The company Clyde Cessna founded in 1927, Cessna Aircraft, has been selling planes for 93 years now, but almost all of its single-engine magic was conjured up during a period that started in the early 1950s and effectively ended around 1968. During those 20-some-odd years, the world’s biggest little airplane company created a lineup of classic planes that fit the needs of just about every imaginable personal airplane flyer and a lot of commercial operators, as well. And along the way, there were very few missteps, and even some of those were failures of great ideas.
With that, let’s take a look at how a great company redefined the world of personal air transportation.
A year after the 195 made its first flight, Cessna introduced the most revolutionary small plane in its history, at least in terms of design influence—the Cessna 140. A two-seat side-by-side trainer/runabout, it would become not only a popular model in its own right but also the jumping-off point for two decades of new models. What was revolutionary about it? How was it different from the 195? The answers are, in scale. The 140 series had a five-year production run, with nearly 8,000 produced. By the end of its production, the 140A had metal wings, rear windows and updated wing struts. It’s counterintuitive, but the wing struts were an advancement over the cantilever (no-strut) wing of the 195. The 140’s was lighter, very strong and much easier to produce. There was very little downside and lots of upside. The other advancement was the diminutive scale of it. It was easy to fly, used very little fuel, and managed decent speed for not much in the way of horsepower. First flight: June 28, 1945. Number built: 7,644. Status: Out of production.
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