Mooney Move: 2021-05

I enjoy ferrying aircraft or picking them up with their new owner.  My latest adventure was getting a Mooney from Terrell TX (KTRL) to Colorado Springs CO (KCOS).  We flew commercial into DFW and the new owner's dad drove us to Terrell.  They aircraft was a 1961 M20B.  The earliest I'd flow was an M20E so I was excited to see what it was all about.

With any ferry flight (and/or purchase) there's always some admin and last-minute details.  On this particular day, the weather wasn't really cooperating so there was a bit more time for 'admin'.  I had to take this picture of the previous owner and the new owner's dad checking things out.

The only way to get out of Terrell was to file IFR and push north to better weather.  We didn't want to stay overnight as the weather was supposed to be worse.  It was good for me as I hadn't filed IFR for awhile, but not so great in an airplane you've never used.  It worked out and we saw some epic skies.

We made it.  Clear skies and perfect temperatures in Wiley Post OK (KWPA).  We used Atlantic as our FBO and they treated us very well.  The Mooney was solid and took us to OK with no problems.

Departing Wiley Post was a bit ironic.  The weather was the same as we'd left in Terrell and Terrell was VFR.  So again, we departed IFR to expected better weather.  We filed to Woodward (KWWR), entered great weather and found a cool FBO.  It's an old Army Airfield so they have the classic triangle layout but only use two sides of the triangle.  The FBO is show on the left above and the Mooney having the airport to itself is on the right.  This is why I love airports and flying.  You never know what you'll encounter.

This is the same picture as earlier, but I had to show that sky.  Amazing!

We then hopped to Liberal KS (KLBL), Lamar (KLAA) and finally to the Mooney's new home of Colorado Springs (KCOS).  We made a multiple stops so the new owner could get familiar with bringing the plane into traffic patterns while seeing different airport configurations and runway sizes.  To our amazement, we parked next to another Mooney in Lamar!  I'm going to guess an M20B has never set next to an M20C in Lamar's history.  At first we thought it was another M20B, but the back window is noticeable different.  Aside from that are essentially identical.  Like I said, you never know what you'll see at an airport/FBO. 

It was a great trip and the new owner was very happy with the training he received.  Winning!

- mm -


Why I Love Airfields 20 : 2021-04

I know I've said it before, but one of the greatest things of general aviation is the variety of FBOs you'll encounter.  Or the people you may or may not meet.

This is Trinidad (KTAD).  Great building zero people, but not really accessible.  My copilot made me a breakfast burrito and we ate them on one of their picnic benches. Great moment. The right-center window reads "AIRPORT".  Classic.

This white-brick building is Raton's (KRTN) FBO. On the topic of "what do I call this place", I use the 'public knowledge' answer.  This is Raton but technically, Raton Municipal Airport/Crews Field. I will never say "Crews Field".  Never.  It's "Raton traffic"... Let's use Leadville as another example.  It's the highest field in North America, and known as Leadville.  If anyone thinks I'll say "Lake County", they will be surprised.  Regardless, this was an excellent FBO with a cool building and great views. Beyond all of that, they will make you a hamburger.  And it is NOT a 'take from the warmer burger', it is a burger made by someone who cares.  It was fantastic!

Cameras never really capture the moment.  This was a shot across from Coppertop's tail trying to show the landscape.  In person, it was very cool. Taken at Trinidad.

This was another shot trying to show the unique landscape at Trinidad.  The mountains, hills, and mesas are much better in person. Point being, go there yourself, take in the landscape, and get a free burger!

- mm -


Belle gets avionics upgrade : 2021-03

I flew Belle a couple times before I even realized she didn't have an attitude indicator. So I sprang for an upgrade. Since I was already going down that road, I actually upgraded two instruments. There are a couple of things I'd change, but overall I was quite pleased with the finished panel.

Kinda funny that Belle's predominant instrument is the turn and slip indicator (center, top).  That should be where the attitude indicator should be. In fact, this is the traditional "six pack" arrangement...

The attitude indicator and the heading indicator (below it in the traditional setup) are driven by gyros which often use a vacuum pump. Belle does not have a vacuum pump, so she knows not her attitude or her heading. She does, however, know her turn and skid/slip because that gyro is electric (and installed). Maybe even more surprising is that of the four (actual) instruments in Belle's six pack, only two are required to be legal. 

The Concept: Joke, but not a Joke. First of all, I don't mind the missing instruments. But I had two black circles looking back at me. So I replaced them - with paper. The 'attitude indicator' reminds people to look outside. An attitude indicator can never compete with God's attitude indicator (the earth). The 'heading indicator' gives people a checklist of sorts for 1) recovering from unusual (or upset) attitudes and 2) recovering from a spin. Once you cross the line of an unusual attitude and enter a spin, the UPRT acronym no longer works. You can't simply push your way out of a spin. You have to stop the rotation. That can get lost in the UPRT enterprise where it's simply push, roll, thrust. A spin requires the PARE method. You should always go idle, ailerons neutral, rudder opposite of rotation and finally nose over (elevator) so you get flying airspeed.  UPRT and PARE are not the same!  Flying is great!

- mm -


Why I Love Aviation 7 : 2021-03

Living in Colorado gives me the opportunity to give people instruction in mountain flying. I'm no legend in the mountains but I share what I know. Whether they get much out of it or not, I love doing it. I think the favorite thing for most people is landing at Leadville (aka Lake County, KLXV). They can get a certificate for landing at the highest airport in North America (9934 feet). They also get to make ridge crossings, course reversals, and a short-field takeoff and landing at Glenwood Springs (KGWS).

Here is Sweet Pea (740) sitting atop North America - the views are epic.

Southbound from Eagle (KEGE) to Weston Pass - pure mountains.

One of the best sections of the flight - the canyon between Glenwood Springs
and Eagle. You really have no where to go, but it's beautiful.

Painting of N19127 hanging in KIBM

Completely unrelated, but the within a day of a mountain flight, I landed at Kimball Municipal (KIBM) with Coppertop. First of all, to span that type of geography in that amount of time is only possible through airpower. Second, and more powerful to me, is my fascination in GA and its FBOs. You never know what you'll encounter and the people are almost 100% fantastic. Kimball is about 3 miles south of a 2600-person town in the middle of nowhere. When we landed there were exactly zero people at the airport. However, we could still get fuel, use a courtesy car (if desired), enter the FBO, use the restroom and even get water in the fridge! There really is nothing like the GA community. I made the owner of Coppertop follow me to the FBO just to showcase this incredible world. And he did concur that it was wowsers. I thank God to be a part of this world and I thank orgs like AOPA who fight for these freedoms.

- mm -



Are you a low-wing or high-wing fan? I would like to say I'm indifferent, but I have to go with high-wing. First, you can always give yourself shade. Second, there's less to hit when you land (forced landing). Third, you have a lot more freedom in strong crosswinds. Other than that, I would be indifferent.

I raise the topic because of this picture in my Citabria. When I saw all those windows, I realized it actually has great visibility. I'm pretty sure I knew that, but seeing it makes one a believer. She even has the window above.

But above all that, it's hard not to smile when you're flying. You can fake a picture and you can fake a smile but it's pretty obvious when you're not doing either.

- MM -


Why I Love Aviation 6 : 2021-02

Aside from the coolness of airplanes, one thing easy to love about aviation is the community. And the ways paths cross is always amazing to me. Someone finds out you can help them out (thanks to another friend) and then you have a new flying buddy. Yes, I know that's how life works, but it's always cool to have the common love of flying.  And there's the added benefit of possibly getting to fly something you've never flown before.

Just a few days ago, I meet someone who needed instrument training and they wanted to use their own airplane. That's always a great setup. This certain individual just so happened to have a very well-equipped straight-tail Beach Bonanza (A36). So, not only did I meet a new friend, I was able to go ripping around Colorado in a great airplane.

Here she is.  I call her "Copper Top"

Copper Top has a Lycoming 550 making 300HP. Inside is quite special, too. Two G3Xs, a 650, two 175s, a G5 and an excellent autopilot. It's awesome to fly with great equipment - and awesome to meet other aviators!

- MM -


It happened - I now have an airplane

I finally purchased an aircraft - a 1979 Bellanca Citabria.  One trusted agent looked at it, one trusted agent flew it back, and I finally flew it on 31 January 20.  She flew exactly like I thought she would.  The mission of this airplane is to get people upset training, spin training, and tailwheel training.  I call her Belle (she was from Memphis).  Here she is:

We landed at my friend's place (he has his own field).  Beautiful.

My Citabria on the left, Ryan's Super D on the right.

Me stepping on my mains with Ryan..  I could have asked for no one else as my wingman.  He even had a suggestion for my first flight which worked out perfectly.  Ryan is an incredible aviator!

- MM -


CC2020 | Navigation | 2020-12

Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 24 inches (51 x 61 cm)

The card reads...

"This year, I was blessed to fly the line with United for three months.  It was short, but full of awesome people and great experiences.  The rest of the year saw a lot of general aviation.

It reminded me that people enter your life at just the right time - which continues to amaze me.  They can nudge you, inspire you, and help you move along your journey.

As this open-air flying machine approaches the foothills on a beautiful winter day, the sight of his hangar assures him he's on the right path.  God helps me do this each and every day."


After the sky, clouds and hills were painted, I had the big unanswered question of what to add.  Originally, I thought a close-up of a crow flying towards the hangar but also wanted to add an airplane. This is the view of the crow I was going to add...

It was going to be solid black (minus some highlights).

As for the airplane, I had an idea that the original painting was also going to be a present for a retirement. The recipient, however, has flown dozens of airplanes. I knew he'd flown a Fairchild PT-19 and he had a painting of one in his hangar - it was actually a movie poster. He currently has a Super Decathlon, but I couldn't get the look I wanted and was happy with the PT-19.  The photo above was used for reference.

This was the only paint sketch I made.  You can see I sketched the crow and the airplane. The airplane was the focus as I had abandoned the idea of the crow.  I was happy enough with the airplane to proceed. One thing I don't like about myself is the liberty and freedom I take with sketches only to be overly conservative with the final. I shouldn't like the sketches more than the final piece - which happens too often.

Update 202101:  One of the best comments I get is that the card exceeds other cards.  This was written on the back of a note from a card recipient...

Of note, that's from someone who's received almost every card.

- MM -


Why I Love Aviation 5 : 2020-12

One thing about aviation that always holds a surprise is what you'll fly next. And the cool thing is, the more you fly, the more you get to fly. Sometimes by chance, sometimes by the people God puts in your path.

I was able to fly this beautiful (and immaculate) Citabria Adventure. The Adventure model threw a 160 HP in the nose. The owner has done incredible work on the dash. When we say 'dash' we mean all the instrumentation and/or accoutrements one can add. If you want to get a new one, they're $195K. This owner got his for $70!

I was also lucky enough to give transition training to a first-time buyer of a Mooney. This is a M20E and it's a great machine. There are two M20Es, the Chaparral and the Super 21.  I think this one is a Super 21. It has a Johnson bar (means of physically raising/lowering landing gear) and manual flaps which you create hydraulic power by hand.  Pretty cool. And the best part is meeting the other owners / pilots. It is an amazing community.

- mm -