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."
"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.
"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."
"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 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."
"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