By Stan Stewart.
Not the fastest - Not the flashiest
Quite simply this aircraft is the backbone of the private aeronautical world – here and everywhere around the world.
I saw a Cessna in Malcom Campbell’s farm hangar/shed. (Malcolm writes a weekly column for The Informer. The front cowling was up, as clearly, he was doing something in the region of the motor. Noting my interest, he said to me, “The motor of a Cessna has not changed in 60 years”. I didn’t believe him. Who would! Everything technical and mechanical has changed vastly in the last 60 years. Well, that’s what I thought. Malcolm told me that the Cessna was rolled out in the early 60’s and they have used the same motor ever since.
My research tells me that there have been many changes to the airframe and configuration- for instance, the cabin has been widened to accommodate the increased girth of 20th century pilots. However, to my eye all the Cessnas down through the years look very much the same. Today more Cessna have been sold than any other aircraft in history. Remarkably two thirds of the Cessnas are still flying.
It is generally agreed that the Cessna is the easiest plane in the world to fly. One reason for this is because it is a high-wing monoplane. The wing sits high above the cockpit which gives student pilots a clear view of the ground and makes the aircraft easier to land. The plane is perfectly balanced, and this gives stability which is of great benefit to pilots in all circumstances.
Problems with liability lawsuits put an end to Cessna production in 1985. However, Cessna is again in the light aircraft manufacturing business. The costs are high, much of this due to insurance liability. Incidentally, fatalities from light plane crashes are 50% lower in a Cessna than any other aircraft. Another neat fact is that most of today’s commercial pilots learnt to fly on a Cessna. These are a few of the reasons why in the wonderful upcoming airshow we should also respect and applaud the Cessnas – the classic, reliable heart of the light aircraft industry.