The origin of White Lightning

One of the best parts about interviewing someone about their airplane is that after the story is published, someone who has additional information about the airframe will often send a note.

After his Ercoupe “White Lightning” was featured in General Aviation News, Kevin Gassert from Cincinnati, Ohio, was lucky enough to hear from Mark Hardin, an Ercoupe aficionado out of Texas who could shed some light on the name of Gassert’s black airplane.

According to Hardin, Gassert is in possession of Ercoupe serial number 38, adding that in post World War II, “everyone called the Ercoupe a poor man’s P-38.”

“Now let’s go to the 1960s, when the Confederate Air Force (now Commemorative Air Force) was formed,” Hardin continued. “Lefty Gardner was a founding member of the CAF. He flew a P-38 that he named ‘White Lightning’. It was white and raced at Reno and performed at CAF shows for many years. It was the most well known P-38. Your ‘coupe was painted black and named ‘White Lighting’ as an ironic funny tribute to the poor man’s P-38, and the original ‘White Lightning,’ Lefty’s P-38.”


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