Is it just me, or does the Cessna Skyhawk seem younger than 53? After all, take away the panel, paint and interior, and you might mistake a 2009 for a 1964 model if both airplanes were parked side by side on the ramp in bare aluminum livery. But while the current model’s configuration is physically very similar to that of the older models, the 2009 172S is a very different machine from that early version.
“Age and experience trump youth and enthusiasm every time.” Well, almost every time.
As I look down—and up—at the Andes Mountains ahead, I can’t help feeling some comfort that I’m flying one of the oldest, toughest airplanes above the planet. Santiago, Chile, is in the Skylane’s rear window as I climb higher above the famous Pan-American Highway, reaching for 13,000 feet to clear the tall ridgeline into Argentina.
New owner, same plane, but with more bang for the buck
In the last decade, two of the biggest names in fixed-gear, high-performance singles have been Cirrus and Columbia. Everyone knows the story of Cirrus: A small homebuilt aircraft company in the wilds of the northern Midwest that has successfully converted to building production airplanes.
When does it make sense to train in a $220,000, four-seater when you could use a $140,000, two-place model instead?
I 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).
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.”
Now out of production for 20 years, Cessna’s top piston single offers good range, excellent stability and reasonable, six-seat comfort for pilots with a yen for a high-wing speedster
The step-up market has always been critically important to the major aircraft companies. There may not be much profit in building trainers, but manufacturers are well aware that pilots tend to buy the same brand in which they learn. A pilot who earns his license in a Warrior, 152 or Musketeer is likely to consider an Arrow, Skylane or Bonanza, respectively, as a first step-up airplane.
An acknowledged workhorse for nearly 40 years, the Cessna Stationair adds major avionics sophistication and uncommon comfort to its credentials
Somehow, the very idea of motoring along a mile above the tallest mountain in the contiguous 48 states in a Cessna Stationair seems almost a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron (a moron on oxygen). Most pilots simply don’t associate the tough 206 with operation in the flight levels. The airplane’s image is more utility station wagon than high-performance, turbocharged SUV.
Pilots often nickname airplanes they love and, conversely, ones they dislike. There’s “Spam Can” for Cessna pistons and there’s the denigrating “Fork-Tailed Doctor Killer” for V-tailed Bonanzas; one of the most derisive is “Slow ’Tation” for Cessna’s entry-level jet. It’s hard to believe, but some folks malign the Cessna Citation as a “near jet” and use other less-than-flattering descriptions.
The best-selling airplane of all time gets more sophisticated
Since the demise of the Cessna 152 in 1986, the Skyhawk has emerged as perhaps the preeminent general aviation trainer on the market. It may be ideal for that role, because it’s one of the world’s most forgiving airplanes, but until recently, no one considered it a technologically sophisticated airplane.
Ever seen those signs that say “Patrolled By Aircraft”?
California’s state police have used fixed-wing aircraft to patrol the Golden State’s roads for more than 30 years. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) first used Maule M4s, then transitioned to a dozen Cessna 185s. The universally beloved and talented utility taildraggers offered a forgiving personality, reasonable speed and good off-airport capability. Like 185s everywhere, the CHP Skywagons were revered by their pilots and generally regarded as flying jacks of all trades.
If you fly a typical general-aviation airplane, you probably can’t imagine a world without avgas. I fly a Mooney with a four-cylinder, 200 hp Lycoming, and there’s currently no alternative engine available. For me and for thousands of other aircraft owners, the thought of avgas becoming obsolete is simply inconceivable.
Dream hot, work hard and make sure there’s money in the pot: The chronicle of a 40-year path to the perfect C-172B
There are those seeds, like Jack’s, that explode overnight into giant beanstalks. And there are those, indigenous to certain biospheres, that only germinate when exposed to fire and, so, possibly wait for years to grow.
This Skylane develops full power all the way up to 20,000 feet
This Skylane develops full power all the way up to 20,000 feet. Like many of you, I’ve logged my share of hours in C-182s of one description or another, fixed gear and retractable, normally aspirated and turbocharged. By any measure, Skylanes are nothing short of wonderful machines, blessed with docile handling, reasonable performance, good reliability and (in many cases) true, full-fuel, four-place capability.
It’s here—the most popular airplane in the world now comes with a glass panel
When Garmin premiered its G1000 do-everything glass-panel avionics system in mid-2003, the package was perceived as an extremely talented collection of electronic wizardry obviously intended for high-end general-aviation aircraft. Glass panels have been available on airline and corporate aircraft for years, but the G1000 expanded the technology to general aviation.
To many, she’s the most beautiful taildragger of all time
In 1947, enthusiasm reigned supreme in the general aircraft industry. With the release of the bold new Cessna 195, the Wichita, Kan., aircraft maker gleefully announced the introduction of a “completely practical, personal and company airliner.” Other great American companies who stood to enjoy a new profit stream from personal aircraft joined in the celebration.
The straight-tailed C-172 marks the birth of the world’s most popular general-aviation airplane
Can it really be almost 50 years since Cessna introduced the first C-172? In a word, yes. Next year, the Wichita, Kan., company will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the C-172’s introduction, and the rest, as no one should ever say again, is history.
Adding Garmin glass to the newest line of C-206s has reinvented the aircraft’s workhorse capabilities
Utility airplanes must answer to a different kind of owner. Unlike most personal-transportation machines that are dedicated to recreation or fun, utility models are most often working airplanes that must pay for themselves.