Mites Fresh Off the Assembly Line

The following photos and commentary were given to us by Garry Gramman, N119C, in response to our question concerning original Mite colour schemes. As far as we know, his is the only Mite, still flying, to have had only one owner.

"My log book shows that I picked up the plane at Wichita on October 6, 1950, visited my family in Indiana for a few days and arrived at Gillespie Field October 11. The pictures were taken after my return, in October, or possibly November of 1950, at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, CA."

This is Garry's plane in its original colour scheme. It was N390A before it was damaged and rebuilt (see below).It had a silver fuselage, wings and tail. The trim is bright red.

In June of 1950, Garry suffered a crash in N390A at Phoenix due to wake turbulence from an American Airlines DC-6. This shows the damage sustained. The plane had to be almost totally rebuilt, after which it was assigned N119C. Ironically, N-number 390A was re-assigned to American Airlines!

"The engine was pushed back against the turn and bank indicator and my head was thrown against the instrument panel and windshield. The sun glasses I was wearing were broken and thrust to the left, leaving me with cuts above and below my left eye. I also had cuts on my lower lip, and below the lip.  It took twelve stitches to fix me up."

"When I had the plane rebuilt at the Mooney factory in Wichita in 1950, a new wing and forward section of the fuselage were taken from the production line and used to rebuild my plane. The "N" number N119C had already been painted on the wings of serial # 80, so it was thus cannibalized and was probably never built. Serial # 51 became N119C through a simple log book change. 

This is a closer look at N119C in its new livery. It had a maroon fuselage and vertical tail, with silver wings, horizontal tail and trim.

"I paid $1850 + tax for the plane new in May 1950, with a down payment of about $650. After the insurance payoff and rebuild at the Mooney factory in Wichita, the total cost was about $1885, almost the exact amount of the original purchase price."

The plane on the left has a silver fuselage, wings and tail. The nose and tail stripes were red. The frame and gear were green. The second plane from the left is N332M, number 213. The wings, tail and upper fuselage were silver. The lower fuselage and trim were yellow. This airplane was lost in a forced landing.

"Note the tower and the buildings. Those are left over from Gillespie Field's Marine Corps origin as a Paramarine training field. The towers were for captive parachute jumping. Speer was an FBO at Gillespie Field, who also rented his Mooney."

The dark plane on the right is Garry's N119C, number 51, with its new colour scheme after the accident.

"The building in the background was the shop and offices of Southern Cal Airmotive, the West Coast distributor for Mooney, who sold and rented Mooneys. Their logo was on N390A and N332M, but not on N119C. Note their name on the sign on the roof of the the building."

This photo of Garry was taken at Porterville, CA in May of 2001. He takes loving care of 119C, and it shows. It was Mite of the Month for December 1999.

Garry Gramman tells what happened to N332M: 

"Serial # 213, N332M, was owned by Southern Cal Airmotive at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, CA, and I flew it during the late summer of 1950. It was a beautiful yellow and silver Mite, factory equipped with electrical system, lights, starter, generator, VHF radio and 6-gallon auxiliary fuel tank. The plane was returning on a night flight from Las Vegas, and the pilot, finding Gillespie Field socked-in, panicked, and forgetting that he had enough fuel to fly to any one of several fields in the desert where it was clear, crashed into a mountain. The plane was totally destroyed but, luckily, the pilot survived."

23 May, 2001