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All you need to know about Mooney aircraft

Mooney aircraft has been a favorite budget-friendly, fuel-efficient, and fast plane for general aviation aficionados.

Mooney is well-known for having a single engine and for carrying the signature vertical stabilizer with a vertical leading edge and swept trailing edge, which gives it the illusion of being forwardly swept.

Among the most popular Mooney planes are the M22 Mustang (the first pressurized single-engined, piston-powered aircraft), M20TN Acclain Type S (the fastest civilian single-engined, piston-powered aircraft), M20J 201 (the first production aircraft to achieve 323kph on 200hp) and M20K 231 (the fastest transcontinental flight in a single-engined, piston-powered production aircraft).

But before uncovering why they have risen to popularity, here’s a bit of history on the Mooney’s rise as a favorite go-to plane for flyers.

Founded by brothers
The plane manufacturer started out as Mooney Aircraft Company in 1929 and was founded by Albert Mooney with his brother, Arthur. It was financially-backed by Bridgeport Machine Company in Wichita Kansas.

With an airfield and some buildings, the company started to design and build aircraft, which happened seven months after, when an M-5 airplane was test-flown.

However, the company went bankrupt in 1930 due to the Great Depression, which led the Mooney brothers to work for other aircraft manufacturers until after World War II.

But that didn’t stop Albert from pursuing his own company. On June 18, 1948, He reopened the company as Mooney Aircraft Inc. with the help of Charles Yankey, his brother Arthur, and W. L. McMahon.

In the 1950s, Mooney developed its first aircraft—the single-seater Mite M-18, aka the Texas Messerschmitt, as it was identical to Messerschmitt Bf 109, a popular German fighter aircraft used during World War II.

Up until now, Mooney still uses the Mite M-18’s design concepts in its modern planes.

At the time Mite M-18 went into production, Albert started designing a four-seater plane, with the first M20 plane’s flight on September 3, 1953.

Later that year, Mooney’s leading financier Charles Yankey died of a stroke, which drove Albert to sell his stocks to Harold Rachal and Norman Hoffman to save the company.

But in 1955, Albert left the company he founded and worked for Lockheed Corporation, to which his brother followed him soon after.

New management
The M20—the bigger version of the Mite M-18—was first produced since the departure of the Mooney brothers, and is still being produced today in different variants.

The model gained popularity because of its speed—achieving up to 170 miles per hour (270 km/h)—and its efficiency.

By 1960, Mooney started producing aluminum based M20s, replacing the original wood material, with the entry of Ralph Harmon, who was from McDonnel Aircraft and previously worked for Beech Aircraft.

Mooney had then become a driving force in the general aviation industry, developing planes with fixed landing gear and a fixed-pitch propeller, and high-performance pressurized single-engine planes.

Meanwhile, in 1965, Mooney partnered with Mitsubishi Motors to produce and distribute MU-2s in the United States. The company was called Mooney-Mitsubishi Aircraft Inc. at the time.

A series of bankruptcy
Because of high production costs, Mooney went bankrupt anew in early 1969 and was sold to American Electronics Labs, and then to Butler Aviation later that year. However, Butler Aviation ended operations in 1971.

In 1973, Republic Steel Corporation acquired the rights to Mooney and resumed operations in 1974. The M20 was back in production in 1974 followed by its different variants in the ensuing years.

Mooney was able to weather a recession, albeit with a downsized workforce in the 1980s. However, Republic Steel bought another company, Ling-Temco-Vought Corporation, and Mooney was dropped once again.

It was bought by Morrison Group and later on by the team of Armand Rivard of Lake Aircraft and Alexandre Couvelair, a Mooney dealer from Paris.

Mooney was smooth-sailing through the rest of the decade and the 1990s until it went bankrupt again in 2001.

This time, Mooney was acquired by Advanced Aerodynamics and Structures Inc. (AASI), which resurrected Mooney as Mooney Aircraft Company Inc., a division of Mooney Aerospace Group, Ltd. (MASG).

But yet again in 2004, Mooney went bankrupt and was sold to Allen Holding Finance in May. In December that same year, MASG re-acquired Mooney after being restructured.

In the next few years, Mooney suffered a series of layoffs and halting of production lines for new aircraft and was bought by Soaring America Corporation—a new California-based company headed by President Cheng Yuan—in 2013.

Backed by Chinese investors, Mooney resumed production February 26, 2014, regaining momentum and has recovered manpower and production.

Second-hand market
Mooney aircraft has gained traction, especially in the second-hand market in the US, because of its speed, efficiency, and price range.

This has led to the proliferation of Mooney specialists or factory-authorized service centers.

As a leading manufacturer, service and repair provider of aircraft exhaust systems, Knisley Welding has partnered with Mooney Aviation Corporation Inc. to service Mooney aircraft’s exhaust system.

Apart from having a complete inventory of reliable parts for your plane’s exhaust, we provide you with excellent quality and service that has made us a preferred partner for maintaining your aircraft since we were established in 1974.

Let us help you keep your aircraft in tip-top shape by giving us a call. We’ll make sure to provide the right component and professional service for you and your plane.

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