In Memory of Garry Gramman, N119C

Garry Gramman and his Mite at Porterville, California in May, 1999.

As mentioned elsewhere in this website, N119C is the only one-owner Mite we know of. Garry bought it brand new in Wichita from Mooney. In his own words, here is what Garry had to say about his beloved airplane:

"My Mite, serial 51, was originally N390A. The number was canceled following my crash in Phoenix during wake turbulence from an American Airlines DC-6 in June of 1950 when I had the plane rebuilt at the Mooney factory in Wichita. The new wing and forward section of the fuselage were taken from the production line and used to rebuild my plane, serial 51. The "N" number was located on the wings in 1950, and the number N119C was already painted on the wings. So serial 51 became N119C through a simple log book change. Serial 80 was thus cannibalized and was probably never built.

"The insurance company paid off and I bought the salvage for a very nominal amount, and the decision was, sell the salvage or rebuild it. I didn't have the experience or knowhow to rebuild it, but I had a good engine, tail cone, tail feathers, flaps, ailerons, landing gear, and instruments. If I had elected to repair the plane, I would have had to buy the wing and forward section of the fuselage, and assemble and test the airplane. So the Mooney distributor called Al Mooney and they worked out a deal whereby I would ship the good parts back to the factory at Wichita and they would assemble them into a new plane.

"I had bought the plane with a minimum down and had made maybe one payment, and so I didn't have much in it, so when I paid for the repair it totaled about $1,850.00, the price of a new plane.

"N119C is IFR equipped, with vacuum driven attitude and directional gyros, and electric turn coordinator. The instruments are arranged in a classic "T" configuration. Com equipment is a Terra TX-760D with complimentary Nav equipment, TN-200D and TriNav C with glide slope. A Lawrance Airmap with moving map display is an indispensable item of navigation equipment. The Radair 250 transponder with Mode C and a Birddog ELT completes the package of com/nav equipment."

To see more details about his accident go to our article at:

Garry strolls to the fuel pumps with his Mite in tow.

At WAMM gatherings, the story is often told about Garry's persistence. He lost his medical in 1968 and didn't get it back for 25 years. He could not bear to part with his Mite and it sat in the hangar all that time. He also decided that if he was going to keep it he might as well add improvements.

In 1979, with typical meticulous care and attention to detail, he engineered a method for installing a 1978 Honda Civic 35 ampere alternator to power the lights and other electrical equipment. The alternator is mounted at the aft end of the engine, between the magnetos, and is driven by shaft running about 15 inches across the top of the engine from the pulleys and belt at the front of the engine. Still making improvements as late as 1998, he upgraded his engine from a 65 HP Lycoming 0-145-B2 to a 75 HP 0-145-C2 by simply adding dual valve springs.

It took him about 12 years to make the improvements, right up to the time he got his medical back. The day after his medical was reinstated, he flew to a Mooney Mite gathering in Porterville, California, and said it was one of the most memorable flights he'd ever taken.

Garry and his Mite gained attention wherever they went. From our Articles Page, here is an one by Vicki Cruse first published in the April 1999 issue of Custom Planes magazine:

He took meticulous care of his airplane.

In the last few years, the combination of age and medical problems made it difficult for Garry to renew his pilot's medical each year. In 2001, Garry must have realized that it was impractical to keep fighting to retain his license and that, unless the Sport Pilot Rules were adopted, his flying career was just about over. So in August of that year he decided to have one last fling and flew from his home base at Gillespie Field near San Diego all the way up to Prosser, Washington, for a WAMM fly-in. This thousand-mile long distance flight alone was quite a feat for a seventy-nine-year-old, but to top off the adventure, while there he made a tour of the famous Mount St. Helens volcano west of Prosser and sent us photos taken during his flight:

Garry was decent man and a truly dedicated member of the Mooney Mite community. He is greatly missed by his friends in WAMM.

To end our memorial page, here is Garry's obituary as published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on March 19, 2004:

E.G. Gramman

GRAMMAN, E.G. "GARRY" Garry Gramman, 82, a long time resident of El Cajon, CA died March 16, 2004. Garry was born January 4, 1922, in Fowler, Indiana. He was the oldest son of Charles Gramman and Isabel Hasser (both deceased). He is survived by Virginia "Ginny," his wife of 51 years. Ginny resides in their home in El Cajon. Mr. Gramman was the founding CEO/President of Dynair Electronics, Inc. for 38 years. Dynair was a leading global broadcast communications manufacturing company, with customers including NASA, television networks and affiliates, and government institutions. He served in the U.S. Marines from 1942 to 1945. Garry was a past chairman of the American Electronics Association, a member of the Antique Airplane Association, Western Association of Mooney Mites and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Garry was very active and engaged in life until his last moment, and only quit flying his Mooney Mite plane two years ago at age 80. Surviving with his wife are two daughters, Susan Phillips, Albuquerque, NM, and Kelly Oletta, San Diego, CA; seven grandchildren; sisters, Julia McGrath, and Helen Hamilton, Winter Haven, FL. Preceding him in death are his son Scott Gramman and daughter Diane Roberts. Visitation, March 19, 4:00-7:00 p.m., Rosary 7:00-8:00 p.m. at Paris-Frederick Mortuary, 374 N. Magnolia Avenue, El Cajon, CA. (619) 440-8033. Mass: March 20, 11:00 a.m., Holy Trinity Church,405 Ballard, El Cajon, CA. Internment: Holy Cross Cemetery,4470 Hilltop Drive, San Diego, CA....

May 11, 2004