Charles Raines

1979 Mooney M20J "201" N4786H

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N4687H as first seen at All American Aircraft in San Antonio, TexasBeing painted in Santa Maria, CaliforniaN4786H in front of my hangar at Santa Paula, CaliforniaSafe in it's hangarLeather interior by Aero Comfort in San Antonio, TexasNew instrument panel with Aspen display

After several unproductive leads, I found this 1979 "201" at All American Aircraft in San Antonio, Texas. It was a little rough around the edges, but a thorough inspection by a Mooney Service Center showed it to be a sound airplane. Since I expected this to be my last airplane, my plan was to utilize lessons learned from previous airplanes to make this one a “keeper.”

Initially I installed a new interior, upgraded the Garmin 430 to WAAS and hard-wired a portable GPS to receive XM weather. The following year, a new windshield was installed, the shock discs were replaced along with the exhaust system, vacuum pump, ignition harness, oil separator and starter. Both fuel tanks were eventually resealed, wingtip strobes installed and the airplane repainted at one of the best paint shops on the West Coast. In 2013 the engine and all of its accessories were overhauled, including the engine mount and new baffling. The propeller was also overhauled which required new blades. In 2015 a new instrument panel was fabricated and a Aspen PFD installed. The transponder was upgraded to meet the ADS-B mandate and a Stratus 2 ADS-B Receiver was installed to provide traffic and weather to a yoke mounted iPad Mini. Most recently, the aging Garmin 430W was replace with a Avidyne IFD440.

So far I have spent as much upgrading the airplane as I initially paid for it. The lesson I can’t seem to learn is that it is more cost effective to buy an airplane with everything already done than to do one item at a time. I enjoy the planning process however and the satisfaction of having everything exactly the way I want it. I am very happy with this airplane which should provide me with reliable transportation for as long as I expect to fly.

In addition to being a good looking airplane, 86H is economical to operate and maintain. It isn't the fastest bird in the sky, but I don't think a more efficient four-place standard category airplane is available anywhere. Take a look at the sidebar graphic which shows the airplane cruising at 8,000 feet. 154 kts on 10 gal/hr isn't too shabby. Reducing power to 55%, I can fly all day at 140 kts on 8 gal/hr. This power setting gives the airplane an endurance of seven hours (plus reserve) and a range of over 800 nm.

I love flying this airplane! The Aviation Consumer article in the sidebar examines the Mooney 201 in considerable detail. It also contains a photo of my airplane before it was painted. The last M20J was built in 1998. Newer Mooneys have larger engines and a longer fuselage; they are faster, heavier and less efficient. For this reason, the "201" has maintained its value quite well compared to others airplanes in its class.