|STANDARD DATA: Seats 4. Gross wt. 2,350. Empty wt. 1,312. Fuel capacity 52. Engine 170-hp Continental.
PERFORMANCE: Top mph 147. Cruise mph 139. Stall mph 62. Initial climb rate 850. Ceiling 15,900. Range 595. Takeoff distance (50') 1,340. Landing distance (50') 1,155.
Originally introduced in 1958, the Skylark was intended to fill the gap between the 145-hp Skyhawk and the 230-hp Skylane. It featured numerous refinements on the basic 172 configuration. A 175-hp geared Continental boosted the maximum cruise speed from 124 mph for the Skyhawk to 139. The Skylark boasted a 210-fpm increase in initial climb rate over its sister ship. Other improvements included a free-blown windshield, electric fuel gauges, fiberglass speed-fairings, a new panel design, and a redesigned interior decor; otherwise, the Skylark handled and flew much like the Skyhawk. In fact, the only way to tell them apart was that the Skylark had a bump in the cowl to allow for the engine gearing mechanism. Cessna discontinued the 175 after about five years because it earned a reputation for engine problems. This was possibly due to the fact that near 3,000 RPMs for cruise and takeoff were required, but pilots were hesitant to follow the manual; they cut back and caused the engine to overheat. Even during runup, the tach needle slid easily down to 2,600 RPM, redline for most planes. Because pilots often failed to fly up to the Skylark’s potential, they tended to be skeptical about its performance claims over the Skyhawk.