole thing basically taped all the logs together and set the other paperwork where it wouldn’t be touched until I came for the plane.  By the way Rodney turned out to an amazing fellow!  He was a Naval aviator and retired TWA pilot!  He also was a very well know powerboat racer!  He even raced unlimited Hydros for a spell. Here is he on the water going very fast:

img_1459

Looking back on it Rodney really was a big part of my decision as it was clear he really wanted to help me decide if this was the right plane for me and once I did how to make it  happen.  As I got further in the sale he really helped pull some things together.  I was still tryng to learn how to buy an airplane and when I got home and looked over the log entries I found that the last recorded radios in the plane were no longer legal!  Yikes, but he assured me that wasn’t the case and helped me confirm it had very nice and legal King radios now!  Panic averted!  He also was extremely helpful getting more details about the details of the plane so I could forward the info to the bank.  Simple put Rodney was awesome!

I took photos of every document I thought I needed to satisfy the bank and the escrow company.   The fellow I was technically buying the airplane from wrote up a simple bill of sale by hand.  I had a beer and a shot of “fireball” with the cast of characters I met there and that evening I was on my way home.  In theory I had just bought an airplane!!  Soon I would learn it isn’t quite that simple!  Here is some of the paperwork I collected:

So this airplane sort of looks almost like that first one I found but she is quite a bit more special!  By the way, that first one was serial # 3887 and this one is serial #3381.  So this plane was built about 500 planes and a year earlier.

So I had ordered the FAA records for the plane.  What I found was very encouraging.  The plane had only three previous owners.  There was also no indication that the airplane had ever been involved in any sort of accident.  The plane seemed to have not been flown for nearly a decade and when the last owner bought it he seemed to have completed a very comprehensive restoration in 1971.  There were some other nice things.  Ercoupes had a problem with wing corrosion so the FAA had ordered all Ercoupes have thier wings inspected.  This one had the wings totally rebuilt with new spars!  Overkill!  Also the owner had re-skinned most of the fuselage.  The airplane had been properly upgraded to a “D” model which meant the gross weight was now 1400 pounds.   So it was now a “D” which is why the previous buyer passed on it and how I got it for $9K less!

The plane was sold new by a dealer in the L.A. basin and had remained there its entire life.  I would be the first owner to move it to an airport out of the L.A. area.  It had legally become a plane September 17. 1946 when it rolled off the factory floor.   At its peak Erco was cranking out 45 planes a day!

ercoupe_factory

Sadly my plane’s “sister ship” N2589H was sold at the same time by the same dealer but looks to have been totalled in 2006 in a landing indecent where it flew into a tree after a go around attempt somewhere in Georgia.

On December 3, 1946 this plane was sold via a mortgage for $4313.56 resulting a monthly payment of $179.74!   That is the equivelant of over $100K in todays dollars!  The last registered owner registered the plane in his name on September 29, 1971.  It was registered in his name till this sale.  It looks like the last time he renewed the registration was 9-15-88.  So the little the plane was flown till the sale was out of registration.  So more early history shows the plane actually was assigned its certificate of airworthiness on October 10, 1946.  Here are the avionics it was first delivered with:

avionics

In 1949 the wooden propeller was replaced with a metal one.

I also came to realize the plane was unique in other ways.  Notice that the top of the cowl did not have bumps.  No, this had the rare short tops plugs and shield cans.   These let the plane keep the original cowl and still have no radio interference from the ignition.  The rare shielded cans:

img_0390

The plane also had a rare sun screen in the center of the sliding windows.  This an opaque panel that slides between the two pull up windows.  You can see it pulled all the way over to the side in the above picture.  It also had some nice details like the combination wing tip position and strobe lights the owner had custom fabricated.  Here are those:

img_0420

So I was leaving Compton pretty happy.  I found a plane, now to just complete the purchase and get it home!

So I got home and shared the news with friends and set about getting the deal closed.  I had decided to finance part of the purchase to make sure I had some cash handy if I should find the plane needed some work when I got it home.  I had completed all the paperwork and the loan was in place.  I had used the bank AOPA had refered me to.  That part of this experience was great.  There company I financed this through:

https://www.usalliance.org/

I highly recommend them!!  But as part of financing with them was the need to use an escrow company to facilitate the deal.  No worries, seemed best for both parties.  But here was the unexpected snag.  The plane wasn’t being sold be the currently registered owner.  It was being sold by a close friend of his.  The airport gang was a bunch of extremely nice older folks that had bought and sold many planes but more in the here is a pile of cash, quick hand shake and simple hand written bill of sale.

The idea of an escrow company getting in the middle was not how they did business.  Add to that that the fellow that was primarily making this sale was not “online” in any way.  So electronically signed document, email or even final payment via wire transfer just weren’t going to happen.  So I scanned and sent every document I had collected to the escrow company and they looked it all over.  They pretty quickly said “uhm, nope” you don’t have anything signed by the currently registered owner that says the fellow that you are trying to buy this plane from owns the plane and has the right to sell it.  So a horrible game began, the escrow company fex ex-ed the required docs down with a completed return envelope.  A week went by and nothing.   Eventually I hear that the seller had sent back something via fed ex but to a different escrow company.  Grrrr.

So when the escrow company got what was sent back it was not the forms that the escrow company had sent but another hand writtent bill of sale with no signature from the registered owner!  In the mean time I get a somewhat panicked call from the daughter of the fellow selling the plane worried that I was trying to cheat them out of the escrow fee.  Ugh.  I assured her I was happily paying those fees.  I then got the escrow company to speak with her husband who was a lawyer to explain what documents were required.  So he promised to get the last required document completed and sent back to the escrow company that weekend.  Alright, all back on track.  In the mean time I am working on how to get the plane from Compton to Seattle. Also how to get current and checked out in the plane.

So you learn if you live in Seattle long enough the weather here stays pretty good till late September but starts getting questionable as October progresses.  So I could see my window to get the plane flown back was closing.  So early next week I contact the escrow company and they say no sign of the docs.  By the way they had said the doc could be faxed back.  So I get in touch with the daughter of the seller and she said it was mailed via normal post!!  Grrr.  She also wasn’t sure about the address other than it was the “right” one.  Double Grrr!  They had already sent something to the wrong address.  So I asked them to fax the documents to the escrow company, not sure how they said they could do it given they had been “mailed” but OK.  Two days later I got word escrow was satisfied for me to set a closing date.  So I set up a closing date of October 2o.  Now to get down there and collect my new bird!  Easy peasy, right!  Well, no…

I had realized I had a potential weekend prior to the trip to retrieve the plane to get an Ercoupe check out.  So I scheduled two and a half days with a fellow named “wolf Edmonds” who had a flight school operation with an Ercoupe .  Awesome I thought!  I could go down there (Oregon), get current and learn the quirks of my soon to be new plane.  I had the previous weekend tried to schedule some time with an awesome fellow named Dennie to start working on getting my BFR done.  But the weekend we scheduled had 20 knot winds on the ground and closer to 45 knots in the air!  Yikes, not ideal if you haven’t flown in 17 years like me!!  But I met him and we went up, I did a couple of pattens of the field a couple fo touch and goes and managed to not get us killed.  In fact I think Dennie was pleasantly surprised, relieved may have been closer!  We had to stop as the weather was getting worse but we talked about the trip to get the Coupe back.

He said he was totally up for flying down with me and us flying the coupe back.  In fact he sort of seemed excited.  I could get my Ercoupe check out and BFR as part of the trip!! What could go wrong. Particularly since I was going to spend a couple of days the weekend before the trip learning the coupe with Wolf.  I’d be current and we’d have a great trip home!  A plan with alternatives in case it went wrong!

So it did go wrong!  The weekend I was supposed to go train with Wolf had terrible weather.  Tornadoes spotted in the area!  The day I would be arriving we might have been able to fly for a couple of hours but it was going to get rainy and massively windy.  The day before the trip I canceled the airline tickets and canceled with Wolf.  Grrr.  But no worries I thought, I was still heading down with Dennie and I would train on the way back!  The weather in Seattle was looking bad the day we left but looked to opening up for a couple of days to let us get back.  So we committed and headed down to retrieve my new bird!  Had I mentioned Dennie while a very accomplished pilot had never flown an Ercoupe.  Yeah, well there was that.  But hey, as they say “no guts, no glory!”  Of course there is also that saying “there are bold pilots and old pilots but no old bold pilots!”  The good news was I’d already insured the plane and we’d be covered based on his qualifications and it was covered me taking training in the plane.

So in summary,  what did I get:

  • 1946 classic 415-D (well a C converted to a D) in excellent shape
  • Flat windshield
  • small rear windows
  • polished finish
  • fabric wings with excellent covering
  • mid time C-85
  • Extremely low time airframe
  • no damage history
  • full panel with a decent GPS
  • fresh mags and battery
  • original styled yokes (turns out mine are installed upside down to not block instruments)
  • some new awesome airplane friends!

Almost everything I was looking for!  The new friends were bonus!  Dennie and I found ourselves the morning of October 21 at the curb at LAX waiting for a ride to the Compton airport from Rodney and discussing the journey home!  Adventure was waiting!  I had just had a major birthday and was about to achieve a major life goal.  To take ownership of my own airplane!

The next blog entry will be about the encounter with the airport gang, checking the plane out, flying the plane and the way we all got back to Seattle!  It should make for a fun read!

The next installment!

This entry was posted in Aviation, Creativity, Entertainment, flying, Musings. Bookmark the permalink.

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