Restoration of M-18 Number One by the NASM

For the latest news, see the bottom of this page

24 August 2001: Here is a progress report on the restoration of N3199K  at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

N3199K, serial number 201, was the Mooney's original M-18. It has gone through several major changes in its lifetime, starting off as Serial No. 1, powered by the Crosley engine. Later it was converted to a Lycoming engine and finally a Continental, thus requiring the serial number to be changed to 201. It was donated to the NASM in 1981 by Johan Kala.

The following comments and photos were kindly sent to us by Anne McCombs, Museum Specialist, Restoration:

"The first picture shows the fuselage mounted on its "rotisserie" stand, so that we can put it in any position for ease in working. We had some bad spots in the red paint, so we're going to repaint all of the red plus the white N number on the fuselage and most of the forward fuselage sheet metal. As you can see, we've started sanding the aft fuselage to prep it for new paint.

"The next picture shows the wing (inverted) and tail assembly. The tail cleaned up beautifully and is now ready for reinstallation; the wings are about half done but are also cleaning up nicely and are in good condition. We're removing all 3 landing gear assemblies and doing a complete restoration on them.

"I've been personally working on the cockpit cleanup shown in the fourth picture. Don't be alarmed by the "radiation" tag -- it's due to the radium paint on some of the instruments. The level is very low and they're perfectly safe so long as nobody licks the paint (! -- they are sealed), but our in-house safety program requires us to survey and mark all artifacts for radioactivity.

"The third picture shows the Continental A-65 being worked on; it also appears to be in good shape and mostly needs a good thorough cleaning and preservation.

"One of my co-workers, Carl Schuettler, did the beautiful canopy restoration job shown in the last picture. The other members of the team are Drew Mitchell, Ken Isbell, and myself.

"As you are probably aware, our Mite has been displayed hanging at Garber for many years. We took it down recently to begin work on it. Like most of our current projects, this is not a full restoration, but more of a thorough cleaning, preservation, inspection, and repair as necessary to prepare it for display at the Hazy Center. Fortunately, the airplane is in pretty good condition as it is. However, we're doing fairly extensive disassembly, as you will see in the attached photos.

"Current display plans are to hang the Mite at the Hazy Center near one of the staircases, so that it would be at the same level as the upper viewing mezzanine. My guess is that a label on the mezzanine railing would be the extent of the display information planned, but since I'm not involved in that area, I don't know for sure."

Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility

Artifacts are restored and prepared for museum display at the Garber facility in Suitland, MD. Many of the museum's collections are stored here and some areas are open to the public for guided tours. Tours and location information are provided.

Udvar-Hazy Center

The Udvar-Hazy Center is a new, larger restoration and storage facility scheduled to open in 2003. The public will be able to view more of the collection than ever before and also have the opportunity to see artifacts during restoration. Read the planning documents and view the latest facility design.

The First "Mooney" Mooney

An article by Ace Bowman from the September 1977 issue of PRIVATE PILOT.

26 December 2001:

Dear Mr. Rutherford,

We've just about finished up our work on N3199K, the first Mooney Mite, and thought you might like a few pictures of the (mostly) completed project.  The only thing we have to finish up as of this writing are the magnetos, and then it will be ready for the day when it moves to the Hazy Center at Dulles to be hung on display.

A couple of things you might notice in the pictures are some odd protrusions from the top surfaces of the cowling and horizontal stabilizer-- these are the hanging points -- and the post - September - 11 small American flag which we temporarily inserted in the OAT probe (not intended to be part of the final display configuration).  Incidentally, we have the original, unmodified upper cowling, but fabricated a replacement so that we could cut holes in it for the hanging points without damaging the original.

All of us on the restoration team would like to again thank you and the members of the Mooney Mite community who have been so generous with your words of advice and experience when we needed help.  Hope you can all come out and see N3199K and the rest of the collection when the Hazy Center opens in a couple of years.  Thanks again.

Anne McCombs
Museum Specialist, Restoration
National Air and Space Museum

03 February, 2005 - Another update on N3199K from Anne McCombs:

"The Mooney Mite is scheduled to be hung in 2006. The timing is driven by the order in which objects can be hung from the trusses (the big arches), which is in turn driven by crane access. We've been hanging objects starting with the trusses that are closest to the walkway that crosses the hangar in roughly the center. This is the walkway that provides the view of Enola Gay's cockpit, and which more or less divides the civil aviation area from the military aviation area. The first truss south of the walkway is already "filled", and we expect to hang airplanes from the second truss during 2005. The design shows the Mite hanging from the third truss south, positioned at the west side of the hangar. This would place it approximately over the Boeing 307, and adjacent to the viewing mezzanine. You can probably picture the operation from what I've said; in essence we're backing the crane from the center toward the south door, hanging airplanes as we go.

"The Mite is all finished and looks great, with hanging points installed, so everyone seems quite confident that it will go on display. However, I have to throw in the usual qualifications regarding timing, as other tasks may arise which would delay us for some unforeseen reason. This is all very recent information, so you sent your inquiry at the right time."

11 April, 2006:

"At last I have some news for you regarding NASM's Mooney Mite. It was delivered to the Udvar-Hazy Center last night (Monday, April 10 - Tuesday April 11), and is now on public display. I just spoke to one of the escort drivers, who drove one of the vehicles protecting the wide load, and he said the move went off very well. The airplane is presently on the floor, "in the south end near the King Air" (again, according to the escort driver). It's supposed to get hung some time this summer -- current estimates are in June, but the timing is subject to change depending on what else arises. We thought you'd like to be among the first to know. We want to again thank you for the help of you and all the Mite owners who offered advice and information during the restoration. Hope you can get out to the D.C. area and see N3199K sometime."

4 April, 2007:

The historic N3199K is now in its permanent home, hanging from the ceiling in the Udvar-Hazy Center. Thanks to Keith Mackey, N4159 for sending us this photo by his friend, Al Fitzgerald. [click to enlarge]

Before and after photos taken by Drew Mitchell and Carl Schuettler, respectively, of the staff at NASM.

Thanks to Monroe Spake for sending in this photo from