VP-5 Alumni Association

PO Box 7121
Jacksonville, FL 32238
Nick Mulich - nicknjax@gmail.com

The following info is courtesy of  the Holiday Inn - Commonwealth. Click here for map

As you look around our Hotel, you will probably wonder why we have adopted an “Aviation” theme throughout our Holidome. Well, here’s a little history for you to take back home with you about our Hotel: This Hotel is built on the site of the former private airfield, Hart Field, which served commercial and civilian aviation needs during and shortly after World War II (1942 - 1946). Hart Field belonged to a banker who used it to grow grass seed. He had it mowed twice a year to harvest the seeds. There was no pavement, not even a paved parking lot. Surprisingly, one of the original hangers is still standing. It is located at the corner of Lane and Commonwealth Avenue now being used as a moving and storage warehouse.

The airfield was also used as a Flight School operated by pioneer Jacksonville Aviator, Laurie Yonge, during the postwar years of 1945 - 1947. Many men had been discharged from the Air Corps and needed further training for commercial and civilian pilot licenses. Many of the pilots who trained here at Hart Airfield return once a year for a convention.
If you walk into the Holidome and look above you, suspended from the ceiling is an authentic two-seat 1946 Ercoupe - the kind of airplane that once took off and landed at Hart Field.

1946 Ercoupe

The Ercoupe contained controls for only two of three axes, pitch and roll. The single pedal on the floor activated the brakes; the nosewheel received steering commands from the yoke. Freed from the difficulties of mastering the tailwheel, not to mention rudder control, Ercoupe students commonly soloed in five hours. The two small rudders were interconnected with the ailerons to help coordinate turns. The rudder’s placement at the ends of the horizontal stabilizer helped offset p-factor during the climb, and the engine was canted in mounts for the same reason.

Flying the Ercoupe was an exercise in “grin control.” In pleasant weather, it proved astonishingly easy to fly. Control response was light and coordinated turns were as simple as cranking on the yoke. Fast it wasn’t - running between 85 and 100 knots, depending on vintage and horsepower. Climb performance was also marginal - especially in warm weather and heavily loaded.

Thanks to almost 2 feet of stroke in the trailing-link gear, virtually every landing was a squeaker. You got the impression that if you brought the airplane down somewhere in the vicinity of a runway, it would do the rest. Experienced Ercoupe pilots made it look easy although those trained in conventional aircraft tended to break a sweat the first few tries. The Ercoupe was designed to rest at a negative angle of attack on the ground so that the gear remained planted and the airplane would not want to fly until rotated. Often dismissed as “not a real plane”, Fred Weick’s sportster outlasted many of its detractors.

After your meal, browse around the Holidome and look at the Ercoupe as well as the many aviational pictures displayed along the walls.

We hope you enjoy your stay at the Holiday Inn Commonwealth. Please feel free to tell us how we can make your stay more enjoyable. We look forward to seeing you again on your next trip through Jacksonville, Florida.