Used Aircraft Guide

February 2009 Issue

Used Aircraft Guide: The Mooney 201

Originally conceived as an economy version of the V-tail Bonanza, it outlasted its sibling instead.

Amazingly, even the latest speed champions from Kerrville—the Mooney Type S Acclaim—trace their heritage to the original Mooney type certificate. The basic airframe has evolved over the years, but the concept of a semi-monocoque rear fuselage mated to a metal-skinned steel-tube cabin, a long and slender tapered wing and distinctive reverse tail has endured. The J-model evolved most directly from the F-model, which was itself descended from the short-body C-models of the mid-1970s. The first J-model or 201—the number derives from its supposed top cruising speed in MPH—appeared in 1977. It sported a 200-HP Lycoming four-banger—the IO-360—improved landing gear and a sloping windshield, among other changes. All of these were the product of a concerted effort by Mooney to kick the model line up a couple of notches. The 201 is, to the surprise of many, very much the work of the late LeRoy LoPresti. LoPresti had a long aeronautical background, including a stint on the Apollo lunar program at Grumman. He became a near legend for his ability to get the utmost from an airplane through aerodynamic cleanups, which he’d done with success on the Grumman Tiger. Applying his magic to the M20F model, LoPresti and the Mooney team created the M20J. A number of changes were made, the most visible being a new cowling and a more aerodynamic windshield. The interior was addressed, too, with adjustable seats and a contemporary flat panel with organized electricals and circuit breakers rather than the typical dog’s breakfast arrangement of the 1960s and 1970s.

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