The Mooney Mite Missing N-number Mystery
It is commonly accepted that Mooney built 283 Mites between 1948 and 1956. After all, there is a published series of serial numbers to prove it. Or do they? Was there actually a Mite for every serial number? The fact that the number 283 is often repeated does not make it true. A close examination of the N-number and Serial number sequences shows that Mooney may not have completed a Mite for every serial number it was issued.
One of the purposes of the Mite Site has been to identify and locate all Mites ever built. Our two main sources of information have been the owners lists from issues of the historical MMOA Bulletin and the current FAA registration database.
Some Mites have never appeared in any of the MMOA owners lists. After trying without success to locate almost 50 so-called "missing" Mites, and taking into account the inconsistencies in the following chart, we have come to the conclusion that some serial numbers were never used. That is to say, some Mites are phantoms -- they were never built.
The chart below displays a section of the data from the FAA. Near the top of the chart, notice several missing Mites [with serial numbers shown in red] that fall where there are gaps in the N-number sequence. For example, Number 289 should have been N4122 but is not. The owner of 289 has never been identified. Likewise for Numbers 292 and 294. [There are exceptions. Number 298, which is also has a missing owner name, does have a logically matching N-number reserved for it in the sequence].
|Num||Ser Num||Year||Owner Name||comments|
|4123||291||1953||KING ERNEST W III|
|4130||301||1954||Blaha, John||out of sequence|
|4132||302||1954||WHITNEY CARL C||out of sequence|
|4131||303||1954||MOORE FENNON F||out of sequence|
|4138||305||1954||FARR ROBERT ALLEN JR|
The violet coloured numbers near the bottom of this chart serve to show that N-numbers were at times "disconnected" from their logically matching serial numbers.
In addition, we have at least one example to support our argument. Serial number 80 was likely never completed because Garry Gramman knows for a fact its wing was taken from the assembly line and used to rebuild his Number 51. It is probably safe to assume that several other unfinished Mites were raided for parts as well, and thus never completed.
So there is evidence of three of these phantom Mites in our chart above. In all, there are 50 missing Mites. Of those, there are 21 for which there is no way to guess possible N-numbers because they are not among others in a sequence. Therefore, we are going to stick our neck out and say that out of the total of 283 serial numbers, there are at the very least four, and possibly as many as 21 or more, Phantom Mites.
We are waiting for someone who actually worked on the Mooney assembly line, or someone who owns one of these missing Mites, to step in and contradict our conclusion!
Here is a full list of the missing Mites:
03 June 2001
With the assistance of Bill Larkins of Pleasant Hill, CA, we have been able to revise the above Missing Mites list. Here is an update, as of February, 2002: