No matter where he goes, Tim Fox’s green Ercoupe draws a crowd
“The first time I saw it, I thought, ‘my God, that is green!’” says Tim Fox, of Fort Wayne, Ind., describing the first time he laid eyes on his Ercoupe. “Green” does not even come close to describing Fox’s 1946-C model. At last year’s AirVenture, the bright color drew people to the aircraft in the Vintage parking area and Fox stood by, proudly basking in the appreciation for his airplane.
“I guess you could say it is a lime green,” Fox chuckled. “I’ve been flying since 1968 and I have owned several airplanes. This one certainly has attracted the most attention.”
“It was this color when I bought it,” he continued, adding that he is the second owner to leave the green paint. “The aircraft was bought by father of a friend of mine and it was green when he got it. He is an A&P and he put the airplane into good condition again and recovered the wings. At that point he had a choice of whether or not to strip the rest of the airplane and turn it into a normal color, but he decided to leave it alone.”
According to Fox, the Ercoupe is a C-model, which means it can legally be flown as a Sport Pilot. It was this aspect that drew him to the Ercoupe. After more than 40 years of flying, he decided to focus on the fun factor.
“I am primarily a pleasure pilot,” he said. “I log what I have to for currency and to keep legal. I have thousands of hours and multiple ratings, but I quit using most of them years and years ago. I used to fly retractable gear airplanes with high horsepower, then one day I went for a ride in a friend’s Piper Cub. We were flying low and slow over corn fields and it was fun. I realized that what I was doing — the high performance, retractable gear flying — wasn’t necessarily fun, so I refocused my flying. I just want to have fun. I don’t care to shoot ILS approaches anymore, I don’t care to fly in bad weather — that’s not fun, is work!”
The green coupe is the second Ercoupe Fox has owned. He still had the first one, but said it was in “pieces all over the shop floor, where it has been for the past 10 years” because of a Super Stinson 108 project he was working on.
The Ercoupe was designed in 1939 by Fred Weick. The original airplanes did not have rudder pedals or flaps. They are supposed to be stall-proof and, therefore, spin-proof. The engine is an 85-hp Continental.
“It scoots along at 100 mph, which makes it a good little cross-country airplane,” Fox said. “Landing is an exercise in energy management. The ‘coupe sinks like a stone with no power. On approach I like to carry a few knots of power because it has been my experience that the elevator gets a little sloppy when you get near stall, and of course you can’t land on the nosewheel. You have to land on the mains and in a crab.”
Fox’s coupe has the vertical sliding windows. “In the summer those windows rarely see daylight,” he said. “I fly it around with the windows down, my elbow hanging out on the edge, and a big smile on my face.”
Fox’s airplane has two venturi tubes mounted on it. He notes that it doesn’t have much in the way of instrumentation, but adds that over the years previous owners have probably added and subtracted from the panel to support their flying styles.
“For avionics I fly with a portable GPS and a hand-held radio plugged into the antennae,” he said. “My navigation is done with a chart on my lap and looking out the window.”
There are some challenges when flying such a basic airplane. For example, on the way to Oshkosh, Fox had to stay out of Chicago Class B airspace because he lacks a transponder.
“I just went around the west side to avoid the Mode C veil,” he says with a shrug, “using the chart and the GPS to keep me out of their airspace.”
Fox also is a volunteer at AirVenture. In 2011 he celebrated his 30th year of helping at the show.
“I am part of the B-17 crew and crew for the Tri-Motor. I help out at the Weeks Center and I handle security in the Vintage area and assist with Type Club parking. My wife is also here. She runs the charging station by the Red Barn and sells ice. We love it here!”
When he wasn’t out helping others at last year’s show, he was relaxing in the shade of trees in vintage camping, watching people react to his airplane.
“They definitely notice it!” he crowed. “People make fun of it, and it’s fun to watch their reactions. The only bad thing is that if you make a mistake in this airplane, everybody knows it is you!”