The Cessna 150 and 152 became the most popular civilian training aircraft after World War II, as well as economical recreational vehicles for weekend pilots. The series still serves as the principal two-seat, general aviation trainer in the United States. The A152 Aerobat, with greater structural strength to withstand up to +6g and -3g forces, appeals to those looking for a little more basic aerobatic and spin capability.
William K. Kershner bought this A152 in 1984 for his ACE Aerobatic School in Sewanee, Tennessee. A pilot for 61 years, Kershner flew more than 11,000 hours in military and civilian aircraft and performed over 7,000 spins for instruction and research purposes. He wrote five flying manuals, laced with technical wisdom and his trademark wit, that thousands of pilots worldwide have relied upon. In this airplane, 435 students completed his spin training course.
The Cessna Model 150 and Model 152 are the most popular trainer aircraft of the post-World War II era and the vast majority of contemporary private pilots began their aviation careers in this type aircraft. The series fulfilled the need for a universal civilian pilot trainer and the weekend pilot's economical, recreational vehicle for the latter part of the twentieth century and it remains a principal trainer in the general aviation fleet in the United States in the early 21st century.
For the anticipated post-World War II airplane boom, Cessna Aircraft Company of Wichita, Kansas designed the 120/140 two-place series as direct competition to the Piper J-3 Cub. The Cessna 120 was an austere version of the 140 two-place, metal, tail wheel aircraft and both were intended for pilot training and inexpensive flying. Nearly 5,000 of the 120/140 series were built from 1945 until 1951 when the market for this class of airplane became so thoroughly saturated that Cessna stopped building two-place airplanes for seven years.
To signal its re-entry into the two-place market in 1957, Cessna redesigned the 120/140 series with tricycle gear and a Continental O-200 hp engine and designated it the 150 series. The prototype all-metal, high-wing, side-by-side 150 first flew in September 1957 and received its FAA Type Certificate in July 1958. For the student pilot, tricycle gears moved the center of gravity and lowered the nose of the aircraft, thus improving forward visibility, and featured a steerable nose wheel, all of which made the aircraft easier to take off, land and taxi. It was fast becoming the standard for general aviation aircraft, and was already available in the larger 172 and 182 four-place models. The 150 was offered in three basic models: the Standard/Trainer, the Commuter, and the A150 Aerobat. The Commuter "deluxe" version had a slight increase in wingspan and was more suitable to cross country flight than the more austere Standard due to its additional equipment: a vacuum system for the added directional and horizon gyros, wheel fairings, individually adjustable bucket seats, interior carpet, conical camber wing tips, heated pitot tube, and an "Omni Flash" beacon. The A150K through M Aerobat offered a strengthened fuselage, full harness, quick release doors, and cabin skylight windows for safe aerobatic flight.
The C150's fuselage is a semi-monocoque structure with a control wheel in lieu of the conventional stick type control, but the wheel made for a narrow cabin as any 150 student pilot and instructor will attest. Later designs marginally improved this problem. The "Land-O-Matic" tricycle landing gear is configured with the Cessna cantilevered tapered spring steel tube main gear, with hydraulically operated brakes; and the steerable nose wheel on an oleo-pneumatic shock strut. The wing is a single strut-braced all-metal structure that has modified Frieze metal ailerons and electrically operated NACA single-slotted metal flaps. The tail assembly is a cantilevered all metal-assembly with swept-back vertical surfaces. The pitch trim tab is located on the right elevator and a ground adjustable rudder trim tab is located on the rudder trailing edge. Model 150 production continued until 1977.
The model 152 upgrade, built from 1978 to 1986, featured 110 hp Lycoming 0-235, which could operate easily on low/no lead gasoline, an improved gull wing propeller, and engine and cowling installation changes that reduced noise and vibration. The A152 Aerobat is a 152 modified for aerobatic training with increased structural strength up to +6g and -3g forces.
Cessna built 23,902 150s and 7,593 152s for a series total of 31,533. Only 1,483 of these were Aerobats. Cessna built the vast majority of the series in Wichita, but Reims Aviation in France built nearly 2,500 under Cessna license. Cessna halted production of single-engine piston aircraft in the 1986 when a product liability crisis and other economic woes threatened the future of small light planes. However with the passage of the 1994 General Aviation Revitalization Act, which limited manufacturer's liability, and with other new entry level single engine aircraft on the horizon, Cessna resumed building models172 and 182 in 1997. Cessna has produced more entry level private aircraft than any other aircraft manufacturer and this rugged little trainer is still found at most general aviation airports. In fact, in 2006, the Cessna 150/152 lub had traced over 75% of the series still registered in the U.S. and at least 50 countries around the world.
The Aerobat appealed to those looking for primary instruction and a little bit more basic aerobatic and spin capability. William K. Kershner, a highly respected pilot and instructor, bought N7557L in 1984 as a trainer for his flight school. Kershner taught aerobatics, spin training and defensive/upset training because he felt a pilot who had experienced these types of conditions in a controlled atmosphere would handle an emergency situation better or even avoid getting into one. A pilot for 61 years, Kershner flew over 11,000 hours total military and civilian time in aircraft with 4,300 hours as an instructor. He performed over 7,000 spins, of up to 21 turns, sometimes filming his aircraft adorned with ribbons or cones for analysis and instruction. He authored, and regularly updated, five comprehensive manuals on primary, advanced, aerobatic, instructor, and instrument flying, all of which have been used by thousands of pilots, and his own personal memoir Logging Flight Time. Kershner contributed numerous training and safety articles to aviation magazines and was a frequent lecturer, always illustrating his technical lessons with a mix of dry humor, aviation banter, and common sense. Nowhere is Kershner's sense of humor more evident than in his selection of a Latin motto for his school (just to keep up with Harvard, et al) - Non Compos Mentis, meaning "not of sound mind."
Kershner soloed in 1945 and began his aviation career as a line boy and then, in 1949, as an instructor to pay for his private, commercial, ground and flight instructors, and airline transport certificates. He became a naval aviator in 1953 and flew Vought Corsairs, Grumman Cougars and Lockheed T-33 jets. In 1960, he earned a degree in technical writing and completed his first book, The Student Pilot's Flight Manual. From 1960 to 1964 he worked for Piper Aircraft Corporation as contract sales engineer, test pilot, assistant to William T. Piper, Sr. in the Piper Air Park Program, and as Piper's personal pilot. He started ACE Aerobatic School for aerobatic and spin training at the University of the South Airport in Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1969 and over 660 civilian and military students have completed his courses, 435 in this aircraft. Kershner also taught spin training at the Naval Air Test Center, NAS Patuxent, MD, as part of his long association with the University of Tennessee Space Institute.
N7557L, serial number A1520817, was built by Cessna in 1978 and had only two owners. Bill Kershner first operated a Beech Musketeer Aerobatic Sport III, and then a Cessna 150 Aerobat, for which he literally wrote the Cessna handbook, before buying the A152 in 1984. The N7557L airframe has 4300 hours and a Lycoming O-235 engine with 2074 hours. The white, red and blue A152 became a test bed for Kershner's spin studies and students, and it graces the cover of the fourth edition of The Flight Instructor's Manual. Following his death in early 2007, his son William C. Kershner and grandson Jim flew the aircraft on its final flight from Sewanee, TN, to Dulles Airport, VA, in March 2007.