1 Beech Barons have always been among the best-handling twins in the sky, but they did have a curious anomaly. The throttles were mounted in the middle between the props and the mixtures. This could’ve resulted in pilots trained in conventional twins accidentally feathering both props on short final. Many pilots never understood why Beech opted for this seemingly nonstandard placement, but the answer was actually fairly simple. It was a carryover from the Beech 18 of the ’40s and ’50s. Those airplanes were often flown with a copilot in the right seat. Beech positioned the throttles in the middle so either pilot could reach them with equal facility. Barons didn’t share the commercial application, but Beech continued the throttle placement in the middle on the models 55 and 58 anyway. (The company eventually made the argument that it was the rest of the world that was out of step and moved the throttles to the far left on the 58 Baron.)
2 The reality is that Skyhawks are forever, unchanging, gentle to a fault, capable, everyone’s friend. The myth is that there were only two or three versions of the Skyhawk built. Depending upon how you count them, there were actually seven variations on the 172 theme. The first 145 hp Continental-powered Skyhawks were introduced in 1958 (1) along with the Cessna 175s, a 175 hp, geared version of the same airframe and wing (2). In 1968, Cessna switched to a cambered wing on the 172M (3). The Hawk XP was introduced in 1977 with an injected 195 hp Continental and a constant speed prop (4). Cessna’s Cutlass RG debuted in 1980 with retractable gear and a 180 hp Lycoming IO-360 engine (5). A fixed-gear version of the airplane was introduced in 1983, and that model (6), along with the standard 160 hp version, continued in production until three years ago, when all Skyhawks were standardized as the 172SP (7) with the 180 hp injected Lycoming. In other words, there have been seven variations of the Skyhawk in the last 56 years, and a diesel-powered model may still be in the offing.