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I’m looking at purchasing my first airplane and am strongly considering a Mooney given the value and performance. I’m an Army Aviator with 1600 hours total time; about 120 in fixed wing with the rest in rotary wing. Most of my fixed wing experience is in Cessnas of one kind or another. I understand the transition to Mooneys is largely focused on attention to airspeeds on final considering the tendency to float if too fast. Ideally I’d like to pursue the transition and learn in my own airplane versus paying someone else’s plane payment. 
 

That’s my background. As far as the mission for the plane, I have a family of four, kids ages 9 and 11, and we’d ideally not exceed three hours of flight time on a given flight period due to bladder constraints. Flying initially would be relegated to the east coast, however we have a home in Oregon we plan to return to, where mountain flying could enter the mission scope. Price point is ideally less than 75K.
 

Considering mission and price point,  I’d prefer an F model (larger cabin and extra 20HP) but noticed the price points on C and E models are more competitive. I’d appreciate any counsel from the forum as the the feasibility of a C or E model given the mission and price. Love the Js but it mag be a bridge too far given my desire for upgraded avionics for IFR flight ($$$)

Thanks!

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Welcome KJC, Former Army aviator fixed/rotor. I love my 67 C. My kids are a little smaller 5&1. We primarily travel the southeast and I use the plane to commute to work. Very efficient. Also

SC72, I implore you to reconsider... We are short on ladies around here... We have a few that stop adding their experience to the conversation every time the locker room talk breaks out

Son, is that you?

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F or an E with good useful load would be fine. You’ll give up a little leg room for rear passengers in the E, depending everyone’s height it could be an issue. Once the pilot gets in and moves their chair forward for flight there is enough room for backseaters in my E for 2 adult females ~ 5’7”.  I’ve had 1 adult male ~6’ ~200# sit in the back, not bad if they sit with legs in the opposite side, probably roomier than coach. 

60M pilot here with an M20E. If you have more pointed questions. 
 

Jon.

 

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Morning KJC,

I have a 67 M20F and we absolutely love it!  My wife and I have a 14 year old and a 10 year old.  They fit just fine and with the tanks topped off we even have room, and W&B, for a small suitcase.  Once we climb in and slide the front seats forward the kids have more room than the front seat so legroom is not an issue for the kids.  As the kids grow we'll dip into that reserve a bit and then fly with less gas. 

As it is my longest flight is a 5.5 and still had over an hour of range at touchdown, but we usually keep the flights shorter so the kids can hop out and get a break.

I am a huge fan of the mooney, it is a very stable IFR platform and really easy to fly, once you figure out how to slow it down.  If you can find an F with the speed mods then you'll see speeds closer to a J without having to pay for the J.

If you have any questions then let me know.  I'm based on the east coast out of KHEF.

Sheriff 

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I think it really depends on how often those back seats are gonna be filled and by who. I went with a J because the extra back seat room makes a big difference for longer trips. I fly with all 4 seats filled on a regular basis. Keep in mind the kids are gonna get bigger, will they keep flying with you as they get older? A short body might work for a few years but then you might need to trade up to a mid or long. If you plan on keeping the thing for awhile get the one you will grow into rather then out grow in 3 years. At 75k I wouldnt be looking at a J though, need to be around 90-100k for a good one imo.

As said an F with speed mods is basically a J and not a bad choice. Thats what I was looking at before I was shown this J and decided to extend a bit to get the plane im gonna keep for much longer.

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All, terrific feedback, thank you. I plan to explore some financing/insurance options this week and was curious if you had preferred lenders and insurers over the course of your ownership. I don’t have much RG time so I’m sure there will be a short term inflated rate. I’ve used AVEMCO in the past for renters insurance and they seemed pretty competitive. On the finance front, I’m on totally unknown ground. I’m a loyal AOPA member but I e heard their rates tend to be a bit high. Again, appreciate your insights.

Best,

KJC

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An E model really has no rear leg room, unless the front passengers are very short legged... I use the second seat stop from the rear and nobody can put their feet down on the floor in my D model, unless there is only one rear passenger and they sit side diagonally with feet pointed sideways behind the other front seat.

My back seat is good for baggage, or a folding bike, or one small person who doesn’t mind sitting sideways.

 

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Bob Belleville used to regularly travel with 4 normal adults in his E. I do so occasionally in my C. It's never been bad enough for those flying free in the backseat to complain . . . .

The M20-C is often considered to be the best bang for the buck in general aviation. 140 knots by the book (147-148 KTAS for me), 9 gph. F models tend to run ~5-8 knots faster, with similar useful loads but more fuel.

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1 hour ago, KJC1333 said:

All, terrific feedback, thank you. I plan to explore some financing/insurance options this week and was curious if you had preferred lenders and insurers over the course of your ownership. I don’t have much RG time so I’m sure there will be a short term inflated rate. I’ve used AVEMCO in the past for renters insurance and they seemed pretty competitive. On the finance front, I’m on totally unknown ground. I’m a loyal AOPA member but I e heard their rates tend to be a bit high. Again, appreciate your insights.

Best,

KJC

It depends on how tall the pilot is. My wife and I are both 5' 10". We regularly fly with my now 16 yo who is just about to pass me up in height. He fits fine behind me, but if he complained I would just turn off the intercom. :lol:

For insurance contact @Parker_Woodruff.

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Welcome aboard KJC...

We have quite a few military aviators around here...

Many in the army flying helicopters... as you can see Jon’s avatar...

 

Looks like a Mooney could be perfect for you...

Transition Training is a great way to cover all the bases in a short amount of time...

Speed control is one of the finer details... Go-arounds and stalls are a couple of the things you want to get out of the way early on...  not terrible, but better to see them in a more controlled environment...

PP thoughts only, not a CFI...

... and, thank you for your service! :)

Best regards,

-a-

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I actually sat semi-normal, it was an instrument training flight so I was leaning over soon could see what all was going on. We flew with 4 regularly, my wife sat behind the pilot and his wife sat behind me, my seat was closer than I would like to give her room but I was still able to stay out of the way of the controls. The short bodies are a little tight with 4 but great birds

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8 minutes ago, bluehighwayflyer said:

I totally agree, of course.  I sold my J in order to keep my dad’s C, after all.  In direct answer to the OP’s question, I think that the M20C followed by the M20E are the best value Mooneys, hands down.  But to characterize them as true four seat airplanes is just a mischaracterization for most of us.  That is just the truth.  

Can't the same also be said for most 4-seat GA planes ever built? My C will carry 4 adults at 167 lb. each, plus full fuel. FAA adults have been 170 lb. for the last 50-60 years. Giving up two gallons of fuel to reach 4 × 170 is very close; many GA planes can't reach it at all if there's enough fuel for even a short XC trip included . . . . I've got well over 5 hours, almost 5 hours plus an hour's reserve there.

Sure, full fuel is 52 gal × 6 lb/gal =312 lb., but I leave ~1/2" of thermal expansion space below the cap, thus 300 lb. Also makes figuring out the load much easier!

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You can get a reasonably good F model for your budget of $75k, but people usually recommend using 80% of the budget to buy the plane and have the other 50% ready for “pop ups” during the first few years (yes, the math is correct).  If you’re in the $50-$60k budget area, a nice C or reasonable E will be available.

I have a family of 4 and I would not go smaller than the F unless you’re all pretty short and slight.  Also you get a little more gross weight than the C/E although 3 hour flights let you leave off some fuel to manage weight.

The C, E, and Fs are all pretty economical.

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56 minutes ago, bluehighwayflyer said:

It is the total lack of rear seat leg room if at least one of the front seaters isn’t relatively short that I am talking about.

What is "relatively short"? I agree with you, just want to put a number to it.

I'm 5'10" with about a 31" inseam. There was plenty of room behind my seat in my M20C. 

I tend to agree with @Hank and @Skates97 that I wouldn't worry about the back seat for kids. Even growing kids. As long as there is room (pilot shorter than 6') they won't complain. And if they do, just follow @Skates97 advice.

I've had adults in the back of my M20C more than a few times and they never complained. Of course, they're riding for free and so I wouldn't expect them to say anything but "thank you."

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My 32” Levi’s... allowed for two kids to grow for 10 years in the back of my M20C...

We got the LB for other reasons than the length of the legs on the non-paying riders in the back... :)

My avatar shows the back seaters on the day we got the big O... they have grown a lot in the decade since...

Go M20C!

Best regards,

-a- 

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11 hours ago, Niko182 said:

This is up there in value, and has a turbo if you end up flying in Oregon with mountains.

@KJC1333 Agreed this is a GREAT Oregon mountain bird.  I certainly feel like someone is getting a lot of bang for the buck when they buy a F with Turbo mine or not.  Simply look at what it would cost to add a turbo to a non turbo airplane and you are talking 30k or 40k (someone would know the hard number).  Bang for the buck in turbo, panel, total time, and engine hours.  Of course it is my plane so I think it is a good value and I think I have priced it right.

BTW .... I bought this plane from a Dr. in Oregon.

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@KJC1333, you have already started off you’re search on a good note. I’m located in Grants Pass (3S8) and if your somewhere near southern Oregon, I wouldn’t mind picking you up and letting you see space for yourself and get a feeling for what a basic C model does. 
I’ve filled the back seats with kids and my wife up front, 195/120/75/75 lbs and still topped off tanks and had plenty of w&b to play with. I’m still learning the plane (~200 hrs) and haven’t gotten close to high density altitude yet, but I don’t push the book numbers. I stay well below the weights and balances as a safety margin. 
I love my plane and with where I’m at in learning, I really only wish it had fuel injection. Well, WAAS GPS,engine monitor, shoulder harness, Rosen visors, nice intercom would be nice but Remember the most expensive things to add later are engine parts and prop changes. Yes expensive to add glass and radios, but if operational and solid they will often not be the thing that sidelines you from your mission. If you want FL, you know what you need and the 76 F with ray jay turbo sounds fun/good to me. I guess I’m saying you can’t turn a gas truck into diesel truck but you can lift it and add big tires but it will never roll coal if that’s what you want to do. 

Good luck and thank you for your service! That goes for all of our Vets out there too guys and gals!

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We bought our 1971 M20E (with all of the 201 mods) three years ago and haven't regretted it a bit.  After flying a J-bar Mooney, getting time in an F, J, and long-body turbo Mooney, we felt like our E-model was the best bang for the buck.  Again, it has all of the 201 mods so we see 155 KTAS regularly on ~9 gph.  Electric gear and flaps are super nice, too.  I've had me + three adult passengers onboard with fuel for 2-3 hour legs on vacation and it works well.  Agree with previous comments, your backseaters cannot be super tall, but for the age of your children now a short-body should work just fine.  With a $75k budget, you can surely find a good E or F model to upgrade with newer avionics.  Good luck on your search!

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The best value Mooney is a C. 

Take the most expensive part, the engine. An overhauled O-360-A1A for a C is 23,901.  An IO-360A1A for an E,F is $29,521. Those numbers are from Airpowerinc.com.

Less powerful engine your will burn less gas.

lower value airplane lower insurance premiums. 

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3 hours ago, Tim Jodice said:

The best value Mooney is a C. 

Take the most expensive part, the engine. An overhauled O-360-A1A for a C is 23,901.  An IO-360A1A for an E,F is $29,521. Those numbers are from Airpowerinc.com.

Less powerful engine your will burn less gas.

lower value airplane lower insurance premiums. 

Idk about the less fuel part 23/25 LoP 148TAS 8.2GPH m20e. 

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Best value can be dependent on who you are...

If you can buy a forever-plane when you are 22 years old... and keep it forever...

That could make an M20R a great value...

 

The nice thing about the M20E as a forever-plane... it can be run deeply LOP, without having to slow to Vz.... and get great nmpg...

Four seats for when you need them... two seats when your kids are all grown up and living a Mooney hour away... and still able to cross the country when you feel like it...

Go Mooney!

Best regards,

-a-

 

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I love my M20c as an efficient aircraft, I don't think there is a more economical aircraft in GA.  There has been much discussion of the pluses and minuses of the longer models, and I would say that if you have growing passengers, I would far prefer them to my 'C model.  I grew up in the back of a C, my parents aren't small, but they are not large, either.  The C model was barely big enough for 3 of us, let alone 4.  The old joke goes, the short body Mooneys are only a four place aircraft if the back passengers are double amputees.  It's sad, but true.  I've never had to worry about max gross, because I just couldn't fit it into the aircraft.

I have to echo other peoples' consideration of what it costs to rebuild the engine.  The costs of owning an aircraft is not just what you pay when filling your tanks after boring holes in the sky, but the repair costs, especially when it comes time to rebuild.   The cylinders on the IO-360 cost 2x as much as the O-360.  The Injection system is costlier than the carburetor.  Just a couple of data points that make me oh so happy with the C model at a couple of knots lower speeds than the E model.  The real question is if you can get 2000 hours of LOP to make up for the difference in that maintenance and rebuild.

One model that I don't think gets enough consideration is the G.  Mid body, economics of the 180 horse engine.  If I could get my finances around one, I would have had it in a heartbeat...  'though we have 6 of us in my family now, so that wouldn't help us anyway.

I didn't see the old adage of finding an aircraft with the panel you want instead of looking for one to upgrade, so I will mention it here.  Let someone else take the depreciation on the upgrades rather than paying it yourself.

Hope you find a GREAT aircraft!

James

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If you're not constantly filling 4 seats, get an E.    Not sure about the older E's but in my 74, once i'm in with the seat pulled up, there's plenty of room in the back.

I'm about 6'0.  they sit like a sports car, matter of fact it's exactly like my camaro,  no room at all until the seats move forward.

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