Why We Preflight. Every Flight.

After a May acceptance flight and June departure attempt, Alex and I were frustrated with this Ercoupe mission that finally took off near the end of July. After getting the bugs worked out, this tuned into a fun trip where I was able to get started a day early and enjoy a leisurely pace on the way to Texas (while still flying very fully day, this timing took about a half day longer) to spend short overnights with friends in Lawrenceburg, TN and Fort Worth, TX. Arriving on schedule, Alex and I enjoyed a nice acceptance flight around the Ercoupe’s new home in Spicewood, TX before I made my way home.

KCAK – KPHD – KPMH – I96 – 2M2 – KCKM – F51 – KFWS – 88R


Alex and I were first connected in May after reading “1400NM THROUGH THE AIR-COUPED UP IN THIS BEAUTIFUL 1946 ER-PLANE” on a Facebook post a few months back. The stars aligned for us to work out the ferry flight for the potentially new to him Ercoupe and since I was local, I offered to head over for an acceptance flight before the purchase.

This beautiful example of an Ercoupe has been decked out with a light IFR panel and replica vintage British primary training livery. The acceptance flight was simple and the plane was well documented, updated and a joy to fly. After answering Alex’s questions, facetiming a walkaround and sending pictures, he was excited for the purchase of his new primary trainer to acquire his sport pilot license.

Trip Attempt 1

In June, the day came to head back out to the airplane and begin the long journey south. Unfortunately the plane had other plans… After our first attempt to get going, the runup raised some concerns as setting power for the mag check did not provide enough static RPM; additionally, after a certain point of increasing RPM, additional power would slightly decrease RPM. After leaning out and running hard for a few minutes to try and clean any fowling on the plugs, this didn’t improve. So I taxied back in and we arranged a game plan with the former owner to taxi the plane over to his MX shop, clean and gap the plugs and give it another go.

There was a lot of carbon buildup on the spark plugs and cleaning them up proved helpful in the now normal post MX runup. After a few hours waiting and now satisfied with the preflight and runup, I taxied out to depart RWY 23. One more runup for good measure before taking the runway looked good so we pressed on! Lined up and plenty of runway to go, I added power on the roll and began accelerating. With power all the way in and the RPM’s increasing, increasing, leveling off at 1800RPM and then decreasing to 1500RPM aborting the takeoff was an easy call. I announced to the tower the aborted takeoff and was able to catch the left turnoff onto Bravo without interrupting the arrival behind me.

Frustrated and slightly annoyed, I taxied back to the Mx shop and we decided to call it a day. There was too much work at the moment to dive further than the spark plugs and Alex and the previous owner made a plan to inspect things further to diagnose the issue.

Trip Attempt 2 (Day 1)

A month later, the plane had been ferried down to KPHD where the mechanic from KCAK who knew the history of this plane was working. It turns out there was a stuck valve on the #4 cylinder and the mixture was set a smidge too high. Having the plane opened as much as they did, the plane received a 100 hour inspection and was signed off for me to make my way down and give this another try.

Rental car dropped off, plane topped off, preflight complete and runup to go… I taxied out to bring up power and do my mag check. The plane brought up power and held it beautifully! Equipped with one mechanical magneto and one electric ignition system (EIS), I began to cycle them… EIS off… no change in RPM (hmmm)… EIS on, Mag off… engine starts coughing and shutting down… catching it with the magneto to keep her alive I pulled the power back, checked circuit breakers and called the mechanics cell to have him come watch the next attempt. He made it our and observed the same thing happening so I pulled back to the hanger and we opened up the cowling… again.

Luckily this one was easy to chase down. While timing the engine post Mx, the fuse located with the EIS was blown – it turns out this is a common issue while timing the engine. It would have been nice for this to have been caught before it was released from maintenance but nevertheless a simple fix and the plane was ready to go. I hoped.

Now with another preflight and runup behind me, things actually looked and felt good! I taxied out to RWY 15, made one final runup and was happy to push the power in and have every bit of 2300RPM pulling us off the runway. For the rest of the journey there were always runups and Mag/EIS completed but thankfully no more issues. Two fuel stops later, the Ercoupe and I were at 2M2 in Lawrenceburg, TN for the night where I was able to finally get a closer look at my friend Landon’s hometown, business and favorite dinner spot.

Trip Attempt 2 (Day 2)

The next morning, Landon and I had a quick coffee breakfast and he dropped me off back at the plane. I topped off the fuel tank and continued on toward Texas. Feeling more comfortable with the plane and having lots of options between. My second leg for the day really stretched the Ercoupe’s wings with a 4+ hour leg between KCMK and F51. This long leg helped shorten up the final leg under the Dallas/Fort Worth Bravo Airspace, the shorter flight was a great relief for what would be my highest workload of the trip flying between multiple Delta airports, massive antennas and finally having traffic to contend with.

Settled into Fort Worth Spinks for the evening, my friend Ben picked me up and I was able to see his new home in Fort Worth. After sneaking in a shower and catching up with Luna (the family dog), I enjoyed dinner with Ben & Emily before we came home to watch the wedding recap video they had just received – I was their Best Man a few months prior so this was prefect timing!

Trip Attempt 2 (Day 3)

The final leg of the final day had arrived! Ben dropped me off at Spinks in the morning and the awesome crew at Harrison Aviation had the plane topped off ready to go. Another happy preflight an runup behind me, the Ercoupe and I blasted off for this final 2 hour leg to her new home.

Alex and I met near the runway so I could play follow the leader taxiing the plane passed beautiful hangars and hangar homes to her new home in a shared hangar. After quickly catching up and taking a look around his new plane, we had to seal the bond for Alex with a first flight! We spent some time following the Colorado River, checking out the homes of Spicewood and enjoying the breeze with the windows rolled down. It was an awesome end to what ended up being an awesome trip!

AIRCRAFT: Ercoupe 415-C



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