and Patricia Bartholomew assemble their tent after arriving
in the Mooney
mass arrival. Photo by Phil Weston
Evanson readies his tent for erection after arriving with
fellow Mooney owners to AirVenture. Photo by Phil Weston
fast, fuel efficient, and punctual: Forty-five Mooneys participating
in the 11th annual Mooney Caravan arrived at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
2008 at precisely 4 p.m. Saturday, "right at the time the FAA
gave us," flight leader Bill Rabek said.
were concerned the recent hike in fuel prices and downturn in the
economy might limit turnout for the group flight, but the tally of
Mooneys taking part was higher than originally anticipated.
group took off from its annual staging point of Madison, Wisconsin,
61 nautical miles southwest of Oshkosh. A cookout the night before
the flight kicked off the festivities. Following the final briefing
the aircraft took off four seconds apart, and made the flight at an
altitude of 2,500 feet and an airspeed of 125 knots.
Caravan got its start in answer to Mooney owners who wanted to
arrive and camp together. Organizers acknowledge the help they
received from the Bonanzas to Oshkosh group in planning the event
and establishing procedures.
given us so much help over the years," Rabek, an air traffic
controller who flies a 1981 M20J, the model also known as the 201,
said of the Bonanza group.
Mooneys, from across the United States and Canada, ranged from M20C
models from the early 1970s to a brand new Ovation 3 from the Mooney
Airplane Company, in Kerrville, Texas. What accounts for the
aircraft’s enduring popularity?
and efficiency," Rabek said. "They’re very fast for
their horsepower. Head winds don’t bother you."
also have a reputation for being somewhat cramped, a contention that
owners, including the rangy, 6-foot plus Rabek, dispute. "They’re
kind of like a sports car," Rabek said. "They can be a
little hard to get in and out of, but inside there’s plenty of
as for the growing popularity of the Caravan: "It’s getting
together with friends, more than anything," said Rabek.
"It’s like old home week."
is the highlight of the year," said Ernie Brock of Sacramento,
California, who flew in with his wife, Debbie, in their 1968 M20G, a
model known as the Statesman. "I don’t know which is more
fun, flying here or being here."
taking part in his fifth Caravan, usually flies from California in a
flight of two with his friend and fellow Mooney owner Richard
Bristow. "We practice formation flying during the year, to be
ready for the formation flight," Brock said. This is Debbie’s
first trip to Oshkosh.
near retirement and now I’m an empty nester, so now I have
time," Debbie said.
impressions of AirVenture? "I’ve never seen so many
airplanes," she said, even though it was two days before the
air show officially began.
Bartholamew of Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, who has been to every
Caravan, came in his turbo-normalized 1982 M20J. Bartholamew is in
charge of the cookout. "I think I complained to somebody who
was preparing the food one year," he said, explaining how he
got the commissary assignment.
Runyon of Fort Worth, Texas, arrived in his turbocharged 1991 Bravo.
Over the past year
the organization has redesigned its website (www.MooneyCaravan.com),
enabling automated registration and, most impressively, creating a
virtual flight from Madison to Wittman Field in Microsoft’s
Virtual Earth program. Now surfers can see the entire Caravan route
with all landmarks along the way, and even choose the departure and
arrival runways for the journey. Scott Cuttler of Woodlands, Texas,
who flies a 1983 M20J, is the group’s webmaster.
their aircraft tied down, and camping gear going up, the travelers
gathered for a toast: "To another successful and safe Mooney
Anyone interested in
learning more about Mooneys can meet some of the world’s
friendliest boosters of the aircraft in Rows 539-540 in the North