Buy Your Plane at Penney’s
For a few magical years, it looked like every family would own an airplane.
- By Paul Glenshaw
- Air & Space magazine, November 2013
(Page 4 of 4)
Berliner had to move quickly. His three shifts were cut to one, part-time. Then he shut down the Riverdale, Maryland plant for a month. The aviation press began reporting a “seasonal slump” in the light-airplane market, as had happened during the fall and winter before the war. Willie Wingflap knew better: “It looks to me,” he said, “as if the boom was only a pop.”
It was true. The manufacturers’ supply outpaced an over-predicted demand. The full-page newspaper ads and the department store showrooms disappeared. As for the light-airplane industry, Piper, Cessna, and Beech survived, but many others went under. In 1947, Berliner sold all of Ercoupe—rights, tooling, and materials—to Bob Sanders, the first of many manufacturers who would try to make the Ercoupe profitable. Ultimately, only about 5,500 were built.
Although the Ercoupe was never really successful as a commercial product, the Ercoupe Owners Club estimates more than 2,000 are flying today—a testament to Weick’s design and vision. Weick went on to make many great contributions to agricultural and civilian flying. Oliver Parks never slowed down, but donated his beloved air college to Saint Louis University, and left aviation for the business of prefabricated housing.
Just two years after the giant Macy’s New York Times ad helped launched the department store airplane experiment, another ad was published to end it. It took up no more than an inch in the classified section of the October 1947 issue of Flying magazine: Ercoupe 46. Display model with special paint job, starter, generator, and battery. 2 hours total time. $2100. Also Ercoupe 46, 25 hours total time, never damaged. $2000. Airadio—2 way, never used, $100. R.H. Macy & Co., Dept. 270, Herald Sq., NY.
Paul Glenshaw is a writer from Silver Spring, Maryland.