It was 1929 when Al Mooney started the Mooney Aircraft Company. His is a story of passion. He’s been drawing airplane designs since he was in grade school. He read voraciously anything that he can get his hands on that’s about aviation. By the time Mooney reached 19, he was already working as a draftsman and in his spare time, he designed airplanes. When Mooney turned 20 the following year, one of his designs was already in production by Alexander Aircraft.
Encouraged by his early success, Mooney promptly left Alexander Aircraft and built Mooney Aircraft Corporation together with his brother Art. They developed the Mooney A-1 which was very similar to the Alexander Bullet – the plane Mooney designed for Alexander. However, the timing wasn’t very good for the Mooney brothers. Their very first airplane was released during the start of the Great Depression. By 1931, barely two years in business, Mooney Aircraft Corporation was no more.
Mooney wasn’t a man who gave up easily. He worked for several aircraft manufacturers creating beautiful and functional designs that even today are recognizable. In 1946, the Mooney Aircraft Company had a rebirth with the help of a couple of investors. With this second birth, Mooney produced the Mooeney Mite. It was the first ever plane to feature a forward-swept vertical tail – a stylish and functional invention. The Mite was also fuel efficient and inexpensive.
In 1956, Mooney had to make a difficult decision. They didn’t have enough funds to complete their new project the Mark 20 – a four-seat, low-wing plane that’s designed to cruise at 180 mph. Both the Mooney brothers had to sell their company shares so they can complete the project. And complete the project they did but they left the company they built just after the first test flights of the Mark 20. The brothers went on to work for Lockheed doing what they love doing best – designing aircraft.
Eventually, the Mooney Mark 20 became a commercial success and the company built on this.
The company was bought and sold many times but Al Mooney’s legacy endures. Mooney died in 1986 at the age of 80
but his name lives on.
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