The little airplane that could… and still does!

I read recently on one of the pilot forums that if you can’t afford a hangar, you have no business owning an aircraft. That’s an interesting idea. In over 30 years of on-again/off-again aircraft ownership, my airplanes have spent perhaps a cumulative total of three weeks indoors. I feel fortunate not to have known of the axiom requiring a hangar.

Tied down
An airplane tied down outside?! The horror…

Evidently, as a quick look at airport photos from the 50s and 60s will demonstrate, the no hangar/no airplane rule must be a fairly recent concept. Admittedly, many airports here in the Midwest have almost all of their aircraft locked securely inside, with the possible exception of a small ramp space for the less fortunate. As pilots whoosh past this area in their BMWs and Range Rovers, they may be vaguely aware of the diminutive and familiar shape of the Rodney Dangerfield of airplanes: the Cessna 150.

I’ve owned three of these wonderful gals (please forgive the gender-specific anthropomorphism) over the years: a ’59, ’66, and ’76. Along the way, I’ve learned a few lessons for the potential 150 purchasers out there.

When others refer to it, they will inevitably insert the word “little” before the description of make and model. “Oh, I see you own a little 150.” Try as I might, I’ve never been able to find an example of a “big” 150, but nevertheless, if you are not careful, you will begin using this same descriptor. “Oh, you own an airplane? My uncle has a little airplane too. It’s called a Baron, I think. He keeps it in a hangar.” Of course he does. “What do you have?”

Here is where you must guard against the urge to cast your gaze downward, and mutter, “I’ve just got a little Cessna 150.” The first rule of ownership is to leave your ego at the door (or in someone’s hangar). You will not elicit jealous stares when you arrive at a fly-in. First time passengers may be horrified when they see just how “little” the 150 actually is. It’s possible that from their experience, flying machines this small are usually mounted on something that goes around in circles at an amusement park.

Occasionally, a female passenger may think it is “cute,” but that term is unlikely to assuage the male ego. Other aircraft owners may be unknowingly condescending to you. The TBM 700 guy may strike up a conversation. “What do you fly?” You’ll answer by pointing to the far corner of the airfield, and saying, “That’s my 150 tied down out there.” His eyes will move quickly as he desperately tries to find some common ground, and then hit you with, “Oh sure… great little airplane, I flew one on my first five hours of flight training.”

You may want to explain that you’ve flown big, horsepower-laden beasts, or even owned an airplane capable of soaring to great heights with more than two improbably-sized standard issue FAA adults, and 10 gallons of fuel. Eventually you learn to just smile, and pass up the opportunity to qualify or justify your choice.

Cessna 150
“If you are in this game primarily for the joy of flying itself, the 150 will deliver the goods.”

The fact is, 150s are, pound for pound, one of the great values left in aviation. Yes, climb rate can be stately, or occasionally non-existent, and you will only out-run the odd J-3 or 7AC. But, if you are in this game primarily for the joy of flying itself, the 150 will deliver the goods. You can actually go somewhere with it if you wish, limited only by your physiological needs. It may not deliver the sweaty-palmed moments of a tailwheel airplane, but in a gusty crosswind it will provide enough challenge to keep you on your toes. (If you make a particularly awful landing at some far away airport, the 150 provides a built-in excuse, as the airport bums will assume that you are a student pilot.)

Fuel burn is miserly. Parts are still available, and routine maintenance is relatively (by aviation standards) inexpensive. Insurance rates for an unmodified 150 are the lowest available. If you can bring yourself to be a modern-day trendsetter, you can save money over the long haul by relegating it to that far-away airfield section called “the tie-downs.” Yes, the paint will suffer to some degree, and you may have a fuel cap stolen, or be hit by a runaway hot-air balloon (both of which have occurred to me), but think of all the fun you can pump into the tanks with the money you are saving.

I am between airplanes at the moment, having recently cycled through a period of fiscal sanity, wherein I try to make myself feel good about the fact that my airplane has been sold. Eventually, I will hear the siren song again, and the specter of some potentially catastrophic household expense will begin to fade: “Well, I don’t have an airplane, but I sure am glad I had the cash for that new septic tank.” The last one provided me with 4 seats, 3 of which spent most of the time empty while I was aloft. This time, I am sure that there is another “little” 150 out there with my name on it. Don’t tell the forum experts, but after I find her, she’s going straight to the tie-downs.

57 Comments

  • I’ve owned my ’67 150 since 1982. I’ve had my students say to me “You know everything there is to know about airplanes (well . . . ) and you drive a Mercedes convertible so you aren’t broke. Why don’t you at least have a Mooney?”

    My answer is that if I had a Mooney, it would own me, whereas with my faithful 150, I own it. A 150 has a very high fun to gallons ratio, and won’t eat me out of house and home.

    I don’t need or want four seats (three of which will be empty most of the time anyway), and if I am in a real hurry or there are oceans involved, I’ll fly Boeing or Airbus. For the rest of the time, my 150 suits me just fine while I’m thundering along at Mach .14 at FL 2.0. I am, however, considering replacing the VSI with a calendar . . .

    • I actually have a Mooney J model, which I bought after returning to flying after a 25-year hiatus. That plane was the right one for me. But every story is different, and I can certainly see why a Cessna 150 would be the right plane for someone’s mission. (Hey, my car is nine years old, but it’s the right car for the mission.) You may not fly cross-country at 150 knots, but you get the same baseline joy of in the 150 the second you lift off from the runway.

      The Cessna 150 has a notable place in aviation history. I wouldn’t look down my nose at it, and I wouldn’t be self conscious about it, either. How many people can fly one? As for that hangar rule, what? Whatever works for the owner and keeps him/her flying sounds good to me.

      • How many people can fly a C150? Indeed; my circle of friends has not included airport bums for 20 years now, and people who don’t hang around hangars seem to have no interest in learning to fly. I occasionally bring up the subject of my long-ago history of flying, but nobody is interested in airplanes or aviation. The last non-pilot passenger I had, 30 years ago, was a good passenger but had no interest in doing it himself. (Sigh…)

        (Pondering…) Oh – one of the factors might be the great jump in cost of renting planes. In the 15 year gap in my personal flying, from 1973 to 1988, rental of a two-place plane tripled, and from what I hear from distant pilot friends it is now, like everything else, ten times what it cost 45 years ago, when I could not imagine I would ever have a non-flying time in my life. I really mourn for that period in the 1960s to early 70s when I spent almost as much time in the air as at my workaday job.
        (Sigh …)

        • My “little” ’67 150 carried me faithfully over desert, ocean and jungle right from Farmington, NM to Asunción, Paraguay in just over a week, a performance I failed to repeat in a’ 05 Piper Six. Maybe I’ll get around someday about writing about that once in a lifetime voyage. Great article and long life to the C150. It deserves at least the same respect than a C130 🙂

  • I’m still flying my 160 hp PA-28 “starter airplane” >17 years later, and see no need to upgrade. Also, if hangars were a prerequisite for deserving to own an airplane, then there are dozens of undeserving owner-pilots at my home airport, flying right through the Canadian winter (we don’t have hangars).

  • For some reason I recently looked over the first entries in my logbook, from June ’89, and noted the tail numbers of the 152’s I flew at the Hickam-Wheeler Aero Club, including the one I soloed in. I decided to look them up on the FAA website, and it seems my solo C-152 went to New Zealand in 1996. But the 152 that was my first flight and the one I spent most of my training in, has been deregistered for almost two years now, and just might be within a three hour drive away in southern Maryland.
    I’ve never owned an airplane, but one of these weekends I just might stop by that little airport and take a look around…

    • When you say “little” you are only talking the fuselage. The 150/152 has an enormous, forgiving wing that recovers from unusual attitudes instantly and makes ground ref maneuvers a breeze.
      Flying is flying and when you are flying there is no one around to impress but yourself.
      I pity the people that think aviation is about status and have forgotten the fun.

      • And they spin great. My first instructor introduced me to spins before I soloed at around 6-7 hours. Will never forget it. Can’t believe how tough the 150 gear is (and the whole plane overall), after many bounced landings where I nearly hit my head on the ceiling.

  • I own a Cessna 150M and I am perfectly happy with it. One thing that is fantastic about the C150 is the 40 degree flap setting. Consequently, I usually come in high and on final, I bring it in steeper than with other aircraft. Flying low and slow, I also have time to enjoy the view. When I first took lessons back in 1962, it was in a Cessna 150 and it has been dear to me ever since. I believe that my total investment including annuals, repairs, ADS-B, etc. is less than $27,000, while a good friend recently has repairs to his Cardinal that cost him $35,000.

    • Hey – that could be me, you’re talking about! I own a Cardinal and just spent about that much on it – with the annual invoice still not delivered.

      Seriously though, I love the 150 and the 152 and would love it if I could get one that had the payload for both seats filled and at least 3 hours’ fuel. At 210 lbs, I’m too big for the 150 unless I fly by myself. I do fly alone quite often but “pleasure shared is pleasure doubled”, as they say. It’s fun to go places with pax.

      Still love the 150 though!

  • Yup. Solo’ed a J-3 in the late ‘60’s. Years later bought a C-150L, began lessons, and returned to flying (yes, in that order). Upgraded to a PA-28-161, then to a M-20C. But, I’ll always credit that “little” 150 with making me a better pilot. Without the increased power and faster airspeeds of my better-equipped later airplanes, that 150 required me to learn finesse with the controls, put more emphasis on flight planning, and work to get the most outta what I had available.

    Without the power, speed, and equipment to get yourself outta bad situations, ya put more effort into learning your plane’s capabilities and limitations, honing your piloting skills, and recognizing developing situations that could get ugly. Stay in training-mode… always learning. When you’ve got the sky to yourself, push the envelop in every profile so you’ll get better, build confidence, and know where the edge is… but always give yourself an out in case that “edge” isn’t exactly where ya left it last time.

    (Yes, the 40 degree “barn-door” Fowler flaps were great… too bad they didn’t keep them on the C-152. According to the FAA website, what had been my C-150 was later destroyed in a training flight in Ohio.)

    • You are absolutely right about the 150’s limitations (speed, range, power) making her pilots more respectful of density altitude, payload, wind en-route, and good planning.

      I’ve been told Cessna discontinued the 40 degree flaps due to several accidents where the aircraft wouldn’t climb out of ground effect during a go-around with the flaps extended – something that should never happen with proper technique and adherence to the manufacturer’s limitations.

      Our 150 had a better long-term outcome. It’s presently part of a youth aviation program in Oregon where it is lovingly cared for by future pilots and technicians.

  • I solo’d in a C150, like I’m sure a lot of us did. Right after that I bought a C172N and have recently moved to a DA40. But for those of us who are not wealthy and just want to be able to go fly, there is no simpler, more economical way to do it than with a well loved C150.

  • My buddy bought a C182 last year after punching his instrument ticket. Our field has quite the wait list for hangers, so I asked if he would hanger his plane elsewhere. He responded, “every plane I’ve ever flown has been tied down! (Referring to the fact that our flight school keeps everything on the ramp.) If those trainers can stay tied down and survive, I figure I’ll be alright. Plus that’s money I can put in the tanks!”

    My reply – Roger that!

  • My first few hours and solo in 1967 were in a straight tailed C150 with a handle to pull to engage the starter.
    Power off landings with 0 or 40° of flap put down with a Johnson bar taught me to “see” the glide path.
    I moved to a C172 for cross-country and my long solo. (SPI to Pittsburg,KS to see the HELIO COURIER factory).
    The FBO go a fleet of BEECH MUSKETEERS and I flew a SUPER a lot.
    Now. rated BE300, 350,
    1900. and BE400/MU300.
    IF I get the money I’d but a BEECH Skipper and put 150-180 up on it. I’d also get a Carbon Cub Is a.

  • I had a 1974 L model for 4 years. Went to Oshkosh every year with my brother to camp. Sent all the gear ahead in a UPS truck. It is said “ you don’t get in a 150, you put it on “

  • Small planes are great too. Sure the guy with the TBM can fly fast,high and far but can he put it down on 200ft dirt strip, no. Small planes are just as good. I done my PPL in Tecnam p2002jf with a 100hp engine and it was the funnest thing I’ve ever flown.

  • I bought my C-150 H in June 1975. Almost 45 years later I’m still flying it weekly. It’s not extremely fast but it will take you where you want to go, Texas, Wisconsin, N.Carolina, Maryland. It’s just nice to be able to fire it up and go flying any time I want.

  • I’ve owned a 152 for 18 years. I’ve noticed that some people turn up there noses at me and talk about buying a twin or high performance single. All they end up doing is talking. I’ll also never forget a few years ago when fuel was over $6 a gallon. I went out to the airport to do some flying and ran into a guy with a complex single. I asked him if he was flying today and he muttered something about the fuel costs. A few weeks later I saw him again and he said he was flying that day- to go get some cheap gas? I get to fly a lot with my 152 and since I fly 99% by myself and mostly for recreation, it works for me. I’ve never been one that had to keep up with the “Jones”

  • Come on up to Anchorage Alaska where we have over 1600 airplanes. The majority of which are tied down outside. I would write more but I have to go clear snow off my 182B and go flying.

  • After more than a half century of personal and professional flying, my fondest retirement dream is to own a Cessna150. I got my PP ticket in one and — later as a CFI — shepherded quite a few fledgling aviators through the primary grades of their airborne careers in 150s and 152s. Today, I love that little flying machine more than ever. As Dave said, the 150 was built for the sheer joy of flying.

    Should I ever be fortunate enough to take personal possession of a 150, I am fully prepared to suffer the perhaps well-meaning but ultimately condescending comments from passers-by on the ramp. Y’see, I drive a Pale Primrose (yellow) 1970 MGB Roadster, probably the closest land-bound equivalent of the diminutive Cessna. Rather than “Oh, I soloed in one of those before I got my Mooney”, I get: “Hey! What year’s your little ‘B’? I had one of those in high school.” As the traffic light changes and the roadside visitor roars off in his BMW or Lexus, I reflect upon this common remark. And, y’know what?, it doesn’t bother me a bit! Just as I take pride in my poor man’s sports car, I would be tickled pink to have a 150 awaiting my hands on its yoke.

  • I originally purchased a 150M as an entry level aircraft for my PPL. I have no wish to upgrade to anything higher in a Cessna. Much cheaper to fly (uses MoGas with some 100LL for the valves) and when I take a friend (what kind of experience is it packed into a back seat?—any passenger wants to be up front so he or she can take control (supervised, of course), so a 2 place is fine with me. And it gets me there. Around here (eastern Canada) almost every flight school is looking for a 150 or 152. If I were to sell it would get a lot more than I paid for it. Nice to know.

  • Hi from the wilds of the UK, where Cessna 150’s are still the back bone of the training fleet and hence known to everyone.

    Many years ago someone was flying their Rans S6 in to one of our regional airports, it must be some time ago, no one can afford the landing fees and handling these days. The Rans was on final when one of the Big Airways airliners calls inbound. The following ATC conversation occurs:

    BA123: “Regional Tower, Fast Bird 123 inbound from the North”
    Tower: “Good afternoon Fast Bird, Join down wind for 02, you are number two to a Rans S6 on Final”
    BA123: “Down wind for 02, and what pray is a Rans S6?”
    Tower: “It’s a sort of see through Cessna, Sir”

    Safe Flying
    Richard W.

  • I have a little flying experience, I retired with an ATPL but now am happy to still have a private licence. My introductory flight, at age 50, was in a C-150. The school I signed up with and got my licence with had only C-152 and C172 and some of the newly introduced plastic Katanas. On that intro flight I immeadiately saw the advantage of the Johnson bar. But another aircraft I flew for a year, Mitsubishi MU-2, also had 40 degrees of flaps and could stay really high till short final. My first owned plane was really little, a Mong Sport Biplane (Tailwheel of course) but I got my tail wheel sign off in a Aeronca Chief. What had the “little Cessna” taught me? The importance of rudder control and always pay attention to aileron into or away from the wind as required. Always keep the stick back when running up and spare the oleo and prop. I never owned a complete C-150 just part of one. I raced a Cassutt Formula One at the Reno airraces for three years and the engine was from a C-150 that had sustained damage. Well, following approved F1 mods blue printing, balancing and polishing and great attention to the cam that “little” Continental O-100 engine could sustain four thousand rpm. Enough to pull that “little” Cassutt along at an average lap speed of 200 mph. There is nothing quite like lapping at Reno at 50 plus feet agl at those speeds with other airplanes around you? But, you know, all the different machines I have flown are exhilarating in their own right.
    Speaking of which, finding a safe path through smoke and flame leading water bombers onto a forest fire in either a Shrike Commander or a King Air 90 was also fun for four years. When a War Bird called my name I found I could afford the acquisition and remediation of a Nanchang and kept that responsive, fun, airplane for eight years. I loved that 9 cylinder radial startup. Following this a C-172 for six months. It’s place now occupied in my hangar (I live on the Wet Coast) by a Vans RV-6A. I recently had a birthday deep into my seventies but were I to sell the RV I would give serious consideration to finding a straight tail C-150 to finish my flying time. Nothing wrong with going full circle with the bonus of enjoying the view.

  • What a great article! Whoever would say “you shouldn’t own an airplane if you can’t afford a hangar” is ignorant. Hangars just aren’t available at many airports. Most large commercial aircraft only see the inside of a hangar during maintenance and spend their whole lives outside.

    • Agreed, and I currently have a hangar. Lucked out because I just took over the lease when I bought the airplane. I do like it because I can keep tools and supplies. I can do maintenance etc even on bad weather days. I also can plug in a power source and practice the glass panel in the DA40. But hangars are expensive and hard to come by so my C172 was usually tied down. That didn’t make it less fun to fly.

  • Now retired from an almost-40-year airline career, I look back on all the time I spent instructing in C150s in the late ’60s as a teenage CFI, building time to fly for the airlines. What a wonderful airplane the C150 was (and is)! I have one regret: about 20 years go, my father called and offered me a 150 FOR FREE, as he had just taken one in trade for another plane he had sold, and he had no use for a 150. I thought about it for a short while, and told him no. What a dummy I was! I wish I’d taken it. Lots of good Cessna 150 memories in this old gray head…

  • As a retired, 3,000 hr F/A-18 pilot, I would love to own/fly one. Unfortunately, at 6′ 5″ I just don’t fit. I’m stuck with a C172 or bigger. The TA-4J I flew at NAS Meridian was tiny, something you “put on” vice “got into”. A C150 would be like that wool sweater I accidentally put in the dryer with my jeans back in my single days when I wasn’t too savvy about doing laundry (What…you can’ t put a wool sweater in the wash with the rest of your laundry?). 😉

  • There are really two threads here … hangaring of airplanes and whether — or not — the venerable C150 is worthy of adoration. I’m an A&P, have owned 10 airplanes over my 50 years of aviating and currently own both a ’75 C172M (for 35 years) and a beautiful hangar on leased airport land up north. I just sold a ’67 PA28-140 for reasons of ingress/egress of my 72 year old body but kept my C172.

    First off, ANY airplane is better than no airplane if you love aviating … ya can’t argue with that logic. If that’s all you can afford or justify … fine. And if you fly solo, I guess a stock C150 is OK. As soon as you add a second person of average size THESE days, it’s an underpowered airplane with marginal performance. That way back when it was the training airplane most everyone learned in isn’t lost on me … I learned in one, too. But I was 50 pounds lighter and much more flexible back then. As soon as you taste a better airplane, why not do everything you can to have one. Of ALL the airplanes I’ve owned, I feel that a C172 is SO much better a choice. And of all the years they were produced, the airplane to have is a ’76 C172M … it’s the last of the 12V airplanes, has the modern wing and the later instrument panel. I like having a high wing and two doors hence why I sold my crème puff PA28. I put a 160hp engine in my C172 and it changed everything. That’s the combo to have. A ’76 M model with 160hp.

    With respect to hangars … say what you will but if you really care for your machine, you’ll find a way to at least put it under roof if not in a hangar. Corrosion and water infiltration is a major issue with airplanes. If you can keep ’em dry, you’re SO much better off. In Florida where moisture is a major issue, there’s NO WAY I’d leave an airplane outside. I have seen airplanes that sit outside that I won’t fly … period. Many belong in a recycling facility. Anyplace where it hails a lot is another issue. Sitting with snow and ice on it is likewise bad. Being able to do lawfully authorized owner performed preventative maintenance is SO much easier when lighting, power and protection from the elements is available. If I were trapped in a situation where I couldn’t find a hangar or shade port or something — and for a time I WAS in that situation in the Mojave desert of CA — I’d at least have a place where I could temporarily hangar it during maintenance. You’re describing people driving high end cars — which I assume are garaged — and then are climbing into older C150 airplanes which sit outside in the elements which they’re trusting their lives to. Sorry … I ain’t buying that argument. And we haven’t addressed the moaning I hear when people bring me one of those ramp queens and expect me to do a $400 annual on it and I have to respectfully decline.

    I am one of those who says if you can’t hangar your airplane, you shouldn’t have one. YOU sleep inside of a residence, don’t ya ?

    • Well, it wasn’t really meant to be a hard hitting 60 Minutes type expose on hangaring… more like my tongue-in-cheek musings. But, to set the record straight, I drive a 14 year old car, and it sits outside. My wife gets the garage. I do generally try to sleep indoors though; you’ve got me there.

    • I should have added that it is my position that you spend FAR more time in your hangar than you do aviating. So it’s not JUST a matter of hangaring an airplane; it’s a matter of having a clubhouse. I own a gorgeous 60′ w x 45′ d hangar filled with all sorts of stuff to make it a comfy place to hang out. In another place, however, I lease a T-hangar but even there I’ve made a comfy nest out of it. I can start something in either place, just leave it all and come back days later and everything is as I left it … except in Florida. I’ve had problems INSIDE a hangar with moisture and corrosion … predominantly because the relative humidity inside a hangar is typically higher than outside due to air not moving round AND slightly cooler temps which makes the RH higher. Still … given a choice between keeping an airplane outside or in a hangar, I’ll take any hangar all day long.

      With respect to a C150 … as I said, I don’t begrudge the airplane. I just think that the cost of moving up one model is SO much better. If one were wanting to go airplane camping w/ a C172, you could take the back seat out and turn it into a bed. And putting in a 160hp engine over the stock 150hp engine makes it a totally different airplane burning — ostensibly — the same amount of fuel. Put one of those new tuned exhausts on it and I’d bet you could give a C182 a run for its money on maybe 2.5 gals more fuel / hr. They claim it’s less because you can throttle it back. So the predominant difference in cost is the acquisition, not in maintenance.

      Of all the airplanes I’ve flown over my decades of aviating, the one I came closest to meeting my maker in was an underpowered C150. We never could figure out what was wrong with it but it just didn’t have any power. Fooling around with it at low altitude one day, I almost didn’t make it over a tree line. A subsequent purchaser managed to crash and nearly kill himself in the thing for very same reason. A C172 w/ one or two people aboard has enough reserve power to get out of it’s own way. A C150 does not IMHO. As I said, if all I could afford was a C150, I wouldn’t kick it out of my hangar but I’d sure be trying to figure a way to sell it and buy a ’76 C172M.

  • In 1966, I soloed in a C-150 owned by Tursair Flight School (Opa Locka Airport) at N. Perry Airport. A couple of years later, I exercised my Commercial ticket to fly a local police office for WIOD Sky Patrol. A great airplane that holds a special place in my heart. I later flew my Beech D-18S in my Part 135 operation and earned my ATP in that airplane. I was also type-rated in a DC-3. Yes, I am old, but I still greatly respect the Cessna 150 I was privileged to fly.

  • Larry,
    I don’t know where you live, but to say that, “if you can’t hangar your airplane, you shouldn’t have one,” is a pretty harsh statement to those who have planes on the ramp. I own both a C150 and a C172 and both are hangared. I pay a very reasonable price for rent and am very fortunate. I enjoy flying both aircraft but if I am flying by myself, the C150 wins hands down over the C172 for the fun factor of pure flying enjoyment. I have many friends that have little choice on whether to hangar their airplanes due to no hangar availability, or the ridiculously high cost of hangar rent. My “ramp” friends (I have many) take excellent care of their airplanes and keep them in top shape. The money they save from not paying $500 hangar rents allow them to afford proper maintenance and care. You being an A&P are fortunate to be able to do your maintenance. Those of us who aren’t qualified must pay to have a safe aircraft to fly. $6000 annual rent for an $18000 C150 simply does not make sense on any level. I do not hesitate to climb into my friends’ Mooney, C182, or C152 that are all on the ramp.
    I learned to fly in a C150 and very happy to finally own one after over 40 years of flying. I’ve met many great friends as a result of my C150/152 club and as I travel in my “little 2-seater plane,” I am looking forward to meeting many more!

  • I trained in a carbon Katana 2-seater with Rotax engine, low wing. C-150 is so far the only other aircraft I have flown. In Europe fuel cost is a factor so I subscribe to the fun-per-gallon option. Plus, compared to high-rev Rotax, the Continental really sounds like an aircraft engine. I rent both interchangeably so as to keep my familiarity. Cessna feels to me like a comfy American car, the Katana like a hard but sturdy Volkswagen. One factor I am still getting used to: the high wing covers all the sky when turning in a pattern, making me rock wings and stick out my neck before turning.

  • I’ve sent numerous students solo in a 150/152 with the full expectation they would return with little drama. Many of those went on to the airlines. Bang for the buck it’s great for getting you safely and inexpensively up for a nice view and/or to a relatively close airfield that would be an all day drive there and back in a car.

    And actually I’ve had an F14 instructor pilot an Airshow very generously boost my ego rather than tear it down when I arrived in one. Obviously he had the “right stuff” in more ways than one.

  • To the people who say: “…..if you can’t afford a hangar, you have no business owning an aircraft”, I would reply: “If you can’t afford to buy an airport, you have no business learning to fly.”

    I learned to fly over 45 years ago in a C-150 on a grass (ice) strip. It was in the winter and winters here in Maine can be brutal. I wouldn’t trade that experience for a barn full of A-380s.

    i don’t fly anymore–mid 70s and assorted medical issues, so my “flying” is now relegated to my FSX Flight Simulator with real photo-scenery. I know, I know, if I can’t afford a plane and hangar, I have “no business flying a simulator”. However, if I have to pee I can just hit pause on the computer. Can’t do that in a ‘big’ plane.

  • Back in 1994, at the ripe old age of 50, my four girls awarded me with $500 to start flying lessons, a lifelong dream. At San Antonio International Airport, my instructor walked me out to the 150 I had always admired. Like a J-3 Cub, this tiny vehicle would be the magic carpet to take me to the clouds. To this day, the first time I took the controls to take off was one of the most delightful experiences of my life. Because my wife lost both her parents in that year, I quit my dream to “stay safe”. This unfulfilled bucket list item haunts me to this day. Good old 150.

  • There is a story about a newly wealthy fellow who joined a very expensive golf club, looking forward to golfing & hobnobbing with other wealthy fellows. I think he was the same guy who said if you can’t afford a hanger, you shouldn’t own an airplane. Anyway, the first time he joined 3 other rich guys for a round of golf, they told him they were going to play a little betting game, $2 a hole. Our new guy was puzzled, but kept his mouth shut. When they finished the round & retired to the clubhouse, they decided to play some gin, telling new guy they would play for penny a point. At this point, new guy couldn’t take it any more. After all, he expected that other rich guys like himself wouldn’t be playing to trivial sums, so he spoke up: “What’s with this penny a point, $2 a hole. I thought you’d be able to play for some real money.”
    One of the older members turned to him and politely asked, “Son, what’s your net worth?” New guy proudly answered, “Oh, probably $70 million of so.” Old guy offered the deck of cards and said, “Wanna cut for it?”

  • I spent my most cherished aviation moment, to date, in a C-150 one afternoon in 1976, alongside a designated examiner and former WASP, the late Jean Parker Rose, for my Private flight examination. After I had completed the required tasks and demonstrations, Ms. Rose demonstrated some of the finer points of my training chariot. I still jealousy remember how she could “peg a needle.”

  • One of the flights I remember fondly occurred when I dropped off our go-anywhere C-425 in Chicago for maintenance and borrowed a C-150 to get back to Hayward (HYR), WI. I don’t think I got above 2,000 AGL either up or back and was low and slow enough to enjoy the countryside and literally smell the farmers’ fields. The smells were both good and bad news, but it sure was a different flying experience. Having soloed in a C-150 back in 1967, it was a bit of a return to my youth. If you don’t need a go-anywhere, go-anytime machine, the C-150 gives you a great return on investment.

  • I’ve owned mine since 2003, and have never referred to it as “that little 150.” When anyone asks, I proudly tell them I own a “nifty, thrifty, Cessna One Fifty!”

  • Ahhh, memories!

    I learned in a 150 and then checked out in a 210, 310, and tailwheel aircraft. I learned and had fun in each one, but nothing beat the 150 for pleasant memories and a good foundation for other aircraft.

    I have heard too many times, “You are not a “real” pilot until you (fly a tailwheel aircraft, get your instrument rating, etc.)” A private pilot flying a 150 is a real pilot, not just someone with a license to learn.

    Once I closed a real estate transaction and the agent mentioned she and her husband had a Pitts Special, a twin Cessna 310, and a 150. (She said she was not rich, they just decided not to have children!) I asked her which aircraft she had the most fun with and to my surprise she said the 150. “For a long coast to coast cross country you can’t beat the 310. For acrobatics you cannot beat the Pitts Special. But for just having fun my husband and I like the 150. You have to keep the destination relatively close for so you visit places you might otherwise overlook. Baggage is limited so it is like a camping trip. The flying is cheap so we can fly it as often as we want without having to justify costs.”

    Believe it or not a 150 with long range tanks has flown around the world. (Google it.) Of course it was not non-stop. It took 3 years and the pilot had to leave it for a season to return by airline for the next leg. Still, it shows what the mighty Cessna 150/152 can do! It is as beloved by this generation as the Piper Cub was by a previous generation.

  • I was 12 years old in 1964 when my pestering of Mr. Morris – -a man on my home delivery paper route paid off. To get me to quit pestering him, he finally took me to Moraine Air Park south of Dayton, Ohio and we flew all over south Dayton, Ohio in his Piper Cub. The aircraft was yellow….skinny…..frail looking to the one (me) who kept demanding (actually it was an off again on again “nudge-nudge-wink-wink”……and I really want to fly in this thing? !) a ride for my “superior newspaper delivery service” to his abode. Everything today is fresh in my mind as it was that day in June of 1964. It was the day that graduated me into the ranks of “aviators”, although I was worse than a rookie and a few stages before being a “fledgling”. I have a few aviation stories from pre-teen, teen civilian and beginning at age 19>>>>Naval Air days during the air war in Vietnam. It would be TMI just to tell all of the stories……but they all point back to Mr. Morris and that warm summer day in the back seat of a Piper Cub, flying over the Wright Brothers mansion on Park Avenue in Oakwood south of Dayton, and then a bit further south over our homes in Kettering, and back over Carillon Park where Orville & Wilbur’s third flyer is located…….and then back over the Miami river and the dike to land back at Moraine Air Park. When I’m back in Dayton I remember that day – – – and smile – – – and realize what a simple enjoyable day did to help mold my entire life in aviation.

  • Mr. Buchner is one of the most humble guys I have ever met! I say that because he only mentions his “nifty, thrifty, Cessna 150”.
    What he fails to mention is what he does for a living which just happens to be flying a Boeing 767.

  • I was fortunate to learn in a 150hp Super 150. It was in Las Cruces, NM where the high DA makes the stock 150 too marginal, but when my instructor Greg Quinones opened the door, got out and said “take her around for a couple landings”, i thought i was flying a fighter.
    I had so much fun flying that 150 solo. That was 1973. Since then I’ve flown many aircraft including heavy iron and have P51 time. I currently own a PZL Wilga (Draco’s kid brother)and am restoring a 1941 Stinson 10A, but
    I’ll always carry fond memories of that delightful C150. I also think that if possible and affordable
    One should hangar these delicate kites.

  • Thank you Dave.
    Probably the best article I’ve read on aviation. I’ve never been in a 150 but have spent time in a 152 back in the 80’s when my brother was getting his private. He would eventually go the airline route and I to a totally different field. Two years ago, with life at a point to pursue my dream of flying I was lucky enough to find a school with a couple of 152’s in the line.
    As far as the thinking that one shouldn’t own a plane if they can’t hanger it… let those pilots be. I doubt they’re the ones that we who tie down our planes are talking to and swapping stories with at the airport anyway.

  • Soloed in N900U at Ohio University in September, 1975. I think that the 150 has to be the easiest plane to land. At the end of my primary training I could grease the plane on, the only sound being the sound of the wheels starting to roll.
    The University always kept their N numbers when aircraft were upgraded so 900U is no longer the same plane. I contacted the University flight department the other day to find out if they knew the whereabouts of my solo plane. I found out that the plane had changed hands a couple of times since, but it’s now back under OU ownership as N330U and being used by the OU flight team for collegiate meets.

  • Very interesting reading. I have spent many hours in the 150. I bought a 1957 Cessna 172 before I ever took a ride in an airplane. Soloed in 3hrs. My Cessna was tied down at the old Colton, Ca. Airport which was right next to a lot of Sandhills. I never hand any problems with tie downs because Colton didn’t have any hangers.

  • Great article Dave!!! You should be writing for one of the aviation publications!

    I love that “little” airplane. The “F-150” is fun to fly, forgiving and at the same time, makes you work for a decent landing, especially in windy conditions. I was fortunate enough to fly them back in the ‘70s when general aviation manufacturers were cranking out the airframes. The FBO I worked at part time as well as flying their aircraft would get one or two new 150s every year. Our “old” one was 4 years since delivered new and looked down upon; as in “is that the only one available?”.

    My first “mishap” was in one when an American Express charge card sign mounted on a pole came out and grabbed me when I was trying to park during my first stop during a solo cross country. The last section of the wingtip paid the price and was awarded to me with great fanfare back at home drome after being swapped out. Thereafter my name was changed to “Crash”; fine with me as long as my friends at school and my mom didn’t know.

    I also was fortunate to be able to go to Wichita and pick up a new one for my FBO. It was a wonderful experience for an 18 year old, but the airplane seemed to be going too fast during the landing phase. I finally noticed on my last leg that one of the new changes was the airspeed indicator. Instead of showing mph with knots in a little window by the needle, it was reversed. Oh well.

    It’s a great airplane and maybe only exceeded in bang for the buck by a J-3 ( I like to have sweaty palms for landings).

  • Years ago, sitting in an air force mess, I saw a friend try to (jokingly) impress a woman by saying “yeah, that guy over there flies a C-130, but I fly a C 150!”.

  • After a 30 year stint overseas and no flying at all, I got back to Los Angeles and found a Cessna 150/150 just in time for my 65th birthday. Its been a great airplane, in spite of many defects, all of which eventually got fixed at just survivable costs. The 150 spent the 1st 2 years in a hanger, but now she sits on a tie-down where she belongs. The tie-down hurts the paint and adds corrosion, but somehow it feels right. A 150/150 has operating costs closer to a 172 than a 150, but the performance makes up for everything. Thank you for the article; I’ll never call her a “little 150” again.

  • Many years ago, around mid 60s or so, I instructed at an airport that used J-3s as primary first solo than transitioned to CE-150s or Colts for x-country. Between these two airplanes I think we produced a better all around pilot that could handle most normal x wind conditions as well as cross country pilotage situations. J-3s did not have radios or any nav. gear only a wet compass. Colts and CE-150 did have radio. It was fun flying back than, not as much “off limits air space” as we have now.
    RLC

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