Mite of the Month, August 2000
N4181, serial number 346, is an M-18 C-55, built in 1955 of course. As a matter of fact, its 45th birthday is on August 1st. It is powered by a Continental A65-12, which means the aircraft has electrical power to supply its full gyro panel. It has a II Morrow 618 Loran, encoder and COM, and a King transponder.
When owner Glenn Bell of Hillsboro, Oregon sent us these photos, he wrote, "As for 4181, she has spent her entire life in the Pacific Northwest except for the brief time that Larry Dale had her in Colorado Springs. The original owner was from Sweet Home, Oregon. Phil Carrol was the #2 owner of my Mite. He gave me the photos of him & Whit Pierson."
"My introduction with the Mite started at a very young age. Always knew I wanted to fly from my earliest memories as a child. Begged my father to take me to a penny-a-pound airplane ride at a local FBO in Reno. Cost him a whole 78 cents. Don't remember how old I was then. Maybe 12
"Check out the cool tip tanks (that's Phil & 4181). I thought Phil sold it to Whit, but my notes show that the third owner was a US Coast Guard Captain named Keating. Guess Whit was #4. He sold it to Larry Dale who sold it back to Whit, who sold it to me around 1986.
"I found the photo of 4181 with 4101 and others in the background in the archives in Washington, DC. I'm not sure where it was taken. The stamp on the back was from a photographer in Sunnyvale, CA.
"That's Whit propping 4181 at the Portland airport. Whit enjoyed 4181 the longest, 20+ years. I've only had her for about 15. I'm not sure that there's enough web space for the 4181 engine & panel story. That was surely a labor of love. As for now, I've order some long over due parts for 4181 and she's no long up for sale."
"I met a fellow at the FBO named Fred Rechenmacher. He had this beautiful little airplane he called a Mite. He let me sit in it and I was DOOMED. I swore that I would become a pilot and own a Mite when I grew up. Years later I did become a pilot and started an ever so long search for a Mite. Fred wouldn't let go of his Mite. I looked at perhaps forty plus Mites over the years before I met Whit. 4181 was going to be MY Mite. It only took another 8 years to pry it from Whit's fingers. A wonderful man.
Mike Harms eventually ended up with Fred's Mite (now N201MM) a couple of years ago. Mike let me fly that first Mite I met as a child. It was a full circle reunion for me. The aroma of that cockpit was deja vu.
"N4181 has had a metamorphous experience over the years. Now has an anodized IFR gyro panel. Also has a -12 engine conversion that I swiped out of Ray Allen's N4169. The panel & engine swap is another story for another time. I routinely fly this aircraft in and out of class B & C airports. Great fun. Every Mite I fly gives me a warm & fuzzy karma feeling. Not an absolute replacement for sex, but close. Ask me again in 20 years (4181 is exactly a month older than me)."
Larry Dale of Golden, CO, one time owner of N4181, sent us these comments:
"I can honestly say that of the dozen or more Mites that I've flown, N4181 was he nicest flyer of them all. I owned it from '67 to'74. Memorable x/c trips were to Vermont, EAA fly-ins in Wisconsin, one MMOA fly-in in New Mexico, and many times over Pikes Peak. I had the engine topped once, and made/installed main gear door covers. I dearly loved the Beech-Roby adjustable pitch prop in use at that time.
"The list of past owners of N4181 should include John Crater and Jim Nevin, who individually owned and flew the plane before selling it back to Whit.
"An interesting incident occurred with the plane when Jim Nevin landed gear up at Boscobel, Wisconsin when en route to Oshkosh. Only damage was the loss of a couple inches from each prop blade. Prior to the return flight home, Jim sawed a little more off of each tip so blades were of equal length, then dressed (sanded and painted) the tips and flew it back to Colorado. When questioned at fuel stops about the paddle blades, he would reply, " it's an experimental adjustable pitch prop." At maximum pitch and 2300 rpm, he was able to average 100 mph!"
Looking back at the history of N4181, here is report from the MMOA Bulletin of September 1967:
"Whit Pierson, MMOA founder, flew one of 50 or so planes and the only Mooney Mite in the Oregon Air Tours flight to Expo '67 in late July. Before the flight he wrote, 'I'll be leading one of the flights of planes...flying in a "swarm" across the country. Most (or many) are twins and Bonanzas but I am the envy of all that have three seats and must take wives and kids.'
"The fun tour got to Expo '67 from Portland, OR in 4 days, spent 3 at the Expo, and then on to Portland, ME and Lock Haven, PA (Piper and Lycoming) and back home. The Mite and 6'4" pilot got lots of TV and newspaper publicity at overnight stops, and managed to arrive first most evenings. (Whit's secret helpers were sunrise departures and a healthy tail wind.) Whit returned home via the Rockford EAA convention and Colorado, where he sold N4181. He had given this jewel TLC for so long (7 years) that he didn't want to part with it, but finally did so only after assurance that if ever put up for sale he would get first refusal."
One more item of interest -- Marv Reese has built an attractive flying scale model of a Mooney Mite, using the colour scheme of N4181. Have a look: http://users.mo-net.com/shirl/ Mooney.html
July 23, 2000
October 16, 2001 -- here are two more photos Glenn sent us of N4181, which he has just sold to Michael Harms.
"The P-51 was out at the Hillsboro airport. The aerial was coming back from Flying M Ranch in Yamhill county, about a 35 mile trek from here. It was taken from a 108-3 Stinson by a friend. This shot was taken in the late 80's as well as the P-51."
October 16, 2001