Cessna Aircraft Company

Info from (address no longer valid) http://www.wingsoverkansas.com/history/article.asp?id=627

Clyde Vernon Cessna, whose 250-year American lineage stemmed from French and German ancestry, was born in Hawthorne, Iowa, December 5, 1879. At the age of two, he traveled the long overland journey with his parents to Kingman County, Kansas, where they settled on a homestead along the Chickasaw River. In early boyhood his aptitudes revealed visionary creativity and mechanical talents that found instant outlets in the dire necessities and rugged demands of pioneer life. In this environment he became a self taught expert in developing and improving farm machinery and farming methods for producing food and for services that were non-existent. As the family increased to nine, the challenges and opportunities presented themselves in an extended world of the early automobile. Becoming the owner of a first horseless carriage, he followed avidly the trends in improvement and in this way became a mechanic salesman and in time operated an automobile sales agency in Enid, Oklahoma. He became captivated with flying after learning of Louis Blériot's 1909 flight across the English Channel. Traveling east to New York, Cessna spent a month at the Queen Airplane Company factory, learning the fundamentals of flight and the art of plane building. He became so enthusiastic about flying that he spent his life savings of $7,500 to buy an exact copy of the Blériot XI monoplane, shipping it west to his home in Enid, Oklahoma. Cessna flew this aircraft, along with others he designed and built, in exhibition flights throughout the Midwest, continuously modifying the planes to improve their performance. He spent the next several years traveling to exhibition air shows, meeting many of the daredevil pilots of the era, including Roland Garros, René Simon, Charles Hamilton, and René Barrier. Silverwing
Silverwing was Clyde Cessna’s first aircraft. It was built and flown by Cessna in 1911. Although the actual aircraft no longer exists, several replicas have been built. Currently, a replica is hanging at Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas. The replica was built by Cessna employees in the 1960s.

In 1913, he moved his family to an acreage near his childhood home in Kingman County, Kansas, and built a metal shop for his operations. During the cold Kansas winters he built a new, improved airplane each year in preparation for another season of contracted Exhibition Flying at county and state fairs and public celebrations throughout the mid-West and south into Florida. Over miles of country roads he often pulled his trusty monoplane on a trailer between exhibitions.

In 1917, he built four monoplanes at the Jones Six Plant in Wichita, Kansas, using the planes for pilot training. In 1924, Clyde partnered with fellow aviation pioneers Lloyd C. Stearman and Walter H. Beech to form the Travel Air Manufacturing Co., Inc., a biplane-manufacturing firm, in Wichita, Kansas. Clyde infused the fledgling company with cash and equipment and became its president. In 1925 he became the initial president and first major financier for the Travel Air Manufacturing Company for production of aircraft. Two models, the "City of Oakland" and the "WOOLAROC," set Trans-Pacific records in 1927. But Clyde always preferred monoplanes, so in 1927, he left Travel Air to form his own company, the Cessna Aircraft Company. There he would build his vision of the ideal aircraft, a full-cantilever-winged monoplane dubbed the Phantom. Production of his Model "A" series monoplane began in 1927 and was followed by a series of improved models, as well as a variety of racing planes and primary gliders designed with the help of engineer son, Eldon. Commercially successful, the Phantom, along with the Model AW and DC-6, sold well until the start of the Great Depression. After the plant was closed by the depression he and his son, Eldon, formed the Cessna Aeroplane Company, a 50-50 partnership. Clyde and his son Eldon turned their attention to building racing aircraft in the early 1930s—their CR1 racer made a notable showing in the 1932 National Air Races, and the CR-3 established an international speed record in 1933. But Clyde abruptly retired from aviation when his close friend Roy Liggett was killed in the crash of a Cessna-built racing plane. He never again participated actively in the industry. In his later years Clyde and his wife, Europa Dotzour Cessna, resided at the country place near Rago, Kansas, where they had lived after their marriage June 6, 1905. This was the center throughout his life for his farm-related businesses, which underwrote much of his aviation enterprises and retirement needs. Clyde's nephew Dwane Wallace, an aeronautical engineer, along with brother Dwight and engineer Jerry Gerteis, designed a sleek monoplane, the Model C-34. Dwane then assumed the mantle of leadership, reviving the Cessna Aircraft Company in 1934 to manufacture and market the plane. The C-34 became the aircraft that enabled Cessna Aircraft Company to emerge intact from the Depression and established the firm as one of the leaders in American general aviation. A fourpassenger high-winged monoplane, it could achieve a top speed of 162 miles per hour (261 kilometers per hour). Known as the Airmaster, the C-34 won the title of the "world's most efficient airplane" in 1936. The Airmaster evolved into the C-37 and C-38, improved versions with wider fuselages and landing gear, rubber engine mounts, wing-mounted flaps on the C-37 and a belly-mounted drag flap on the C38. The last Airmasters, the C-145 and C-165 models, sported longer fuselages, split wing-flaps, and more powerful engines. The Airmaster line ended with the arrival of World War II after a total of about 180 had been built. Its design reappeared after the war with the larger, all-aluminum Cessna 190 and 195, produced from 1947 to 1954. Cessna introduced its first twin-engine design, the Model T-50, in 1939. Thousands were sold to the Canadian and U.S. armed forces for use as pilot training aircraft during World War II.

After the war's end in 1946, Cessna's facility began manufacturing two versions of tail-wheel monoplanes, the Model 120 and 140, selling more than 7,000 of these popular and inexpensive twoseaters before shifting to the production of four-seat aircraft. In 1948, advertisements began appearing in aviation publications for what would become the biggest selling and most widely produced light aircraft in history—the Cessna 170. This single-engine fourseat plane was actually a stretched and enlarged version of the Model 140. It had fabric-covered wings, V-shaped wings struts, and three fuel tanks for additional range. Late in 1948, Cessna replaced the fabric-covered wings with all-metal wings with larger flaps and changed the V-strut to a single strut configuration, creating the most recognizable variation of the aircraft—now dubbed the Cessna 170A. The future direction of Cessna now centered on the design of all-aluminum, highwinged, monocoque fuselage aircraft, featuring side-by-side seating, flat-spring steel landing gear and dependable engines. Known as a "good, honest taildragger," a total of more than 5,000 Cessna 170s of all types were manufactured during the plane's six-year production run—half of those aircraft are still flying in 2001. In 1953, Cessna began manufacturing the Model 310, a twin-engine lightweight five-passenger aircraft. Popularized by the television series "Sky King," the Model 310 is widely regarded as one of the most attractive aircraft ever built. Produced for almost 30 years, more than 5,500 Model 310s were manufactured, eventually becoming Cessna's most popular twin-engine model. Cessna unveiled a pair of twin-engine aircraft in the early 1960s that were designed to avoid the asymmetrical drag that often occurs if one of the two engines fails—the Model 336 Skymaster (with fixed landing gear) and the Model 337 SuperSkymaster (with retractable landing gear). Capable of carrying six passengers, it also served with the U.S. armed forces during the Vietnam War. The aircraft's versatility and excellent cockpit visibility for the pilot made it ideally suited as a spotting aircraft that searched and marked targets for other aircraft to attack. Approximately 2,000 Skymasters were manufactured in its 20-year production run that ended in 1983, becoming Cessna's second best selling twin-engine model. A specialized aircraft designed for crop-dusting, the Model 188, was developed in the mid-1960s, selling under a variety of names. These aircraft featured lights for night operations, safety windshields, and wire-cutter blades designed for unexpected encounters with telephone wires. Equipped with powerful turbocharged engines and large hoppers, about 4,000 Model 188s were manufactured. The Model 172 Skyhawk, developed as Cessna's answer to Piper Aircraft's popular PA-22 Tri-Pacer, replaced the 170 in 1956. It featured tricycle landing gear and a new tail design. Affordably priced and easy to handle, the Model 172 could fly at almost 144 miles per hour (232 kilometers per hour) and would become (and remains) the best selling four-seat aircraft in the history of general aviation. A tricycle-geared version of the Model 140 soon became aviation's most common two-seat training aircraft—the Model 150. The second most popular general aviation aircraft ever built, its production started slowly at first. Only 122 were built during 1959, its first year of production, but eventually, a grand total of 23,840 were manufactured before production ended in 1977. In 1966, a version of the 150 designated the Model F150 started production in Reims, France—a total of 1,758 model F150s were built. An aerobatic version of the 150 saw limited production, starting in 1970. This plane used a four-cylinder 100-horsepower (75-kilowatt) Continental O-200 engine and Cessna made a number of changes to the plane's airframe and configuration during its 18-year

production run. In 1978, Cessna introduced the more powerful Model 152, which was also better adapted to newer aviation fuel blends. By the time production ended in 1985, a total of 7,500 Model 152s were manufactured. In the 1960s, Cessna began producing lighter twin-engine aircraft with a pair of pressurized cabin models, the 411 and 421, followed by a move into the business jet aircraft market with the turbofanpowered Fanjet 500 in 1968. In December 1993, the Cessna Citation X business jet made its first flight, establishing itself as one of the fastest mass-produced aircraft in the world, capable of carrying 12 passengers and two pilots while flying at Mach 0.92 (about 600 miles per hour [447 kilometers per hour]). After becoming a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corporation in 1985, Cessna stopped producing piston-engine airplanes with the 1986 model year due to concerns over product liability. In 1992, Textron, Inc. acquired Cessna Aircraft and soon resumed producing light aircraft; however, rising production costs and concerns over product liability did not justify the reintroduction of the popular and affordable two-seat models. Clyde Cessna, with only a fifth-grade education and lacking a private pilot's license, helped create the general aviation industry. Although it was his two nephews, Dwane and Dwight Wallace, who transformed Cessna Aircraft into the aviation powerhouse that produced more than 100,000 pistonpowered airplanes and another 2,000 Citation jets, it is Cessna's name that has become synonymous with small planes—a legacy to Clyde Cessna's vision. —Roger Guillemette Sources:    Christy, Joe. The Complete Guide to Single-Engine Cessnas. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional Book Group, 1979. Pattillo, Donald M. A History in the Making – 80 Turbulent Years in the American General Aviation Industry. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998. Phillips, Edward H. Cessna: A Masters Expression. Eagan, Minn.: Flying Books, 1985.

Online sources:     Bass, Bob. History of the Cessna 170 Airplane, The International Cessna 170 Association http://www.cessna170.org/info.html Cessna Aircraft Company. www.cessna.com "Clyde Vernon Cessna," National Aviation Hall of Fame. Phillips, Edward H., Clyde Cessna and the Birth of a Legend. Aviation History. http://www.thehistorynet.com/AviationHistory/articles/0196_text.htm

Aviation History

Clyde Cessna's Budget Racers

The concept of powered, manned flight was only eight years old when 34-year-old Kansas farmerturned auto salesman Clyde Cessna paid $7,500 for an American-built copy of the Blériot XI and

taught himself to fly on the broad expanse of a salt plain in northern Oklahoma. He had to teach the French design to fly, as well; by the time both were successful they had crashed twelve times and the machine had been rebuilt--and improved--so often that it was more Cessna than Blériot. During the winter of 1913-14, Cessna constructed an airplane of his own design to fly at exhibitions and fairs in Kansas and Oklahoma, and by 1916 had set up shop in Wichita. But when World War I interrupted civil aviation, he returned to his farm near Rago, Kan. Foregoing his own creations, he bought a biplane from Swallow salesman Walter Beech in 1924. A year later, Cessna, Beech and Lloyd Stearman jointly formed Travel Air and began manufacturing airplanes. While Cessna kept pushing for new monoplane designs, the other two partners favored the more popular biplane, and the partnership lasted for only two years. Cessna struck out on his own, and on the last day of 1927 founded the Cessna Aircraft Company to build exclusively monoplane designs. The practicality and dependability of aircraft had been proven on Charles Lindbergh's epic transatlantic flight, and the public was quick to realize its value. In the company's first two years, 129 aircraft were delivered. Sales had soared after Cessna pilot Earl Rowland won a New York-Los Angeles race in 1928 and the Warner-powered Model AW was turned into a successful pylon racer by Clyde's son, Eldon. Then came the October 1929 Wall Street crash. But, while the public had no money to buy aircraft, they continued to attend air races across the country. To a struggling manufacturer like Cessna, prize money offered in these events provided a ready and needed source of income. So in 1930 when engine manufacturer American Cirrus offered $25,000 in prizes for the 5,541-mile Cirrus All-American Air Derby, Clyde Cessna designed his first purpose-built racer, the GC-1. Powered by a 90 hp, 310 cu. in. Cirrus (a requisite for the race) fitted with supercharger, the sleek, mid-wing airplane was dubbed the "Winged Torpedo" by the press but ironically suffered from so many engine problems that it could only earn seventh-place money. Sans supercharger, however, it placed fourth in a 1930 National Air Races event at a respectable 137.4 mph average. The effects of the Depression grounded more customers, and in the spring of 1931 Clyde Cessna had lost control of his own company; the Board of Directors ordered the doors closed and locked. A similar fate had fallen on dozens of other Wichita planemakers. But Clyde Cessna was not out of business; he and Eldon still had the modified Model AW. Eldon entered it a September cross-country event that ended at the National Air Races in Cleveland and earned $1,200 for a third-place finish, then followed that with a $750 check for winning a heat race. The Cessnas returned home and used the winnings to start a modest factory on East Pawnee Road a half-mile from former partner Lloyd Stearman's plant adjacent to Wichita Municipal Airport and began work on a racing airplane. What emerged early in 1932 was a radically small monoplane, the CR-1 (The CR designation was for Cessna Racer). Barely 12 feet in length, it had a full cantilever wooden shoulder wing that spanned only 16 feet. Its most innovative feature was its landing gear, which retracted manually into the fuselage (Cessna didn't believe that the wings, the strongest part of the aircraft, "should have holes in them just to stow the gear") just aft of the NACA-cowled seven-cylinder, 110 hp Warner radial engine. To the eye of an experienced aeronautical engineer (of which there were precious few at the time), the airplane's specifications were scary. While the airplane's power-to-weight ratio was more than adequate, the tiny wing area (estimated at about 40 sq. ft.) could provide only marginal lift, and the short distance between propeller and empennage would surely lead to longitudinal control problems.

Not being an experienced aeronautical engineer, Eldon climbed bravely into the CR-1 for its maiden flight in January. Bouncing across the field, the pair finally got airborne at 100 mph thanks to a mound of dirt that acted as a catapult. As he struggled to keep the racer in control, Eldon decided that discretion was more important than valor and returned as quickly as possible, making his approach at 130 mph and landing the CR-1 on its first and only flight. Back at the drawing board, Clyde and Eldon began engineering away some of the racer's bad habits. Retaining the Warner engine (they had to; it was the only powerplant they owned), wingspan was increased to 18 ft., 4 in., length to 14 ft. 10 in., and the empennage area was enlarged to aid stability. When it was finished, the new airplane weighed only 677 lbs. empty. Christened the CR-2, it was piloted by Roy Liggett, a friend of Clyde's and a successful AW racer. The first flight in May was flawless, and in succeeding weeks leading up to its debut at the Omaha Air Races, speeds of 190 mph were attained. In its first race the CR-2 placed fourth in the 500 cu. in. event and fifth in two unlimited races behind such famous racers as the Gee Bee Y, Benny Howard's "Mike," Keith Rider, and Johnny Livingston's clip-wing Monocoupe. Even though it was down by as much as 450 hp to some of the competition, the tiny Cessna's speed was less than 10 mph from victory, and after the Nationals, Clyde Cessna looked for a way to pick up the difference. Horsepower was the quickest route to more speed, and Warner's 499 cu. in. 145 hp Super Scarab seemed to be the answer, but it cost money which was not available. Liggett continued to compete at other races with 110 hp version, but still had to continue settling for second behind Livingston's Monocoupe. At the late summer National Air Races in Cleveland, with victory finally in sight after leading at the halfway point of a Cleveland-Cincinnati-Cleveland race, Liggett lost out to Livingston and Steve Wittman because he couldn't retract the landing gear for the last leg. In a later 510 cu. in. unlimited race, he placed the airplane second behind Benny Howard's "Ike," then was third in the Woolaroc Trophy race. Liggett's total for the week was $900 in prize money, and Eldon Cessna in the AW added another $770 to the company coffers. In December, the 145 hp Warner was finally installed, and the CR-2 was flight tested at speeds up to 255 mph, according to Clyde Cessna. In January 1932, the new speedster copped the Col. E.H.R. Green Trophy at 194.056 mph at the All-American Air Races in Miami, finally beating Johnny Livingston in his Monocoupe. In March, Livingston flew to Wichita and placed an order for a new Cessna racing airplane. Livingston had his own ideas, and one was a high-wing configuration which would minimize airspeed loss during pylon turns. The 145 hp Super Scarab from his Monocoupe was swapped for the CR-2's original 110 hp Scarab. Rolled out in June, the first flight of the CR-3 produced a few handling problems, but they were quickly cured with aerodynamic modifications. At the 1933 Omaha races, Livingston held his own against Howard's "Mike," and in Chicago he won the Baby Ruth Trophy Race at more than 200 mph, followed closely by Art Davis in the revamped CR-2, and the pair repeated the sweep later in the Aero Digest Trophy. Then Livingston went out to break the record for airplanes powered by engines of under 500 cu. in. displacement, which was set at 213.8 mph by Benny Howard in "Ike." Johnny smashed the mark, flying to a two-way average of 237.4 mph. On Aug. 1, when he couldn't get his landing gear to lock

down on a flight at Columbus, Ohio, he bailed out of the CR-3 and let it smash itself against the ground. Amazingly, it had only been 45 days since the CR-3's first flight, but it had won virtually every important race it had entered, and it could have been the catalyst Clyde Cessna needed to continue with a succession of speedy, small-displacement air racers. As it happened, it was the end of the line. At the same time, the CR-2 had undergone some CR-3 style modifications and emerged as the CR2A in time for the 1933 Chicago International Air Races. Roy Liggett started with a second place in the 550 cu. in. race at 191.14 mph. Four races remained in which the Cessna would be a favorite, but as the racer took off for the second event and flew across the field at about 175 mph, a section of its engine cowling reportedly blew off and sliced off the wing at its root. The CR-2A whipped into a vicious roll and crashed, killing the pilot instantly. Clyde Cessna witnessed the accident. Besides losing his friend Liggett, the tragedy seemed to drain the drive and enthusiasm for flying he'd held since those early days on the salt plains in Oklahoma. He saw his nephew, Dwane Wallace, take over operation of his company in January 1934, and by 1936, Cessna had stepped down and retired to his farm, rarely to return to the company he had founded. Cessna racers--specifications and performance
Gross, wt., lb. CM-1 (1928) GC-1 (1930) GC-2 (1931) CR-1 (1931) CR-2 (1932) CR-2 (1933) CR-2A (1933) CR-3 (1933) 750 1,002 1,295 677 1,450 Empty, wt., lb. Engine Wright J5 Cirrus Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner Warner HP Wing span, ft Length ft. 20.8 21 20.4 12 14.8 190 255 270 17 255 11717 11717 11717 NR57Y 160 170 Speed mph Registration X8860 NR144V NR404W

225 30 90 27

110 24 110 16 110 18.3 145 145 145 18.9

Cessna racers--record
Model GC-1 GC-2 Meet 1930 Cirrus Derby 1930 Chicago Nat.Air Races 1930 Chicago Nat.Air Races Pilot Stanton Smith Ong Ong Ong Haizlip 1931 All American, Miami CR-2 1932 Cleveland Nat. Air Races Rowland Liggett Liggett Liggett 1932 Omaha Air Races Liggett 1,000 cid 450 cid 650 cid 800 cid Women Unltd. Hialeah Trophy 510 cid 800 cid Cincinnati Trophy 500 cid 166.1 169.9 176.5 145.5 147.8 148.3 148.4 Class mph 72.5 Finish 7 4 2 2 3 2 2 2 3 3 4


Liggett Liggett 1932 Niagara Falls Air Races 1932 Sky Harbor, MI 1933 Miami Amer. Air Races 1933 Chicago Amer. Air Races CR-2A CR-3 1933 Chicago Intl. Air Races 1933 Omaha Air Races 1933 Minneapolis 1933 Chicago Amer.Air Races Liggett Liggett Liggett Liggett Davis Davis Liggett Livingston Livingston Livingston Livingston Livingston

Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Green Trophy Unlimited Baby Ruth Aero Digest 500 cid

168.9 172.2

5 5 3 2

194.1 195.2 200.7 202.8 191.4

1 2 2 2 2 1 1

Baby Ruth Aero Digest Speed Dash

201.4 202.8 237.4

1 1 1

Roy Liggett won the Col. Green Trophy and was second in the unlimited event at the 1933 Miami air races flying the CR-2 with 145 hp Warner engine. In the photo Liggett rests against the Cessna CR-2 racer, in which he was killed in 1933. Liggett's death sapped Clyde Cessna of further interest in aviation. (Truman C. Weaver Collection)


Clyde Cessna designed his first racer, the GC-1, for the 5,541-mile Cirrus All-American Air Derby of 1930. Powered by a 90 hp supercharged Cirrus engine, the airplane was dubbed the "Winged Torpedo" by the press but suffered from so many engine problems that it could only earn seventh-place money. Sans supercharger, it placed fourth in a 1930 National Air Races event at a respectable 137.4 mph average.

Johnny Livingston's CR-3 was powered with the Super Scarab from his racing Monocoupe. It set a world record for aircraft powered by 500 cu. in. engines at 237.4 mph in its last competition.

The CR-1 made only one flight before being rebuilt into the CR-2. With a tiny wing spanning only 16 ft. and a length of 17 ft., it was a handful for Eldon Cessna on its maiden flight. He finally got airborne at 100 mph thanks to a mound of dirt that acted as a catapult. Deciding that discretion was more important than valour, he returned to the airfield quickly, making a 130-mph approach and landing safely.


Aviation owes much to a farm boy whose name became synonymous with monoplanes and played a major role in making Wichita the "Air Capital of the World." Clyde Vernon Cessna had been a successful Overland automobile dealer in Enid, Oklahoma for several years until 1911 when he was struck with flying fever. Fascinated by the frail but efficient Bleriot XI monoplane that traversed the English Channel in 1909, Cessna eventually left Oklahoma for New York City, where he worked briefly for the Queen Aeroplane Company and learned about airplanes and how they were constructed.


Cessna dubbed his first airplane the "Silverwing." It was an American-built copy of the Bleriot XI, and would eventually teach Cessna the art of aviating. Powered by a two-stroke, four-cylinder Elbridge "Aero Special" engine that developed 40 hp. at 1,050 RPM, the Elbridge was a marine powerplant that had been converted for aviation use. In Throughout 1911 Cessna made many flights in the airplane on the Great Salt Plains near Jet, Oklahoma in an effort to teach himself how to fly. He and Silverwing suffered numerous accidents, but in December 1911 Clyde made a highly successful, fivemile flight near Enid that included turns and ended with a safe landing at the departure point. Flushed with success, Cessna severed his ties with the automobile business and devoted his time, energy, and money to exhibition flying. It was a lucrative endeavour for any pilot who could keep his airplane aloft for only a few minutes at holiday events and county fairs. During 1912-1915 he built several monoplanes, all of them powered by six-cylinder Anzani radial engines that developed 40-60 hp. Although successful, the Cessna Exhibition Company only whetted Clyde's appetite to become more involved in the fledgling aviation business. Flying was fun and profitable, but what he really wanted to do was manufacture and sell airplanes of his own design to the public.

Cessna poses with the monoplane he built during the winter of 1914. It was powered by a 60-hp. Anzani radial engine. By 1915 it had been modified with an improved landing gear, shown here. (Wichita Chamber of Commerce)


Aviator Cessna strikes a causal pose with the "Comet," a two-place monoplane powered by a 60-hp. Anzani engine. (Smithsonian Institution Neg. # 81-12610)

In 1916 he set up shop in a vacant building in Wichita, Kansas and built a new airplane for the 1917 exhibition season. Cessna also established a flight school at the "factory" and enrolled five young men as students. When the United States declared war on the Central Powers in April 1917, Cessna's exhibition flying ground to halt. Instead, he returned to farming at his home near Rago, Kansas and harvested wheat to help feed the "doughboys" fighting in France.

In 1917 Cessna occupied a small building north of downtown Wichita where he built the first airplane (center) manufactured in the city. A flight school also was located there. (Cessna Aircraft Company)

Clyde's interest in aeronautics never faded during the war, and he dreamed of returning to Wichita and resuming the manufacture of airplanes. Cessna continued flying, however, and bought a new Laird "Swallow" biplane that he flew during the early 1920s. He used the OX-5-powered Swallow to give his favorite nephew, Dwane Wallace, an introduction to the world of aviation. Late in 1924, Cessna was visited by Lloyd Stearman and Walter Beech, who had been key employees of the Swallow Company under leadership of the cantankerous Jacob M. "Jake" Moellendick. The two young men, in concert with a few other people, had split from Swallow and planned to form a new business to be known as the Travel Air Manufacturing Company. Stearman urged Cessna to join them, chiefly because Lloyd knew he and Beech needed Cessna's expertise in aviation as well as his money and equipment. It was a hard sell, but Cessna agreed. In return for his participation and investment, Clyde was named president. The infant company began life in a cramped, 30x30-ft. space in the rear of a planing mill in downtown Wichita. Travel Air's first product was an attractive, two-bay biplane designed by Stearman and was dubbed the "Model A." It

made its first flight in March 1925. At a price of more than $3,000, the OX-5-powered Model A was expensive compared with the plethora of war-surplus Curtiss JN-4 and Standard J-1 biplanes that still were available, but it outperformed them both and gradually sales increased to 19 airplanes the first year. The company introduced the improved Model B biplane in 1926 that featured the new, 200-hp. Wright J4 air-cooled radial engine. That year Cessna convinced Walter Beech that the company should offer a monoplane with an enclosed cabin for use by small airlines. Beech agreed, and the Travel Air Type 5000 was based largely on a monoplane designed and custom-built by Cessna earlier in 1926. A slightly larger and more powerful version of the prototype airplane was ordered by National Air Transport, and 8 eventually were delivered to the airline. Despite the success of the Type 5000, Cessna was restless. In January 1927 he sold his stock and resigned from Travel Air to build a full cantilever monoplane he named the "Phantom." It was a graceful, three-place machine powered by a 90-hp. Anzani radial engine and flew well. In 1927 Cessna and Victor Roos joined forces to found the Cessna Aircraft Company on the west side of Wichita. With help from his talented son Eldon and other company engineers, in 1927-1929 Clyde marketed a succession of 4- and 6-place monoplanes designated Model AA, Model BW, and the popular Model AW series.

The Cessna "Phantom" with its full cantilever wing was an advanced design for 1927. It was a prototype for the successful "A" series airplanes introduced in 1928. (Stephen J. Hudeck Aeronautical Archives)

With the advent of Wall Street's collapse in the autumn of 1929, Cessna and other manufacturers soon found themselves without customers for their products. To spur sales, Cessna slashed prices but to no avail. Faced with the prospect of bankruptcy, in 1931 the board of directors of the Cessna Aircraft Co. voted to oust Cessna and close the factory doors. It seemed as though Clyde's involvement in aviation was over, but he never gave up. Undaunted, Cessna and Eldon rented vacant facilities in the abandoned Travel Air complex on East Central Ave. and created the C.V. Cessna Aircraft Co. that specialized in building diminutive, custom racing airplanes. The most successful of these was the CR-3 owned and flown by the great air-racing pilot Johnny Livingston. In the wake of losing his company to the stockholders in 1931, Cessna was dealt another blow in 1933 when his close friend Roy Liggett died in the crash of the CR-2 racer built by Clyde and Eldon. Cessna's grief ran deep. He withdrew from aviation and retreated to his farm near Rago. In 1934 his nephew Dwane Wallace, armed with a degree in aeronautical engineering and with help from his brother Dwight Wallace, wrested control of the defunct Cessna Aircraft Company from the

stockholders and introduced the classic Cessna C-34 monoplane. Clyde agreed to participate in the new venture only in a ceremonial capacity, and was not involved directly in the day-to-day operations of the company. The C-34 was a success and was named the world's most efficient airplane. Dwane Wallace went on to guide the company through the turbulent 1930s, oversaw development of the twin-engine T-50 that became the famed Cessna "Bobcat" of World War Two fame, and introduced the Model 190/195, Model 120/140 into the post-war market. Later, these airplanes were followed by the ubiquitous Model 150 and 172 Skyhawk as well as the sleek Model 310 made famous by the Sky King television series. After more than 40 years in the aviation business and incalculable contributions to aeronautics, Clyde Cessna died in November 1954 age 74. He never held a pilot's license and had received only a rudimentary education, but his genius with airplanes coupled with an unshakable determination to succeed has made his name and legacy an icon in the history of flying. By Edward H. Phillips, Cessna and Travel Air historian

The Cessnas that got away


At least part of Cessna's success is the fact that their aircraft are engineered for production. Reigning for years as the No. 1 manufacturer of General Aviation aircraft, their designs have always been pragmatic and market-driven, and most importantly, accessible to the masses. In the boom years since World War II, Cessna has designed, manufactured and marketed scores of airframe designations. But there was also an equal number of ideas that seemed awfully good at the time, but which for one reason or another you may not have ever seen at your local airport. Model X-210-Cessna's first 210 had no direct relationship to the later model of the same name, but was proposed in the late Forties as a possible replacement for the popular Model 195. The X-210 employed a 195 airframe and its cantilever wings, but in place of the 300 hp Jacobs radial was a horizontally opposed Continental O-470 of 240 horsepower. The reasoning was that the flat cowl presented much fewer square feet of frontal area. Wing tips and vertical and horizontal stabilizer had square tips instead of the rounded ones used on production 195s, the wings featured high-lift flaps, and the main gear was an innovative tapered tubular steel design. The X-210 first flew in January 1950, but the gain from the lower cowl profile was no trade for sixty less horsepower, and the prototype proved to be disproportionately slower than the 195. The lukewarm feeling was further heightened when the Korean War began, demanding more and more production materials and space from Cessna for its L-19 Bird Dog, so the project was dropped. However, several of the design features would show up on later Cessna models. Model 308-This design could be characterized as a four-place Model 305-the airplane which had become the U.S. Army's "Bird Dog" in 1950. The 308 was in answer to a military proposal which called for a new, larger aircraft category that was eventually filled by the de Havilland Beaver. Built on the general lines of the 170, the Model 308 had a much larger 47-ft wing span and 4,200 lb gross weight. Powered by a whopping 375 hp Lycoming GSO-580, it could operate smartly off unimproved strips and carry a 1,000-lb payload for 800 statute miles. Only one example was built, and it first flew in July 1951.

Model 309/319--Cessna participated in Boundary Layer Control (BLC) research from 1951 to 1955 with the U.S. Navy and Wichita University using a stock 170A modified to house a small gas turbine in the fuselage which blew air over the wing (1951). The 309A, first flown in February 1952, used an engine-driven electric generator to operate large fans in the wings to generate the air; the 309B of 1953 and 309C in 1954 used dry chemicals that generated airflow across the wings and flaps. Another follow-on, the 319-A of 1953, had larger, more powerful flaps. With 225 hp Continental engine and BLC, the airplane had a stall speed of 32 mph. It could take off in 190 ft, land in 160 ft and make it in over a 50-ft obstacle in just 450 ft. As a research vehicle, the 309/319 was a success, but its commercial application was questionable--or as a Cessna test pilot wrote on a report after his first flight, "All in all, a rather nasty little monster!" Model 620-Despite Beech's lack of success in finding a market for a four-engine transport nine years earlier, Cessna announced its Model 620 in 1956. It was an eight to ten-place pressurized aircraft powered by four 320 hp Continental GSO-526-As. Priced in the $300,000-$400,000 range, it would cost more than new twin-engine Martin and Convair airliners. Planned for introduction as a 1958 model, design began in September 1953. Even though work on the Model 310 twin was underway, very little structure could be found to share with the larger airframe; virtually every piece on the four-engine airplane was new. It took nearly three years of prototype construction before the first flight was made. Its stand-up cabin was six feet high and air conditioned, and the 620 had an on-board APU. Fuel capacity was over 400 gallons (part of which was carried in the distinctive tip tanks which would be a Cessna trademark for decades), gross weight was 13,650 lbs, it had a 55-ft wing span, maximum speed of 282 mph and 27,500 ft service ceiling--22,500 ft on three engines. It apparently wasn't until after flight testing began that the company started its market research, and it was then that they discovered much the same which Beech had found earlier--that most potential customers had a ready supply of larger, pressurized airliners available for far less than the proposed model. With a total of fifty hours on the only prototype, it was sold to a Wichita scrap metal dealer. Some of the 620's design lessons, however, would be used in later twin-engine models. Model 160-Cessna was selling most of the single-engine aircraft produced in the world in 1962. With models ranging from the $7,495 two-place 150B trainer to the $23,975 Model 210B, the company had eight models filling the niches. What it needed now, the reasoning went, was a design that would offer more airplane for less money, and the answer could possibly lie in changing labor-intensive production procedures. The four-place Model 160 was to be priced at $8,450, between the 150 and the 172. Its unfashionably square-cut conventionality was more a concession to the economies of manufacturing than to aesthetics of its market. Fuselage and wing skins relied on heavy beading for strength and low weight, and the strut-braced constant-chord wings and free-caster nose gear provided simplicity of manufacture. The prototype was powered by a 125 hp Franklin engine, and it took the airplane to 134 mph. The 145 hp O-300 Continental engine then in use in the 172 was specified for the production Model 160, and would provide a top speed of 143 mph. In a proposed military version--the 160M--a Continental IO-360 of 210 hp would push it to a theoretical 174 mph top speed. Flight tests in 1962-63 showed the model had promise, but not enough to make the necessary production and tooling adjustments, so the project was eventually abandoned and the company went

back to doing things the way they had always been done. The sole prototype hung around until 1974, when it was reportedly scrapped. However, the salvage yard kept putting off the job, and a mechanic from Northeast Kansas bought the remains of the prototype a few years ago and has offered it for sale. Model 327-After modest successes with the Center Line Thrust (CLT) concept that Cessna pioneered in civil aircraft with the 1964 introduction of the six-place, fixed-gear 336 and subsequent retractablegear 337 Skymasters, the Model 327, the "Baby Skymaster," was proposed in 1965. The four-seat twin had cantilever wings and was powered by two 160 hp IO-320 engines. It first flew in December 1967, and 39 hours of flight testing was completed before the project was canceled from lack of interest in 1968. The prototype continued to fly, however, working in a joint Langley Research Center/Cessna Aircraft Company project on noise reduction and being used as a test bed for wind tunnel evaluation of ducted and free propellers. Model 187-The 187 was developed as a natural numeric follow-on to the 177, and was intended to expand the new Cardinal design motif-cantilever wing, flying tail, wide doors and spacious cabin-to all of Cessna's singles. The project started life in 1965 as the Model 343, with 240 hp GO-336 engine, Ttail and balanced stabilator, but was redesignated the Model 187 in 1968 with the old standby O-470 engine which had been in use since 1956 in the Model 182. First flown in April 1968, the 187 looked good, sleek and speedy, but there were no significant performance or handling improvements over the model it intended to replace. By the time some of its shortcomings were being discovered, the seminal Cardinal design was foundering in market acceptance, so the Model 187 project was canceled. Model 1014/1034 XMC-One truly innovative Cessna design was the XMC, a public relations acronym for Experimental Magic Carpet. Probably never intended for production, the single development airplane was built in the early Seventies to test (and publicize) advanced aerodynamics and materials concepts. A100 hp O-200 Continental engine was mounted behind the two-place cabin with pusher prop. That rearward weight bias necessitated that the pilot and passenger be placed ahead of the slightly swept cantilever wing. It was first flown in January 1971 as the Model 1014, and was reconfigured with a shrouded propeller, spatted nose gear and increased vertical stabilizer area in 1972, when the designation was changed to the Model 1034. Other experiments with CG effects, control surface location/response, cabin noise levels and relationship of wing to engine and propeller were tested over the next two years before the program ended. These are some of the designs which never saw the showroom floor; there were dozens of others that developed into production models, including the Cessna CH-1 helicopter, but that's another whole strange story.


The Model 308 was an overgrown Bird Dog, 475 horsepower and a 47-ft. wing span, built for a military proposal which eventually chose deHavilland Canada's Beaver.

The Model 620, the answer to an unasked question. Four 320 hp engines, pressurization and a price tag approaching $400,000 at a time when you could buy surplus transports or new twins for one-tenth that amount.

The Baby Skymaster (Model 327) was a four-place twin which generated even less market interest than its big brother.

The XMC--Experimental Magic Carpet-- a development model built in 1971 for testing advanced aerodynamics and materials concepts.


Cessna's entrée into the helicopter market came from Wichita designer Charles Seibel. It was certified in 1959 and produced through 1962 for both civil and Cessna Experimental, prototype and miscellaneous production 1945-present

1949 305 (L-19 prototype) 1951 X-210 1951 308 1953 319 1953 310 1953 305A (civil L-19) 1954-62 CH-1 (helicopter) 1954 321 (OE-2 prototype) 1955 180 1956 620 1956 325 (L-19 crop duster) 1957 210 (Centurion) 1959 175 (Skylark) 1960 336 (Skymaster) 1960 185 1960 320 (Skyknight) 1961 205 1962 160 1962 411 1964 337 (Super Skymaster) 1964 188 (Agwagon) 1965 P411 (421 prototype) 1965 360 (402 prototype) 1966 330 1966 172J (177 Cardinal prototype) 1967 182M 1967 207 1967 327 1967 187 1968 414 1969 1008 (177RG prototype) 1969-70 500 (Citation I) 1970 340 1970 1014 (XMC) 1971 TU206 1971 T337G (P337 prototype) 1973 441 1974 404 1976 P210 (Pressurized Centurion) 1976 550 (Citation II) 1976 182RG


1977 1977 1978 1978 1979 1979 1982 1983 1987

402C 303 172RG 425 T303 650 (Citation III) 208 (Caravan) 406 560 (Citation V)


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