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Wed, Mar 01, 2006

Mooney Celebrates 60 Years

Party Time In... Wichita?

It was party time for Mooney... and to celebrate its 60th year in business, the company went back to where it all began. While the aircraft maker has been located in Kerrville, TX for 54 of those 60 years, it all began in Wichita, KS... and that's where Mooney kicked things off.

To celebrate its time in Wichita, Mooney presented the Kansas Aviation Museum Tuesday with a journal of the activities of Al and Art Mooneys' original company, which was started in 1929 in Wichita and built just two airplanes before going bankrupt in 1930.

Al Mooney far more successful with his next venture, resurrecting his old company in 1946. That company, in turn, produced such fabled aircraft as the Mooney Mite, the M20 its current descendants -- today's Ovation and Bravo.

Speaking of the Mite (file photo of type, right), the Wichita Eagle reports the museum will soon add one to its permanent aircraft display -- a 1951 Mite that was a flying exhibit for the museum for several years, before it was grounded a little over a year ago. Mooney also flew in a brand-new, G1000-equipped Ovation2 GX for the event, to offer a contrast between the Mooney of 1951 and the Mooney of today.

"This thing is surprisingly modern," said David Copeland, vice president for sales and marketing at Mooney, looking over the Mite's instrument panel.

Mooney will celebrate its 60th birthday as the company is experiencing a significant upturn. The company saw airplane deliveries increase 136 percent in 2005, delivering 85 airplanes with total billings of $35.6 million -- making it a solid Number 4 in its market class behind Cirrus, Cessna and Columbia.

The company also recently celebrated the delivery of its 11,000th aircraft.

After Wichita, the 60th birthday party will continue onto Birmingham, AL for the Birmingham General Aviation Trade Show on Friday and Saturday.



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