Licensed Pilot and Ercoupe Owner Samuel Brozina Shares a Brief History of Former Aerospace and Defense Manufacturer Engineering and Research Corporation, or ERCO
Founded almost 90 years ago, Engineering and Research Corporation, more commonly known as ERCO, was an aerospace and defense manufacturer famed for designing the ERCO Ercoupe, a low-wing monoplane aircraft beloved by vintage aviation enthusiasts including Samuel Brozina. A licensed pilot, New Jersey native, and graduate of Cumberland County College in Vineland, NJ, Brozina looks back on the history of ERCO, first established to produce tools for manufacturing aircraft, parts, and propellers.
“The company was started by Henry Berliner in 1930,” explains Samuel. Henry was, he says, the son of Emile Berliner. Emile Berliner had, previously, patented a variety of inventions tied to acoustics and sound. He was also a pioneer of modern helicopter innovation and development, responsible for the experimental Berliner Helicopter, according to aviation enthusiast Samuel Brozina.
“Henry Berliner originally founded ERCO to make tools for the production of airplanes, propellers, and other parts,” adds Samuel Brozina. “Berliner soon met aeronautical engineer Fred Weick,” he explains, “who had previously worked on an experimental aircraft with an emphasis on cutting edge safety features.”
The pair subsequently began work on what would come to be known as the ERCO Ercoupe. A lifelong aviation enthusiast, Samuel Brozina, from Millville, NJ, is a particular fan of the ERCO Ercoupe, owning one of fewer than a thousand examples of the low-wing monoplane aircraft still registered to fly in America. “The Ercoupe was designed and built by ERCO until shortly before World War II,” adds the expert, “following which several other manufacturers went on to continue its production, post-war.”
“Alongside Berliner, Fred Weick, in the early days, called it his ‘safety airplane,'” reveals Brozina, “and just one year after work started, a prototype Ercoupe took to the skies for the first time.”
Struggling to source a suitable engine to power the new airplane, ERCO hired specialist engine design engineer Harold Morehouse. “What he designed,” says Samuel, “was the inverted, in-line I-L 116.”
A year later, however, and with affordability a priority, second only to safety, ERCO discovered a more cost-effective option in the all-new Continental A-65 engine. “The A-65 generated similar horsepower,” Samuel Brozina explains, “but for around half the cost.”
The finished product was certified by the Civil Aviation Authority in 1940. Yet, in 1947, the designs, parts, tools, materials, and distribution rights for the aircraft were sold to Sanders Aviation, who continued to produce the Ercoupe post-World War II, independently of Berliner, Weick, and their team.
“In total, ERCO and Sanders Aviation successfully manufactured and sold slightly more than 5,000 Ercoupes,” adds Brozina, wrapping up, “before the small aircraft market in the U.S. began to fall into decline.”