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T-51 (Cessna 150)

The 150-horsepower Cessna 150 T-51A is flown by the Academy flying team to compete in regional and national college competitions. The USAF procured six models 150L for Sri Lanka with serials 72-1464/1469. A civilian Cessna 150 was confiscated with serial 84-483 and used at the Air Force Academy. Another two aircraft carried serials 89-465/466. The US Army operated one aircraft with civilian registration N10846 whereas the USAF had one with civilian registration N5452. The United States Air Force Academy Flying Team flew three aircraft with registrations N557AW, N557SH and N557TH. The designation T-51A was eventually assigned to N557AW, N557SH and N557TH. Some references have suggested that their serials were 71-72617, 71-77067, 71-77111, based on their construction number, but this cannot be substantiated.

The 150 is an all-metal, tricycle-gear airplane introduced by Cessna Aircraft Company in 1959. The airplane was available in four different versions: Standard, Trainer, Commuter, and Patroller. Cockpit appointments were the major difference between the Standard and the Trainer. The Commuter was even nicer and came standard with wheel fairings. The patroller was for utility work, like pipeline inspections.

Cessna promoted the 150 as the "worlds premier trainer" and borrowed many of the design characteristics from tailwheel Cessna models 120 and 140. Some of the 150's design improvements included side-by-side seating to facilitate instruction and tricycle landing gear for easier ground handling and landings. By the time the Cessna 152 replaced the 150 in 1978, more than 22,000 Model 150 airplanes had been manufactured. After the Cessna 172, the C-150/152 series was the second-best-selling Cessna aircraft.

Overall handling qualities of the Cessna 150 are described as "superb." The large number of civilian pilots introduced to flight in the Cessna 150/152 series is proof that Cessna was successful in designing a docile primary trainer. The first 150s produced cruised at 121 mph at 75% power, while the last 152 models cruised at 123 with the same power setting. When comparing the Piper Tomahawk, Beech Skipper, and Cessna 150, top speeds and useful load are very nearly the same in all three, but the Cessna tends to get off quicker and lands shorter. The 150's finest qualities are apparent during flight training procedures. It stalls well with a generous amount of warning and has "outstanding" stability on all axes. On the other hand, in anything other than light turbulence, the light wing loading can result in an uncomfortable ride.

If success can be measured by the number of pilots trained, the 150/152 is successful to the tune of 250,000. That's how many pilots have learned to fly in this airplane, and many more will.

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Page last modified: 01-07-2021 17:55:30 ZULU