I remember looking into the cockpit of a Mooney parked on our local strip when I was just a kid. Our digs weren’t very fancy in those days . . . still aren’t. The most beloved feature on our airport back then was the grass. We had three runways in those days and all were turf. Perhaps that’s the reason I long these days for an aircraft where I can once again brush my tires against the grass. I can still smell the green of those strips.
One of our local business men was the owner of the Mooney sitting on the ramp and I recall peering into the cockpit and wondering what all the dials, gauges, and levers were for, and how anyone could possibly use them all! To a country kid of 10 or so who was hard bitten by the airplane bug already, the idea of driving something labeled a “Super 21” around the air was more a dream of fantasy than an attainable goal. I was more used to operating airplanes that worked more like a tractor! Unbeknownst to me the forces of the universe were already conspiring to pave my path from Taylorcraft BC12-D to Citations and more. Never did I think I would ever own an airplane with so many things in the cockpit to look at all at once.
Still though it took years to begin, as things sometimes go, once set upon the path I simply could not get enough of flying and my life was forever changed as I transitioned from one airplane to another and another and another. Before I realized it I was burning holes in the sky and defeating great towering thunderstorms in airplanes with two engines, a boat load of instrumentation and retractable landing gear! How, I have wondered, did I ever manage to pull life together enough to manage it?
Time passes and things change, and now I find myself herding a Mooney of my own around the sky. It is as comfortable as an old shoe and I fear I have begun to take it for granted. A point that was brought home to me recently by a fellow pilot who, although very competent in his own machine, divulged to me that he really did not understand all that went on in the front seat of a complex machine. Sometimes that’s the way. You learn what you learn and reach your plateau; all beyond that remains clouded in mystery until one day someone shows you that things are really not as mysterious as you thought.
And all of this got me thinking about spending some time in the front end of the Mooney showing folks with interest that there really is no voo-doo involved, and that you don’t need to be a Mensa with three hands to operate a complex airplane. I started with Part I of “Flyin’ the Screamin’ Eagle” which dealt with general layout and design of the Mooney, and now offer some tips and tricks to the actual “magic” operation of the airplane in flight and from take-off to landing in Part II.
If all of this dispels the rumors concerning what a fabulous pilot one must be to fly something complex or high performance, I have achieved my goal. Like I say in the video, “It ain’t rocket science, if I can do it you can do it.”
Come on along and be my co-pilot, we’re gonna have a great time!
Author: Tom Speerstra
Tom Speerstra has had an enduring love affair with aviation for over 40 years. Countless adventures have been enjoyed flying students, people, paper, and parcels in everything from Champs to Citations. He has held positions as both Chief Pilot and Director of Operations for Part 135 carriers and holds an ATP, MEII, SES ratings and a Citation type rating. Tom makes his home in Michigan with his wife Elizabeth and Pappy “the dog” Boyington.