Airplane of the Month • May 2007

Gary Shreve's 150 HP Taildragger
Year: 1965 Model: 150E Serial#: 15061461
689 of 760, 1965 150E's manufactured
3,460 of 21,404, 150's manufactured

N4061U is an awesome airplane.  She is a 1965 150E that has fallen prey to some skillful mechanics during her 42 years of life.  She has the 150 horsepower Texas Taildragger conversion, along with ACT long range tanks, Sportsman STOL kit, an updated, all metal instrument panel, and an enlarged baggage area that extends back one frame bay under the hat shelf.  I routinely cruise at 125 mph, burning 8.5 gallons per hour.  The combination of the straight tail, omnivision, manual flaps, 150hp engine, and taildragger conversion really make her a wonderful looking airplane, not to mention a joy to fly. 

At Clinton, 2005, Wayne Westerman said he knew where there was a 150/150 taildragger that would be for sale by the end of the year.  The seller was a guy he knew in Midland who used the plane for pipeline patrol.  The downside was the airframe total time of 14000 plus hours.  But, it was flown everyday by either the same person, or by a commercial pilot qualified in the plane. 

I made contact with the seller as soon as I got back from Clinton that year, made my intentions known, and the waiting game began.  Larry wasn't ready to sell the plane, but knew he would before the end of the year.  I asked to be first in line to buy it, and he gave me his word that I would be.  Knowing he was one of Wayne's friends, I took him at his word and began dreaming of someday flying her.  Larry refused any deposit monies I offered, saying my word was all he needed.  Mutual respect, to say the least. 

Finally, in November, 2005, Larry indicated he was ready to sell her, and I was welcome to fly out and give her a good looking over.  I enlisted the help of Wayne again, not only to provide transportation back and forth to Midland International, but also to be my buying buddy.  He was only too happy to be there for me, so the date was set. 

Larry took me flying for about 30 minutes, then he let me fly her for another 30 minutes, and it was there the real love affair began.  What and awesome performing airplane.  1000 fpm climb outs with ease, excellent ground handling, light aileron response...a real joy to fly. 

After a quick look see at the important parts, Larry gave me the logbooks, drawings, and all of the airplane's documentation to look over that evening with Wayne.  With such a highly modified plane, it's inevitable that some paperwork is either missing or inadequate.  That proved not to be the case here.  Great logs, and a stack of FAA Form 337's that would later fill a one inch binder. 

The next morning, Wayne and I met Larry back out at the airport and gave him the news...I wanted to take this sweetheart from him and make her my own.  I took delivery of her the following Saturday and haven't looked back since.

I spent a lot of time when I first got her learning how to fly all over again.  I only had 6 hours in a taildragger, and those were all in a Super Cub.  So, the learning curve was straight up, but I learned to listen to her when she talked to me. 

Larry told me that there would come a time when she no longer would be a challenge to overcome, but would begin to be an extension of my being.  I'm not sure I recall when that moment came, but one day when I was out running the Red River with my other flying buddies, we began doing touch and goes on the sand bars and flying the river at 5 feet.  Sure, it was exhilarating flying, but also a lot of work.  When I landed for fuel on the way home, I realized that she had, indeed, become that extension of me, the wings I dreamed of, the magic carpet that would carry me skyward on a whim.  What a revelation.  After over 250 hours together, that bond only strengthens every time we fly together. 

N4061U still doesn't have a name.  But her spirit lives.  She chastises me when I fly her too infrequently.  Every now and then, she has to let me know that I'm not going to get a free ride.  But all in all, I'm still amazed at the awesome performance she delivers.  She'll cruise anywhere from 50 feet off the ground to 12,500 feet with ease.  When we're out playing, she's always ready for the adventure.  Between you and me, she loves having her attitude adjusted every now and then!

Gary Shreve
Mansfield, Texas
Los Vaqueros de Cessna
Aye Yi Yi Yi!!!!!!


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