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Hi,  I'm Sid H,

Looking to buy an aircraft, have a single engine rating w/instrument ticket, 700 hrs in 172s, PA28 180s, PA32s.  
Would like a faster plane because I like to do cross country flight. Mostly fly solo, occasional passenger or two.  Usually fly once or twice a month.  Live in Baltimore, MD., Fly out of Middle River, MD.   Looking at a Mooney or Bonanza platform.  Please provide your thought.  Pros/Cons, etc, Love Flying!!!
21 Replies
On the Mooney vs Bonanza question, I owned a Mooney, and have flown the Bonanza. I would take the Bonanza all day long. The Bonanza is more comfortable to sit in, roomier, easier to land, and easier to maintain.  A Mooney is nice, but a Bonanza is nicer. Of course the Cirrus or Columbia/TTX are excellent but you aren't going to buy one of them for $100K.
Your two thoughts of Mooney and Bonanza are high maintenance.  Anything that moves increases cost.  Have you considered the newer composite fixed gear types?  Cirrus, Diamond, etc...  I fly a 172 and have for many years.  My upgrade would probably be to one of those.  Fixed gear eliminates a lot of potential expense and problems.  Gear up landings anyone...  Just my two cents worth.
For personal transportation, it’s hard to beat a M20J-201. How often do you fill all the seats or max out the useful load? Most don’t fly with all seats filled that often. Airplanes are compromises just like boats. There is not one that does it all. Figure out your mission and pick a plane that fits it. A Bonanza is a great airplane if you can afford it, but having worked on and flown both for over 40 years, I’ll stick with the Mooney.  
Ronald Levy
1188 Posts
Drew Gillett:
201 does 155 kts on 10 gph  140 on 7  not the 12-15 of bonanza

Maybe so, but it doesn't haul near the load the Bo will.  As Mickey Thompson (or was it Don "Big Daddy" Garlits?) said, "There's no replacement for displacement" -- you can't fairly compare 360 cubic inches to 470 (or 550, in the later Bo's).

201 does 155 kts on 10 gph  140 on 7  not the 12-15 of bonanza
Hi Sidney,
I own a 1953 Bonanza D-35 equipped with an Continental six cylinder E-225-8 at 225 hp, Beech 215 electric prop, Speedslope windshield, M-35 wing tips, complete EI engine monitor instruments including fuel totalizer, Garmin 250XL GPS, KX170B/VOR, S-Tec 30 autopilot with altitude hold, 20 gallon aux tank in baggage compartment, and 40 gallons fuel in the wings. It has aluminized flaps and ailerons, with corrosion free ruddervators. Last paint job was done in 1987. TTAF is 5600 hours, 658 SMOH on engine.. It is IFR equipped. Prior to this airplane I owned a 1956 172 with a full Horton STOL kit. My total time is about 700 hours with 50 hours in the Bonanza.

If you like a fingertip airplane, with control harmony in all three axis, a first generation Bonanza ( 1947 straight 35 thru 1956 G-35) is hard to beat. I average 150-155kts true at 9.7gph at 7-10,000 ft. Rate of climb averages about 1100-1300fpm. Useful load is 987lbs. I have a total of 60 gallons of fuel with 53 gallons useable. I run mostly 91 octane non-ethanol autogas purchased locally at Walmart and Conoco. I have used autogas for over 7 years now in both the 172 and Bonanza with great results. My engine has a full spin on oil filter and it uses about a quart every 8-10 hours. At this past summer's fuel costs of about $2.50 per gallon, this is a fast, economical airplane with good useful load and absolutely delightful flight control. They first generation Bonanzas have the lightest controls, with a very solid flying habits. It is stable if you are not ham handed. It goes exactly where you point it. Handles winds and crosswinds excellently. For me, hull at $30K with no deductibles for in flight or ground damage has averaged $12-1400 per year insurance premium. I am 68 years old. 

I am an A&P which helps in maintenance costs. However, most of an annul inspection can be done largely by an owner with basic mechanical experience. Having said that, if you or an A&P works on an early Bonanza, you have to do your homework on the nuances of the electric prop, proper landing gear rigging, and the extremely reliable Bendix pressure carb. Ours has the standard wobble pump which is required to start the airplane. The Beech electric prop has never had an AD against it. It works great. But it is not a constant speed prop like a conventional constant speed prop found on a Mooney, Cessna, or Comanche. However, with care, the performance is outstanding, easy to work, and very reliable. Prop parts can be expensive fi you do not maintain it according to the book. The American Bonanza Society provides all the training support, maintenance support, and is the type club that has set the standard for all others to follow. ABS has over 10,000 members of which 87% own one or more Beech aircraft. Once you have flown an early Bonanza, you will know exactly what I am talking about regarding purchasing your last airplane first. Average price for flyable airplanes range from $20K for a basic flyer to about 50K for one that usually has a lot of mods and upgrades on them. I have less than $30K in mine including three annuals. 

The inside is roomy that allows for 4 adults and wing tanks full. One must learn and pay attention to the fuel system. The pressure carb operates similar to modern throttle body fuel injection. It returns about 3gph back to the left tank only. So, when you operate on the left tank, it is burning the 9.7gph. Off the right tank it is burning 9.7 gph plus 3 gph being returned to the left tank for an average fuel USAGE from the right tank of 13gph. Like wise for the aux tank. So, one takes off on the left tank, flies for an hour, switches to the aux or right tank for one hour each, which will use up the fuel at 13gph per tank of which a total of 6 gph going back into the left tank. After a normal 3 hour flight the left tank will have about 16-17 gallons in it. The fuel gage has a selector switch which displays on the single fuel gage the tank selected. One must pay attention that you have selected the right tank to be displayed on that single gage. The aux tank has its own gage. I still have the original swamp cooler AC. It works very well. Weight and balance has to be considered. The airplane gets tail heavy as it burns fuel. You can be in the CG envelope on take off and be out the aft end upon landing if you get careless about weight and balance. Nothing to worry about if you do your calculations and you have an accurate weight and balance figure for the airplane. 

You have to pay attention to attitude and airspeed. The Bonanza has a drag coefficient between an a P-38 and Lear 25. Ours easily cruises at 2300rpm in the yellow range. VNE is 204mph. It take only six seconds to accelerate from 204 to 286mph in a 30 degree dive. While a stable airplane, if you put into a turn, it stays in a turn. If you let it wander of into a shallow bank while engrossed inside the cockpit, especially from the yellow cruise range, it can easily speed up to VNE in short order. The Bonanza is certified at gross weight in the Utility category. Extremely stout airplane. if you keep your feet on the rudder pedals, it does not wiggle around anymore than any other airplane. Keep your feet on the floor, you will experience the Bonanza b***** in rough air. Smooth air, the airplane tracks as if on rails. 

Very few instructors have any time in an early Bonanza. Many have time in second and third generation Bonanzas. Most do not have a clue how to operate the systems nor the very light controls. ABS can put you in touch with someone with early Bonanza experience.

I have one friend with an 180hp Mooney and another friend with a M20F(200hp) and 201. The Bonanza is faster than the 180hp and M20F and runs with the 201 in the real world. I have a slightly higher useful load and can operate easily from grass strips. The Bonanza takes off sooner and outclimbs all thee. I have flown all of these Mooneys. Fine airplanes but do not have the same control harmony. Plus, you sit under the panel with the panel very close to your upper body and face. The Bonanza has far more headroom, sitting upright like a nice chair in your home vs the Miata like feeling in the Mooneys. The Bonanza is a very easy airplane to land. Takeoff requires a lot of right rudder, more than most anticipate. Bonanzas handle a lot of wind well. 

Let me know if you have specific questions. There is a lot of myths about early Bonanzas. But most are just that, urban myths. If you do buy one get used to other pilots commenting and complimenting about early Bonanzas. They have become iconic, sort of the 57 Chevy at a car show. Lots of unexpected conversations at fuel stops.