Flight Report - Mooney M-18 Mite - CF-JDE
The following is a flight report prepared by Lt. Col. Ray Simpson in 1981. At the time, he was Second in Command of the experimental unit at C.F.B. Cold Lake, Alberta. He is a graduate of UK and US test pilot schools. This is presented in the format of Simpson's original. Contributed by Frank Scott, CF-JDE.
Note - This is the second edition of these notes as the first edition, in rough form, has become mislaid. Apologies to self and anyone else who reads for errors. Where memory fails, I have either omitted information or openly stated my uncertainty.
Date/Place of Flight/Conditions, etc.
5 July 1981, midafternoon at Frank Scott's strip, Loon Lake, Saskatchewan.
Strip is 2400 feet grass - runway 10-28 - excellent condition
runway 10 in use - takeoff over flat fields
landing approach over treed hill, then road with power lines (sucks one into
being a little too high on approach until used to the picture)
weather - high haze - basically CAVU
-wind light (perhaps 8 K+ - 10 K+) direction 180 45º right crosswind,
- light turbulence lower levels
CF-JDE owned by Frank Scott - M18C with 65 HP Continental
- not inspected in detail as one would if one were buying
BUT: paint/skin/fabric generally excellent condition
aircraft interior/exterior clean (a/c always hangared)
No obvious evidence of leaks, misuse or abuse.
In general, the airplane reflects the tender-loving-care I know it gets from its master.
- general layout of the aircraft, wing & empennage planforms, and landing gear
design are scaled down M20 designs (or should I be saying the M20's scaled up
from the Mite)
- small, tightly enclosed (as in a glider)
- small does not mean cramped, but I am only 5'9 and relatively skinny.
Frank Scott is small. 6'4" football players probably would not agree
that in this case small means comfortable.
- controls are all easily reached except that the landing gear handle is a bit out
of the way under the instrument panel on the right side of the fuselage.
Throttle is on instrument panel on the left. Stick is exactly where it should be.
- instrument panel is even smaller (of course) than the M20 - but it has all the space
it needs for basic VFR instruments - nothing fancy, but everything required is right there.
- the canopy slides on rails on either side - locks in place by inserting pins in
track on either side. Combined effects of a tight fit plus pilot inexperience
made one of the pins difficult to install, but when it's in, there's no doubt
about it - positive lock and positive visual check.
- starting - no electric starter - Frank pulled prop through - didn't start on
first try - third or fourth I recall, but no doubts about it keeping going.
- brakes - individual toe brakes - nice touch on this vintage of airplane - in my
opinion a very worthwhile touch of class. One observation here, and I'm
not sure if this is a characteristic of CF-JDE or of all Mites, brake travel
was very small and they seem to require heavy pressure to be effective -
certainly a lot more pressure than I am used to in other aircraft, enough so
that on the first couple of applications of brake, I wondered if they were
really going to work. Of course, they did work - no question about that -
just the pressure took getting used to.
- nosewheel steering is full-time as in the M20 and also has limited travel (as
has the M20). Smaller aircraft, small distances between gear, though, therefore
ground maneuvering was better than the M20. Linkage on the nosewheel steering,
if my recollection is correct, appeared to have less freeplay than I have had
Takeoff (including T/O aspect of T&G's).
- no untoward behaviour such as the directional PIO [pilot induced oscillation]
that I sometimes experience in ZQY [his Mooney M20]
- there is a relatively small (compared with other aircraft I have flown) range of
pitch attitude between nosewheel liftoff and tailskid ground contact. As a
result, my initial takeoff was accomplished by pinning the tailskid to the
ground (unintentionally, I hasten to add) and thundering down the runway
until sufficient speed for liftoff.
- mercifully, the tailskid is forgiving and that attitude is a flyable one.
-three comments/partial explanations here:
1. The airplane when static on the ground already has a fair amount of nose
up attitude. Until you've flown you don't realize just how much.
2. relatively limited pitch attitude range as mentioned above. No doubt in my
mind that the proper pitch attitude cues can be learned - it's just that I
never got them quite right in my half-hour flight (obviously I need more experience)
3. relatively light stick forces - perhaps the gradients are too shallow (I'd
prefer to think not. The light forces in flight contribute to the easy
workload involved in flying this airplane. Stick forces can be increased
throught mechanical design changes in the control linkages, but I'd rather
learn (and it wouldn't take long) the appropriate visual & control force/
position cues to get the takeoff right rather than sacrifice the pleasantly
light up-and-away forces.)
Touch and goes - I continue to polish the skid a bit on the grass - never did quite get
Controllability - nice light forces, as already mentioned
- pitch/roll seemed reasonably well harmonized
- small stick motions/fingertip pressure were all that was needed throughout
speed range - very responsive.
Trim - recollection fuzzy here, but I think I needed more forward trim at
high speed than the aircraft would give.
Didn't matter much, though:
- first, control forces were so light that holding pressure wasn't a
- second, the throttle tended to creep back so I didn't have to end up
going flat out anyway.
- Full aft trim comes complete with flaps - an interesting concept - it reduces
number of controls in cockpit - but it seems to work, the idea being that
if you're trimmed back that far, you must be going slowly enough to be able
to/need to lower flaps.
- no adverse remarks here nor noticeable deficiencies or weakness found in
relatively quick and limited testing.
- statically stable longitudinally and in steady heading sideslips
- aileron - only - rolls (bank-to-bank) did not produce noticeably large adverse
- rudder only turns OK - i.e. rudder raised appropriate wing promptly
- longitudinal short period and Dutch roll both OK, well dumped.
- same comments gear up or down.
- very docile characteristics - pitch down straight ahead at stall with no
tendency to spin/incipient spin
- controls effective in normal sense throughout approach to stall
- use of aileron near and at stall was possible without adverse response
- stall speeds seemed to be high (recollection is fuzzy on exact speeds -
around 50K+ I think)
- I also recollect feeling (by virtue of aircraft
attitude being so nose high) that approach at 55-60 was awfully near the
Either I was imagining things, or I am not remembering well, or there is an error
in the airspeed indicating system.
Landing Gear Operation
As I said before - the gear lever is a bit out of the way on the right side beneath
the instrument panel.
- there is also a funny paddle thing right up-front on the instrument panel
(the original "Heads Up Display?) that wags away at you if your throttle is back
and the gear is not locked down.
- advice from Frank was that this gear warning is not nearly as reliable as
a good visual check of the gear handle.
Undoubtedly true, but I discovered a position for the gear handle that for the
life of me (first gear selection, mind you - way up high before performing the
gear down stall) looked, by means of that "good visual check" to be down and
locked in position.
The paddle wagged away at me - it had to be wrong, the gear was (I thought) locked
down. Thinking there might just be something to it, I used my right foot to push
the gear handle forward - sure enough, it now clicked positively into place and the
paddle stopped wagging. (The right foot idea wasn't mine - it was Frank's before
flight - it was just that I thought I had done everything right without using the
foot on my first try)
1. never ignore a warning such as the paddle without a lot of further investigation -
the warning system in this case did exactly what it was supposed to
2. there are usually reason why experienced people adopt habits like pushing the
gear with their foot - and you may as well learn from their experience
(I am not implying blind, mindless obedience, rather informed, thoughtful
adoption of proven techniques.
- I've already mentioned landing gear, airspeed, pitch attitude (i.e. too high &
drag the skid), and heavy brakes - these were all observations related to the
- Landing itself was easy - closeness to the ground makes perception of depth
easier unless you are having trouble in psyching yourself to go that low.
But it's not as low as some gliders.
Single seat airplanes are great - canopy all round - great view - you really feel
you and your airplane are one - no one else to hassle you
(Single seat airplanes to me include certain gliders, the F-86, A-F, F104,
and now the Mooney Mite - the exhilaration and sheer pleasure are compatible)
Lesson: write proper flight report notes right after flying and DON'T LOSE THEM
The Mite in all respects was a pleasure to fly - light and responsive controls -
good cruise (120 - 130 on 65HP) make it a possible cross-country bird in addition
to sheer enjoyment.
September 25, 1999