Airplane of the Month • May  2006

Dan Meler's 1966 150 HP Taildragger N150DM
N150DM At the 2005 Cessna 150-152 Clinton International Fly-in   N150DM on the ramp at Clinton, Iowa
N150DM in Oregon's Alvord Desert
Camping in Oregon's Alvord Desert with Jeff Davis

Dan Meler's 150 HP Taildragger "Birdie"
Year: 1966 Model: 150F Serial#: 15063780
2,248 of 3,000, 1966 150F's manufactured
5,779 of 21,404, 150's manufactured in the USA

Reg: N150DM Manufactured: 1966

Around 1980 a friend of mine began encouraging me to learn to fly. I didn't think much about it at first but he was persistent and without asking me actually signed me up for lessons! So, I figured what the heck and began working towards my PPL. I knew I loved airplanes and had ridden with a friend a few times in his Piper Clipper about 10 years before. flying adventures began.

The guy who signed me up for the lessons and I shared a beautiful Cessna 172, which was about 4 years old at the time, for about 3 years right up until he cart wheeled it into a field. Nobody hurt, but the airplane was DOA.

I had the use of another friend's Cherokee and flew it off and on, then just dropped out of flying for several years. Then in 1994 I got the bug again and decided a Cessna 150/150 would be the most fun and versatile. At the end of a 6 month search I purchased Birdie on March 24, 1995. After 15 minutes in the airplane and an hour of examining the logs I gave an old Fella I really didn't know cash on the barrel head, then left the airplane there in Northern Idaho for two additional weeks waiting for the weather to improve enough to fly it home to Southern Oregon.

After owning the airplane a short while I began doing the improvements, replacing some worn instruments, installing 2 comms, Flybuddy GPS, etc. Otherwise, I mostly flew and enjoyed it. My first long XCountry in N7180F (her original N number) was to Phoenix, AZ and this brought to my attention the need for long range tanks, which were the first major mod. Over the years I have also converted her to a taildragger, added a Horton STOL kit, all the gap seals, designed a new paint job when she suffered minor hail damage, refurbished the panel, and done seemingly countless other small mods. The new N number N150DM was added at the time of the repaint.

To date, Birdie and I have had all kinds of adventures into places ranging from Class B airports to high deserts and the Idaho back country. We went to OSH in '97 and CWI in '05. No matter how much camping gear I've loaded from floor to ceiling or what the WX and landing surface conditions have been, this airplane as taken me in and out of everywhere I've ever wanted to go and has done it with ease. Paved runways, old highways, gravel/dirt roads, desert floors, and remote high mountain strips. You can't ask for more than that.

In the current configuration with wheelpants, a 57" pitch prop, the average takeoff distance at home here is around 500', at which point it's ready to leap into the air and climb hard immediately. Cruise speeds depend on how much fuel I want to burn. 2,700 RPM yields 140 MPH at around 9.5 GPH. Fewer RPM equals less speed and more economy. Flat out ball to the wall will place the ASI directly on 150 MPH at low altitudes in level flight...but at 2,850 RPM I'm not inclined to run it there any length of time. Climb rates vary greatly with temperature and weight conditions. I've seen 1500+ FPM sustained climb, and I've seen lots less. On an average day I like to climb out at about 95-100 MPH at around 800-1000 FPM. I've had her to 16,000 feet, still observing a steady 400 FPM on a cold night and I've seen the VSI seemingly stuck around Zero at lesser altitudes under hot, heavy, and high conditions.

I have never had the heart to add up all the $$ I've spent on this airplane...but it's a bunch. Looking back though I can't think of anything I've added that I regret. Owning N150DM has been a joy and a privilege and it is certainly a fact that you meet the nicest people in aviation...including all of you in the 150-152 Club!

Dan Meler
Medford, OR

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