Can it really be 30 years since the first gathering of the Western Association of Mooney Mites?
That’s what the calendar shows. On May 18, members of WAMM and their friends will flock to Porterville Municipal Airport (KPTV) north of Bakersfield for the annual fly-in.
The Mooney M-18 Mite is a low-wing, single-place monoplane. It was introduced to the world in 1948 during the post-war personal aviation boom. At the time, it was suggested that everyone would soon have an airplane in his or her garage. With a wingspan of just 26.8 feet and a length of 17.7 feet, the Mooney Mite appeared to be a top contender in the personal aircraft department.
Owners of Mooney Mites describe it as “the most personal airplane” because you do not fly it insomuch as you wear it.
WAMM was created in 1977 when Mooney Mite owner Tony Terrigno became aware of a similar organization on the East Coast and decided that there needed to be one on the West Coast as well.
“It’s wonderful to get together with people who have the same aircraft,” he said. “Then there was the ability to share information, which was very valuable to people because you can share tips on how to maintain the aircraft and keep them flying because the Mooney Mite is definitely an old classic.”
The Mooney Mite burns relatively little fuel, less than five gallons per hour and, according to Terrigno, “feels like a P-51 Mustang when you fly it.”
Over the years the design has stayed the same, but the organization has evolved, said Terrigno.
“When we first started out, I used to send out four or five newsletters a year with information on this or that, and now it’s all on the Internet.”
The Mooney Mite is the father of the four-place Mooney, said Terrigno. “People see it and say ‘that looks just like the big Mooneys’ and we say ‘no, the big Mooneys look like the little Mooney.”
For more information: MooneyMite.com.