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Considering a Mooney as my first airplane...


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I am looking for your insight as I search to purchase a late model Mooney M20 for cross country VFR flying, and eventually IFR.  Normal trips will be with 1 or 2 passengers and a few bags.  Late model because my budget is in the  $40-60 k range.  So far I have learned to ensure wings have recently sealed tanks or bladders, landing gear pucks in good service and a thorough PPI is completed.  I am looking forward to learning much more from you all on my journey to plane ownership.  

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Welcome aboard AKE!

Solo, or family of four?

full grown adults, or small kids...

Tight budget, bare instrument panel OK?

Tight budget, need decent IFR instruments...?

Don’t buy the lowest cost plane of any model...  it will require a ton of updates...

PP advice and questions only, not a mechanic or CFI...

Go Mooney!

Best regards,

-a-

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-a- Thanks for the warm welcome!

1. soon to be empty nest 

2. full grown adults 

3. would like decent instruments. 

A&P mech,  Maintenance does not scare me, but do not want a full time project or rebuild.  

Thanks for getting me started!!

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Welcome to MS.

When looking for a Mooney, try to find one that's been hangared all its life.  As an AnP, you are probably very familiar with the ravages of weather.  Particularly salty weather.

While the Mooney is structurally strong by design, the metal tubing can and does corrode when subjected to moisture.  It can be repaired, but not cheaply.  Make sure that any ppi includes the inspection portion of SB 208B.  It is not a difficult inspection, but just because it's been done once is no assurance it doesn't need to be done in the ppi.

While not all paint jobs are equal, try to avoid an ugly duckling.  Painting a Mooney starts at about $15,000.

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Welcome aboard.  From what you describe a C, E, or J would be fine unless you want to go turbo charged.  Most liekly a C or E with your budget maybe an F.   There are a few turbo normalized C,E , F and Js.  The F and Js will give you a little more baggage room and back seat room over the C roe E.

I would find one with a good solid air frame, decent on the cosmetics and a basic GPS most have some type of wing leveler or autopilot after 1964 working maybe another issue.  This will make a great VFR platform while you work on getting your IR.  Then you can decide if you want to upgrade the one you have or buy the upgrades already installed and still do upgrades.  It is cheaper to buy the upgrades done by the previous owner but doing them yourself you get to choose what, when and where.

Planes are like houses there is always something to do on them but you already know that being an A&P. 

 

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As your doing prebuys familiarize yourself with SB M20-208, I pass on 3 different E models which still had fiberglass insulation and tubes were marginal at best.

For your budget you can absolutely get a lot of airplane, an F may be a bit of a stretch :D but your solidly in range for a really good C or good E model. As a word of advice, start shopping for insurance and get a quote or two. Age, total time, time in retractable gear airplanes and having additional ratings are big drivers of cost. For example, a 250 hour pilot with an instrument rating vs a 250 hour pilot without an instrument rating can be up to a 1000 dollar difference in your annual premium.

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A Vintage Mooney makes a great first plane! I bought my C just five weeks after my PPL checkride. Insurance was steep the first year, but I flew 100 hours and it dropped by half. Next year was the same, while I worked on Instrument Rating, the next year premiums fell by another third.

But all premiums have been rising the last couple of years, so yours may not reduce by this much.

Good luck, happy hunting, get a good Pre-Purchase Inspection and hire a good, Mooney-experienced CFI for transition training. 

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Thanks for the insight on insurance. Something that has gotten pushed to the background with the excitement of owning a plane.   Smart of you to build time and reduce those premiums. Hope those those cuts will continue when my time comes ; )

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It was/is the first and only plane I've owned.  My recommendation is not to do your primary training in one, mainly to protect the plane.  LOL.  The short bodies (A-E) would be great for 1 or 2 people.

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It is my first plane after completing PPL. Find it much more stable than previous planes I flew. And it is fun to travel at 160 kts - things get much closer. It is a bit tight inside but I’m happy to trade it for opportunity to travel to places... 

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More...

  • stable
  • powerful
  • integrity
  • speed
  • altitude
  • grace
  • climb rate

Less...

  • cost
  • ugly
  • slowness
  • limitations

 

Changes...

  • More instrument panel space than needed...
  • Color screens galore...
  • Fantastic engine data...
  • Fantastic nav data...
  • More options than ever...
  • Spare AIs and GPSi
  • Weather displayed right in the cockpit...


Nothing better than buying a Mooney today...

I’m sure Al Mooney would be impressed with the capabilities of today’s M20Cs...

Pick a plane you can use for decades... and enjoy...  :)

Go Mooney!

PP thoughts only, not a plane sales guy....

Best regards,

-a-

 

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Prices have been going up.  Won't be many M20J options at that price point, and even so, you might be happier with an M20C.  You'll have more choices, more buying power, and they might be better cared-for, too.

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Glad I finally posted this request for help.  I'm loving the insight, and From what I can tell, most Mooney owners are usually very satisfied with the product.  Other options I have considered (hold your fire) are beechcraft sundowner an Piper arrow or  *cherokee 180* ( not comanchee). I keep coming back to the efficiency and value of the mooney. 

Edited by AKEllsworth
Error correction
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If speed and efficiency are important...

Go Mooney!

 

If buying a brand name is what works for you... follow the crowd at PiperSpace...

With an entry level Mooney... you have a real Mooney...

 

Visit BT and ask if the Sundowner section is a cool place to hangout... is a sundowner a real beach?

Expensive and slow... sounds beachy.... :)

 

hmmm...

I owned a Ranger, then an Ovation... now a Standing O...

What is a Sundowner..? Would I tell anyone I owned one?  Would they know what it is..?

No matter what plane you select... the PPI is the best protection for your wallet...

 

Briefly...  A Mooney is the fasted, four seat, factory built, airplane... on or off the planet...

Anyone can fly a Mooney...

PP thoughts only, not selling any planes myself...

Best regards,

-a-

 

 

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8 hours ago, AKEllsworth said:

Other options I have considered (hold your fire) are beechcraft sundowner an Piper arrow or comanche 180.  I keep coming back to the efficiency and value of the mooney. 

I've owned a Piper for a long time. They're great airplanes, and every mechanic at every airport in the known universe can work on them. I can buy parts from a factory dealer in town, and they stock a surprising number of the things I need. The Piper Forum is a great online resource, with an engaged community and a lot of experts who have been there, done that. 

But the Piper can't do what the Mooney can do. It's a night and day difference in aircraft capability, and for me the Mooney is worth the minor pain points of specialty parts and tribal knowledge. 

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9 hours ago, AKEllsworth said:

Glad I finally posted this request for help.  I'm loving the insight, and From what I can tell, most Mooney owners are usually very satisfied with the product.  Other options I have considered (hold your fire) are beechcraft sundowner an Piper arrow or comanche 180. I keep coming back to the efficiency and value of the mooney. 

One point that’s been overlooked- Mooneys are great to fly.  Solid and stable, but still incredibly responsive.

Cessnas and Pipers feel sloppy by comparison, at least partly due to the control cables.  Maneuvering a C or a P airplane feels plodding and mushy- the Mooney flies like it’s on rails.  You’ll hear that control forces are higher in a Mooney.  They are.  That’s one of the things that make them so stable.  After 25 hours, you don’t even notice.  The airplane just goes where you want it to go.

Two caveats to the above- 1.) a Mooney must be rigged right to fly like I described above, otherwise it will fly like a truck.  2.) Beechcraft products are delightful to fly.  Not necessarily better, but truly well balanced and smooth.

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7 minutes ago, Andy95W said:

One point that’s been overlooked- Mooneys are great to fly.  Solid and stable, but still incredibly responsive.

Cessnas and Pipers feel sloppy by comparison, at least partly due to the control cables.  Maneuvering a C or a P airplane feels plodding and mushy- the Mooney flies like it’s on rails.  You’ll hear that control forces are higher in a Mooney.  They are.  That’s one of the things that make them so stable.  After 25 hours, you don’t even notice.  The airplane just goes where you want it to go.

Two caveats to the above- 1.) a Mooney must be rigged right to fly like I described above, otherwise it will fly like a truck.  2.) Beechcraft products are delightful to fly.  Not necessarily better, but truly well balanced and smooth.

Andy!  What are you trying to do?  Destroy the Mooney mystique?

Mooney Space is dedicated to the idea that only super pilots and sky-gods can fly a Mooney.  :mellow:

Edited by Mooneymite
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I've flown a Sundowner and they are dogs next to a Mooney. I was comparing it to an M20C as well. I was shocked by the difference. The Piper Arrow will do everything the Mooney will do... just slower while burning more fuel. I've never flown a Comanche 180, but the 250's are nice.

I was in your same situation several years ago with basically the same budget. I wanted an E but couldn't find an E I'd want to own within that budget. And values have gone up since then.

I'd probably limit your search to an M20C and find the nicest, best equipped example you can find. For your budget, you'll find a nice one.

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Welcome! M20E was my first airplane. Still have it, 13+ years later.

Old machines and not getting any younger. They are a lot of fun, but time consuming.

gsxr.... I respectfully disagree about the Arrow in one key aspect: Altitude performance. The normally aspirated arrow is an absolute dog at any significant density altitude. Our Mooneys have wonderful wings for flying high...

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Have no fear of a Mooney as a first plane.  Just get good training and enough of it.  You cannot beat the combination of speed, range, handling, payload, visibility and comfort of a Mooney.  As stated, they are great to fly.  Absolutely terrific for two people, unless you are both 6'4" and weigh 225 lbs plus.  Then you might want a bigger plane that will be not nearly as much fun!  

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Should you buy a Mooney as your first airplane?

Should you have the prom queen as your first girlfriend??

Yes. To both. Just prepare to be spoiled, for any less.

I started with an Acclaim (don't do that...), and learned fast. On the hunt for my next one, after a hiatus. 

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We bought a Sundowner four years ago.  It’s a nice aircraft, and for some people it may be the ideal aircraft, but it didn’t suit our mission because it was simply too slow.  The significant other in the right seat didn’t appreciate lagging behind freeway traffic with 40 knot headwinds.

We recently bought a 1966 M20E and sold our 1983 Sundowner.

Res ipsa loquitur. 

[Latin for “The thing speaks for itself.”]

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3 minutes ago, EchoMax said:

We bought a Sundowner four years ago.  It’s a nice aircraft, and for some people it may be the ideal aircraft, but it didn’t suit our mission because it was simply too slow.  The significant other in the right seat didn’t appreciate lagging behind freeway traffic with 40 knot headwinds.

. . .

Res ipsa loquitur. 

Flying home from the inlaws with murderous headwinds (2:20 down, 4:45 back while avoiding ice), our groundspeed dropped to 68 knots between GSP and TYS when I climbed to avoid terrain. My wife said, "Glad we aren't in a Cessna! We'd be going backwards." I was indicating ~140 mph at the time, WOT- / 2500.

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Two of the really nicest Mooneys.... Ever...

 

  • Nemo (JSG)
  • Gypsy Rose (EM)

:)

Gypsy Rose had the honor of defining the terms for Forever-plane status... The M20E became the best retirement plane ever...

 

PP thoughts only...

Best regards,

-a-

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