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Your First Airplane

Aerial photography of Rod Machado flying his 1972 Cessna 150 from Chino Airport to Catalina Island.

Chino Airport (CNO)
Chino, CA USA

Cessna 150

Reliable, cheap fun

For basic fun and easy flying, it’s hard to beat the Cessna 150. Well-suited for training, light travel, and those quick local hops, the little 150 is a good all-around entry airplane.

Cessna built more than 22,000 150s, according to the valuation service Vref. More than 10,500 remain on the FAA registry, meaning there are plenty available for a reasonable price. Vref says 150s retail anywhere between $13,400 and $25,400. The 150 is generally cheaper than the newer 152. Both fly pretty much the same, although the 152 gets you 10 more horsepower and a higher engine overhaul interval.

The best part about the 150 is the way it flies. Unlike its bigger cousin the 172, the 150 is nimble, responsive, and slightly more challenging. If the 172 is your basic family sedan, the 150 is the zippy compact car you had as a kid. It’s not fast, it certainly isn’t flashy, but it’s a more connected experience.

With no gotcha handling characterizes; an engine and airframe any mechanic can work on, with abundant parts support; and a fuel burn of around five gallons per hour, the 150 might be the perfect starter airplane.

1969 Cessna 150

Retail value: $16,700

Powerplant:  Continental O-200-A, 100 horsepower
Length: 23.75 feet
Height: 8 feet
Wingspan; 32.7 feet
Empty weight: 1,038 pounds
Useful load: 562 pounds
Max takeoff weight: 1,600 pounds
Fuel capacity: 26 gal (22.5 gal usable), 156 lb (135 lb usable)

Cruise speed: 117 mph
Fuel burn: 5.5 gallons at max cruise speed at altitude

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.

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