Monday, November 1, 2004
Cessna's Turbo Skylane RG
What a difference it makes when you can say, “Look ma, no legs!”
There will always remain some argument about the birthplace of aviation. It seems to be either North Carolina, where the Wrights finally flew, or Ohio, where all the hard work was done before history was made at Kill Devil Hill, N.C. Wichita, Kan., is like Dayton, Ohio.
The normally aspirated Skylane’s high-density altitude performance then provoked Donna to crunch her numbers again. With a valid need for a completely new airplane (for Rod, Cessna was the only real option), he began looking for a turbocharged Cessna 182RG. According to Rod, “This airplane is a sleeper—with the turbo and the retractable gear, it just makes a huge difference. I looked at Bonanzas, C-210s and whatever, but for speed and high-altitude performance, there really is no choice. Cessna just builds one heck of an airplane.”
"We bought N756GZ in 1993,” says Rod. “It’s now our fourth airplane, and we couldn’t be any happier. Just maybe one day when we’re ready to slow down, we’ll go back to a straight-legged Cessna 182. But for now, this airplane couldn’t be better for what we do.”
Cessna has taken an evolutionary approach to building airplanes. If something works on one airframe, it will just adapt it and make it better on others. The company has been successful using this approach. Cessna started building C-120 and C-140 two-seat taildraggers. They saw a need to fill an expanding business market and built the four-seat 170. Now, virtually all of Cessna’s single-engine line can trace all their roots back to the venerable Cessna 170. The Cessna Skywagon, the C-180 and, later, the C-185 were upgraded versions of the 170, with improved weight, horsepower and interior volume. The Cessna Skyhawk was a tricycle-gear 170, and the Skylane was essentially a tricycle-gear version of the 180/185 taildragger. It was simple to manufacture and maintain, with each airplane retaining docile flying qualities and prodigious performance numbers.
The Cessna turbo Skylane is quite the perfect evolutionary airplane. Cessna took the standard Cessna 182 and inserted a retractable-gear system, adding 12 to 15 knots. But the company wasn’t finished yet; it installed a manually controlled turbocharger to a reliable Lycoming O-540 engine for an extra boost and punch at altitude, which gained another 20 knots. Overall, the turbo Skylane RG achieved a performance gain of nearly 35 knots over standard Skylanes.
And that’s how Cessna succeeded in turning America’s most popular single-engine airplane, the C-182 Skylane, into a high, fast flier. With oxygen, the turbo 182 Skylane can cruise at FL200 at speeds in excess of 173 knots. Not too bad for a high-wing, single-engine airplane, with a strut hanging out in the breeze.
Rod uses the Cessna 182 several times a week. He explains, “The turbo Skylane has a 92-gallon wet wing, which is usually much more than enough fuel for both me and my wife. Nowadays, I fly about 100 hours a year and it’s strictly for pleasure. The trickiest thing to the turbo is the manual waste gate. But it’s easy once you accept that you have to watch it. An over-boost of more than 31 inches usually occurs on takeoff, especially on cold days. You just have to pay attention.
“I never wanted to be a professional pilot; I just really love the freedom of flying. I’m sure sold on the Cessna 182. It’s amazing how much you can pack in with the airplane flying just fine. I had an engine failure once in another Cessna, and I put it down in a field just fine. The airplane glides really well, and with the turbo and retractable gear, it has amazing performance. This is a wonderful airplane in which to carry anything my wife and I want to pack and go anywhere we want. Best of all, we can go just about anytime we want to go!”
SPECS: Cessna Turbo Skylane RG II N756GZ
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