Meet “Tessie,” the Plane Tales Plane. She’s a 1947 Erco Ercoupe 415 CD.
Like all Ercoupes, some changes have been made. The breed is right on 75 years old, and over those seven and a half decades, nearly four generations of owners have modified each and every one of them in one way or another. Sometimes we jokingly refer to the entire model line as “Frankin-coupes.” (Like Frankenstein, get it?)
The Plane Tales plane has been modified to include a model E split elevator, shoulder belts, and a “STC” for greater weight. She’s also (legally) as happy sipping auto gas as 100 Low-Lead Av gas. And I do mean sip. With the throttle to the wall, on a bad, day she’ll drink at most 5 gallons per hour.
Of course, on the same day she’ll only do 100 miles per hour. In a dive. With a tail wind.
But that’s OK. Low-and-slow is the Plane Tales “mission.”
To friends and family, our ‘Coupe is known as “Tessie.” I’m not sure why. It just worked out that way. I want to make it clear that I’m not one of those people who goes around naming every machine in my life. For instance, my Jeep is simply my Jeep. And my computer is simply called that #$%&#@! machine.
But Tessie demanded a name, and “Tessie” is the name that just kept popping into my head. I’ve learned not to fight these things, but recently one of my editors took issue with my referring to my plane as a “she.” The editor, also a “she,” scolded me by saying; “No female pronouns for objects, please.”
Well, I’m not stupid; when I write for THAT magazine, all planes are “its.” But that’s a shame, because some planes just seem to be inherently female. Hey, and others just seem inherently male. So I don’t think this is a feminist issue, and if you don’t believe me, just read Jerrie Mocks’ excellent Three-Eight Charlie, about her around-the-world adventures in a “boy” plane.
Still, I kicked this issue around a bit, not wanting to insult any reader. But I decided that what we’re really doing here is inviting you to share our lives with us in a small way, so when in Rome… Bottom line, here at Plane Tales, the Plane Tales Plane is a girl, with a name, and I hope that does not offend any of you readers.
We often talk about Tess like she’s just any other member of the family, like one of the humans or one of the cats. But how much of a person is she, really? She certainly has a personality, I can assure you of that. But is she, you know, real? I once asked my son if he thought Tessie had a soul. He told me, “Yes, but I don’t think she always had one. After all, she’s just a machine. But she’s so old, and had so many owners, that I think she must have somehow picked one up along the way.”
From the mouths of babes…