I began flying lessons on 11 Dec 1981, a few months after the US Air Traffic Controllers' strike (and subsequent firing and replacement by new people). I got my private pilot certificate on 01 Jun 1982, and my instrument rating on 07 Mar 1983. I learned to fly at San Jose International Airport in San Jose, CA, and did most of my flying in the western US.
Over the course of a decade, I owned three airplanes, flew about 1500 hours, landed at 147 airports, then gave it up in October 1992.
In August 1982, I bought a new Mooney 201: a four-place, retractable-gear plane, cruising at about 155 knots (180 mph). Since the 201 is not turbocharged, it flew best between 8000 and 10000 feet. I got my instrument rating in that aircraft, flying in California's rainy El Nino of 1982-83.
In October 1986, after about 580 hours in the 201, I traded it for a (still new) 1985 Piper Malibu. The Malibu is a six-place pressurized single-engine 310hp piston aircraft, cruising at 210 knots (240 mph) at 25000 feet. The Malibu was made to fly high; in the thicker air at 10000 feet, it could only cruise at about 185 knots (210 mph). Having a turbocharger made it much easier to fly on an instrument flight plan in California: in some areas, you have to cross the Sierra Nevada range at about 17000 feet.
In October 1989, after about 450 hours in the Malibu, I ordered a factory-new Mooney TLS and sold the Malibu. In designing the TLS, Mooney stretched the existing model a foot, increased the horsepower from 200 to a turbocharged 270, and, of course, changed lots of smaller things. But the basic aircraft was like a 201 on steroids. The TLS would cruise at 220 knots (253 mph) at 25000 feet, or it would zoom along at 190 knots (almost 220 mph) at 10000 feet. Since it's an unpressurized aircraft, you need to wear oxygen at higher altitudes. Having the option to cruise at 10000 was handy. I flew the TLS for about 375 hours.
Because the TLS was unfinished at the time I ordered, I got to make my choices of paint and interior colors, as well as the exact avionics I wanted. I also got to ferry the plane from the factory in Kerrville, TX (near San Antonio) to San Jose.
It appears that the Bravo model is perhaps the closest to the TLS.
Yes, that's me flying over the Golden Gate Bridge. We had a photo-shoot of several aircraft that day, and the controllers let us fly through that airspace. This photo was taken on 08 Feb 1992. It wasn't the prettiest day, and the old scan of the photo isn't the best either.
I've flown to 32 of the 50 states; the green states are the ones in which I've landed. We made four coast-to-coast trips. The 1983 trip in the Mooney 201 is the long pink one; we took a southern route home. In 1987, 1988, and 1989, we flew the Malibu with the two kids (toddlers or smaller!). These trips are the red, blue, and purple ones respectively.