The above image is an animation of the actual type of airplane that my father owned and flew for several years up until after my birth. He gave up the plane for his business and family. It was an Ercoupe (pronounced aircoupe). At the time it came out it was a revolutionary plane; it was certified by the FAA to be spin proof (recall John Denver's unfortunate incident) and stall proof (stalling may be what brought U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone's plane down). According to NASA, it was the first of any aircraft to be tested with rocket boosters. (This is confirmed by NASA's own web site: see under 1941 here and click on the third thumbnail here). Learn about the connection between the Ercoupe and the Mars landing. The plane was also one of the few that could fly with its bubble canopy window down. Put an Ercoupe (manufactured in the forties) in a modern airfield and it would not look out of place. But go to a fly-in where the Ercoupe is parked among its contemporaries of the same vintage and it is striking how different and modern it looks. The Ercoupe was the only airplane to ever have been displayed in Macy's Department Store windows. Click here to hear an Ercoupe starting up (turn up your sound), as found on another site. Another innovation of the Ercoupe's inventor was the "tricycle" landing gear (From the Ground Up, by Fred E. Weick, pg. 149-150, c. 1988 by the Smithsonian Institution). Most modern planes now use the tricycle landing gear system, but check out the antique planes before the Ercoupe's time, and you will see that most planes used a "tail dragger". Now, even the Challenger Space Shuttle uses the Ercoupe's configuration.
Ercoupe picture he had displayed in his office.
"Although it is only a two-seater, the Ercoupe was always faster than its contemporaries and will buzz along very pleasantly all day at 100 mph... about the worst thing you can say about an Ercoupe is that it was years ahead of its time." (---Basic Guide to Flying, c. 1975; by: Paul Fillingham; a pilot and former editor of Private Pilot magazine). So why was this airplane's production discontinued? (I'm asked this all the time). Answer: It was designed and marketed with the thought in mind that there would be an "airplane in every garage." Yes, it was believed by many in the 1940s that airplane sales could equal that of automobile sales. This market never really existed, and along with the private plane sales recession after W.W.II, this superbly designed plane was eventually discontinued. Air Progress magazine (May 1978) said it best: "Ercoupe--the Great Silver Hope of the immediate postwar Everyman's Airplane market... There is no question in my mind that in its day the Ercoupe was the best researched, best designed, and best tested light airplane ever produced, as well as being one of the best performers for the installed horsepower. Even today it has few peers. Its only failure is that it was produced for a market that didn't exist and never will exist. There is no 'Everyman's Airplane' market... Extra engineering and testing to develop and produce a technically sophisticated, extremely successful safety plane were unappreciated... The theory of the mass market has been tested and found wanting."
During the time that he owned an Ercoupe (1946 through 1956), it must have been an important item in his life, as he later always prominently displayed a picture of it in the private office of his future very successful auto auction business. (See more Ercoupe pictures at the bottom of this page).
But the above is only a small part of the story of Irving C. Mondore (known as Irv). Successful business man, family man, public office holder, he was the embodiment of those qualities which most men can only dream of. He graduated salutatorian from high school, and then was elected to membership in the Sigma Phi Sigma honorary society in college. Early on he was a farmer (with a large herd of 100 milking cows) and even a school teacher at the age of 21 (back when they had muti-grades in one large school room)! Those were before my time.
Perhaps the best material representation of him was reflected in his successful business started in 1954 and owned until 1977 ... Syracuse Auto Auction, Inc., which in its day was one of the largest businesses of its type in the North Eastern U.S. A wholesale auto auction for car dealers only, he built the auction up to over several hundred vehicles per sale, running cars through 4 selling lanes at the same time. He was renown for his honesty and fair play. More than one dealer expressed that my father's word was as good as gold. Here is an aerial photo of the auction taken Wednesday evening, 7/21/71. Note the four large doors which vehicles are driven through for auctioning and out the other side.
My father's faith was deep, quiet, and abiding. He was not one to wear religion on his sleeve (as the pejorative saying goes); it was never through vain words as he walked the walk like few others that I have ever known. It manifested itself quietly in his daily walk as the faithful husband, loving father, honest businessman, good neighbor and citizen. His words and actions were seasoned with grace and never found with arrogance nor haughtiness. He fulfilled what is known as the biblical Golden Rule greater than any person I have ever personally known. The faith he had was not some amorphous fluff; he knew the One who came to die for him. For pictures of his parents, my grandparents, and his baby picture, go into this link.
Above, Bible presentation from my father to me.
All of us kids each received a Bible personally from him.
This sound file is from the beginning of a speech in the 1970s to a group of students at the Morrisville College. Although it's in a totally secular context, count the times he uses the phrase "fellowman" in just these few seconds (if only modern teachers taught with this emphasis!). This is from his living and breathing the Golden Rule. It will take a couple of minutes to load. Click here for sound (wav file).
His closing in a letter to me when I was in the
(U.S. Army, Berlin Brigade)...
That's me in Germany at that time, leaning against a "deuce and a half"...
This summer, while going to church at the Jordstadt Castle in the Thousand Islands, another church goer told me of an Ercoupe located in a hanger in Canada! I have never seen an Ercoupe, so while on vacation in August 2000, my wife and I eagerly sought out that plane. Below is a juxtaposition of my father and his own Ercoupe many decades ago (b/w photo), and me with an Ercoupe in the year 2000 (bottom color photo). The Canadian owner has graciously offered to take me on a flight. If you are extremely observant, you may have noticed that this Ercoupe has a different number than the one seen above. He first owned NC93955 for one year, and then owned NC2406H for a bunch of years after that one. Both were 1946 Ercoupes.
1/2002 update follows:
I have found my fathers Ercoupe!
Return to Gold Mountain home page. Or, see Irv's parents and baby picture.
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