Airplane of the Month • March  2003

N50728 1969 Model: 150J Serial#: 15069512
204 of 1,820, 1969 150J's manufactured
11,511 of 21,404, 150's manufactured in the U.S.A.

The Story of N50728:
From Owner Jon Lindgren: I'm a retired college professor and was a Mayor here in Fargo, North Dakota  for 16 years. I've been flying about ten years and owned N50728 for 7 years. It is IFR equipped. I fly 150 hours a year to meetings, fly-ins and to visit relatives. I love my C-150.  

The following story about Jon Lindgren's cross country flying experiences was first published in the club newsletter in March/April of 2000.

"Fargo Approach, Cessna 50728 is leaving West Fargo Airport and requests transition to the southeast."

It was minus five F and pitch dark one morning this past January and I was beginning the longest flight of my 500 some hours of C150 flying. My destination was Washington, D.C. Long cross country flying is not the signature trait of our little C150/152's but I make several each year. Other pilots often ask, "Why don't you get yourself a 'real cross country plane'?" "Hey, why don't Harley bikers trade their Hogs in for Caddies?" I want to ask in return. A luxury car, of course, would bore a biker. (Yeah, I know, lot's of doctors and lawyers are bikers and own Caddies, but you get the point.) Flying a C150 is sport. Flying a Beach Baron is just, well, transportation.

"Cessna 728, fly southeast heading." I banked to the southeast and looked out my window into the dark to see the Fargo airport and fix my location. It wasn't there. Curses. I was only five minutes into this long flight and already could not nail my location. This raised an old love hate navigation thing with me.

I love to navigate by Mother Earth Pilotage. But, I hate it when landmarks are not where they are supposed to be. For some reason, Pilotage makes me feel like I've really been to those places I fly over. Like the bush pilot who can recognize a particular mountain from any direction he or she views it, I like to recognize towns and intersections the same way and can do it if I've studied the landmark on sectionals and highway maps and looked at them from the air. I navigate by VOR radio maybe 30 per cent of the time. A GPS? I'll get one some day.

"Let's see. No airport. Ah, there's the Interstate. Not to worry. I'm on my way." As the 0200 purred along I poured some coffee and enjoyed a January sunrise. Fuel stops in St. Paul and Wisconsin put me into my favorite C150 flying experience, down Chicago's lakeshore. There are skyscrapers to the right and 747's above.

I become a Walter Mitty character, flying my tiny plane on a secret reconnaissance mission deep into urban America. "Fargo, North Dakota. Wow, that's 800 miles in a day in that little bird. Here, take the keys to that van and I'll see you in the morning," said the friendly line guy in Van Wert, Ohio. People are friendly when I fly a C 150. Maybe it's because most pilots have flown one and feel like they know you. The next day was over a rolling landscape that made VOR radio, rather than highways and railroad tracks, the navigational method of choice. I crossed the Alleghenies and began to ponder a problem I had not solved in planning this trip: How to find the tiny College Park Airport in the vast D. C. metro area? I had a Plan A, but if I didn't find it Plan B was another airport far from where I wanted to be.

"Nice 150. Where's you fly from?" asked the friendly young pilot of an old C180. We helped each other jockey our planes to the self service fuel in Hagerstown, Maryland. "I flew across North Dakota on my way to Alaska last summer."

I waited to hear the end of his flying story so I could pop THE question, "How do I locate the College Park Airport?" "It's easy. You got a GPS in there don't you? No GPS? Hmmm. Well...just look for the University Campus. Can't miss it from there."

I took a deep breath, fired up my little flying jewel and headed downtown. "Let's see. There's the Mormon Temple. Left here and follow the Beltway. Piece o cake. Start the stopwatch. In seven minutes I should see the Metro tracks, then, turn right and see the airport." Seven minutes of tall towers, buildings and jillions of lanes of traffic passed and I looked for the tracks. No tracks. No campus either. This trip was ending like it began, without a location fix. Then, there it was, College Park Airport. "Come on down," it seemed to beckon.

The trip back home was uneventful. Total time for the round trip was just over 26 hours. I flew at 2350 rpm and made more stops than necessary bumping my fuel burn a little to 5.5 gallons per hour.

[Posted March 1, 2003]

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