Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rediscovering an old friend

Cramped. Slow. Lethargic. Those are all things you're likely to hear when you ask people their opinions about the lowly Cessna 150. My memories from completing my flight training in the 150 weren't completely fond, either. Particularly so is the memory of my private pilot checkride: a Cessna 150 on an August day with a 300 pound Designated Pilot Examiner is just not a fun place to be. I learned that day that fat sweats. Trust me. I digress...

However, I've had an opportunity to rediscover the 150 as a training ariplane recently. My new flight school acquired N22959, a low time (really---less than 2,000 hours. "Low time" for a 150 usually means somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 hours.) 1968 150. She's pretty outside and inside, well-rigged, and as it turns out, is an excellent teacher.

The vast majority of my teaching to this point has been in 172's. Skyhawks are nice, docile airplanes, but compared to 150's, their stalls are non-existent, they land themselves, and are overly forgiving of sloppy rudder work. It has been entertaining to watch my 172 graduates strap into the 150 and find to their surprise that some airplanes DO require coordination in a stall and some airplanes MUST be flared in order to land properly. Maybe all those dutch rolls their evil instructor makes them do actually serve a purpose :).

This little bird has a way of putting a magnifying glass on those stick and rudder skills that I love to teach in a manner second only to what the Cub could do. (Unfortunately, I can't just teach 'em all in taildraggers).

Maybe I'm just infatuated with it due to the pure bliss of flying something different and the crush will fade, but for now I really love teaching in this airplane. Probably more than in the 172. And that's saying something for a tall-ish dude who weighs 230 pounds. In a way, I kind of feel like I've "arrived" as an instructor since I'm doing some teaching in the favored trainer of the generation previous to mine. I usually identify with old stuff and old people better anyway.

Give the Cessna 150 a little love. There's a reason it has been regarded as a great teacher all these years, and in this era of flashy light sports and girly-birds like the Diamond DA-20, it's still worthy of your consideration as a training platform. And, they're cheap to acquire and cheap to rent.

If you're a Skyhawk baby like so many of my students are, go get checked out in one. Your stick and rudder skills will thank you.

Post Script: I once saw a cowbird chasing a Diamond DA-20, yelling, "Mama! Mama!"

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