Designing airplanes with a total disregard for artifice resulted in innovations that still inspire every Mooney aircraft today. There’s the famous forward-canted vertical stabilizer, a turbulence-splitting marvel best described by Al Mooney himself, “We didn’t put the tail on backwards. Everybody else did.” Its own unique boarding technique (dubbed “the Mooney scoot”), and rubber donuts in place of troublesome and short-lived oleo-struts. A few other ingenuities also mark a Mooney. A tip-to-tip wing spar for exceptional structural strength. And chromoly steel control rods that positively connect the pilot to the plane without the lag of a cable, to name two – and every Mooney is still carefully hand-built by highly skilled, and many times second- and third-generation, craftsmen.
Today, with the introduction of the new M20V Acclaim and M20U Ovation Ultras built in Kerrville, Texas, a pilot-side door has eliminated the scoot. The fuselage is now wrapped in a sleek composite shell. And the unique cabin safety cage has been made even stronger.
But all of these features fall miserably short to explain the feeling of flying a Mooney – a fully engaged, almost prescient experience. It starts as you nestle into the cockpit. Sculpted leather cradles you like a fine sports car, but gives an unobstructed view of the horizon thanks to enlarged windows. Redesigned toggles and soft touch switches fall naturally to your fingertips. And the newest generation Garmin NXi avionics presents all your flight data in a simple graphical interface.
Of course, wheels-up is when every Mooney earns its legendary reputation. It is the fastest, single-engine piston powered production airplane on, or above, the earth. In simple terms, if a pilot were a musician, this would be their Steinway – the instrument that stops just short of anticipation, but responds to every input as if it already knows the song.