Cessna 140 Guide and Specs : Is This Lightweight Aircraft Worth It?


Cessna 140 is a two-seat tailwheel aircraft manufactured by Cessna following WWII. It used the same fuselage as the 120, which is a less expensive form of the 140 that lacks an electrical system, flaps, and extra side windows. When I examined the IAI (Aerospace Industries Association) Aircraft and Aerospace Yearbooks, it was no surprise that I located the Cessna 140 right away. Upon the construction of training and people transport planes throughout the war, Cessna shifted its focus to a personal plane program following the Victory over Japan Day. Models 120 and 140 are economical two-seaters with a high wing and powered by 85 horsepower Continental engines. (Aerospace Industries Associaiton , 1946)

Many people believed that returning to the commercial sector would be difficult since the market was already saturated with excess planes from the war. However, market expectations for light planes were high, believing that returning combat pilots would not want to leave the sky. Cessna’s initial postwar planes were the 120 and 140 models. Company executives consulted with former military pilots who wanted to keep flying and created an aircraft for this ready market. Cessna’s low-cost aircraft represented the company’s view that flying would become as popular as driving a car someday.

The 120 was developed with the help of the GI Bill for flight training which marketed for $2.695. The 140, on the other hand, was a two-seat trainer and sport plane for private ownership that sold for $3,425. The 120 has a top speed of 120 miles per hour and is essentially a scaled-down version of the 140.

Except for their fabric-covered wings, both aircraft were made of metal. As a result, they were simple to construct for Cessna. (Rodengen, 1998)

Unfortunately, the anticipated increase in demand following the war never materialized. The 140 was a luxury airplane in its class. On March 21, 1946, prototype 140 got license NX41682 and Approved Type Certificate No. 768. There were 7,045 model 120 and 140 airplanes constructed until 1950 when the last model 140 was delivered.

Cessna 140 Specifications

The Cessna 140, with a top speed of 120 mph and a service ceiling of 15,500 feet, was brought to the market. Both types were made of metal, and the wings were covered in fabric. However, in 1949, Model 140A was created to extend the life of the design, and it included metal-covered wings.

Both models had two seats, a length of 21 feet 6 inches (6.55 meters), a width of 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 meters), and a wingspan of 33 feet 4 inches (10.16 m). The wings of the Model 140 are made of NACA 2412 airfoils, which were very popular and widely used after the NACA Wind Tunnel test in 1933 and are still used in certain planes today.

The empty weight of the aircraft is 890 lb. (404 kg) and the gross weight is 1,1450 lb. (658 kg). The aircraft has a spring-steel landing gear within the tailwheel-type configuration.

The Model 140 was powered by 85 horsepower Continental C-85-12 engines. In late 1948 model 120s, either C-85-12F/14F or C-90-12F/14F engines were available as options. The C-90 engine, on the other side, was standard on the metal wing 140A. (Alan Abel, 2001) Today, the Cessna 120/140 can be found with a variety of engine types. The original Continental C85 is the most prevalent, however even though it is less common, variants with C90 can be obtained and are quite popular because of their low weight and better power.

Table 1 Cessna 140 Specifications: (Cessna Aircraft Company) (Cox, 2021)

Powerplant Continental C-85 or 90 Seats 2
Propeller Sensenich 74FK-49 Cabin Width 40 inches
Length 21 ft Empty Weight 890 lbs.
Hight 6 ft 3 inch Max Gross Weight 1450 lbs.
Wingspan 33 ft Useful Load 560 lbs.
Wing Area 159 sq ft Fuel Capacity 25 gal – 150 lbs.
Wing Loading 8.7 lb./sq ft Oil Capacity 5 qt
Power Loading 17 lb./hp Baggage Capacity 80 lb.

Cessna 140 Performance and Handling

The Cessna 140 is a light aircraft that is easy to operate, although it is vulnerable to winds due to its weight. According to the majority of owners, it is not a highly maneuverable aircraft. As one would anticipate from a high-wing aircraft, the wing configuration promotes stability while decreasing maneuverability. Yet it can be said even you need to give too much input sometimes these aircraft are much safer for training and newcomers.

The 140’s climb performance is poor, especially in hot weather and with two passengers on board. According to the manufacturer, with the flaps up and the throttle fully open, you may have climb rates around 500 feet per minute. The aircraft will have a maximum range of 521 miles at 2200 rpm while consuming 4.2 gallons per hour, implying a 5-hour endurance; however, if we are realistic, the maximum range will be about 420-450 miles (360-390 nm) with 3.5 – 4 hours of endurance. (Cessna Aircraft Company)

According to the manufacturer, the stall speed of the Model 140 is around 40 knots, which implies you can make approaches at 48-50 knots. While the maximum certified speed is 115 mph (100 knots), you can cruise at 100 mph (90 knots).

Table 2:Rate of Climb (With Gross Weight of 1450 lbs. and Sensenich 74FK-49 Propeller) (Cessna Aircraft Company):

Altitude (ft.) Sea Level 5000 feet 10000 feet
Best Climb Speed (T.I.A.S.) 81 75 69
Rate of Climb (ft./min) 640 450 260

The Cessna 140 may not be a long-range cross-country aircraft. Or the manufacturer’s service ceiling of 15,500 feet may never be reached. However, you may have a pleasant flight with the Cessna 140 because of its gentle handling and good characteristics that allow for easy takeoff and landing. The Cessna 140’s overall handling is quite forgiving, with very few poor habits in the air. Its wings provide it with nice stability. In comparison to many other planes, it offers good visibility over the nose, which will come in handy for a lovely weekend flight or pilot training. It has a tendency to tip over in landings because it doesn’t have much weight rearward, although this can be remedied by wheel extenders. (Cox, 2021) (Cessna 120-140 Associaton) This lovely aircraft requires a tailwheel endorsement, but you can get it in a few hours of flying instruction and start enjoying your time onboard right away.

Cessna 140 Modifications and Upgrades

Almost all Model 120s are now upgraded with the inclusion of an electrical system, and many have back windows as well. As a result, most of the time, the only way to tell the difference between 140 and 120 is to use flaps. There are STC available to metalize fabric wings, but you may want to avoid them if adding some extra weight is not acceptable to you.

There are several engine upgrade possibilities for the Cessna 140. Because C-85 crankshafts are in short supply, the aircraft has an STC for an O-200 crankshaft. The O-200 conversion adds 100 horsepower to a Model 140, which is a significant increase. (Twombly, 2011) If you wish to completely upgrade the engine, a Lycoming O-235 with over 108 horsepower is available.

Aside from this, the majority of models include new seats, cabin air vents, and improved landing gear. A current Garmin SL40 comm radio, PS Engineering intercom, and Narco AT 150 transponders are also available. (Skumatz, 2016) If you wish to improve your braking skills, you can choose the Goodyear STC.

Cessna 140 Prices

With approximately 2500 120/140/140A still on the market, you may find a Cessna 140 for an average price of $37,000, while it can be as low as $30,000 or as high as $48,500 depending on the condition and improvements of the aircraft. A Model 120, on the other hand, costs between $20,000 and $30,000.

This aircraft’s price is unbeatable for people looking for weekend flights. It offers low pricing and a low operating cost. You can have a gorgeous 1940s tailwheel airplane with all of its histories in your hangar for a low-cost experience.

Cessna 140 Maintenance Schedule

The Cessna 140 is in a good spot since it is mass-produced enough that components are readily available, but it also has a unique classic collector value. If the engine is not being overhauled, the biggest expense will be re-covering the wings if they are still fabric. Depending on the fabric and the conditions in which the aircraft is stored, the regeneration interval will range from 7 to 20 years. If you don’t want to deal with the cost of fabric and don’t mind the extra weight, you can go for metal wings, which require less care.

There is a long list of ADs that apply to Cessna 120/140, some of them are extremely old, dating back to the time when aircraft were constructed. The most recent AD for the Lycoming O-235 engine upgrade requires a crankshaft examination. (Cessna 120-140 Associaton)

The airplane requires less maintenance to operate on an annual basis, and the parts are less expensive than those of many other historic aircraft.

Cessna 140 Model Common Problems

Because of the rigorous field operations, lower doorposts on 120/140 aircraft might sustain serious structural damage near the strut attach point. Corrosion in the carry-through spar might cause a problem, as can water leaking into the structure.

Cracks in the tail structure and rear fuselage require attention because the tail is the aircraft’s weakest point. Cessna 120/140 also has issues with landing-gear boxes; the box can be damaged from hard landings; however, it can be easily inspected.

Broken tail springs are another prevalent issue. A damaged spring will result in full loss of control on landing and could cause significant damage to the airplane, particularly the elevators. (Cessna 120-140 Associaton)

Cessna 140 Where to Find Replacement Parts

Because these are vintage aircraft that have been out of service for many years, owners can find many of the spare parts in spare part shops or on the internet. Many aircraft parts manufacturers having FAA-PMA certification are available to owners (Parts Manufacturer Approval). These firms manufacture spare components for vintage aircraft such as the Cessna 140.

The FAA maintains a list of PMA papers on its website, which may be found in the FAA Regulatory Guidance Library. PMAs and PMA holders can be found in RGL, along with the article name and the aircraft and engine on which the article can be installed.

Cessna 140 Insurance Options

Cessna 140 insurance is divided into two categories. The first is Liability Coverage, which is standard on every aircraft. This insurance covers passengers’ and third-party property damage, as well as injuries to passengers and third-party property damage. The second option is hull coverage, which covers aircraft damage.

Cessna 140 aviation liability insurance covers harm caused by the aircraft outside the aircraft, notably property damage and physical injury, as well as money for legal defense if the aircraft owner is sued. Aircraft liability insurance for Cessna 140 aircraft is normally offered at $1,000,000 per occurrence (per incident) and includes coverage for passengers, however the amount is limited to $100,000 per passenger, which is included within the total liability of $1,000,000.

Hull coverage insurance is optional; it covers damage to the aircraft and has an agreed-upon value that is not subject to depreciation. The insurance company pays based on the sum agreed upon when the insurance is purchased, based on the worth of the aircraft.

A liability policy for a less experienced pilot will cost between $350 and $500, while a hull policy for $25,000 will cost between $1,500 and $1,900 per year.(BWI FLY, 2020)

Cessna 140 Resale Value

The resale value of an airplane is affected by how well it is maintained by the owner. Its airframe hours and age, engine hours, the equipment fitted, whether or not the owner follows Ads, and whether or not the aircraft was damaged. All of these things are dependent on the owner.

Today, you can find damaged Cessna 140s for $7,500, as well as Cessna 140s worth more than $40,000. A Cessna 140 in good condition and with good improvements can achieve these top pricing with minimal airframe hours.

Cessna 140 Owner Reviews

Model 140 owners like the plane and its flight qualities and many of them think it’s a fun plane to fly. However, it is a small aircraft with little inside space. Its performance can also be poor when two individuals are aboard. Some owners find fabric maintenance to be costly, and one of their biggest concerns is the number of modifications these old planes have had over the years.

Nonetheless, many owners say that at this price, having a superb small plane like this with great operating coasts is incredible. It is a forgiving aircraft for inexperienced pilots or training center trainees. This low-cost vintage classic will continue to provide excellent adventures to its owners on their weekends.

Cessna 140 Similar Aircraft

Luscombe 8 is a very similar design to Cessna 140. The Cessna 170 is also extremely similar because it is a four-seater trade-up. Similar aircrafts include the Aeronca Chief, Fleet Canuck, and Piper Vagabond.

Cessna 140 Clubs You Can Join

You can become a member of the Cessna Pilots Association or the Cessna 120-140 Association. The Cessna 120-140 Association is an all-volunteer organization of roughly 1000 owners, pilots, and others that share a common interest. The link will take you to their website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How fast is a Cessna 140?

Answer: The Cessna 140 has a top speed of 115 mph and a cruise speed of roughly 100 mph.

Question: What is the range of a Cessna 140?

Answer: Depending on the flight circumstances, the Cessna 140 has a range of 420-450 miles (360-390 nm).

Question: What is the difference between a Cessna 120 and Cessna 140?

Answer: The Cessna 120 is the less expensive counterpart of the 140. It lacks the electronics, flaps, and side windows seen on the 140. Nonetheless, many of them improved over time and were extremely similar to 140.

Question: Can a Cessna 140 be IRF certified?

Answer: When equipped in conformity with 14 CFR Part 91 or 135, a Cessna 140 can be approved for IRF operations.

Question: Is a Cessna 140 all metal?

Answer: The Cessna 140A was made entirely of metal, including the wings, whereas the traditional 140 had fabric-covered wings and all other sections were made of metal. However, they can be upgraded to all-metal wings as well.


Aerospace Industries Associaiton . (1946). The Aircraft Year Book for 1946. New York: Lanciar Publishers.

Alan Abel, D. W. (2001). Cessna’s Golden Age. Niceville: Wind Canyon Books.

BWI FLY. (2020). Cessna 140 Insurance Cost. Retrieved from BWI FLY: https://bwifly.com/cessna-140-insurance-cost/

Cessna 120-140 Associaiton. (n.d.). Aircraft History. Retrieved from Cessna 120-140 Associaiton: https://cessna120140.com/history/

Cessna Aircraft Company. (n.d.). Operation Manual for Cessna 120 and 140. Cessna Aircraft Company.

Cox, B. (2021, April). Cessna 140 Entry-level trainer. Cessna 140 Fun, little tailwheel, pp. 8-16.

Rodengen, J. L. (1998). The Legend of Cessna. Fort Lauderdale: Write Stuff Enterprises.

Skumatz, H. (2016, Novermber 24). Cessna 120/140 (2). Retrieved from Cessna Flyer Associaiton: https://www.cessnaflyer.org/cessna-singles/cessna-120-140.html

Twombly, I. J. (2011, October 5). THE CESSNA 120 AND 140 ARE BARGAINS BY ANY MEASURE. Retrieved from AOPA: https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2011/october/pilot/budget-buy-drag-your-tail-cheaply

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