Friday, February 1, 2008
Cessna 195: Getting Down To Business
Cessna’s postwar, art-deco Businessliner neither outsold nor outran the model 35 Bonanza, but it outclassed practically every other lightplane in the sky
|There’s no precise way to define taste, but it is possible to define class. Okay, perhaps class can also be difficult to define, but most of us feel it’s easy to recognize. To paraphrase a totally unknown art critic/congressman/pundit, “I can’t define class, but I know it when I see it.”|
| Rick Farrow (above, left), a sales manager, uses his 195 both for business and pleasure, flying weekend hamburgers and regular vacations to the Bahamas. |
Even today, 195s always attract a crowd on any ramp. Pilot and passengers enter through a left-side aft door, then walk forward to the front office. Seating is for five in a two/three configuration. Pilot and copilot climb forward to front seats perched behind a gigantic panel and a windshield that drapes well back over the cockpit.
The airplane sports a multitude of features not found on most other airplanes of the time. Outside the 195, the big, 218-square-foot wing is full cantilever with no struts or braces to add drag. The Jacobs engine is hinged at the side, providing convenient service access to mag, distributor, starter and generator, as well as the rear of the engine itself. The engine is so tightly cowled that the rocker arms hide under small bumps around the cowling.
The gear is Steve Wittman’s patented design, constructed of chrome-vanadium steel for strength. The baggage compartment is accessed through a flush push button rather than a conventional handle. Landing lights are electrically activated and arc down out of the wings, a system later adapted to the Cessna 421.
Inside the 195, there’s a roll-down storm window fitted with plate glass, rather than Plexiglas, on the pilot’s side. Front seats adjust fore and aft, and through a surprising 14 inches to accommodate even the longest legs. A quartet of windows stretches along each side of the airplane to provide plenty of light despite the high wing. The parking brake has the added benefit of locking the controls as well as the main wheels. The main cabin door also does double duty: It’s directly connected to the boarding step and automatically retracts it when the door is closed.
The 195 is more of a Bentley than a Jaguar XKE, and that was exactly what Rick Farrow of Godfrey, Ill., was looking for. Farrow, a Snap-on Tools sales manager, had worked his way through a half-dozen airplanes, culminating in a Beech Baron E55. About a dozen years ago, however, he amazed his friends by trading the Baron for the Cessna 195 you see on these pages.
“I think everyone was stunned,” says Farrow. “The E55 is almost universally regarded as a 200-knot hot rod, and no one ever expected me to trade for a classic Cessna 195.” In fact, Farrow’s airplane started life as a 190 with a Continental radial, but was later upgraded to a 300 hp Jacobs to make it a 195.
Farrow, however, hasn’t regretted the transition from hot twin to classic single. “The 195 certainly isn’t one of a kind, but it’s one of a few,” Farrow explains. “There were just over 1,000 of the type built, and probably half of those are still flying, some of them overseas, but no matter where I go (except to air shows like Sun ’n Fun or Oshkosh), I almost never see any other 195s on the ramp. It’s a very unusual airplane.”
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