One of the benefits of writing about airplanes for a living is that I’m often entrusted to fly some truly wonderful machines. I flew half a dozen different airplanes at the 2010 Oshkosh AirVenture, and though there was one that cost $1.7 million and carried six people at 220 knots, by far the most impressive of the lot was the smallest, the oldest, the least expensive and the only one that was used. “Well used” might be a better description. The Cessna 170A in question was built in 1950 (and yes, you probably saw this coming), but it was a prize winner. It was the inevitable beneficiary of a discontinuous, 25-year renovation.
It belongs to Stephen E. “Jake” Jacobson of Ft. Worth, Texas. Jake’s father and three partners purchased the all-metal Cessna for $3,500 from a pipeline patrol company in the early 1960s when Jake was a teenager. The 170A was indeed well used. It had 5,000 hours on it in only 10 years of service, but because it had been a working machine, flown practically every day and maintained religiously, it was in sound mechanical condition.