Cessna 150 on the ramp

One of the mainstays of the training fleet. The Cessna 150.

   Why fly a Cessna 150 when you have a 172, Arrow or Warrior available? Surely they are faster, better, roomier etc? It may be true that the C150 isn't very fast or big, but it's not expensive to fly, and it's fun. And when you have one available in your club that looks like it just rolled out of the factory, why not? Trundling around the countryside at 90 mias at 1,000 feet is refreshing when everyone else just wants to bomb around at warp speed. Much of flying is about fun, and (aside from aerobatics) the C150 is about the most fun for the buck out on the ramp for most of us! Cessna also made Aerobat versions of the C150, in which I did my spin training.

   Most of us make contact with these aircraft in training... then get checked out in something fast and sexy  like the Arrow and never look back. And of course magazines never review C150's in their used airplane section. They probably don't think it's much of a reader draw to have "Airplane Report: C150" on the front cover.

-- Go Flying --

   I'll take you on a nice VFR trip in this beatiful airplane just to convince you that you should revisit this machine at an FBO near you.

   First, the preflight. There are no surprises, and it's pretty much the normal Cessna fixed gear preflight, in fact it's really no different from preflighting a Cessna 172 - the checklist is practically the same. One thing you notice with this airplane is that it has almost no dihedral to the wings - less than with the 172, and significantly less than any low-wing. Once we're done, it's time to drag her out of the hangar. This is a vastly easier task than pulling the Arrow out - the 150 is very light! (However, I still managed to get the mains stuck between the hangar door tracks and the tarmac outside the hangar, and that was quite embarrassing because I couldn't move the plane either forwards or back, and had to call the fuel guy to help me get it out of the hangar! However, when you pull the towbar correctly it only requires one hand).

   Then you get in.

The panel. There's not a lot of systems to preflight here.
   OK, so it is small inside. On the other side, there's not a lot to preflight and you can get going right away more or less. The nice thing about the 100-hp carburated engine is that it's very easy to start. A complete contrast to the fuel-injected engines in which the start procedure requires a bit more practise (otherwise they don't start, especially when hot!)

   When it's time to take off, the aircraft gets light on the wheels very quickly after power is applied. It doesn't really take much runway, especially if you're solo. Climb isn't fast, but I'm not really trying to get very high. You just need to take it easy as you gradually ascend, and keep the airspeed accurately at Vy. Levelling off at 1,000 ft. is a new experience when you've spent a little time blasting around in something faster. You can see stuff happening on the ground. All of a sudden you discover that turns around a point were useful. Interesting things down there which look different from 1,000 agl can be gently circled around. Turns around a police car are something novel too... it's great, they can't give you a ticket for speeding now! Racing the traffic on the freeway 1,200 feet below becomes a neck and neck race with the guy with the Camaro (except you won't get stopped for speeding, because you're hardly likely to break the 250-knot limit!)

   Then off to the practise area. The C150 has nice, light controls inviting a new enthusiasm to proficiency manoevers. Steep turns can be made without heaving at the controls. You can go right up to 60 degrees and hold altitude and bank angle perfectly with mere flexing of the wrist. Practising stalls keep you on your toes. None of the docile mushing exhibited by the Pipers - you actually have to use the rudder pedals to keep the wings level, and the nose drops down in quite an exciting fashion! Zoom climbs and gentle pushovers have you soaring like an eagle by just subtle wrist flexes with your left hand and a gentle push of the throttle. A favorite manoever of mine is to get a bit of airspeed (no more than Va), pull up and add power as if to do a departure stall and pull into a relatively spirited "zoom climb". Just as the plane is ready to stall, a gentle push on the yoke prevents the stall from happening and all of a sudden, you spend a second or three almost floating out of your seat as you push the nose over. You can have fun like this in the 150... and what's more it keeps your proficiency up if you aim to do all the manoevers to a preset standard. The benefit of all this fun? When you go to a different FBO, checking out will be easy. All the 60 degree banked turns that have been practised make demonstrating the 45 degree ones most instructors ask for trivial. The stalls make you razor sharp on stall recognition and recovery, especially on aircraft with a bigger aerodynamic warning of the stall. The 150 really rewards you if you use nice, gentle and smooth control movements.

   You can just take the beauty of it in too on an evening flight without worrying (quite as much) about how much this is draining your wallet.

   With the 150, I'm seldom trying to get somewhere in a hurry. I can just look at things from a new perspective. Gently S-turning through the air, views that are altogether not as eyecatching from the ground swing into view. The sun glinting off the remains of the day's rainshower clouds spills over the landscape as the aircraft swings smoothly around. You can now take your time and just watch the world outside (which of course is what you should be doing VFR!) Soaring
Soaring through the calm dusk air, the Glareshield camera captures the collapsing remnants of the day's convective activity.


   As the turn is completed, the clouds show a new and different view, and as darkness starts to fall I head back to the airport to land. Landing the little 150 is also fun and it needs smoothness and precision to be most satisfying. Flying back towards the airport doesn't require much planning - you don't need to lose much speed.

Heading over Galveston

Heading for home with the last of the sun's rays reflecting off the water and the clouds, I have time to reflect on the joy of flight. Once on final, the aircraft glides in at 65 mph indicated so I have plenty of time to ensure my landing spot is where I want it. Flaring is done by gentle back pressure and there are no surprises. The main wheels gently touch down, but even though we are down... the control surfaces remain effective. The nosewheel can be held off even with a fairly forward CofG until the airplane is practically stopped on the runway. This should be good for landing on runways that are less than even.

   All in all, I find the little 150 very satisfying to fly. It ensures I don't get ham-fisted since it rewards smooth control pressures. In fact, it almost feels as though you become part of it - merely thinking about doing something seems to make it happen. So even if you've done your PPL and have your certificate, or are now have your ATP and are flying jets around the country, take some time out to lazily drift around in a C150... just for the fun of it! And of course, if you're a student, you're probably flying one already!

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