Practice Precision Flying in Your Mooney
by Chuck McGill, Safe
Flight International, MAPA #7316
As published in the
MAPA Log November 2001
I am going to jump into this flaming inferno and
tell you that I think a Mooney is the perfect
aircraft for advanced instruction, for both
commercial and instrument ratings.
I agree that the Mooney is a fairly demanding
aircraft, but it is also a fair and honest broker.
You just have to understand what it does and why it
does what it does, and deal with it accordingly. (We
have 80 year old pilots out there flying Mooney's --
that have never dinged one in 20 years - I met one
at the MAPA Convention this past week).
I regularly teach advanced flying techniques, and I
just can't find a better general aviation aircraft
available to learn commercial or instrument ratings
in. In a departure from the FAA, I think you should
get your commercial before your instrument rating,
as in gaining the commercial ticket you learn to
"fly the airplane." If you can really fly the
airplane, flying instruments is fairly simple.
While gaining your commercial rating you learn where
the "edge" is on the aircraft, and you learn where
YOUR "edge" is. (Those may not be in the same
airspace). The Mooney may be the winner here, as it
is totally predictable, and we humans are not. Some
pilots cannot "feel" the edge and they cannot
routinely perform an event in a consistent manner.
(Actually, most of us can't, due to the various
stresses in life.)
In the commercial maneuvers you 'must "feel" edge.
You must learn to believe in the aircraft and
believe in yourself. That is one thing that makes
the Mooney so great for advanced instruction, it is
totally predictable, and totally controllable (as
long as you don't spin it) (YOU control IT, and
don't let IT go there).
When flying instruments you need standard
procedures, power settings, airspeeds, pitch
attitudes, etc. Use them and the Mooney gives you
what you want. every time. Of course, the Mooney
requires situational awareness, technique and skill
to fly. It is not a Cessna 150 or a Piper Cherokee.
It is a fast, complex, high performance airplane!
(Isn't that whey we buy them?) However, in return,
the Mooney gives you whatever you have asked it to
do in a totally predictable manner.
I have taught many commercial and instrument ratings
in the M20C, M20E/F/G, 2011 252/ 231 and the
TLS/Bravo, Ovation, etc., and I can't think of a
finer aircraft for advanced instruction than a
Mooney. And for the commercial rating, nothing does
better chandelles and lazy eight's, as the Mooney,
control harmony is unequalled in general aviation
aircraft. Today I gave a refresher instrument
training in a TLS and then admired a student's
performance in soloing his M20E for the first time
in his life. Both pilots did great and so did their
The Mooney isn't too fast for beginning instrument
students; you just have to slow it down to the speed
at which the Pilot can think as he performs various
events. The pilot has to know that he can do that.
Standard power settings give the pilot
options/speeds that are constant and predictable so
that he can depend on them to not be greater than
his thought process.
Landing the Mooney is a matter of understanding the
dynamics of what is occurring, and controlling them
in a smooth and harmonious process - porpoising and
bouncing is totally unnecessary. And, if they occur,
you lower the nose to 6-7 degrees of pitch up
attitude, add power, and fly out of it (i.e. go
around). The fellow that did his first solo in his
M20E today didn't even "squeak" his tires on two of
his landings; he just rolled them on. What fun to
The Mooney is a great airplane for those who want to
learn and practice precision flying - you just need
to fly "by the numbers". Flying by the numbers gives
you predictable outcomes, yields desired results,
satisfies the pilots expectations, and makes the
passengers feel like the whole flight was a piece of
CFI, CFII, MEI
Aviation Safety Counselor