Mooney Mike Michlig and N4102
I bought N4102 in Schellville, CA after my second flight lesson. I had admired it a few weeks earlier and the owner remembered my interest. I bought it on the spot for his asking price. For one thing, it was just about perfect and secondly, it was painted up in the Alaska State Flag colors of signal yellow and blue. Alaska is my home state so the tail painted up as the state flag clinched it for me. N4102 even had Anchorage, Alaska lettered under the canopy...my home town!
My flight instructor, Mike Harris, based at Sonoma Skypark was thrilled for me and even speculated that once I soloed, that I might be able to use it as an economical and fun time builder. Apparently, Mites had been on line at a flight school in the Sacramento area back in the 60's. Harris realizing that a check ride in aircraft type was required for a solo student hoped that he could get a waiver for this requirement from an FAA contact that he knew. Well, the fellow at the FAA didn't say no but rather, "Hell No!" Harris came back to me and gave me the bad news but assured me that I was making great progress and would have my ticket before long. He told me, however, that I could taxi it around if I wanted....woopie doooo. So, I did...routinely.
There I go...taxiing around constantly in my petite bright yellow and blue tricycle. I knew everyone at the airport was just cracking up but I didn't care. I loved my Mite and dreamed of the first flight. I even taxied real fast. Before long, every one at the airport was calling me "Mooney Mike". They could hardly hold back their laughter, I am sure. Many of my friends were pilots and I never hesitated to share the Mite experience. In all, I believe about 20 friends at Skypark got to fly N4102 but not me, I just taxied incessantly.
One day, I remarked to a friend as a group of friends took turns flying her that this was too much like watching all of my buddies kiss my girlfriend. He laughed and remarked...."Yeah - she kisses real good, too."
A few weeks later, I was out doing my thing, taxiing around. My instructor, Mike Harris, had a new student in his office adjacent mid-field and pointed me out as one of his students. He told the new student..."That's Mike Michlig. We call him Mooney Mike. He can't fly that Mite yet so he is always out taxiing around. He'll be up there before long."
At about that time, I taxied back to my hangar. My friend George came over. I had promised him a flight and he seize this moment to take me up on the offer. You can read ahead on this story. George, about my age and stature was wearing an almost identical T-shirt and hat. He hopped in, did a run up, taxied to runway 26 and put the throttle to the wall. At about mid-field adjacent Harris' flight school office, he rotated and retracted the gear. I was standing near by and observed Mike Harris leap over his desk with his hat in hand shouting an obscenity not suitable for print. The new student close behind asked, "Can he do that?" and Harris, remarked, "Oh, he can do that alright, but he is in BIG trouble."
About this time, George, in the Mite, was turning out gracefully, left crosswind. I was standing close enough to see that Harris was as white as a sheet, very shaken. Standing behind him, I asked if he was alright. Well, he about fainted when he saw that I was safely on the ground behind him. In a very shaky voice, he told me, "I thought that was you!" We all laughed for about an hour straight.
A few weeks later, George Meenach appeared at Sonoma Skypark. He was from New Mexico and was in the market for a Mite. He had flown in to see a Mite in Healdsburg, CA but it didn't suit him. He heard about mine and well, somehow talked me out of it. I HADN'T EVEN FLOWN THE DARN THING! Well, he took it home to New Mexico. I remember watching it fly out of pattern.
N4102 will always be remembered as my first plane. I have had many since but she was special. Maybe one day, she will find her way back into my hangar. You never know. My wife and I now live in Bigfork, Montana at the Ferndale Airport (53U). We fly our 1954 Piper TriPacer from the hangar next to our house. We like to tell people that we drive in the front yard, fly out the back yard.
"Mooney Mike" Michlig
31 October, 2003