My Mooney Mite Story
by Carl Mitchell
The following account is an example of the kind of e-mails we really enjoy receiving. It's one [slightly edited] from Mite enthusiast Carl Mitchell of Era, Texas, which is about half way between Gainesville and Decatur. Carl learned to fly in Oklahoma City at the Tulakes airport, now known as Wiley Post.
My name is Carl Mitchell. I am now 69 years old. I have had a wonderful life as a corporate and airline pilot.
When I was 16 years old, I was fortunate enough to get to fly a Mooney Mite. The owner of the aircraft was Dick Taylor. By the way, his brother was the test pilot for Al Mooney. Dick Taylor told me that when I soloed he would let me fly his Mooney. However, my instructor Vernon Thorpe said, "Oh no you don't. I will let you fly the Moony after I have checked you out in three airplanes." Sure enough, Vernon checked me out in a Luscombe, an L2 Taylorcraft, and the airplane I first soloed, a Taylorcraft BC-12-D.
Oh, what a day that was to get to fly that airplane! Vernon taught me how to do the thumb check on the landing gear and how to put your right hand on the gear handle upside down, and with one movement you could raise the gear with ease. There are no words to describe the fun of flying a Mooney Mite when you are 16 years old. As I matter of fact, I was able to make my first solo (ha ha!) cross country in Dick's Mooney. I only wish I could put into words the fun I had as kid flying that Mooney Mite.
I was lucky enough to meet Al Mooney at the Tulakes airport in Oklahoma City. Dick Taylor had told me about Al Mooney and how you could recognize him. Back in the helmet and goggles days, he had crashed and was burned, and you could still see the outline of the goggles. The scars were still on his face. I was a line boy at the Tulakes Airport and one day Al taxied up to the gas pump. I greeted him with a hearty "Good morning, Mr. Mooney."
He was shocked. He asked, "How did you know my name?"
I said, "Mr. Mooney you would be recognized any place. You are such a famous man in the aviation world."
I also got to see the Mooney factory in Wichita Kansas. I was surprised to see the red clay floor in the hangar where they were building the Mooney Mites.
Thanks for letting me tell my Mooney Mite story. It brings back such fond memories.
Carl D. Mitchell
PS. I still have a first class medical and teach flying from a landing strip on my farm.
In a follow-up e-mail, Carl added:
I dug up my log book #1 to check the N-number of the Mooney Mite I soloed in when I was a kid. The tail number is 336M. I found out through your web site that Mr. George De Wayne of Magna, Utah, was the owner back in the 1960s. I can not find any records past that time. I also learned the Dick Taylor passed away in Alaska in 1999 or so. I can not believe Vernon Thorp, my instructor, let me fly that airplane so soon after solo. I had a total of 5:45 hrs. solo time. Mr. Thorp's license number was 63033. How lucky I was to have such mentors as Dick Taylor and V. E. Thorp.
[Regrettably, N336M was destroyed in a fatal crash in 1972.]
20 October, 2004