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The Cessna 150 / 170

According to a recent article in Flying magazine, The Cessna 150 series of Aircraft is the second most popular aircraft model ever made. (First place goes to the four seat Cessna 172).

The Cessna Aircraft company has a long and rich history. Founder Clyde Cessna built his first airplane in 1911, and taught himself to fly it! He went on to build a number of innovative airplanes, including several race and award winning designs. In 1934, Clyde's nephew, Dwane Wallace, fresh out of college, took over as head of the company. During the depression years Dwane acted as everything from floor sweeper to CEO, even personally flying company planes in air races (several of which he won!) Under Wallace's leadership, the Cessna Aircraft Company eventually became the most successful general aviation company of all time.

Cessna first began production of two seat light planes in 1946 with the model 120 which had an all aluminum fuselage and fabric covered wings. This was followed by a nearly identical model the 140, with aluminum clad wings. More than 7,000 model 120-140's were sold over four years when Cessna stopped production in order to focus on four seat aircraft.

In 1957 the company decided there was a market for a two place trainer and designed a tri geared version of the Model 140. Following their standard tailwheel/tricycle model scheme, Cessna named the new airplane the 142, but for reasons now unknown changed their minds six days later and renamed it the 150. Only 683 of the first model were built between 1957 and 1959, all were sold as 1959 models. By 1966 the plane became enormously popular, by the end of production in 1985, 31,533 Cessna 150/152's had been manufactured worldwide. More pilots have flown Cessna 150/152's than any other single model of airplane.

The 150 standard engine is a four cylinder 100 horsepower Continental 0-200. During it's 18 year production history there were many changes to the 150 airframe and configuration. In 1966 Cessna began assembly of US airframes at Reims Aviation in France. A total of 2,452 planes were built by Reims, including 47 assembled in Argentina.

In 1970 Cessna introduced the model 150 "Aerobat" which became very popular in the Aerobatic training market.

In 1978 Cessna introduced a revised model, the 152, with a 110 horsepower Lycoming 0-235 engine. The Lycoming was chosen to make the 152 more tolerant of the newer High Lead 100LL octane fuel, as well as provide a long overdue increase in horsepower. The cabin was also widened slightly to make room for the increased girth of late 20th century pilots. Unlike the Model 150, there were few changes in 152's from one year to the next.

Because of product liability exposure, like most other light plane companies in the US, Cessna stopped building light aircraft all together in the mid 1980's. The last Model 152 rolled off the production line in 1985. Total production of 152's from 1978-1985 was 7,584 worldwide.

Today Cessna is once again in the light aircraft business, building 172's, 182's and 206's. Unfortunately, the high cost of production and insurance premiums make it unlikely that Cessna will reintroduce an affordable two seat aircraft. In the meantime, used 150/152's are selling for three to five times their original price. Still, by comparison, the low quantities and astronomical prices of most other airplanes make the Cessna 150/152 one of the few genuine bargains in private aviation. It is most remarkable that 41 years after production began and 17 years since it ended, more than 75% of all Cessna 150/152's built are still flying.

Parker Information Resources
Houston, Texas
E-mail: bparker@parkerinfo.com

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