The Mooney Transition

Moving to a Mooney, from a convert
© 2004-2012, C.K. Haun, Ravenware Industries


There are many myths and mysteries about the Mooney line of aircraft. The slick design, high speeds, affordable complexity and luxury end of the small piston spectrum tend to make Mooney's mysterious, desirable, ladies. Other airplanes appear more accessible to transition into and take best care of, the Mooneys have whispered challenges. My goal in this article is to present the Mooney transition I went through, and hopefully debunk some myths while highlighting the accurate positive advantages of this vintage performance bird.

I purchased a 1980 Mooney M20K 231.(read about the whole purchase process here ), a Mooney model which carries most of the characteristics I describe as being Mooney Demons.Here are my thoughts about the Mooney transition, and whether the myths became fact. By the way, prior to this I flew Piper Archers.

As part of the transition, I took 10 hours of dual training from a very experienced Mooney instructor, well worth it, I strongly recommend you do so. My 10 hours took us through the standard air work (steep turns, stalls), emergency procedures, and then perhaps the most important 5.5 hours of the training, landing at 11 different airports in one day, from high altitude airports like Lake Tahoe to mountain top strips like Willits, to big sea level fields like Sacramento Executive.

I'll walk through it as you would take a flight, from boarding to securing

  • On the Ramp and Boarding
  • Starting
  • Taxi and runup
  • Takeoff
  • Climb
  • Cruise
  • Engine operation
  • Decent
  • Landing
  • Conclusion

On the Ramp and boarding: One thing that strikes you as you walk out to the Mooney for the first (or second, or third) time is that it appears tiny. Mooneys look smaller on the ramp, something you need to get used to, since you're going to be explaining to potential passengers that Yes, there is room in there for you! It sits low. The retractable gear sit the airplane lower than a Piper, and a great deal lower than a Cessna, Cirrus and others. Looks smaller, though the (relative) same fuselage volume has just been set down at a lower level. And the vertical tail, straight-up-and-down, doesn't lead your eye along. Other swept tails lead your eye, convincing you the airplane is longer.

Up closer, by the right rear wing root, getting ready to climb in. Opening the baggage door you notice that it's narrow, and mounted high on the fuselage. It's an up and over load, not a slide in. Also, the door is curved and doesn't' open past 90 degrees, so you cannot get something straight up and in. Be prepared to do a lot of lifting and juggling to get things in the door.

Climb up on the wing. The 231 does not have a helper step, so it's a stretch to step over the flap and onto the walkway.

The doorway is narrower than many, but the door swings wide. The upper door cutout goes deeper into the skin that, say, a Piper, so there is a little more maneuvering room.

The seats are inches lower than the door sill, so there is some contortions to be done to get in. And as the pilot, make darned sure you slide your seat back fully aft when you get out, or you'll be banging into cowl flap, vent, and throttle levers as you worm into the seat.

Seating position: I read about this a bit, and it turns out to be true and something that takes some time to get used to. The Mooney rudder pedals are further forward than I had expected. I'm not tall, but not short, and I have to have the seat almost fully forward to be comfortable on the pedals. What this means immediately is that you have a different view of the instrument cluster, you have a more extreme downward view angle. I had to get used to a new perception of the attitude indicator,for instance, to determine straight and level.

Another issue with the further forward seat is the yoke is much more in your lap. I'll talk about this more when talking about flying the aircraft, but just sitting in it you realize that your trusty kneeboard is a lot harder to write on. I'm moving to a yoke-mounted clipboard to adapt to this.

The width of the cockpit is not the issue some have made of it. It feels slightly wider than an Archer, and I have slightly less interference with the passenger

Headroom is not an issue, my headset or hat has not hit the roof. Now lets gently close the door (do not slam it, gently close and latch) and start it up.


Starting:The 231 is a turbocharged fuel injected model, differently equipped models will start differently.

There are a lot of myths about starting a turbocharged Mooney, I read them all and held this issue (along with landing) as the spookiest thing about transitioning to a Mooney.

Not a Problem. I had the right person show me good technique, and I've not had any starting issues. Note it's now 2010 and I've revised my starting procedure. What I explained here in the past was good, but this is now better, and works wonderfully well.

First different thing first for those who have flown other aircraft: Don't turn on a fuel pump. Yes, there are two fuel pump switches, one for low boost and one for high boost. But during normal operations, from start to takeoff to landing you do not use the fuel pumps.

Press the electric primer for the period of seconds,. there is a chart in the POH you can follow if you want. Now, wait. I time 30 seconds from when I stop pressing the primer switch to when I engage the starter. This gives the fuel you just blew in a chance to vaporize. With this technique the engine starts near instantly, even when it's near 30 deg. F. Quickly set to 1,200 RPM, and warm up the oil going to the turbo, be ready to give it a few squirts from the primer switch as you settle it in on 1,200.

The second myth about starting, starting a hot turbo engine, also turned out to be easy to master with the right guidance. My transition instructor said;
What has been happening for the last 45 minutes? The fuel injector lines running on top of the engine have been heated by the updraft heat while this airplane has been sitting. What does that mean? The fuel is vaporized in the lines. That's what causes the hard starts!

Which means the key is to overcome the vaporlock. How? Shove the throttle in, and hit the low boost pump for 10-30 seconds without cranking the engine. You're charging the lines and (hopefully) forcing the vapor to either exit or go back into solution. Then back to the standard starting procedure. I used this technique after a 1/2 hours start at Lake Tahoe (6,400 ft, density altitude that day of 8,200) and a 2 hour stop at sea level and it again works without a hitch. I no longer worry about starting a turbo Mooney.

Everything else is standard, time to...

Taxi and Runup: Here you may experience the long throw to the pedals issue again if you didn't slide your seat forward enough, since you couldn't imagine having to be that close to the instrument panel! To steer and apply the brakes you sure do, so stop the airplane and pull up a little more. There are rudder pedal extension kits, I had the 1.5 inch ones installed in 2007 and they help this issue.

When you're taxing you get another difference, and this is Mooney model specific. Many Mooneys, like M20k, have slightly shorter instrument panels that many other airplanes. That means you have a better view frontwards during taxi, which is very nice.

An issue which might just be my airplane first arises here. The brakes are not as effective as other airplanes I've flow. I find myself applying more pressure that I expect to have to apply.

Steering is not too broad, but also not too tight, so watch your turn to runup position the first few times so you don't end up with one wheel in the grass.

Park and runup. Nothing new, time to....

Take off

Trim is important. And, flap are important. 10 degrees flap at takeoff is recommended in the POH (though not required). I've tried a no-flap takeoff in the 231, and I prefer having the flaps down during TO.

Onto the runway, and roll the throttle up. Acceleration in the first third of the takeoff roll is less that I've been used to, but once you are at 40" manifold pressure and get rolling, the airplane accelerates rapidly. The nose wheel starts to shimmy at about 61 KIAS, pull back with about 2 pounds of pressure to smooth out the shimmy, then apply progressively more pressure and she lifts right off at 64 KIAS. Very smooth initial ground-break to climb once you've got the feel for it.

Gear up (because you're now a cool Mooney Pilot), not much change. Take the 10 degrees of flaps up Whoa!!!!!!! Holy Toledo does the nose want to shoot straight up when you take the flaps in!

The POH warns you about it, but golly it sure is dramatic when you first (and 2nd, and 3rd, and 30th) experience it. I now have the habit of having my thumb putting in nose-down trim when I start reaching for the flap up switch, you have to stay ahead of the nose up. Hard to get through your head, because it is only 10 degrees of flaps, and the flaps look so small on the Mooney, long but narrow.

Note also that the takeoff at altitude was not much different. I've taken off from Lake Tahoe twice, once with a density altitude of 8,200 and once with 8,400 with no issues. Of course the turbo is taking care of the engine in a 231, but the ground roll was as in the book or less.

So we're....

Climbing: The Mooney climbs very well. In fact, the Mooney climb confuses me.

If I trim to 90 knots, I'm getting 800 fpm. If I trim to slightly less, a performance climb at 85 knots, I'm getting 1200-1500 fpm. Drop the nose and climb at 100 and I'm getting 500 fpm or more. The climb performance is much broader, and better, than I had expected, it's actually hard because you have so many variables to pick from. One thing I have not noticed is engine heat problems on climb. Even at a performance climb regime the engine stays comfortably in the green temperature band. Don't ignore it, but it's not stressful.

This has been in 80-90 degree Fahrenheit weather, too, or at high altitude at Tahoe. I can't wait to see how quickly I can peg the VSI needle when it's 35 degrees.

Ready to....

Cruise Level off and get ready for cruise. The airplane takes about 5 minutes to settle in to cruise, so be prepared to tweak your engine and prop settings for a little bit. Then, first real difference, is pick you speed. At 11,500 I've had comfortable cruise speeds (meaning no excessive noise or vibe from odd prop or throttle settings and using by-the-charts settings) between 130 knots and 170 knots. The range of speed you can pick from makes a Mooney much different from an Archer, for example, where you really just want it to go as fast as it can at 75% power. Heck, I've pushed rented Archer II's at 75% making only 120 knots and burning 9 gph. Setting the Mooney to 130 knots drops fuel consumption to 6.5-7 gph

So decide what you want to do, go fast or go still-fast-but-not-so-fast and go. Now that we've gone up and leveled off, lets talk about...

Engine Operation: This area really relates to turbo models of Mooneys, like my 231.
First thing to consider is; If you got an airplane with a turbo, you'd better fly up high to make it worth it. If your regular flying regime is below 12,000 ft, you don't need, and shouldn't get, a turbo equipped Mooney, it's just a waste of weight and another potential failure point. Read more about that in my Buying a Plane notes.

If you do need and get a turbo equipped Mooney, there is slightly more workload. But you'll find it's easy to understand, the differences make sense, so it's easy to incorporate into your regular operations.
Take-off and going around are the only times when you'll even think hard about it. A turbo'd Mooney can't be pushed full throttle (as you've been trained in normally aspirated airplanes) in those situations, you'll spin the turbo too fast and over pressurize your engine. Which will make something break eventually.

This means a good look at the manifold pressure gauge on a normal takeoff

and getting a good feel for how much extra is left in the throttle at max allowed manifold pressure. In my 231, for example, the maximum allowable manifold pressure is 40 inches, and that leaves almost 1/4 of total travel still left in the throttle at sea level. Not hard, but you do have to spend that extra time on the takeoff roll to look at the MP gauge. Doing a static power-up doesn't really help, as you being the roll the manifold pressure will change so you have to look anyway.

Go-arounds: So what does that mean during a go-around when your hands are really busy getting the heck away from the ground, and looking to the side at the MP gauge and doing finicky, precise, throttle movements could put you at risk of losing control. Relax! First, the POH gives you a little bit of flexibility, most turbocharged engines can take some overboost. The 1980 231 can handle a transitory manifold pressure of up to 43 inches for less than ten seconds. Sounds too short? No, that's about the time it takes to settle into the climb phase of a go-around, so even if you do slam the throttle forward on a go-around you will probably un-boost before it becomes an issue. Second, after a few flights you have a feel for where the throttle is, anyway, and you probably won't push the throttle full in anyway, so the max you'll overboost may be a half-inch, which you can quickly fix.

Once you're in the air, you can drive yourself crazy if you try and fix manifold pressure settings quickly. The key in a turbo'd Mooney is: Make small adjustments, and let it settle out. Wait at least 10 seconds to see the result of your throttle adjustment before you make another one.

Bootstrapping. Some turbo'd aircraft experience fluctuations in manifold pressure that makes them hard to coax into cruise, commonly referred to as bootstrapping. You can find better explanations elsewhere on the Web, but basically some aircraft have to be managed carefully to insure that any altitude change doesn't result in a manifold pressure change which causes a power change which causes an altitude change which causes a manifold pressure change which causes a power change which causes an altitude change get the idea. I have not found my 231 to be susceptible to bootstrapping. I think it's because the damned thing takes so long to settle in to a new power setting that it can't react fast enough to transitory pressure changes. Admittedly, I have a Merlyn automatic wastegate which also makes bootstrapping more unlikely.

Engine temps: All my flights over one hour duration are at 15,000 ft or above, with my preferred altitude being 17,000 ft. and I have not noticed particular issues with high altitude heat-shedding. 17k and outside air temp of 0 C (which is warm at that altitude) results in temps that are in the upper half of the green bands, but still well away from the red or yellow. I've also taken her up to ceiling going East, 23,000 ft., but rarely, just to avoid weather. Up that high the engine does teeter on the edge of the yellow, even with a -25 dC external temp reading, so be very mindful above 20,000 ft.

Leaning: I lean by the POH, which is rich-of-peak. Others run lean-of-peak. You choose. I have run my engine LOP to see if it could handle it smoothly, and it can.

Control The myths say Mooneys are heavy at the controls. My experience indicates, yeah, they are. Takes some effort to yank the yoke over, takes a lot of effort to push the nose up and down out of the trimmed position.

Roll is heavy to start, and once it starts it wants to continue, so be ready to neutralize almost as soon as you move into a maneuver. That can catch you a little off-guard the first few times since you had to throw so much energy into it to start the roll that it's a little disconcerting to have to catch it so quickly.

Pitch, learn to use that trim switch. I've stopped using the yoke for most pitch movements after the wheels leave the ground until they touch back down again, it's fly by trim. And in cruise flight I switch from using the trim switch to using the trim wheel, because you want to make very very small trim adjustments when you're settling into cruise.

This isn't bad, by the way. The heaviness of the controls means it is a very stable cruise platform. I've gone through some moderate turbulence and she stays rock-solid in pitch and roll. Another indication of this is in stall recovery.

First, damn, it's very very hard to stall this airplane. Second, once you do stall it do any one thing right and she pops out of the stall. Bump the throttle up a little, she pops out of the stall. Drop the nose an inch, she pops out of the stall. On my initial two stalls my recovery technique was horrible, but the airplane broke the stall in seconds anyway.

I'm not implying that the airplane isn't fun to fly. It is, and you can crank her over on a wingtip and have some fun. But it is heavier to move that others.

With the full forward seating position, the yoke is more in your lap than on other airplanes, and this takes a little getting used to. Your pivot point for your left arm for roll is different, adjust. Pulling back on the yoke you're starting with your arm almost at 90 degrees at the elbow, vs. stretched out somewhat in other airplanes, so you might find you need more muscle to pull it back.

A little later note here: I've started sliding my seat a notch or two back when I enter cruise. I don't need to reach the toe brakes anymore, and two notches back gives me more room for my kneeboard and yoke, and gives me a more neutral view of the instrument panel. I still have excellent rudder control a little further back.

Enjoying the ride

So how is the ride? Pretty great!

The visibility is excellent. I mentioned the lower instrument panel, forward visibility is very good. The view from the pilot and co-pilot window is better that a Piper, feels like you're a little further around the curve of the fuselage. The wing root is also further back relative to the pilot window and position, so you can see more directly down. I can actually see airports the GPS says I'm flying directly over. The rear passenger windows are also very big, and you can see much farther to the rear quarters of the airplane in flight, I've found this really enhances my ability to see aircraft behind me when I make a turn or in the pattern.

Noise: Probably an issue, but fixable. The Mooney I have has an inflatable door seal, and the door seal really quiets the cabin down. When I have forgotten to inflate the door seal the cabin has been quite loud (even with my Bose X noise cancellers) so I suspect a non-sealed cabin is noisier than a Piper/Cirrus.

Body comfort: The first thing my partner said when we sat in the airplane before we bought it was "Wow, this legroom is great!" and that continues to be true. You have more legroom in a Mooney than any other airplane I've ever ridden/flown, and your passengers will appreciate it. My 1980 has stock, untouched seats and they still feel very comfortable. The longest I've flow the Mooney at one sitting is 4 hours, but in that time I found no discomfort hotspots.

Bounce and jerk: Again, the Mooney is a very stable platform. It smoothes out the turbulence that might make another airplane uncomfortable. I've encountered severe turbulence once, departing North Las Vegas airport when the winds at 6,000 ft. were 65 knots and bubbling all over the mountain ridges. Very rough ride, with my head hitting the roof of the airplane. But I never felt the airplane was out of control (I may have been out of control of it), very stable even when it was being bounced all the heck over.

Crusing is over, time to....

Decent. The entire internet is paranoid about the decent and shock cooling of a Mooney, particularly a turbocharged Mooney.

Before we get into the realities, a little rant: As a former aerospace engineer and a damned good mechanic before that, what most people are referring to as shock cooling is a very questionable phenomena as described. i.e., y'all have not idea what you're talking about, do some reading and get some practical experience in materials, engines, heat exchange, and common sense, before you start flapping your yaps.
Until then shut up about topics you obviously only have half a clue about, like shock cooling, since your only goal is obviously to panic people who don't understand with expositions of your great knowledge. You're actually putting those poor folks at greater risk since they may hesitate when they need to do the right thing for safety of flight because they are terrified of shock cooling.

For those folks who are just flying their Mooney's, relax. You are not going to cause irreparable damage to your engine by reducing power at the top of a decent. Just use good common sense, and think of this as an engine longevity extender, not something mysterious.

Simple enough: When it's time to descend you don't slam the throttle closed, you reduce speed slowly to insure that all the parts of the engine, and in some Mooney's cases particularly the turbocharger, cool evenly and at a relatively gradual rate to insure the greatest engine life.

The Mooney transition means that you have to be a little more aware, well, a lot more aware, of when you need to start your decent, plan to start quite a bit further out than you would in other airplanes. The things we buy a Mooney for, like speed and speed mean that you are (1) going to cover a lot more ground as you descend and (2) are going to have a shallower decent rate unless you chop the engine abruptly. Also, if you're flying a turbo,you'll find yourself regularly flying above 10,000 ft., since the engine will keep performing all the way up. I've added about 5,000 ft to my regular cruise altitudes over Pipers, and that means 5,000 additional feet to descend, and I'm traveling 30-50 knots faster, so I have to add 10-15 more miles to my decent profile to descend at an ear-comfortable 500 fpm.
It's 2012 now, and I want to add something else here that's been true the whole time but I haven't explicitly mentioned. This airplane does not want to slow down. The hardest thing I have to do when I'm on my typical flight to Boise, descending out of 17,000 ft. for the 2,800 ft. msl airport is slow this baby down. Pulling the throttle back will get you down to 150 knots pretty quickly. But at that point she does not want to go slower. Basically I'm back on the throttle to 15-17 inches of MP with a bunch of nose-up trim to get down to my gear speed of 130 knots. She just does not want to stop flying.
Once the gear is down it's a little easier to slow more, but even then it's a challenge to slow. Be prepared.

Plan the decent's and watch your temps. My transition trainer,and the POH, suggest reducing the prop RPM to lowest governable during some portions of the decent, this tends to lug the engine, which keeps the engine cooling more slowly and keeps final temp above minimum. Drop your manifold pressure to descend, reduce prop speed to keep the heat up, and it works out well.

Of course, you can take the cheaters way like I did and get speed brakes installed. Precise Flight speed brakes take a 400 fpm decent and change it with the push of a button to a 1000 fpm decent, while still maintaining the same engine performance.

In other words, you're descending faster but are still keeping power levels up so you both keep the engine warm and keep yourself on the forward side of the power curve, giving you more flexibility in case of emergencies. I strongly recommend the speed brakes for a Mooney. I've even landed with them deployed on a calm, empty day at the airport to insure I could manage it in case of an up failure, it was a non-event. They are very handy.

Of course, somewhere during the decent you have to...

Land. The final huge Mooney myth is that they are hard to land, that they will float forever.

Confirm, gear down, gear green light on

There is truth to this myth, but it's a simple fix that we learn in any airplane we fly.airspeed on approach. Watch your airspeed, and a Mooney lands as easily as a Piper or a Cirrus. The book airspeeds seem to work just fine

Confirm, gear down, gear green light on

In fact, the best landing I've ever done (in 461 landings) was in my Mooney,after 20 landings I had the airspeed drilled into my hands and it just settles right down on the runway.

Confirm, gear down, gear green light on

Higher speed does make it float, but dang it, a Piper floats too. What I find in the two "too high approach speed goarounds" I've done is that in the Mooney you're not tempted to take the high approach into the runway, you know the beast is going to just float and float, so you go around like you should. In a Piper I've forced it to the ground, with ensuing bouncy bouncy. The Mooney float should make you a safer lander.

Confirm, gear down, gear green light on

Flaps: First, remember the nose-up I mentioned when you pull the flaps up after takeoff? When you start feeding the flaps down for landing you get the opposite, the nose starts going down dramatically. My habit is now, similar to take off, start rolling the trim nose-up, then start moving the flaps down, trim trim trim, no hand movement of the yoke, takes care of it well. I've landed no flaps, partial flaps, and full flaps. And full flaps with speed brakes extended (to see how controllable it was). I don't find the difference between 10 degrees of flaps and full, 33, degrees of flaps to have much effect on the landing process, others might feel differently. Just slide down 10+ degrees and land.

Confirm, gear down, gear green light on

Confirm, gear down, gear green light on. Gear comes up, gear gotta go down. New habit for the transition to a Mooney, check ever 10 seconds to insure the gear is down. Turn downwind, check gear down. Base, check gear down. Final, is the gear down? Have your passenger ask you if the gear is down. Don't land with the gear up! It won't actually cause as much damage as you might think, but heck you don't want to tell people you landed with the gear up! A mechanical failure is one thing, but I forgot should not happen.

Over the fence, 70-75 knots, pull power back. I'm still in the air, so I'm still controlling pitch with the trim button, not with pressure on the yoke, roll the trim steadily back as the runway gets closer, hand on the yoke to flare, then more trim as she settles down. Stall horn, chirp it's down. I open the cowl flaps as soon as that happens, just so I don't forget.

Here again it might just be my airplane, but it might be all Mooneys, the brakes aren't as strong as other airplanes, so you might find yourself rolling past the taxiway exit you usually take. My experience has been that I use less runway to land with the Mooney, but I use more on the landing rollout.

Another area that transition reports mention is the different feel of the landing because of the shock disks (the black rubber disks in the picture above) instead of a bungee/spring (Cessna et .al.) or oleo struts (Piper et. al.). Some report that the shock disks rebound more strongly, causing the airplane to potentially bounce/porpoise more easily. I have not noticed that, and again, airspeed is the key, with the right airspeed the shock disks and landing feel normal.

Crosswind landings appear to be a non-issue. I've landed, so far, in a 14 knot perpendicular crosswind without noticing any handling changes except a slight drift sideways over the runway. Tonight, for example, the Cessna on the parallel runway kept asking for wind updates on the crosswind while I barely (and I mean barely ) noticed that there was a crosswind.

TImer starts for the 4-5 minute Turbo cool down, and we taxi back to the spot.

A note on Speed.

One question that has come my way a few times since I posted this is concern about a Mooney's speed if you have spent most of your time in slower speed aircraft. Will the higher speeds, 30-70 knots faster than trainers, cause me trouble?

My simple answer has been no, you'll just enjoy the speed. But today, when someone again asked this, I thought about it more than superficially, and there is a real reason why you should not be overly concerned about the speed boost you'll get in a Mooney, even if you've been putting around the sky at 111 knots in an Archer, like I was.

Let's think about speed. Where does a Mooney give you speed? My Mooney is 65 knots faster in cruise than the Archers I learned on. In Cruise. When you're straight and level. When you usually have time to handle whatever ATC is going to throw at you. That's good speed, speed that you don't have to worry about, just use.

What is speed that you worry about? Takeoff and landing, right? Those are generally the times when you are the most busy, and the most likely to get behind the airplane (of course, approaches for IFR pilots). So how does a Mooney compare with an Archer during those critical times.

Well, I rotate my 231 at the book speed, 64 knots (well, 65 since it's easier to see). Let me look at a Piper PA-28 POH and see what the rotation speed is...Hmmm, 52 to 65 knots. Technically the same as the Mooney!

Well, how about landing? I usually strive for 65 knots on short final for a greaser landing. What does the PA-28 want your speed to be on short final? Section 4.2 Landing Final Approach Speed (Flaps 40 degrees) 66 KIAS . Well look at that, the PA-28 is actually a knot faster than the Mooney on landing!

It's in black and white, the speed difference in the most critical segements of flight between my Mooney 231 and a trainer-type Piper Archer is non-existant!

It's true, getting down to those speeds is a bit tougher because the Mooney wing wants to keep going fast. But most of your training will transfer, your speeds and sendse of movement across the ground on landing, for example, will be identical in a Mooney!

Don't worry about speed, just look forward to the 50 knots more in cruise.



Mooneys are looked at as unusual beasts with mythic gotchas to eat you. I hope, if you're planning to start renting or buying a Mooney, that I've covered the Mooney myths you are worried about.

I'm very very pleased with my purchase of a Mooney. It delivers, it actually over delivers, on the promises you have heard about, speed, range, economy, while not being the cantankerous pilot-eater you might be fearing. Find a good transition instructor (I can recommend mine if you're in California), read the POH and follow it, and treat the airplane like a precision piece of machinery, and you will not meet the myths.

Hope this gave you some insights, please send me any feedback C.K. Haun



A Year later Everything I wrote above continues to be true, and now I've added an IFR ticket to my certifications. That meant about 45 hours training in 3636H (0 hours in a simulator) and I can categorically say that a Mooney is a fine IFR platform. Couple of things to mention about flying a Mooney IFR, in my view:

  • Speeds and sink rates. Once you know your bird, establishing and maintaining decent rates and power settings for approaches is easy. In my case, again, adding speed brakes makes approaches much easier and more controllable.
  • Stability. Mooneys are stable. Any divergence from straight and level that you induce while looking at an approach plate or other distractions happens very slowly and almost predictably. In 45 hours under the hood and real IMC my instructor never took the controls to prevent an upset. I'll admit, part of this is because my instructor is a very experienced Mooney pilot himself, so he may have let some things go further than another instructor would have.
  • Instrumentation. One area that still gives me some concern. The close-in seating position, as mentioned above, really doesn't give me a great perspective on the Attitude Indicator. Since you're close in you feel like you're looking down on the instrument, instead of straight at it. This doesn't affect horizontal awareness, but pitch up/down is harder to tell. Seeing how many dots up or down you are pitched to takes practice, and a weather eye on the HSI and altimeter. Part of this also is that I have a flight director with the delta shape to look at, instead of the more traditional wing and dot indicator. Other instrumentation is just fine, and the Garmin 530 makes IFR approaches almost too easy. Heck, it tells and shows you procedure turn angles, tracks times for you in holds, and gives you every sub-arc of a DME Arc, and ATC will just aim you at the middle of the arc if you're /G .
  • Control. On an approach, the Mooney is very easy to track straight (well, after 30 hours of trying). Once the needle is centered, very small control inputs keep you centered, and on an ILS inside the marker it's just little bits of rudder and you're on your course.
  • Getting there. The other thing about a Mooney in the IFR system is that you've got speed. You can zip between approaches at 140 knots while you're practicing, and on the outer segments you can keep your speed up enough to please the most harried controller. Then drop the gear, dirty it up, pull the throttle back, and it's an easy 95 knots to the FAF.
  • Turbulence. IFR means bumps. Mooney's handle turbulence very very well. The stability mentioned earlier shines in bumps.

And that's it. A great IFR platform.