Cessna Skyhook

The Skyhook was the only helicopter ever produced by Cessna, and it has a fascinating history from what I discovered. Now get yourself a cup of coffee, or a cold beer, and enjoy this little story!

After the purchase of the Seibel Helicopter company in 1952, Cessna began the initial design of the CH-1 Skyhook prototype lead by Charles M. Seibel at their Pawnee production plant. This prototype design combines features of the Seibel S-4B helicopter, but with a Cessna airplane body. The CH-1-1, test model, made its first hover in 1953 and its initial flight in 1954.

In 1955 the CH-1 received its certification as a two-person aircraft. The nose-mounted piston-powered Continental engine is a unique feature of the Cessna Skyhook helicopter, making serviceability easier, but required a belt-driven cooling fan and supercharger. The spacious cabin allowed for 360-degree visibility and later modified to a four-person aircraft in the upgraded CH-1A model. This upgrade also included a revised stabilization system.

In September 1955, test pilot Jack Zimmerman became the first person to land a helicopter, the CH-1A, on the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado at an altitude of 14,110 feet ASL. This demonstration showcased the Skyhook’s high altitude capabilities and set a world record at that time!

The new CH-1B had an upgraded powerplant, a gear-driven supercharger, and an improved stabilizer. In May 1956, the US Army contracted ten CH-1Bs under the designated YH-41 Senecas. Captain James E. Bowman of the US Army flew a specially equipped CH-1B to an altitude of 30,355 feet in December 1957 and set a new world record previously set by a turbine-powered helicopter. This record still holds today for the highest elevation achieved in a piston-powered helicopter!

Even with its high altitude performance, the US Army wasn’t interested in placing new contracts due to service maintainability and stability issues. Cessna also repurchased some of the original ten YH-41s from the original contract as good faith in hopes of future contracts after resolving the present matters. Unfortunately, no new Military agreements materialized, and Cessna decided to pursue other markets.

1962 Cessna Skyhook, CH-1C

The CH-1C Skyhook received its FAA certification in 1959 and was Cessna’s introduction into the commercial helicopter market in 1960 after the failure of the previous models designated for military use in the 1950s. Before the official release of the CH-1C, there was a tragic accident in the spring of 1961. A Skyhook crashed during a marketing demonstration in Texas, killing the pilot. Reports came out about equipment failure as the cause of the crash, not pilot error, which turned into a marketing nightmare. Cessna decided to continue as scheduled, and deliveries began in the fall of 1961. The retail price was just under $80,000, but sales were slow.

1963 Cessna Skyhook, CH-1D

Cessna pushed on with the Skyhook even with weak sales, and in 1962 announced an improved model, the CH-1D. Again, another new powerplant and drivetrain, optional floats, cargo sling, rescue hoist, and five-place cabin.

1963 Cessna Skyhook, CH-1D

Now here’s the surprise ending that no one saw coming! Just two months after marketing the CH-1D, Cessna decided to suspend production of the Skyhook on December 26, 1962.

In January 1963, chairman of the board, Dwane Wallace, announced that Cessna was repurchasing all existing CH-1Cs in the field. All are dismantled and scrapped along with any unsold inventory.

And that my friend is the beginning and end of the story of the only helicopter that Cessna ever produced.

I have more photos of the Cessna Skyhook on the photos page or click the link here. https://buffaloairpark.com/cessna-skyhook/

Cessna 172/Skyhawk

As we all know, or at least I just discovered, the Cessna 172 is the most successful airplane in history. There are many different variations with different model names like the Skyhawk, the Skyhawk II, and the “high performance” Hawk XP II, to name a few. Even the U.S. Air Force used a variant of the Cessna 172 called the T-41A for student training starting in 1964.

Cessna Skyhawk Taildragger
1961 Cessna 172

I remember refueling a lot of 172s when I worked the line at the airpark and was happy when a 152 taxied up to the pumps. Not that I didn’t like the 172s, but pushing them back to a tie-down or spinning them around after refueling wasn’t an easy task. They were pretty heavy with low fuel, and topping them off made it that much harder to push. Plus, I think the apron around the fuel pumps had a slight grade to it making it a little more challenging. The good thing is that I learned the proper way to use a T-Bar, and I had no trouble using the leg press machine at my high school gym!

Click this link to see more pictures of the Cessna 172 on the photos page! https://buffaloairpark.com/cessna-172/

1964 Cessna T-41A
1970 Cessna Skyhawk

I decided to list the Cessna Skyhawk photos on a separate page, even though these airplanes have the same airframe, but with minor variations. The different models that I have pictures of are the Cessna Skyhawk, the Skyhawk II, the Skyhawk II/100, and the Hawk XP II. I grouped them by model name and arranged them by their numerical year.

Click this link to see more Skyhawk pictures on the photos page! https://buffaloairpark.com/cessna-skyhawk/

Cessna 150

The Cessna 150 is a successor to the famous tail dragger Cessna 140, which ended production in 1951. This new Cessna 150 started production in 1958 and was later replaced by the Cessna 152 in the summer of 1977. The landing gear changed from a tail dragger to a new tricycle design, and the new Fowler flaps replaced the older narrow hinged wing flaps found on the 140s. The Fowler flap is a split flap that slides rearwards before hinging down, increasing its efficiency.

1965 was the last year of the straight tail

The American made 150s are all powered by the Continental O-200-A 100hp four-cylinder air-cooled direct-drive engine. Over 3000 Cessna 150s came off of the assembly line in 1966, and it was the first year of a swept tail. The previous years had a straight tail.

1966 was the first year of the swept tail

Click this link to see more photos of the Cessna 150 on the photos page! https://buffaloairpark.com/cessna-150/

Cessna introduced the Aerobat, model 150K, in 1970 with a list price of $12,000 with just over 700 built in the US through the spring of 1977. This limited aerobatic aircraft features additional structural strength to handle higher G force, four-point harnesses, dual overhead skylights for increased visibility, and removable seat cushions for wearing parachutes. It also has a more sporty checkerboard paint scheme. Surprisingly, it retained the original Continental O-200-A engine without any modifications to increase power or performance.

1977 was the last year for the Cessna 150K Aerobat

Cessna Super Skymaster

I didn’t notice these photos at first because they were with the Skymaster photos, but then I realized that I had the Super Skymaster photos as well. The turbo option must have been a blast to fly!

Click this link to see more photos of the Super Skymaster on the photos page!https://buffaloairpark.com/cessna-super-skymaster/

Cessna Skymaster

I was always fascinated with this airplane and enjoyed seeing it fly into the airpark when I was younger. I remember the excitement when I heard the pilot radio in that they were on final approach, and I would run outside to see the plane come in for a landing. I also remember refueling a Skymaster when I was working as a line boy in my teens, and I’ll never forget the sound of it on takeoff. Excellent aircraft and great times!

I recently scanned these promotional photos that my father received as an authorized Cessna dealer from the 1960s and early 1970s. Wow, do these bring back memories!

Click this link to see more photos of the Skymaster on the photos page! https://buffaloairpark.com/cessna-skymaster/

Republic Thunderbolt Amphibian Seabee

Here’s the back of the brochure.

I just finished scanning this really cool brochure of the Republic Thunderbolt Amphibian “Post Victory Private Plane”. This brochure is four pages that opens up to a larger picture of the same cover art with additional drawings of the plane in use. I’ll photograph it in the future because it’s too big for my scanner and add it to this post. It’s interesting to read about the direction of Republic’s thinking after the war with this airplane which was based off of P.H. Spencer’s amphibian prototype. Click the download button below and feel free to share!

Here are five photos that were in the same folder with the brochure.

Check out the “Bubble Top” P-47’s in the background on the right!
Check out these specs!

Happy Birthday Tony

Tony in a P-47

My father was born in Italy on October 31st, 1911. He became a US citizen in June of 1920 along with his parents, my grandparents, Michele and Anmina Riccio. He would have been 108 years old. He passed away on February 5th, 1976.

I remember as a young kid that Halloween wasn’t a day he enjoyed. It wasn’t because it was his birthday, but he was constantly being interrupted during dinner time by of all the neighborhood kids ringing our doorbell for Trick or Treat.

So Happy Birthday Dad and enjoy your peaceful flight!

Operations Building

A cold winters day

I believe this photo was taken sometime in the 1940’s. The original building was only a single story and then Tony added the second story later on. Also added was a right rear addition for the snack bar and restrooms.

The front service counter

The front service area was to the left as you walked through the front door and accessible through a separate left side exterior door with access to the apron. Knowing Tony, most likely this photo would have been staged.

The lounging area

This is a photo of the lounge with the snack bar in the back. It would have been located on the right side as you walk through the front door. Tony is the man behind the counter on the right and he is helping a gentleman on the left. A woman is sitting in a chair reading while the two men talk.

The original snack bar
Newly renovated

This photo shows some exterior building renovations with new awnings and signs. The trim has been painted brown and landscaping was added under the front windows. I believe that the snack bar was also renovated at this time which included a longer counter with additional stools, an expanded menu, and a larger dining area. It was promoted as a small restaurant by a new exterior sign.

Snack bar during renovation

Check out the hand written menu! This photo shows that the wall has been opened up and the counter has been extended. The aircraft artwork was also hung and it looks as though the counter was in the middle of being painted brown. I love the mustard container sitting on the counter!

New restaurant featuring an expanded menu
Renovated lounge area into a larger seating area for the restaurant

These last 2 photos show that the snack bar was renovated into a small restaurant with an additional seating area. The wall was opened up and a longer counter was installed. New artwork was hung over the counter which replaced the single propeller that was there originally. The payphone and restrooms were located through the entrance way to the left of the window. Although the restaurant was eventually closed and replaced by vending machines I still remember sitting on these stools when I was young. Unfortunately the restaurant was removed before I had a chance to see it.