This past Thursday I was fortunate enough to catch a flight in Mooney Cadet serial number 3 which is one of 48 M-10′s still remaining. You may recognize the M-10 as an Ercoupe with a single tail (instead of the split tail). In the original production run only 60 were made due to Mooney’s buyout of Ercoupe.
Theone, a friend and aviator from York Airport (THV), invited me to join her on an adventure to Frederick Municipal Airport in the Cadet which she calls “Miss Mooney”. I jumped at this offer as it would be my first time flying in her beautifully kept piece of history.
Shortly after our planned departure of 2:30 eastern the Mooney’s faithful 90 hp engine pulled us toward the rapidly dropping ceilings of the east coast. Following a smooth departure and climb out I focused on my copilot duties and began tuning in the Frederick Municipal Airport ASOS frequency on 124.875 or (301-600-1457). At our low altitude of 2500 MSL we were still too far out to pick up the weather so I used the time to tune in Frederick’s UNICOM on 122.725. Typing the words “Frederick’s UNICOM” reminded me of a fun fact I learned last summer, did you know Frederick Municipal Airport has the most daily operations of any non-towered airport in Maryland? They are fighting to keep it that way too, local government wants to erect a tower, and local operators are working in every way they can to prevent this from happening.
Anyways, getting back to the flight, as soon as we reached stable cruise Theone handed off the controls of N9514V to my eager palms. My first reaction was surprise, I could not believe how stable yet responsive the M-10 was, especially considering its size. The Mooney Cadet is a small aircraft, in fact to the best of my knowledge it qualifies as a Light Sport Aircraft. However the aircraft performs much like a heavier Mooney or Beechcraft, as long as you ignore the fuel burn and airspeed indicators you might not ever know the difference.
On descent to FDK, and with the controls still in my hands we had a near miss with a lone fowl. A climbing hard right bank was enough to dodge what I am sure would have caused an unfortunate evening. Though both slightly shaken I handed the controls of Miss Mooney back to Theone who continued the flight by executing a pattern entry on the 45 to left downwind of runway 12 at Frederick. At 3600 x 75 ft. this is Frederick’s smaller of two runways, but it provided us with almost a direct headwind. I handled the radios while Theone flew the pattern. The M-10 is a flapless aircraft which gives it slightly unique landing characteristics. These include a faster approach speed, and a “flatter” landing.
After a smooth touchdown we taxied Miss Mooney to the AOPA Ramp, where tie downs are provided free of charge to members. Theone and I had plans to visit the AOPA, and get a bite to eat at Airways Inn, the well spoken of diner located on Frederick’s airfield. We started with the AOPA visit realizing the dropping ceilings may shorten our stay.
I had called ahead to my former AOPA boss Kathy Dondzila who was a terrific mentor throughout my stay as AOPA’s youngest intern ever during the summer of 2009. She welcomed Theone and I to make our way through the office area greeting familiar faces and catching up with former co-workers. A quick glance outside reminded us that we should cut the visit short and forego our planned dinner at Airways Inn.
A brief chat with the AOPA corporate pilot, who recognized the M-10 with great enthusiasm, Theone and I boarded Miss Mooney, cranked the engine, and slid the glass canopy shut. During our run-up for runway 12 I handled the radios and communicated with a Falcon which was on approach to the intersecting runway 23. We agreed our departure would provide comfortable spacing between ourselves and the Falcon and began our rollout. After climbing out and setting our heading for York Airport (THV) we were rewarded with a terrific sight of the Falcon on short final to runway 23 at FDK. I handled the controls flying back to York all the way up until pattern entry, where Theone took over. After a smooth landing on runway 17 at York Theone and I shared our excitement over the flight as we taxied to her hangar.