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Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage

About this collection

Photographs from the Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO) Collection documenting the production of the Ercoupe plane at the company's Riverdale, Maryland factory in the 1940's. The development of this small aircraft was one of ERCO's most significant achievements in the aeronautics industry.

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Worker assembling a line of Ercoupe planes on factory floorCollection Location: College Park Aviation Museum

Collection Overview: Henry Berliner founded Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO) in 1930 in Washington, DC. In 1937, Berliner purchased 50 acres of land in Riverdale, MD, near the College Park Airport, and built the large ERCO factory and airstrip. One of ERCO's most significant achievements was the development of the Ercoupe aircraft.

The Ercoupe, designed by aeronautical engineer Fred E. Weick, contained many innovative design features that produced an aircraft that was safe, easy to fly, and certified by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) as "characteristically incapable of spinning." The first experimental model of the Ercoupe was test flown at College Park airport in 1937. The first Ercoupe, serial no. 1, was owned by George Brinckerhoff and flown at College Park Airport, and now belongs to the National Air and Space Museum.

During World War II, the ERCO factory produced several products under contract with the U.S. Government, including gun turrets. ERCO earned an "E" award for excellence in meeting manufacturing goals in its war contracts and employed hundreds of local residents in its wartime efforts.

In 1947, Berliner sold the drawings, tools, parts, materials and distribution rights for the Ercoupe to Sanders Aviation, although the small aircraft market had fallen into decline. In all, ERCO and Sanders Aviation sold just over 5,000 Ercoupes.

The photos in the ERCO collection cover many different aspects of the production, sale and use of the Ercoupe. Also included in the collection are sales brochures, scrapbooks containing newspaper clippings about the Ercoupe from all over the country, and pieces of Ercoupe memorabilia.

 
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