Panhandle Piloting: 3,000 Miles in a Mooney Mite

by Graham Shea

Years ago, when we were first researching for this website, Ben Favrholdt stated that the Mooney Mite makes a great cross-country airplane. Here we are featuring an article that proves the point.

Graham Shea, N4152, has made a great story out of a great adventure. In 2006, just months after his father’s (Ken Shea's) death, Graham undertook a 3000 mile, ten day journey through seven western states living in and out of Mooney Mite N4071. His total air time was over 19 hours. When he returned home to Quincy, CA, he had a wealth of experience in piloting a Mite, and a wonderful story to tell.

Not only is Graham’s journal thoughtful and entertaining, it includes some fine photos. We are pleased that he has offered to share it with us.

Part 1: Quincy, CA - Fallon, NV - Eureka, NV - Wendover, UT - Evanston, UT

Part 2: Rock Springs, WY - Fort Collins, CO - Peyton, CO - Monte Vista, CO - Durango, CO

Part 3: Gallup, NM - Wickenburg, AZ - Blythe, CA - San Diego, CA - Santa Monica, CA - Quincy, CA

Click here to see a map of the journey (courtesy of SkyVector)


Graham, cooking up some beans and rice while waiting for a stretch of bad weather to clear at Fort Collins.


Ken and Graham Shea with N4071 at the October, 2001 WAMM Fly-In, Porterville, CA.

Graham says:

"At the time of the trip, I was 22, and just out of college, so I was not yet employed. I had intentionally taken from spring of that year (when I graduated) till winter to travel before starting work in San Diego as a skilled nursing administrator-in-training. Now I am living back in Quincy teaching high school math and physics, and working on getting N4152* flying again.

"'Panhandle Piloting' is a phrase I coined for the article. To panhandle means to beg for food or money, so panhandle piloting is flying really cheaply."

* N4152 is an M-18C that Ken Shea bought back from Dave Jappay in 2001 after having owned from the mid 70s until the mid 90s.

Have a look at Graham's blog, from which our article is adapted.

Graham would appreciate receiving your comments:email