Saturday, 25 July 2009

ERCO Ercoupe 415C-1 ZK-AQX

A surprise this morning was seeing the Ercoupe ZK-AQX at Stan Smiths workshop, obviously well along in a comprehensive rebuild.

This Ercoupe has a long and interesting history.
Allotted the registration NC94669 for the manufacturers, Engineering Research Corporation, it was immediately transported to the Belgian ERCO agents Intercontine Aeronautics at Airport d'Anvers and registered to them on the 8th August 1947 as OO-EXC.
A New Zealander, Harry Newton, who had been flying in Europe, then bought the aircraft as transport for his homeward trip. He flew the Ercoupe, suitably equipped with overload fuel tanks from Antwerp to Auckland, arriving here on the 9th October 1947. For many years this held the record for the world's longest low-powered (75hp) flight.
Rumour has it that Mr Newton had acquired funds during his travels that could raise a few embarrassing questions if he remitted them back to New Zealand through regular banking channels. Buying the Ercoupe, flying it back to NZ and then selling the asset here was the easiest way to transfer the money.
The Ercoupe was registered as ZK-AQX to Harold B Newton, Urenui, Taranaki 4/11/1947 and then passed on to the Auckland Aero Club at Mangere who assumed ownership 8/3/1949.
Unfortunatly ZK-AQX crashed at Mangere 15Apr51. The wreck was sold to Geoffery Wells, an aircraft engineer, who rebuilt the Ercoupe and registered in his name 12/2/1955. Ownership then moved to W J Jamieson, Frankton Junction 24/9/1960, J Rennie Car Sales Ltd., Newmarket, Auckland 10/3 1961 and to M H Jensen, Auckland in 1968. At this time the engine was removed from the airframe and fitted to a D.11 ZK-CKG.
A further ownership transfer was made to P W Beck, Auckland on 11/2/1972 but presumably the aircraft was out of the air by that time. The registration was finally canceled 2/5/1991.
The only other Ercoupe to operate here is Erco 425-D Ercoupe ZK-EXC/2 which after a lengthy career in the USA as N94700 arrived in NZ in 1994 and is currently based at Mt Maunganui.

At Ardmore 28Jan1967


  1. That ferry trip included stops after departing Antwerp, at Marseilles, Corsica, Malta, El Adam, Lydda, Shaibah, Karachi, Calcutta, Akyab, Rangoon, Butterworth, Singapore, Palembang, Batavia, Koepang, Darwin, Catherine, Daly Waters, Camooweal, Rockhampton, Brisbane, Coffs Harbour and Lord Howe Island.
    Not a bad cross country run !

  2. Quote:

    He flew the Ercoupe, suitably equipped with overload fuel tanks from Antwerp to Auckland, arriving here on the 9th October 1047.

    Smart move! If he'd left it much longer, he might have got caught up in the Norman Conquest! ;)

  3. I take your point, but surely there was no danger there, the Norman Conquest was going the other way - France to England?

    Anyway, date in original post amended to prevent confusion.

  4. Harold Newton is My Father.
    He returned to NewZealand after the war to find the farm in a run down state and he missed his girlfreind in England. After a Month at home he returned to England to have a crack at Marrying her. When he arrived in England he found she had slip the collar and was hooked up with a Naval officer. He was Gutted so he blew his war pension on the plane and flew home. He was the South Pacific Agent for Ercoupe for a short while but restrictions on imported goods at the time made it imposible to bring in recreational aircraft. He sold the coupe and purchased an Auster Autocar.Dad ran a airservice from Urenui for a few years and then went back to Farming. (didnt like red tape)
    Glad AQX is getting new life,
    I look faoward to seeing her fly!
    More information on AQX and Harold trip is availble on my website

  5. Good one thanks matty.
    That Auster was the J5B Autocar ZK-AYN which went to the New Plymouth Aero Club in early 1954.
    It is still exists as a restoration project with Des Lines of Swannanoa.