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Long-Lived Mooney!

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Here are a couple of shots of what was, to me, one of the prettiest planes my dad ever had: a Mooney Mark 20C. These photos are from 1962.

You can easily spot a Mooney by the 90° leading edge of the vertical stabilizer; I don’t think any other plane has that design feature. It always looked to me like the tail was on backwards!

Also, the Mooney had retractable tricycle landing gear; before that it seems that my dad’s planes had all been tail-dragging Pipers or Cessnas.

This particular plane had a Lycoming 180hp engine in it, if I remember correctly, and my dad had some sort of test arrangement with that engine-manufacturing firm to see how many hours he could put on that engine between overhauls.

Here are some mechanics busy working on something or other on that Mooney:

This particular plane, which my dad owned in the early 1960s, is still in service, owned by a gentleman in China Spring, Texas.

Flying Boats

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My dad was in love with the idea of flying boats; we’ve seen photos of his small float plane earlier in this blog. In this photo, taken by him in 1958, we see a Catalina PBY flying boat which was then owned by the Brazilian Air Force. It was in the U.S. being converted to a cargo plane; the plane itself was probably built in 1944. I don’t know where this was taken, but it was probably an airfield in Texas (NOTE: Please see Bill Bailey’s comment; this was taken at New Orleans Lakefront Airport in front of the Pan-Air hangar):

These planes are large; the photo doesn’t convey a sense of scale. The lovely blue-and-white plane also shown is a Piaggio P-136-L1 seaplane, and it isn’t small. I’m willing to bet Dad was there trying to buy that smaller plane when he took the photo.

This photo below gives a better idea of the size of a Catalina PBY; these two men are standing on the horizontal and vertical stabilizers of a Catalina; the rudder of the plane is missing:

Dad wanted to own one of these planes in a bad way; the second photo was taken by either my dad or me at an airplane graveyard out West. I was dragged there by my dad on a search for a PBY he could buy, but that’s a story for another day. Today, we’re discussing one particular aircraft.

Here’s what I found on the Net.

This PBY was in air-force service in Brazil until the late 1980s, from what I can find. Here’s the same plane seen in the first photo above, wearing a different paint livery:

Planes can have a very long service life, as we are seeing today! At some point in the last 20 years, this Catalina was purchased by the U.S. Navy and given a new registration. U.S. planes have a reg number with the letter N in front of the numbers; Brazilian aircraft use two letters in front of their registration numbers, but they all start with a P.

In this final photo, we see the same plane recently, being lovingly restored by volunteers at Floyd Bennett Field, in Brooklyn, New York. She’s currently at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, Florida, though she was in Long Beach, California for at least a while. Pretty cool for a plane that’s at least 68 years old. I’ll try to find a photo showing the plane after this restoration.

It Floats!

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My dad was a nut about airplanes like I am about guitars.

In 1958, we were living in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and Dad bought a brand-new Piper Super-Cub, had it fitted with pontoons at the Piper factory, and then had a ramp built on the Pascagoula River complete with a gas pump and turntable platform above the ramp so the plane could be easily swung around. I can’t imagine what that whole setup cost or why he felt the need to do it.