The Cessna 152 is an American two-seat, fixed gear, high wing general aviation aircraft. It is used primarily for flight training and personal use, for both of which it is eminently suited, being relatively easy to fly and inexpensive to buy.
It was based on the earlier Cessna 150, but this later model incorporated a number of minor design changes plus a slightly more powerful engine, with a longer time between overhauls.
The type has been out of production for more than thirty years, but many are still airworthy and are still in regular use for both flight training and personal flying.
The C152 was initially delivered in 1977 as the 1978 model year, and was intended as a rival for the Beechcraft Skipper and Piper Tomahawk.
Personally I am very familiar with both the Cessna 152 and the earlier Cessna 150. I spent a number of years flying hired C152s, and then owned a share in a group-owned C150 for a while.
Like many people I enjoyed flying them immensely, and I am still very fond of this aircraft. It is easier to fly than the Tomahawk, and much less frightening in the stall…but more about that later.
Weights & Dimensions
- Max Take Off Weight: 757 Kg, 1,669 lbs
- Max Landing Weight: 757 Kg, 1,669 lbs
- Max Payload: 256 Kg, 564 lbs
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 26 gallon, 98 litre
- Seats: 2 seats
- Cabin Height: 1.08 metre, 354 feet
- Cabin Width: 1.01 metre, 3.31 feet
- Cabin Length: 2.38 metre, 7.81 feet
- Exterior Length: 7.34 metre, 24.08 feet
- Tail height: 2.59 metre, 8.50 feet
- Fuselage Diameter: 1.1 metre, 3.61 feet
- Wing Span / Rotor Diameter: 10.16 metre, 33.33 feet
- Engine: 1x Lycoming O-235-L2C, Piston
- Power: 110 horsepower
- Max Cruise Speed:110 knots, 204 Km/h
- Approach Speed (Vref): 43 knots
- Travel range: 415 Nautical Miles, 769 Kilometers
- Fuel Economy:
- Service Ceiling:14,700 feet
- Rate of Climb: 715 feet / minute, 3.63metre / second
- Take Off Distance: 408 metre, 1,338.57 feet
- Landing Distance: 365 metre, 1,197.49 feet
Being such an old airplane, and out of production for many years, it is no longer possible to obtain new C152s. However, there are plenty of older ones around.
Prices depend on the condition and how the individual aircraft is equipped. In 2010 the average price was said by one source to be $22,500, and this has probably changed very little.
Those aircraft with more expensive radios, more powerful engines, or a number of extras, are of course more expensive, probably in the $25,000 to $30,000 range. The market for these is quite small, since it is possible to buy a four seater aircraft for about the same price.
It is possible to buy a C152 for a lower price than this, perhaps on ebay or similar. But these are not always the bargain they seem, having engines that are close to needing an overhaul, in need of extensive repair, or some other problems.
Performance and Handling
The C152 is an easy aircraft to fly, with little in the way of vices, and it presents few difficulties to most pilots. Many flight students learn to fly on it, and most enjoy it both before and after qualifying.
Generally flying it is straightforward, and unlike the Piper Tomahawk, C152 stalls are gentle and easy to recover from. Students learning on this aircraft are unlikely to find stalling practise to be frightening.
Indeed, some instructors complain that it is almost impossible to get the aircraft to stall when they want to demonstrate the maneuver!
It has been said that generally the C152 leaves complexity behind. In other words, you don’t need to worry too much about such factors as the best manifold and rpm settings, procedures for failure of retractable gear, or even whether you will get to your destination on time.
Of course when it comes to the last of these, it is unlikely that you will, as the C152 is not a fast aircraft. But you’ll arrive smiling, since you won’t have encountered any difficult flying en route.
That is, unless there is a crosswind. C152s require vigilance in tricky winds, and students need to work hard to master crosswind landings in them.
It has been said that this trait has made them good trainers, although it must be emphasized that any difficult handling characteristics in a training aircraft always can be described as good for training!
However, aside from in challenging gale-force winds, it is the docile handling of the C152 that makes it so enjoyable to fly. Like everything else in the aircraft’s design, handling characteristics require very little effort.
Landings are easy for pilots, and take-offs are equally uncomplicated. Once trimmed in flight, little effort is required to maintain the desired altitude.
But weight and balance can be a bit touchy. Indeed, if you fly with someone else in a C152, you need to calculate your weight and balance very carefully.
And some large instructors have found that it is difficult to fly with an equally large student if they want to take any fuel whatsoever, never mind full tanks.
Indeed, when I went on a flying holiday with a friend in a C152, despite both of us being female and fairly lightweight, we found ourselves reduced to carrying only one change of clothes each after we had packed all the essential pilot gear, charts, radios etc. So it is not quite the perfect aircraft for touring.
The C152 is a relatively old aircraft, which means that its recommended maintenance schedules are well understood by most aircraft engineers, who will most likely have worked on a large number of these aircraft over the years.
Should you wish to obtain one, maintenance manuals are fairly easy to find, online and in hard copy, for the same reason.
Modifications and Upgrades
There have been literally hundreds of modifications of the C152. Tailwheel landing gear are frequently installed instead of the commoner tricycle landing gear most pilots are familiar with.
This involves strengthening the fuselage for the main gear, removing the nosewheel, and strengthening the tail area for the tailwheel. This greatly improves short field performance and is claimed to also give a substantial cruise speed increase.
The wings can be modified using STOL (short take-off and landing) modification kits, and if this is done, it has been said that landings can be achieved in two fuselage lengths with the kit installed in addition to a taildragger modification.
The engine can also be modified in various ways. Other popular modifications include lap gap seals to reduce drag and increase rate of climb, and different wingtips, some of which claim various cruise speed increases and stall speed reductions.
There is also a modification which permits the use of automobile fuel instead of the more expensive aviation fuel.
You can also have auxiliary fuel tanks for greater range, door catches to replace the factory ones that often fail in service, and belly fuel drain valves to drain fuel from the lowest point in the fuel system.
There are also a number of official variants of the C152 in addition to the standard model. These include the Model A152 Aerobat, a two-seat aerobatic-capable aircraft. 315 of these were built, and they were certified for a large number of aerobatic maneuvers.
Then there were the Model F152, of which 552 were built, and the Model FA152 Aerobat, with 89 being made.
Where to Find Replacement Parts
It is not at all difficult to find replacement parts for the C152. Since it is such a popular aircraft, with so many examples still flying, parts can be found in numerous places, as an internet search will quickly demonstrate.
A number of companies issue spare parts catalogs, and a large number of spare parts can also be found on ebay. There is also some advice online for owners wanting to do some of their own maintenance, where that is legally allowed.
As already described above, the C152 can be challenging to fly in a crosswind. Pilots also need to be careful not to exceed weight and balance limitations.
According to one source, The leading causes of fatal accidents in the C152 were low-altitude maneuvering, losses of control during take-off, and pilot impairment or incapacitation. But it must be said that these are similar to common causes of accidents in all aircraft.
As in most older aircraft which have a carburetor, ‘carb’ icing is a common problem among students and low hours pilots, which has led to a number of engine failures. However, this can be remedied by appropriate training.
And since the C152 stall is so benign, pilots transitioning to other aircraft may have something of a shock when they first encounter an aircraft with a more aggressive stall.
But on the whole, as already stated, the C152 has few problems and is easy to fly safely.
Aviation insurance in general is a very specialized industry and premiums always vary depending on make and model of the aircraft, hull value, use of the aircraft, and pilot history and qualifications.
Aircraft insurance rates even take into account the loss history of each specific make and model and the loss history of the industry as a whole.
It should be noted that C152 insurance, like all airplane insurance, is broken down into two specific parts. The first is Liability Coverage, which is standard on every aircraft insurance policy, and the second is optional hull coverage, which covers damage to the aircraft itself.
Cessna 152 aviation liability insurance covers damage caused by the aircraft, outside of the aircraft, specifically property damage, bodily injury, and provision of money for legal defense in the event that the aircraft owner is sued.
Aircraft liability insurance is typically offered for Cessna 152 aircraft at $1,000,000 per occurrence (per incident) and includes coverage for passengers, but limits that amount to $100,000 per passenger, which is included within the total liability of $1,000,000.
The second coverage on a Cessna 152 aircraft insurance policy is hull coverage and is an optional coverage. Aircraft hull insurance covers damage to the aircraft itself and is an agreed value, not subject to depreciation.
Agreed value is decided during the initial insurance quoting process; the aircraft owner requests an insurance quote for his or her Cessna 152 and asks for a quote including hull coverage in the amount of, say, $40,000.
Once an aviation insurance company provides a quote, they are agreeing with you that your aircraft is worth $40,000.
As of February 2020, there were 10 carriers quoting Cessna 152 insurance in the U.S. One company gave the following fairly typical quote:
We consider qualified pilots to have at least a private license, with 300 total hours, and 25 hours in the make/model.
For an annual policy with $1,000,000 in liability only coverage.
Premium range for qualified pilots: $225-$275 per year.
Premium range for less than qualified pilots (low-time/etc): $325-$530 per year.
For an annual policy with $1,000,000 in liability coverage and $40,000 in hull coverage
Premium range for qualified pilots: $350-$425 per year.
Premium range for less than qualified pilots (low-time/etc): $850-$1,100 per year.
This is probably a fairly typical example, but of course, other quotes may vary to some extent from these figures.
Since all C152s are now quite old, they hold their value well, and you will lose very little on resale. Hence resale values are much the same as the prices quotes above, that is around $20,000 to $25,000.
Of course this will depend on the state of the individual aircraft, but some aircraft costing less than $20,000 will need more than their original cost, for repairs to make them flyable safely.
Again, a lot depends on the state of the engine and how close it is to needing an overhaul, which may cost $10,000 or thereabouts.
Owner and Pilot Reviews
It is hard to find anyone who does not like the C152. Although many people move on to larger and more complex aircraft, most still retain an affection for this simple two-seater airplane. The following quotes from owners and pilots are fairly typical:
“I spent many hours flying in a C152, and its predecessor, the C150. They are great little aircraft, easy to fly and with no vices. I love them.”
“For the novice or those interested in a low and slow two-seater, go for it.”
The C152 is extremely similar to its predecessor, the C150. It just has a slightly larger engine, different flap settings, and a few other minor modifications. However, any pilot who has flown one of these should be able to change easily to the other.
The C152 is often said to be similar to its big brother, the four-seater C172. It is similar in some ways: both are high wing, and have similar flight controls.
But there are a number of differences when it comes to handling, and it would not be sensible for a C152 pilot to simply leap into a C172 and expect to be able to fly it safely.
But with the older C152s gradually wearing out, many expect the C72 to be the training aircraft which will replace it in the future.
Clubs You Can Join
There are a number of clubs and organisations you can join if you are an owner, a pilot, or just a fan of the C152. Here are some of them:
There is a Cessna 150-152 club which you can join online, at https://cessna150152club.org/ It is open to all owners, operators, and enthusiasts of the two models. This seems to be the main club available for the C152. It also has a Facebook page.
There are also a number of regional and local Cessna organisations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Which should I Learn on – a Cessna 152 or a Piper Tomahawk? I have Heard Different Views on Both of these.
Answer: The Tomahawk is a low wing aircraft, so has poor visibility in the cruise, but it is easy to see out of the aircraft in turns. The Cessna 152, on the other hand, has a high wing, so provides excellent visibility in the cruise, but is poor in turns.
The Tomahawk has a definite and quite dramatic stall, often with a wing drop. The Cessna 152, on the other hand, is extremely difficult to stall, and recovers almost by itself.
But to be honest, you can learn on either; it makes little difference. I would suggest taking a trial lesson in each, and seeing which you prefer.
Question: The Cessna 152 Seems to be a Very Old Aircraft. Would I be Better Learning on Something New?
Answer: The C152 is indeed an old aircraft. But it is well tried and tested, and many pilots have learned to fly on it. It is an excellent trainer, and has many things to recommend it.
Once you are qualified, it will be easy to convert on to something more modern, if you wish to do so. By all means learn on a bright, shiny, more modern aircraft, if that is what you want to do. But there is no real reason why you should do so.
Question: What are the Differences Between a C150 and a C152?
Answer: When it comes to flying them, almost nothing. The C152 is slightly more powerful than its predecessor, and the flap positions are different. There are also a few other very minor differences But when it comes to flying them, the two are essentially the same.
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