I want an early Cessna 180- 57’ to 59’ are my preferred years.
Find the airplane that best suits your mission and that is in your budget, they said. OK.
An early Cessna 182 will do 90% (or insert whatever high percentage you want here) of the things that a 180 will do, they said. OK, whatever.
I can’t stomach a nose wheel. I am a tailwheel pilot god dammit! And proud of it.
See, my mission has evolved. I now commute to work. To get to work I have to drive 6.5 hours from Ohio to Eastern Pennsylvania. I usually do this once every two weeks. In Ohio I have a house, six too many buildings, 15 acres and a 1000’ x 50’ runway that needs mowed (no less than bi weekly) and maintained. I have a 65 lb black lab that goes everywhere with me. The western United States calls my name on the regular. I need a ship that will take care of all these items. And with abandon. I like being able to haul everything I need with me and even haul bulky loads at times. You see where I am going here.
A 180 will do all of the above and turn my 6.5 hour drive into a sweet time building 2-2.5 hour cross country flight. Sold. I am now looking for a 180.
I went through the normal list of airplanes and I won’t go into all that decision making. The Cessna 180 is the airplane that I chose mainly because of the load hauling and cruise speed characteristics. Plus I have been in love with the 180 for as long as I can remember.
I have been looking at 180’s for almost a year, and the last six months pretty hard core. Once I sold the Savage, the search was truly on.
My original budget was going to be in the 70’s but I still had some money to save to reach that goal. True you can buy an early 180 in that range, but they are generally beat up and finding one without damage history is virtually impossible. And to find a 57-59 undamaged is nothing less than a unicorn.
I called about many airplanes and tried to get as many pictures as possible before going to look at anything. I had a standard list of questions that I was asking the sellers and I had a 25+ point list of things that were on the want/need list. That list morphed over my search, but that list and some good friends kept me on track in my search.
I went to look at a 180 in Montana and was highly impressed with the performance. I had been in a 180 before, but was never allowed to manipulate the controls during takeoff and landing. I was hooked. I pulled every panel off of that airplane during my pre buy and inspected EVERYTHING. The owner told me afterward that it was more of an annual than a standard pre buy. I took that as a compliment, being that he is an A&P and IA. The bottom line is the Montana 180 was not the one for me.
After going home from that trip I was really questioning spending that kind of money on a true flying project. Before everyone chimes in on this paragraph, I do realize that all these old airplanes are flying projects. That said, something I never considered came into play.
To what degree of project am I willing to purchase???? After all, I need an airplane that I can fly right now and not have to worry about rigging, and corrosion, and engine overhaul. I also need an airplane that will be worthy of a restoration and one that I can keep for the next 30-40 plus years.
The 180 that fits this profile in my budget will be hard to find. I need and want to fly now.
I have always looked at 182’s and thought well………maybe. Only if it is a straight tail. After all, they are a 180 at heart. Straight tail would also make it easy to convert to tailwheel if I ever wanted to. No. I am a god fearin, gun totin’, tailwheel jockey!!!! But. I could buy a nice old straight tail and it could be a 180 if I wanted to drop the money. Hmmmm. (Insert gears turning).
I just need a 180. After all, its what I really want. But if a nice straight tail came along, I might.
Scouring ads and even hitting the refresh button for hours at a time at work on Barnstormers was not yielding a whole lot. Geesh. I am never going to find a 180 that will work for me. Everything that looks like an airworthy unit is over budget. At this point in the search I was really struggling with spending every last dime in my account. It felt wholly irresponsible. Especially since my industry was in the shit can. I could lose my job at any time. Bad scenario.
I was looking through Trade a Plane and saw a sweet, polished, 57 182A in a classic paint scheme. Black and Seafoam Green. Damn. Sportsman STOL, VG’s, BAS harnesses, Low TT, Low TSMOH, nice (but original) interior, and no damage history. Damn. What a nice airplane. Price is a little on the high side, but this is a sharp machine. Nah. Tailwheel is in the wrong place. Keep looking.
I kept looking for about a week. I kept drifting back to this 57. Man it sure is pretty. Owned by the same family since 1959. Damn. If there was ever a straightail to buy. This was it. Im also thinking, “If there was ever an airplane to convert to tailwheel, this would be the one!!!!
I talked it over with some close friends and that was all it took. I called the owner. Story sounded good. Ran the Aerospace Report provided at a discount by my AOPA membership, sent someone to look at it and fly it, and made an offer. Too low. The owner already had the same offer and a week to decide. Hmm. Let me sleep on it.
I called back the next day with a winning offer. Sent a deposit, and made plans to go to CO to check it out and hopefully buy this thing! I asked my buddy from Ohio if he wanted to go on a sweet adventure. He agreed, and we booked a one way flight to Denver. Thanks to BackcountryPilot.org I have made some amazing friends that have been a blessing in many ways. What a great resource for us to all have at our finger tips. This site has infinite uses for our hobby. I credit Zane and the site for fueling my addiction and making it easier to access my drug of choice.
Ill spare all the details of the pre buy, but the airplane was exactly as advertised. I arranged to have my friend Mountain Matt give me a checkout for insurance the day before flying it home. So good to have good friends who share your passion. It was also great to meet an owner that loved his airplane and it meant something to him. The airplane has a great story and was pampered. That is worth something to this ol boy.
Wait a minute!!!!! What have I done?? It’s a nosedragger!!!! What will everyone say???? The Off Airport Gear dude is flying a 182? What???? This can’t be.
Its true. I love this airplane. Cruises around 130 kts, stalls at 30. Hauls damn near 1000 lbs. Gets me out west in 1 day, and home in 1 day if all cooperates. Flys as sweet as she looks.
Mission Profile: Filled.
I have no regrets. Thanks to my friends who helped in this process. You know who you are.
A few more Pics: