This marks the third year of our Plane & Pilot Plane of the Year recognition for the most impressive design in light GA, and as we knew when we launched the award, new designs in light aviation are not as common as they used to be.
Still, this year’s winner is a special plane that took home the hardware after a unanimous vote. The Mooney Ovation Ultra takes the Mooney DNA of speed to burn, great efficiency and butter-smooth flying characteristics and adds what Mooney owners have been dreaming about for decades, a pilot-side door, more space and far easier entry room in back, better visibility all around (but especially in back) and updated avionics, too.
The Ovation Ultra is the second Mooney to get recognition from Plane & Pilot. Two years ago we gave the nod for best new piston single to the Acclaim Ultra, which shares many of the improvements of the Ovation upgrade.
Amazingly, those improvements are all (well, mostly all) thanks to a new forward cabin shell that’s made of composite material instead of Mooney’s traditional sheet metal shell. The forward fuselage continues to use the company’s trademark welded steel cage construction for a high level of crashworthiness compared to most built-built-up all-aluminum designs. The composite shell is overlaid, and because it’s all new, it allowed Mooney to ingeniously add a second door—so no more playing Tetris to figure out what passengers go where—and to extend the length of the doors for easier entry and to allow for larger windows, too. If these sound like small improvements, you haven’t flown Mooneys much. They’re game changers.
The whole package is rounded out by the addition of the Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite, which is a perfect complement to the Ovation Ultra in that, to the uninitiated, it looks like vintage G1000, but it’s not. The familiar appearance and very similar interface hide the fact that NXi is a game changer in its own right. The processors are way faster, the glass is sharper and brighter, the symbology is easier on the eyes, and the capabilities are much improved, with the addition of extensive vertical capabilities, VFR approaches (they’re so cool, you’ve got to try them) and improved connectivity, as well.
All this, and the Ovation Ultra is still a barn burner, with a top cruise speed nipping at 200 knots, a range of better than 1,000 nm with long range (100 gallons) tanks at the Ultra’s fast “economy” cruise of 170 knots, a climb rate of 1,300 fpm, and did I mention how pretty it is? Everywhere I went with it while testing it last fall, other pilots stopped and paid it compliments. On a couple of occasions, they even said, “Wait, it’s got two doors!”
Congratulations to Mooney International for its second big win in two years!
For more information about the Mooney Ovation Ultra, visit mooney.com.