After getting back into gliders in the 1980's, I fell in love with the idea of a glider that could take off and soar without the cost
and nuisance of a tow. That is when I discovered motorgliders and the FAA advisory circular on how to transition into motorgliders
from a glider certificate (training and logbook endorsement). Then I had to have one.
I discovered John Monnett
and his Moni aircraft based out of Whitman Field (KOSH) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I went to one of his workshops for builders
and fell in love with the Moni motorglider. This basic aircraft was built in several models including a tri-gear and short wing
version. It had only a 22 horsepower engine and a 30 inch prop. The kit was $6500, well within my budget.
wife Sue, who is a better bargain hunter than I can ever be, suggested I track down people who had bought kits and see if one of them
would be willing to part with the kit at a reduced price, perhaps having completed some of the work in the bargain. John had
handed out a list of people who had bought kits. I sent a postcard to everyone on the list within three states, stating "Will
pay cash" for a Moni in any state of construction. I got a parcel full of replies. Seems that many people lose enthusiasm
as the project takes enormous time. But the most intriguing response was a call from Archie Hinkleman, an instructor at the
Blackhawk Technical School in Janesville, Wisconsin. The Blackhawk aircraft mechanic program was offering
a complete, fully flying, Moni, with all FAA restrictions flown off--fof the price of the kit! A quick inspection of the Moni
and a deal was struck. It could not have been more perfect. The students built and rebuilt parts, as part of their schooling,
until the parts were perfect. It had 45 hours on it and flew well. I got the N number changed to N87TW as vanity would
Now how to get it in the air. Moni training is nonexistent. It only has room for one; I would be
a test pilot on my very first flight. So following the lead in the FAA Advisory Circular, I signed up for motorglider transition
training with Fred Herr at Ft. Collins/Loveland Municipal (KFNL), Colorado, in his Grob 309B motorglider in April
1987. After getting my logbook endorsed, I was ready to become a test pilot.
On a chilly, but sunny and calm day,
I taxied around for awhile, screwed up my courage and took off. It was amazing. Easy to control with the side stick, It
was a little short coupled (pitch sensitive), but it flew beautifully without any problem. One surprise--the air speed indicator
was not working. So I came down a little hot and landed long on that beautifully long and wide runway. I could have "flown"
without a plane to carry me.
I changed pistons and increased the horsepower to 30, nearly doubling the climb rate, flying
out of Clow near Chicago. I kept N87TW for a couple of years and sold it to the Director of Manufacturing at Lycoming.