Mooney M-18C "Mite", 1947 - (scan - 1996)

Mooney had the same idea as Farman did with the "Sport." (see photos of the Farman Sport elsewhere on this site) The Mite was a sport plane for ex-military pilots. It was small and light. Maximum gross weight was 850 lbs. It was nicknamed the "Texas Messerschmitt."

Designed 1946-7 "to achieve the lowest cost transportation of any means known." Mooney Aircraft Company formed by 2 former executives of defunct Culver Aircraft Corp. Design of original "Mite" somewhat reminiscent of PQ-8 and PQ-14 drones of WWII. Original 25 hp version had gross weight of only 780 lbs. With 65 hp Continental engine, empty weight 520 lbs and maximum gross weight 850 lbs. Useful load, up to 330 pounds, included a pilot at 170 lbs, 30 lbs of luggage, 12.8 gals of fuel and 4 qts of oil; cruise range about 350 mi at 3.8 gal/hr. Was first general aviation, single- seat, production aircraft manufactured in US and included a retractable tricycle landing gear with a steerable nosegear and the Mooney "Simpi-fly" control system that include a gear that links tail trim and wing flap settings so proper settings are established automatically for takeoff, climb, approach, and landing. Nicknamed "Texas Messerschmitt" when first produced 1947 with the Crosley engine, low price and "fun-to-fly" characteristics made it very popular with weekend pilot. However, increasing prices and change in public demand for more comfortable aircraft with more capacity and utility combined to end production.

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