Plane & Pilot
Saturday, March 1, 2008

Cessna Skyhawk: Four-Seat Trainer?

When does it make sense to train in a $220,000, four-seater when you could use a $140,000, two-place model instead?

cessnaI have a friend who recently began flight training in a Skyhawk. Pete is one of those future pilots you just know won’t have any problems with the private-pilot course. He knows cars, drives a Porsche, understands things mechanical and doesn’t have any inherent fear of attitudes more complicated than vertical (standing up) and horizontal (lying down).
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New pilots sometimes fear stalls, but there’s no need for apprehension when flying a Hawk. The flaps are huge and reduce no-fly velocity to well below 50 knots. Best of all, the Skyhawk seems relatively impervious to being manhandled. The design is so docile at low speed, stall-spins are practically nonexistent.

The low stall and supreme controllability to the very bottom of the envelope make the 172 a good short-field airplane (demonstrating what Cessna used to call its “Land-O-Matic” gear). The relatively fragile nosewheel doesn’t lend itself to operation on rough strips, but I used to see an occasional Skyhawk flying the boonies in Alaska when I lived there back in the last century. Taildragging Cessna 170s and 180s were more common in the bush environment.

For student pilots interested in buying a Skyhawk and learning in their own airplane, Cessna has a program in place to help offset the cost of training. It’s called the “Flying Start” program, and it will refund $3,000 to any buyer who earns a private or instrument rating in his or her new Skyhawk. In most training markets, that sum should easily pay for all the instruction to the private ticket (with money left over to help offset costs of course materials, medical certification and perhaps even the flight test).

For those current pilots looking for a relatively tough and unchallenging airplane or students just discovering the sky, the Skyhawk continues to be one of the most popular weapons of choice. It’s an easy-flying trainer with reasonable climb and speed, plus it’s one of the least intimidating singles in the sky. And in a pinch, you can even load up the wife and kids, and take a vacation in the Bahamas.

For more information, contact Cessna Aircraft Company at or (800) 4-CESSNA.

SPECS: 2008 Cessna Skyhawk 172R

Labels: Piston Singles


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