Mooney M20: A Look Back in Photos

A look back at the single engine piston that continues to shine 35 years after its launch.

Mooney M20
Mooney M20
With its trademark forward-tilted rudder, it is easy to recognize the M20-J as part of the Mooney family. The Mooney M20 design has been hailed by many pilots as the ultimate combination of speed and economy, bringing more than 160 knots while sipping 11.5 gallons per hour.
Mooney M20
Mooney M20
During several decades of production in various forms, the Mooney M20’s fuselage has gone through three extensions, of which the M20J uses the second iteration. While the main fuselage structure of the Mooney M20 was designed with a welded steel framework, the empennage and wings were constructed of wood and fabric. But these materials were replaced with aluminum wings within a few years of the airplane’s initial introduction.
Mooney M20
Mooney M20
**In addition to great speed and efficiency, the Mooney 201 brings significant improvements for IFR pilots, accommodating a six-pack configuration for the flight instruments for the first time in the M20's history. While the low seating arrangement makes the Mooney feel uncomfortable to some, others love the sports-car-like feel.
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Mooney M20
Mooney M20
While there are tricks to getting into and back out of a Mooney, this feat was even more challenging in the days of the Johnson Bar landing gear retraction system, which was replaced with an electric system in 1969 with the M20-C and E. This major improvement was extended to all later Mooney M20 models.
Mooney M20
Mooney M20
The pride in workmanship of the Kerrville factory workers is evident when looking at handcrafted Mooney M20s. This image shows the attachment point for the empennage, which moves to provide pitch trim.
Mooney M20
Mooney M20
When Roy LoPresti joined Mooney in the early 1970s, one of his first missions was to make the M20 faster. With the help of other Mooney engineers, his goal was achieved by various drag reduction initiatives, such as applying gap seals and fairings to areas that created unnecessary airflow disturbance.
Mooney M20
Mooney M20
Mooney M20 For more on the Mooney M20, read our full-length feature here.