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.
Today, the 170 is almost a niche plane, but this 140 for four was perfectly sized for the mass market Cessna was looking to command. A little more powerful, faster and by definition roomier, the all-metal opposed engine-powered 170 was a quiet revolution, one that would take Piper more than a decade to counter, when it finally ditched the Tri-Pacer approach to small plane design and came out with the Cherokee. It would take Beech even longer to come out with its competitor, the Musketeer, and by then Cessna has already come out with the next big thing. First flight: June 1, 1948. Number built: 5,174. Status: Out of production.