AOPA's "Millennium Mooney" 2000 Sweepstakes - AOPA Pilot Updates

November 11, 2009

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Announcing AOPA's 2000 Sweepstakes Millennium Mooney "Lean Machine"

Mooney 201

For over 60 years, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has been helping pilots get where they want to be...through the air. Now thanks to AOPA, one lucky pilot will be racing through the clouds with the speed and efficiency Mooney owners have enjoyed for decades. Sleek and efficient, the Mooney Model 201 "Lean Machine" has the ramp appeal and performance necessary to get any pilot's attention.

Throughout the year, we will chronicle the AOPAfication of the 1987 Model 201 to be awarded to one lucky winner. Our first 200 mile an hour sweepstakes giveaway will be more than just a pretty face. With state of the art avionics, engine modifications, and cosmetic enhancements, this is the airplane to fly in the next millennium. For details and resource information, check out Pilot magazine or AOPA Online at

From Wood Wings to Rockets

The Model 201 can trace its roots back to the first all-metal variant of the M-20. Introduced in 1961, this sleek addition to the Mooney line up was powered by a 180 horsepower Lycoming O-360-A1A, and boasted a speed of 190 mph.

Three years later, the M-20E (marketed as the Super 21) received an extra 20 horsepower thanks to its now fuel injected IO-360. In an airframe that was otherwise unchanged, this translated into 5 extra miles per hour in cruise flight.

In 1967, Mooney responded to perennial complaints of limited cabin room by offering a stretched version of the M-20 to be known as the Executive. It is from the Executive that the venerable Model 201 would evolve.

The 201, relying on extensive aerodynamic improvements, was able to squeeze an extra 20 mph from its airframe without the benefit of turbo-charging or a larger displacement engine. This reflected Mooney's commitment to the peaceful coexistence of speed and efficiency.

Although faster, more exotic progeny would follow, the 201 (officially designated the M20J) would continue its production run through 1998. This is a testament to virtues such as speed, economy, reliability, and sleek good looks that Mooney loyalists have enjoyed for years. In fact, its design is so sound, that the 201 has been the beneficiary of numerous after-market speed and aerodynamic modifications. One such example, offered by Aircraft Designers Inc., used turbo charging to move the 201 into the flight levels at an amazing 243 miles per hour. The "Lean Machine," in keeping with the theme of low cost-of-operation and simplicity, will lack such an exotic addition. However, regardless of trim, the "Lean Machine" is anything but a lightweight when it comes to performance, as one fortunate winner will discover.

The Lean Machine

In 1986, the folks at Mooney set for themselves a lofty goal, to offer a complete IFR-equipped airplane for under $100,000. Considering the going price for a Mooney of the time, this would be no small accomplishment. However, with some marketing savvy (and a very sharp pencil), the Mooney brass was able to put together a package that would offer buyers the most airplane for their dollar.

With items such as a cigarette lighter, ashtray, some interior trim, and a few "luxury" pieces of avionics eliminated, the Lean Machine weighed in at some $20,000 less than its better-equipped stablemates. Oh yeah, and you only had two paint schemes from which to choose. Still, it wasn't a bad deal for a legitimate 200 mile per hour, IFR, cross-country airplane. Sales and current Vref figures are vindication of Mooney's efforts, comparing favorably with other aircraft in its class.

The Lean Machine at a Glance


Base Price (1986)


Current Vref Price

$113,000 Base Retail

Engine Make/Model

Lycoming IO-360-A3B6D


200 @ 2700 RPM

Engine TBO

1800 hours

Max Gross Weight

2740 lbs

Useful Load

1000 lbs

Fuel Capacity

76 gals / 72 gals usable


36 ft 1 in

Overall Length

24 ft 8 in


8 ft 4 in

Wing Area

175 Square ft

Seating Capacity


Cabin Doors



Max Level Speed

174 kts

Cruise Speed 75% Power / 8100 ft

169 kts

Estimated endurance 65% power

7 hours

Stall Speed (flaps up)

63 kts

Stall Speed (flaps down)

55 kts

Best Rate of Climb

1030 feet per minute

Service Ceiling

18,800 ft

Takeoff Ground Roll

1550 ft

Landing Ground Roll

770 ft

Landing Over 50 ft Obstacle

1550 ft

Mooney Links

It's easy to see why Mooney aircraft are so popular with pilots and enthusiasts alike. As such, they have also been the topic of many AOPA Pilot articles. For more information and past articles, check out the following links (available to AOPA members who have registered to use the Special Access members-only portion of this Web site):

If you're still looking for more, you may also contact the experts in AOPA's Technical Services department by calling toll free at 1.800.USA.AOPA.

Join or renew now for your chance to win!