February 2024 Newsletter


The Coeur d’Alene Airport Association (in association with The Flyers)

is an Idaho nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting

the Coeur d’Alene Airport and General Aviation

Aircraft of the Month

1967 Aircoupe


By Mike Kincaid


After a particularly nice flight in the Super Cub last fall, I was minding my own business when fellow CDA Airport Association member Evan Seltz emailed me a listing for an airplane from the Bird Aviation Museum & Invention Center in Sagle. I had no intention of adopting another airplane – especially an unusual-looking make and model which I knew nothing about -- nor did I want another project. However, something intrigued me about Evan’s photos, triggering my memory about having gawked at the little Aircoupe dangling from the ceiling on a museum walk-though with Dr. Bird many moons ago. What the heck, it would at least be worth a drive up North to see how it had aged over the years and the blazing autumn colors along the country road to the museum complex would be a bonus.

Southward Ho.

Dene Jones, Evan Seltz, Riley Stanton, and I arrived onsite in Sagle in early November where Rachel’s husband joined in to get the Aircoupe road-worthy.

Although the Bird Aircoupe has a folding wing modification, we found it easier to remove the wings and carefully place them among puffy cushions in Dene’s covered truck bed. A big plus was the trailer Dr. Bird had designed specifically for transporting Aircoupes sitting next to the hangar. Within a couple of hours, we had the ‘Coupe loaded on the EZ-Loader trailer and began the journey down the winding road to HWY 95. With a few waves and smiles from curious motorists, we safely navigated the trip to the Aircoupe’s new home at KCOE so the real “fun” could begin.

When I first saw N21DB with Dr. Bird, about 20 years ago

Dene Jones and Evan Seitz loading the wings

On the trailer after the trip down the HWY 95 to KCOE

In the hangar.

From the vacuum pump peeking out the front of the cowl, to the gascolator mounted to the firewall, all accessories were either replaced, repaired, or serviced and all new rubber hoses were ordered. Although the panel is vintage, the avionics (except for the transponder – thank you, Addison Pemberton for donating a replacement), were in good shape. The biggest task, under the skillful hands of the very patient Tim Mott, was bringing the control system up to operating standards. Fortunately, Tim, a graduate of Embry Riddle, knows what he’s doing and we found guidance from manuals, on-line sources, and a particularly helpful fellow named Vernon who has a yard-full of Ercoupes and Aircoupes in South Carolina. Three months of hard labor and becoming on a first name basis with the parts staff at Aircraft Spruce and Univar (the current certificate holder), what one Ercoupe Club member claims was one of Dr. Bird’s favorite planes to fly was ready for a test flight.

Test Flight With Tim Mott at the controls


Part of the fun when adopting a new plane is learning the history, and the Ercoupe/Aircoupe has an amazing backstory. Turns out, the creator, Fred Weick (thanks to KCOE Ercoupe owner Gary Luke for the loan of his book, “The Ercoupe”), came up with the concept over lunches with a fellow pilot Charles Lindberg in 1930. The plan was to design a plane which was easy and safe to fly and had reasonable speed, comfort and cost. Back in those days – much like today – stall and spin accidents were the cause of most serious and fatal accidents, so resolving that became the main focus. 

After building what may have been the first STOL pusher, Fred joined the ERCO (the name “Ercoupe” was a play on the company name) corporation in 1936 to modify his rough design into a plane more suited to the commercial market. The pusher became a tractor and STOL capabilities were traded for speed and comfort. The result was what Fred believed was the first low-wing airplane with modern tricycle gear, which was so easy to fly in the two-control configuration, eliminating rudder pedals and using the control wheel to control both yaw and roll, (it was later available with or without rudder pedals) that the minimum time to obtain a Private Pilot Certificate was reduced from 35 hours to 25 by the Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA, now the FAA). To address the safety issue, the twin tail and limited elevator travel enabled “spin-proof” certification. LIFE Magazine dubbed it “nearly foolproof,” including photos of a pilot landing with his hands in the air in a 1940 edition. Fred’s design of a tricycle gear with a steerable nose wheel would be adopted for large aircraft first by Douglas for the CD-4E. The military fitted tri-gear first to the P-38, then the B-25. 

Before WW II interrupted production of small aircraft with aluminum being diverted for miliary use, 112 Ercoupes were produced with some of those used by the Civilian Pilot Training Program and the CAP. Two wooden-framed Ercoupes were built during the war, but the extra weight limited performance. In August of 1941, an Ercoupe was used by the U.S Army Air Forces for the first rocket-assisted takeoff when two rocket units were mounted under the wings.

Post-war, the demand for private aircraft was so high that ERCO produced 4,311 airplanes in 1945 alone, selling for $2,665, with workers turning out 34 a day on three shifts. Ercoupes could be ordered directly from the factory in Maryland, or purchased from the showrooms of Department stores like Gimbels, Macys and J.C. Penney. 

Change in latitudes, change in attitudes.

The market for private aircraft crashed in 1946, forcing closure of the Maryland facility. Various companies would obtain the rights to produce Eroupes over the years, cumulating in a total production of 5,685 airplanes. Mooney was the last company to produce what had been renamed the Aircoupe, but they turned in into the Cadet M-10, eliminating the twin tail and adding a vertical leading edge – to the distain of ‘Coupe purists. Produced by six different manufacturers in five locations across the U.S, with seven versions, it inspired enthusiasm for lightplanes unknown otherwise in the industry. N21DB is one of the last Aircoupes produced and, along with rudder pedals, has a multi-page 337 listing all the improvements, refurbishing, and modifications.

The Ercoupe/Aircoupe gained fans amongst a variety of aviator types and has been featured in many movies and TV shows. Sam Walton flew his around the country to scout new locations and to keep tabs on stores, once landing in an empty Wal-Mart parking lot for a surprise visit. John Travolta, whose first plane was an Aircoupe, commented it flew like a car – something he didn’t yet own. The rudder pedal-less models enabled those without the use of legs to become pilots and Jessica Cox – born without arms – today pilots her Ercoupe around the country as a motivational speaker. 

Fred Weick would take a professor appointment at Texas A&M where in reinvented to agricultural plane into the AG-1, then moved to Piper Aircraft where he helped develop the Cherokee. Frank and his wife, Dorothy, flew their Ercoupe all over the USA and parts of Mexico and attended Ercoupe Owners Club gatherings well into his 80s.

What’s next.

The goal is to build time in the Aircoupe over the next few months, putting the low-hours, but old-age engine to the test, and basically shaking all the bugs out. Long term plans include inspiring fledging pilots and doing our best to represent a flying version of the Bird Aviation Museum collection. Hopefully, N21 “Doctor Bird” will be able to drop in at the Ercoupe fly-in at Cavanaugh this June. 

If you'd like your aircraft featured in an upcoming issue, please send an email with at least two photos. One should be a photo of the aircraft, and one a photo of you, with or without your aircraft. Include a brief history about it or explain what makes it special to you.

Send us an email

Dale Gibboney

CDAAA to support Kootenai County

Board of Commissioners Candidate

After hangar sessions detailing the history and goals for KCOE, and getting his feedback, the Coeur d' Alene Flyers is proud to support Dale Gibboney for County Commissioner (Bill Brook's seat, with the Primary on May 21st).

It’d be great to have a pilot on the BOCC who could offer knowledgeable support to our outstanding Airport Director.

From Dale:

I’m Dale Gibboney and I’m a candidate for the Kootenai County Board of Commissioners. I have a strong back ground in aviation. I obtained my Private Pilots License when I was 17 years old in 1966. By the time I retired in 2014 I had an Airline Transport Pilots Certificate, 23,000 hours and type rated in 4 different jets. I’ve owned 3 different airplanes, the last I sold in about 2017. Needless to say I’m a big supporter of General Aviation. I believe KCOE needs to prosper and grow along with Kootenai County because the airport has been and needs to continue to be a vital part of the County.

Dale’s website: https://www.daleforcommissioner.com/

Dale is open to our questions and suggestion: 



From the CDAAA President

  • At our next meeting on February 13th, 5pm at the Hagadone Jetcenter we will have a short presentation by Leslie Duncan, one of our Kootenai county commissioners.

  • I would like to thank all our membership for their contribution to the Coeur d’Alene Airport Association.

  • The rules and standards subcommittee have finished reviewing the document and will be reviewed by Gaston for Faa compliance. At that point, it needs to go through legal and the advisory board for recommendation, and then on to the commissioners for approval. Much thanks to Joan, Frank, Mike, Harry and Gaston.

  • The airport administration is in process of opening up new ground leases for hangers on Delta three.

  • Tentative tower opening is May 1 through the end of September. This should make Coeur d’Alene airport safer.

  • Initial planning for a ski and grass landing strip parallel with 2 and 20 is in the work, as the VOR will be removed sometime in March. 

  • For all who want to see how the Kodiak 100 and 900 are manufactured, we have a tour coming up in 11:00 am March 22 at the factory in Sandpoint. Please let me know if you are interested.

  • Jim Walch will have a presentation for us on ramp checks by the FAA, and what to expect. 

  • Donna should have a presentation for us on scholarships.

  • Next month we will have a presentation by Dale Gibboney, our candidate for district 1 commissioner.

  • The airport noise Townhall meeting was canceled due to illness and is probably going to be rescheduled sometime this spring or summer. 

  • Please bring your great ideas to our next meeting for the Coeur d’Alene Airport Association's summer activities. 

Cheers, Harry Craviotto


2024 dues are now due and can be paid at the February meeting

Upcoming Meetings

Coeur d'Alene Airport Association

Tuesday, February 13

5pm @ Hagadone Jetcenter

Airport Advisory Board Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, January 14

5pm @ Airport Office

10375 Sensor Ave., Hayden

Highlights of the January Airport Advisory Board Meeting

Staff Report: Airport Director (Gaston Patterson):

  • Bomb Threat: The Airport received an email stating an intent to blow up the taxiways and runways. Director Patterson immediately called the Sheriff’s Department which promptly responded to the Admin office. Spokane Approach was also called to reroute all air traffic and the airport went into lockdown. AP field personnel were dispatched to perform visual ground inspections along the taxiways and runways as well as the perimeter of the airport. Being satisfied there were no ground disturbances, and noting that this email had been sent to other airports, the airport reopened for air traffic. The FBI and FAA will continue their investigation into the origin of the email.

  • Temporary Tower: The Airport is looking into options for building a temporary tower, one that can sustain us for as long as a 10-year lifespan. That is about how long it will take for the FAA process to get a permanent facility for us, which we still intend to pursue. Currently FAA owned and operated towers are operating with about 40% staffing and multiple towers have just closed their doors because they have zero staff. However, it is within our power to solve the issue ourselves internally and provide the level of safety and service to our users by implementing a temporary tower.

  • If we accept any FAA monies for this project then we have to comply with their guidelines and restrictions which puts us back to the beginning of that 5-10 year process of waiting. The Airport already has the funds to do this as well as contract for the tower operators with the support of the Forest Service. This project is taxpayer neutral. The Airport generates sufficient revenue from fees, lease payments, and such, so is able to pay for this. Though to move forward requires a special budget request approval at the County level, we already have the fund balance available.

  • Gaston’s timeline is to have a full pro forma on the idea before the end of 2023. We would like to have the tower structure on order the first part of 2024 in order to have it erected by May 1st. Depending on suppliers and options, it could be delayed until June or July, in which case the tower tech company would bring their own trailer operations so we can still be in operation by May 1st. Then the crew can be transferred into our facility once it is completed. We want it to be operational through November 1st.

Other info:

  • An airport diagram update has been published showing the beacon in its new location, the old electrical building removed, and the new B3 taxiway.

  • Final discussion and action on the COE Complaints Policy (Action) There was some discussion to clarify the definition of “stakeholders” as well to understand the purpose of including the term “Kootenai County”, both which are found in the first paragraph.

The definition of “stakeholders” was pulled from the BOCC Guidelines for the AAB and for the purposes of this resolution refers to airport users and the surrounding community.




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The purpose of the association is to preserve the Coeur d’Alene airport, improve community relations, foster bilateral communications between this association and airport operations, participate in planned growth, enhance flying safety and promote fellowship among pilots and aviation enthusiasts.