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And Then This Happened Aviation Breakthroughs/Oddities/Milestones: Cessna Single-Engine Evolution: 30 Years Of Magic

The progress of technology, materials and propulsion is only a small part of how over three decades Cessna evolved the concept of the small single-engine plane into a lineup of a dozen all-time classics.

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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.

Cessna 182 Skylane

Cessna 182 Skylane
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Cessna 182 Skylane

The 182 is a beefier version of the 172, true, but by adding power and strength, Cessna took a product pretty good at most everything and created a step-up plane that was remarkably satisfying in just about every way. It is fast enough, it hauls a good load, it’s roomy, and it’s rugged enough for dirt and gravel. For many pilots, the 182 is an arrival, and its charms were no secret. Cessna has built more than 23,237 Skylanes. It is, indeed, one of the three models Cessna reintroduced when it restarted piston production in the mid-’90s. Cessna also used the 182 as the jumping-off point for the development, through a short intermediate step or two, into the 206 and the 210. First flight: 1956. Number built: More than 23,237. Status: In production.

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