The Mighty Mite Goes to College
By Oliver H. Fuller

What makes an executive transport executive?

[Reprinted from Air Facts magazine, January 1953]

The substantial growth of the use of aircraft for executive transport has been the bright spot in civilian aviation since 1946. The principal interest has centered around the executive use of the larger single-engined planes in the Bonanza and Navion class, and multi-engined jobs including the Beech, Dove, DC-3 and up on the size and power scale. Charles Loomis, 44 year old, 190 pound president of Western Manufacturing Company has gone against the trend toward larger and larger aircraft and gone for the really personal in executive transport. Loomis’s business transport is as personal as his underwear, and fits him almost as closely. He uses the Mooney Mite.

Loomis, who started flying in 1931, manufactures merchandise transfer trucks now in use in many leading department stores. For the military market, his plant produces component parts for Consolidated, Bendix, and other major contractors. His contacts cover a wide area and require a lot of travel. Early this year he traveled more than ten thousand miles on the scheduled airlines.

Charlie talked his transportation problem over with his friend Al Mooney. Naturally Mooney believed he had the answer in the M-18. He finally convinced Loomis the “Mite” was the one and only answer to his prayer. On March 13th of this year Mooney delivered a spanking new, firewagon-red job to Loomis and Western. It was all fixed up with Bendix VHF receiver, turn-and-bank, sensitive altimeter, extra gasoline tank, starter, landing and navigation lights.

The “pocket-size” Mooney is the fourth in the succession of airplanes Loomis has owned. The first was an experimental biplane powered by an OX-5, and called “The Flagship”. The second was a Ryan 22 all dolled-up with bright color and chrome plated parts even to the landing and flying brace wires. The third was a Fairchild 24. All Loomis’s airplanes have been named in honor of his charming wife Dorothy. The “Mighty-Mite” is no exception. It carries, in neat gold letters, the name Dorothy S. IV”.

Hangaring the Mite is no problem. Part of the time it nestles under the wing of an oil company Lockheed. Other times when the hangar is crowded they just shove it under something else.

Has such a small plane proved practical? Charlie Loomis thinks that’s a good question. He really enthuses as he talks about what it will do and quotes his experience to illustrate its utility.

“Take that trip I made in June as an example,” said Charlie as he sat at his desk thumbing through his log book. “I left here (Strother Field, Winfield-Arkansas City, Kansas Municipal Airport) in the afternoon on Monday the twenty-third. That evening and night I spent in Hannibal, Missouri. I had an appointment in Indianapolis at ten on Tuesday and made that with time to spare. Tuesday afternoon and evening I transacted business in Dayton. Wednesday I had lunch in Toledo and went to Detroit. I was busy all day in Detroit on Thursday. I left Detroit on Friday and went to Memphis. Saturday morning I took care of business in St. Louis and was back here early Saturday afternoon.”

Loomis’s log shows the trip took 17 hours of flying time. In the period from June 23rd to June 28th he had flown 2187 air miles. His expense record shows he spent $21.96 for gasoline and oil.

In September another trip included business appointments in St. Louis, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, St. Thomas, Ontario, Detroit, Dayton and Hannibal, Missouri. On October 8th his log shows a trip leaving base at 13:25 for Burlington, Iowa and Milwaukee. He was back at his home base at 13:30 the next day. Gasoline consumption 4.08 gallons per hour for the six hour trip.

Does the Mooney pay its way? Loomis thinks it does. Among his other qualifications Loomis is recognized as an authority on production problems. He has been employed as a consulting engineer by a large middle-western corporation. Since owning the Mooney he has earned $1, 900.00 in fees and the “Mighty Mite” has given him the time to sandwich this activity into his busy program.

During Loomis’s ownership the Mite has flown a little over 160 hours, been in thirteen states and in thirty-seven major cities.

The pay-off on this story is Loomis’s current use of the little plane. Feeling the need to brush-up on his knowledge of cost accounting (and who doesn’t these days) Charlie enrolled in the Wichita University School of Business Administration. His classes meet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Driving to his classes was out of the question since it is a hard two or three hour drive through heavy traffic from his office to the university and back.

Loomis solved this problem with neatness and dispatch. He bought a college style V-8, complete with a fox-tail on the radio antenna, for $49.50. This he leaves at Wilson Field in Wichita. His standard operational procedure on school days is to open his office in the morning, check his mail, go to the hangar and wheel out the Mooney, fly to Wilson Field, fire up the V-8 and drive to the University for his classes. After class he drives again to Wilson Field, parks the fliver, flies back to Strother Field and is again in his office by 9:30 the same morning. He hasn’t said when he does his “homework”.

So now the “Mighty-Mote” is going to college. Charles Loomis had put this smallest of all executive transports to practical use. He says his admiration and confidence increases with his experience. His confidence got a big boost recently from an experience he chooses to file in the “red-face” department. He had flown to one of the large Southwestern cities on business. It was a hot day and the air was rough so Loomis flew almost to his destination in the cool smooth air at twelve thousand. The let-down was fast and plugged his ears somewhat. The gear-warning whistle sounded most of the way down as he came in with closed throttle. The tower cleared him to land and he came in. Loomis says, “I heard and felt a regular thumping and wondered whether of not I had a flat tire – then – then I realized it was the prop hitting the concrete runway.”

Emergency equipment rushed to meet him but before they reached his plane, Loomis was out surveying the damage. One of the emergency crew suggested the crash truck would come out to remove the wreckage. “I don’t think we’ll need it,” said Loomis. “You fellows just lift it up so I can get the gear down.” They did, and Loomis with a very red face taxied the little red job to the parking area with what was left on the wooden prop.

A thorough inspection and a new $65.00 propeller repaired the damage and Loomis flew his tiny job home. Dorothy Loomis was at the hangar to meet him with a cat. As he sometimes does, Loomis cut the switch and just sat in the Mite awhile, marveling at the fact that this airplane which fits his person so closely, fits his needs and use so well. Finally Dorothy called him.

“Take it off now Charlie. You know you can’t wear it in the car.”

Article submitted by Gil Gilbert

14 May, 2006