Monnett Moni

Schoolteacher John Monnett designed the Moni (mo-nee) during the early 1980s and then coined the term 'air recreation vehicle' to describe this airplane. Monnett's design almost captured all the merits that so many leisure pilots longed to find in one aircraft. The Moni looked great just sitting on the ramp. It performed well and someone reasonably handy with average shop tools could construct one in their own garage. The design had much going for it but like so many homebuilt aircraft before and since, a few key engineering lapses in the design, plus problems with the engine and propeller, relegated the Moni to the category of homebuilt aircraft that promise much in design but fail to deliver.

Monnett first flew the Moni during July 1981. He sold about 380 kits from 1982 until his company ceased operations in 1986. A homebuilder unpacking his mail-order Moni kit found all components pre-shaped from aircraft-grade aluminium except for the expansive Plexiglas canopy. Only an electric drill, sheet metal shears, and a pop-rivet gun were required to construct most of the aircraft. The wing skins required some expertise to bond them to the wing structure but Monnett claimed overall construction time ran about 350-400 hours.

The finished Moni was a mildly aerobatic motoglider, surely one of the most fun and economical types of airplanes. A Moni pilot could zip along at 193 kph (120 mph) or stop her engine and glide around in search of thermal updrafts at a respectable 20:1 glide ratio. Airframe weight totalled about 118 kg (260 lb), a mere 1.8 kg (4 lb) over the legal weight limit for ultralights but the Moni was at least two times faster. All this superb performance depended on a small and economical power plant, the KFM 107 two-stroke, air-cooled engine that Monnett included with all the kits he sold. Performance also depended on a sound airframe but glue held the wings together in the early kits. After several wings failed in flight, Monnett redesigned the wings for riveted construction but the Moni's reputation suffered.

Many builders completed their Monis with all design modifications and safety upgrades. They found the little aircraft was almost as fun and economical as John Monnett had claimed. One pilot said this about his Moni: "I think that the Moni is a joy to fly. I have flown throughout Oklahoma, into Texas and Kansas. I took one cross-country that was 700 statute miles round trip. The Moni does what it was designed to do very well. It is a good day VFR recreational aircraft."

Wing Span (Long Wings) 27 ft. 6 in.
Wing Span (Short Wings) 16 ft.
Length 15 ft.
Height 3 ft. 3 in.
Wing Area (Long) 75 sq. ft.
Wing Area (Short) 44 sq. ft.
Empty Weight 260 lbs.
Gross Weight 560 lbs
Cruise Speed 110 mph
Maximum Speed 120 mph
Rate of Climb 500 ft. per min.
Range 320 mi.