An unusual plane

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After a 20 year lull, I'm back into flying at least weekly and
working hard on finishing my instrument rating. 20 years ago I owned
a Lake Buccaneer and had a blast using it for business and for
weekend getaways.

These days I mostly fly a (rented) new Turbo Skylane (G1000). I've
started looking at the used plane market with an eye to acquiring a
used Malibu (with that letter from God) or a used P210 - I've
acquired a taste for flying above the weather but I don't like oxygen

I recently found an unusual plane for sale on the used market. It's a
1968 Mooney Mustang. An unusual plane - only thirty built. Bonanza
class performance, Lycoming TIO-541 (turbo), pressurized (8K cabin at
20K). 1650 TTAF, 160 SMOH, fresh annual, updated avionics (updated
from the '60s to the '80s anyway). Appears to be well maintained,
spoke at length with the owner who apparently liked to add stuff to
it and make it prettier but didn't actually fly it much. My kids
think it looks like something from an Indiana Jones movie.
Personally, I think it's a good looking plane that's in good shape
for its age.

I'm getting lots of well meaning advice on whether this is a deal
(asking 85K), a steal, or the opening scene of a horror movie ("The
Hangar Queen: She'll bleed you to death").

Spare parts are pretty much non-existent but the factory has been
good about releasing all the engineering drawings so owners can get
them maintained. There are probably only a few currently flying, but
their owners (I've spoken to few) are a pretty enthusiastic bunch.

The thing is, I like to fly. I'm not a retiree so I don't really have
the time to be a tinkerer. I'm going to review the maintenance and
flight logs and see what's in them.

I've read most of what you've written on this site - great stuff by
the way! - and I'd appreciate any thoughts you might have. You have
much more experience as an owner of both low and high performance

My fallback is to keep flying the Skylane while I look for a deal on
a Malibu, a P210, or even a Lancair 4P - all probably a few years a
way while my fortunes recover from the current mess.

Thanks in advance -

- Art

-- Art Fritzson, April 2, 2009


I'd never heard of a Mooney Mustang until reading this post, so I resorted to Googling. Found an exchange at

where the guy said "We took one in on trade many years ago. It was a big disappointment. As much as I yearn for pressurization, that Mustang was a dog.

For one thing, the heavier frame around the windows made for very poor visibility. You don't realize it until you are in the airplane. Wherever you want to look, there is a window frame in the way. It took an awfully long time to get off the ground. I can see why so few of them were built. Mooney was trying to pressurize what they were already building and it did not work out well at all."

-- Philip Greenspun, April 4, 2009

Philip, thanks for the response. Yes, I'd seen that thread before. With more online digging I also found much more complete and balanced reports from Plane & Pilot, and (best) from Aviation Consumer. The latter especially did a fine job of highlighting the good and the bad.

More importantly, I'll be flying the plane first hand next week so the opinions on flying qualities and the measures of performance will become real and I'll no longer be dependent on the impressions of others.

What I was hoping to find here, maybe from one of your readers with experience in older planes, is a better understanding of what types of maintenance issues really can't be worked around if the factory no longer supports the plane. What happens, for instance, if you need to replace a window and the factory can't supply it? Do the regs allow you to have one fabricated? Does it require an STC? A "337" (whatever that is). How much will that cost and (maybe more important) how long will it take? (i.e. will it be grounded for months whenever it has a maintenance issue?)

Thanks -

- Art

-- Art Fritzson, April 4, 2009