Vintage Cessna in Mint Shape

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The Carillon / September 26, 2003 / by Alvin Derksen

New Cessna
Have you ever dreamt of purchasing a new car, or truck and then storing it for many years with the hope that it would someday sell for a lot more money as a classic?

That’s a scenario that Harv Penner of Harv’s Air Flight Training in Steinbach capitalized on recently. As with any growing business, the need for more equipment increases proportionally with an increase in sales or production activity.

And with a flight school/charter business, as the number of students and charters increases, so does the need for more aircraft. So Penner had been looking for another Cessna 152 to add to his fleet of airplanes. Needless to say, when he came across a 1979 model with very low hours, he immediately set out to buy the aircraft.

The story on the 152 is as follows: it was purchased by Mid-America Vocational school in Oklahoma in 1979, then flown from the factory at Wichita, Kansas, to Tulsa, OK and finally to Oklahoma City. Total flight time was a scant five hours. The school kept it in a classroom and ground-ran it Periodically.

To Penner’s knowledge, it did not fly again until 1996. The person Penner bought it from flew it from the school to his airport, barely 15 minutes away. He was going to use it but the more he thought about it the more he realized he did not want to put any hours on it. Since it had remained static for a long time, he overhauled the engine. It was later that Penner saw it advertised in an aviation trade magazine.

The Cessna 152 was in production from 1978 to 1985, and there has been none produced since. Many flight schools around the world are still using these planes and the fleet is aging. If this aircraft were being built today it would fetch somewhere around $110,000 (U.S.).

In terms of automobiles, a 24-year-old model with low mileage would be a risky purchase at best. However, with aircraft, the safety regulations are much stricter. And so, with only a few hours on the machine, this one was viewed as a sound investment. The previous owner had meticulously maintained the plane and stored it in a climate-controlled environment.

Penner explained to that when he arrived to check out the plane, the owner was very reluctant to allow him, a seasoned pilot, to test-fly it. The owner’s reasoning apparently was that if Penner flew the plane and then changed his mind about buying it, the plane would have another hour of flying time on it.

Eventually, Penner persuaded the individual that he would purchase the plane if it flew the way it should, and after a satisfactory flight, did, in fact, write a cheque on the spot. The price was not disclosed.

Penner says the purchase is a business decision and that the craft will have to earn its keep. Given the fact the plane is essentially new, there are discerning pilots who will gladly pay an hourly premium to rent it. (Penner is quick to point out that mechanically, all of his aircraft are in new condition, given the fact that they are routinely inspected and refurbished in any way necessary).

With a growing staff of nearly two dozen, including instructors, technicians and dispatchers, Harv’s Air Flight Training is on a continued flight path to success. Adding equipment like the `new’ Cessna 152 is evidence of that trend.

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