The Cessna 150

Cessna 150

I suspect most pilots, for sentimental reasons, have an affection for the airplane they soloed in. For that reason I hold the Cessna 150C, (not unlike the one pictured above), in highest regard. The year I soloed was 1963, I soloed on my birthday in November from a grass strip in a western North Carolina Mountain town, it was a day I will never, ever forget… 

The Cessna 150 was (or is) a two-seat tricycle gear general aviation high wing airplane, that was designed for flight training and personal use.

Development of the Model 150 began in the mid 1950s with the decision by Cessna Aircraft to produce a successor to the popular Cessna 140 which finished production in 1951. The main change in the 150 design was the use of tricycle landing gear, which is easier to learn to use than the tailwheel landing gear of the Cessna 140.

The general characteristics of the Cessna 150 simply had one crew member with 1 passenger capacity. The aircraft had an overall the of length of 24ft 9in, wingspan: 33 ft 4 in, height: 8 ft 6 in, empty weight: 1,111 lb, useful load: 490 lb, takeoff wt. 1,600 lb, engine: Continental O-200-A flat-4, 100 hp at 2,750 rpm. This made the C-150 a forgiving aircraft and easy to fly, also the perfect training airplane for the novice.  

The Cessna 150 is the fourth most produced civilian plane ever, with 23,839 aircraft produced. The Cessna 150 was offered for sale in the 150 basic model Commuter, Commuter II, Patroller and the aerobatic Aerobat models.

The Cessna 150 prototype first flew on September 12, 1957, with production commencing in September 1958 at Cessna’s Wichita, Kansas plant. 216 aircraft were also produced by Reims Aviation under license in France. These French manufactured 150s were designated Reims F-150, the “F” indicating they were built in France.

American-made 150s were produced with the Continental O-200-A 100 hp engine, but the Reims-built aircraft are powered by a Rolls Royce O-240-A piston engine of 130 hp. All Cessna 150s have very effective flaps that extend 40 degrees.

The best-performing airplanes in the 150 and 152 fleet are the 1962 Cessna 150B and the 1963 Cessna 150C. Thanks to their light 1,500 lb gross weight and more aerodynamic rear fuselage, they climb the fastest, have the highest ceilings, and require the shortest runways. They have a 109-knot cruise speed, faster than any other model year of either the 150 or 152.

All models from 1966 onwards have larger doors and increased baggage space. With the 1967 Model 150G the doors were bowed outward 1.5 inches on each side to provide more cabin elbow room. 

Of all the Cessna 150-152 models, the 1966 model year is the most plentiful with 3,067 1966 Cessna 150s produced. This was the first year the aircraft featured a swept tail fin, increased baggage area and electrically operated flaps. 

The 150 was succeeded in the summer of 1977 by the closely related Cessna 152. The 152 is more economical to operate due to the increased TBO (time between overhaul) of the Lycoming O-235 engine. The 152 had its flap travel limited to 30 degrees from the 150’s 40 degree deflection for better climb with full flaps and the maximum certified gross weight was increased from 1,600 lb on the 150 to 1670 lb on the 152. Production of the 152 ended in 1985 when manufacturing of all Cessna piston singles was suspended. 

In 2007 Cessna announced the two seat successor to the Model 150 and 152, the Model 162 Skycatcher. 

The first model year of the Cessna 150 carried no suffix letter. It was available as the “150” or the upgraded “Commuter”. The engine was a 100 horsepower Continental O-200, the gross weight was 1,500 lb and flaps were actuated manually with a lever between the seats. Production commenced late in 1958 as the 1959 model year. 

The cost was USD $6,995 for the Standard Model 150, $7940 for the Trainer and $8,545 for the Commuter. 

The 1960 model introduced a 35-amp generator on the Commuter. The “patroller” was also introduced in 1960. This was a standard 150 with acrylic glass windows on the lower doors, 35 US gallon long range fuel tanks and a message chute for dropping packages to the ground. 

Production was 122 in 1958, 648 in 1959 and 354 in 1960.

 The 1961 model incorporated enough changes to justify a suffix letter and thus was designated the “150A”. The “A” had its main landing gear moved aft by two inches to eliminate the problem of the aircraft ending up on its tail while loading people and baggage and also to improve nose wheel steering authority. 

The “A” also had 15% larger rear side windows and new adjustable seats. 344 were constructed.

The 150B was the 1962 model. It had a new propeller that increased cruise speed by 2 knots and the option of a two-passenger child seat for the baggage compartment. 331 “B” models were built. The Commuter version cost USD $8,995. The 1963 model was the “C”, which introduced the option of larger 6.00X6 inch tires to replace the standard 5.00X5 tires and fuel quick drains. 472 were completed. The 1964 “D” model brought the first dramatic change to the 150 – the introduction of a rear window under the marketing name Omni-Vision. The rear window changed the look of the 150 and cost 3 mph in cruise speed. It also resulted in a larger baggage compartment and a greater structural weight allowance for baggage from 80 to 120 lb. The square tail fin from previous years was retained for another two years. Elevator and rudder mass balances were increased to reduce flutter potential caused by the less aerodynamic rear fuselage. The gross weight of the aircraft was also increased in 1964 to 1,600 lb, where it would stay until the advent of the Cessna 152. 804 150Ds were built. Many people find the new cabin more “airy” and pleasant, due to the increased light. The 1965 Cessna 150E saw only the addition of new seats, although the standard empty weight went up 40 lb (18 kg) that year to 1,010 lb. The “E” model saw production increase to 1637 aircraft. The 1966 model saw great changes to the 150 design. The fin was swept back 35 degrees to match the styling of the Cessna 172 and other models. The cabin doors were made 23% wider, new brakes were brought in and the 6.00X6 tires were made standard. The previously manual flaps were now electrically actuated through a panel-mounted flap switch. The old electric stall warning system was replaced with a pneumatic-type. The baggage compartment was enlarged by 50%. A total of 3087 of the newly styled “F” models were produced. 

1966 was also the first production of French Reims-built F-150s, with 67 built as the F150F. In the 1967 model, the instrument panel was redesigned. The doors were “bowed” out to give three more inches of shoulder and hip room which was needed in the small cabin. The “G” model also saw a new short-stroke nose oleo introduced to reduce the drag created by the nose wheel assembly. The previously fitted generator was replaced by a 60 amp alternator, reflecting the increasing avionics that the planes were being fitted. 

The “G” model was also the first Cessna 150 variant certified for floats. A total of 2114 “G” models were built, plus 152 built by Reims as F150G. The 1968 model 150 was designated the “H”. It introduced a new-style center console, designed to improve legroom. A new electric flap switch was also fitted that allowed “hands-off” retraction of the flaps, but not extension. 2007 150Hs were built in Wichita, with 170 built by Reims as the F150H. There was no 150 “India” model as Cessna didn’t want it to look like a Cessna 1,501. This didn’t stop Cessna from designating an “India” model Cessna 172 however. The 150J brought a new key-operated starter that replaced the old “pull-style” starter. The new starter was more “car-like” but not as reliable as the old one and more expensive to repair, too. 

An auxiliary power plug was made available as an option in 1969, too, along with “rocker” style electrical switches. 1714 “J” models were built, plus 140 built by Reims as the F150J. 

1970 was the year that Cessna introduced the A150K Aerobat, a Cessna 150 with limited aerobatic capabilities. It retained the 100 horsepower Continental O-200 all 150s used, but the Aerobat had more structural strength. It was rated for +6/-3 “g” and sported four-point harnesses, skylights, and jetisonable doors, along with checkerboard paint schemes and removable seat cushions so parachutes could be worn. In 1970, an Aerobat cost $12,000 as opposed to the $11,450 for a standard 150. 

Both the new Aerobat and the non-aerobatic 150K also sported new conical cambered wingtips in 1970. A total of 832 “K” models were built, including A150Ks. Reims built 129 as the F150K and 81 as the FA150K. The 150L had the longest production run of any 150 sub-model, being produced 1971-74. 

New in 1971 was tubular landing gear legs with a 16% greater width (6 feet 6 inches to 7 feet 7 inches for better ground handling. These replaced the previous flat steel leaf spring gear. Also in 1971, the landing and taxi lights were moved from the wing leading edge to the nose bowl to better illuminate the ground. They were an improvement, but bulb life was reduced due to the heat and vibration of that location. They moved back to the wing on the 1984 model Cessna 152.

The “L” also introduced a longer dorsal strake that reached to the rear window. This was done more for styling than for aerodynamics and the empty weight accordingly went up 10 lb over the “K”. 879 were built in 1971. 

In 1972 the “L” received new fuel filler caps to reduce moisture seepage, and better seats and seat tracks. 1100 were built in 1972. 

The 1973 “L” model brought in lower seats to provide more headroom for taller pilots. 1460 of the 1973 models were built. 

The final “L” model was produced in 1974. The only changes this model year were the propeller on the A150L Aerobat, to a new Clark Y airfoil that increased cruise by 4 mph. 1080 150s were produced in 1974. Total “L” production was 4519, plus the 485 built by Reims as the F150La and 39 FA150L Aerobats. 

The final Cessna 150 model was the 150M. It introduced the “Commuter II” upgrade package that included many optional avionics and trim items as standard. The “M” also brought an increased fin height, by 6 inches. This increased the rudder and fin area by 15% to improve crosswind handling. The “M” was produced for three years: 1975-77. 

Inertia reel restraints became available as an option with the 1975 model year. 1269 1975 model.

In 1976 the “M” gained a suite of electrical circuit breakers to replace the previous fuses used. It also was fitted with a fully articulated pilot seat as standard equipment. 1399 were constructed. 

The 1977 model year was the last for the Cessna 150. It added only “pre-select” flaps, allowing the pilot to set the flaps to any setting and then leave the aircraft to move the flaps to that position, without the pilot holding the switch. Only 427 1977 model 150Ms were built as production shifted to the improved Cessna 152 in the early part of 1977. 

The many refinements were incorporated into the 150 over the years had cost the aircraft a lot of useful load. The very first 150 weighed 962 lb empty, whereas the last “M Commuter II” had an empty weight of 1,129 lb. This increase in empty weight of 167 lb was offset only by a gross weight increase of 100 lb in 1964. The 152 would bring a much-needed 70 lb increase in gross weight to 1,670 lb. 

A total of 3097 “M” models built during the three years. An additional 285 built by Reims as the F150M and 141 FA150M Aerobat with the Rolls Royce Continental 0-240-A engine. Reims also built 75 A150Ls with F150M modifications. 

The Cessna 150 is simple, robust, and easy to fly. For these reasons it has become one of the world’s most popular basic trainers. Cockpit visibility is generally good other than directly above the aircraft, where the view is blocked by the wing. This obstruction is of particular concern when, as is the case with most high-wing aircraft, the inside-turn wing blocks vision in the direction of a turn. As a partial remedy to this some 150s, including all Aerobats, feature a pair of overhead skylights. Due to its light weight and light wing loading (10 lb/sq ft), the aircraft is sensitive to turbulence. Power-on and power-off stalls are easily controlled. Normal spin recovery techniques are highly effective.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 1 passenger (plus two children, limited to 60kgs with optional rear child seat)
  • Length: 24 ft 9 in (7.3 m)
  • Wingspan: 33 ft 4 in (10.2 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 6 in (2.6 m)
  • Wing area: 160 ft² (15 m²)
  • Empty weight: 1,111 lb      (504 kg)
  • Useful load: 490 lb (220 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 1,600 lb      (730 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental O-200-A flat-4 engine,      100 hp (75 kW) at 2,750 rpm
  • Propeller diameter: 5 ft 9 in (1.8 m)


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