AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

Carenado Mooney M20J

Product Information

Publisher: Carenado

Description: GA Aircraft Add-on.

Download Size:

Simulation Type:
Reviewed by: Chris Khiel AVSIM Contributing Reviewer - January 19, 2008


The Mooney M20 is known to be one of Al Mooney’s most successful designs. Aptly named as the M20 series because this was Mooney’s 20th design that has been produced for nearly fifty years in a number of different variations. The M20 series also holds the title of fastest Mooney design in the form of the M20TN Acclaim, and aside from that, Mooney's have always been known for their speed and efficiency.

Carenado chose to reproduce the M20J model, or the “Medium Body Length” variation of the M20, and they have gracefully and effectively captured this great aircraft.

I never did fully appreciate Mooney's, or like them all that much before writing this review, but after flying another excellent piece of work from Carenado, I must admit that my perception of the Mooney is forever changed.

Installation and Documentation:

As usual with Carenado, this portion of your purchase couldn’t be easier. You simply download the file provided from their email link, and install using the .exe in the compressed file folder. It’s done, and your new Mooney fleet is now waiting and ready on your tarmac of choice.

All included Documentation, including a decent POH, is found in the main FS9 aircraft folder for the Mooney itself labeled “Carenado Mooney”. Inside this folder is all of the aircraft components along with the POH, Reference and Limitations, Checklists, and Emergency Procedures.

2D Panel:

The main 2D panel and sub-panels from Carenado are always decent, and these latest panels for the Mooney are no exception. The 2D panel is very clear, concise, and looks almost exactly like its virtual counterpart.

Included subpanels range from custom fuel and engine management gauges, to a custom Garmin GPS unit (which does look like the default Garmin, but isn’t), to excellent radios (Once again, the great radio stacks are a Carenado Trademark).

Virtual Cockpit:

This is my favorite place of any virtual aircraft, but even more so in this case as the VC is remarkably well done and detailed without heavily impacting performance. Things in the Virtual Cockpit look 3D, but upon zooming in and looking closely, these items are just very detailed textures. I find this hard to believe in several cases, such as the fuses on the far right of the panel, and I’ll elaborate. Things like these do not need to be modeled in 3D as they have no simulator functionality, but as textures they simply look 3D when zoomed back a touch.

Here are a few shots showcasing the main panel, and its detail levels at several different zoom levels. I fly the M20J from the zoom level in the 4th shot, which gives a nice sensation of being close enough to the panel but still having peripheral vision.

For clickability, as I like to call it, once again you won’t find yourself bored as you are able to click nearly every important flight control. Even a few extras are included, like sun visors that can be folded down, and gauge faces that can be clicked to bring up expanded and even more detailed versions.

As usual, a very nice and detailed virtual cabin has been included. Everything appears seamless here, even using more 2D bitmaps that just look 3D. Not just the virtual panel, but the virtual cabin itself also lends greatly to the immersion-factor.

External Model:

This package shines as every minute detail is represented nicely. From the landing gear, opening the main and cargo doors, to Carenado’s excellent textures for things like metal panels, I can’t imagine disappointment for anyone in this area. These mentioned items are always done well by Carenado.

Four texture sets are included and give you a pleasant range of very realistic Mooney's to fly. One of the four included textures is a blank white livery with no tail number; must be kind of a ‘factory fresh’ look. My flagship of the fleet is 815PA, and all of the included liveries can be seen below.

All the regular animations and items are present; moving control surfaces, propeller and pitch settings, opening and closing exits, and even some chocks on the main wheel with the engine shut down and parking brake.

When you zoom in closely to do your walk around, be prepared to be blown away by the many subtle details. The exhaust pipe on the bottom of the cowling or the very finely and realistically sculpted engine cowling itself, for example; there’s no shortage of neat things to see. My favorite has to be the spinner and propeller. The screws on the spinner are textured but look remarkably realistic unless you're standing two feet away. The propeller just looks like a general aviation propeller, and when static, the pitch adjustments are animated.

I simply enjoy Carenado’s external models, especially their rendition of the M20J.

Flight Dynamics:

The flight dynamics here are very skillfully done by people who must have some good hands-on time in a Mooney M20J, or very similar ship. I have not flown an M20J in real life, but some good general aircraft handling rules seem very adhered to.

The rudder isn’t over-powered as I’ve seen in other GA aircraft; roll rate seems about right, and the pitch isn’t oversensitive either. What you have here is a very forgiving aircraft, given its decent performance values. These values include relatively short takeoff and landing, cruise speeds below 10,000 ft ranging around 130-140 KIAS, and the ability to climb up above 10,000 ft and still make decent speed and time. Additionally, I was able to achieve 150 knots ground speed at 12,500 feet flying into a rough 40 knot wind, and about 140 in calmer conditions at that altitude.

Taxiing is as expected. Well, it’s as easy as taxiing any nose wheel aircraft. Taking off is nice and easy as is maintaining the centerline, and the Mooney lifts off without flaps at just about the right speed.

Landing this aircraft is simply my favorite time of flight with it. The simulated ground effect makes the plane very easy to land, but won’t balloon you back into the air unless you really flare hard and with too much speed. Seriously, you’ll be landing with military precision in no time. Follow the checklists and speeds for approach, and you’ll set it down like a pro every time; it’s just very rewarding and fun.

Doing some advanced or flight training maneuvers, the Mooney seems to behave itself just as you would expect. All the regular fun maneuvers, like steep turns and side slipping, are easily accomplished and seem quite realistic. However, as usual with Flight Simulator, stalls are poorly represented as are spins. Keep in mind, this is a simulator limitation; stalls are usually bad in any aircraft. When stalling, the plane will keep nosing up even after going below stall speed. If you keep this nose up force going, the plane will enter the ‘weird realm’ of flight dynamics.


This may be hard to believe, but I’ve not actually heard a Mooney taxi or fly by. I definitely haven’t heard an M20J taxi or fly by, but the sounds included seem right on for this engine type. If you are an aviation fan, you’ve probably been to an airport and heard dozens of Lycoming and Continental engines. I can assure you that the included sound-set is very fitting for a Lycoming IO-360, having heard very similar engines in different aircraft.

With a very deep and throaty sounding engine and a subtle but great prop effect at idle, it sounds like you're sitting at an airport with a Mooney taxiing right by. The external sounds seem loud enough to give you that sensation, while inside the aircraft, the growl of the Lycoming is greatly dulled as if wearing a headset. Just try a flyby, I think you’ll like what you hear.

A few small nuances of the sound package I’m paying special attention to are the wheel and wind effects. In most small General Aviation planes, even with headsets on, these effects can be heard. Very subtle wheel rolling sounds along with a nice ‘whirring’ effect for the wind passing by at high speed are both included. As you slow down in flight, the wind effect also slows but it can’t be heard on the ground.

Test System

Intel Core 2 Duo
300 GB SATA Drive
GeForce 8600 GT 256 MB DDR3

Flying Time:
11.5 hours


For the level of detail, this aircraft barely hits your system harder than the default Cessna 172. I noticed such a low hit on frames that it is almost entirely negligible and almost pointless to mention. In all areas, the panels and models simply don’t seem to have an effect on sim performance. I did run this aircraft on my previous review system using an AGP card with a Pentium 4 2.8 Ghz, and once again, hardly any performance hit at all.

This seems to be another of Carenado’s “trademarks.” Great performance always adds to any package.


I don’t work for Carenado, and I am reviewing as objectively as I can. It’s just hard to find things wrong with any Carenado aircraft, as they’re usually “Grand Slams”. This aircraft is no exception.

If you’re a die hard Mooney Fan, then I can’t imagine missing this package as it simply destroys the default Microsoft Mooney. If you’re as I once was, a bit skeptical about this aircraft type, I’d suggest going for it. I’ll never look at a Mooney again the way I did before this little sim plane. It’s a nice little touring plane with unique lines, and performance that should definitely impress.


What I Like About Carenado's Mooney

  • Excellent Performance
  • Attention to Detail
  • Modeling of the External and Virtual
  • Flight Dynamics for an aircraft of this type


What I Don't Like About Carenado's Mooney

  • I can’t really think of anything



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The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment. This disclaimer is posted here in order to provide you with background information on the reviewer and any connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

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