Cessna introduced the Cutlass and Cutlass RG models in 1980 and ceased production in 1985. Both models are built on the popular and proven 172 Skyhawk airframe with the addition of the upgraded Lycoming O-360 engine, a variable pitch constant speed propeller, and the optional retractable landing gear on the RG models.
The Cutlass featured a Lycoming O-360-A4N 180hp engine with a cruise speed of 122 knots. The useful load increased by about 100 pounds over the 172 Skyhawk.
The Cutlass RG model has a Lycoming O-360-F1A6 with the same 180 hp but allows for clearance with the front wheel retracted. The RG uses the same electro-hydraulic landing gear in the Skylane RG, and the cruise speed increased to 140 knots. Combine this with larger fuel tanks than the 172, and you have a better cross-country airplane! The RG is an excellent platform for pilots working on their commercial certificate or complex endorsement.
Cessna introduced the 177 Cardinal in 1968 and, production only lasted for ten years. They were seeking a replacement for the popular 172 and thought this would be an excellent time to introduce a new model. The popularity of the 172 was too much for the Cardinal combined with poor performance and handling problems.
The primary issue first reported in 1968 is pilot induced oscillations or “porpoising.” These are a series of pilot corrections to airplane reactions that result in sustained or uncontrollable swings. Cessna addressed the problems and offered a no-cost warranty to existing owners to fix these problems.
Cessna’s goal for the Cardinal is to allow the pilot an unobstructed view when turning but resulted in a too far forward CG since the pilot is seated ahead of the leading edge. The first model year featured a lighter engine, the Lycoming O-320, which was vastly underpowered but did address the forward CG issue. The Lycoming O-360 engine replaced the O-320 in 1969 but retained the fixed-pitch propeller, which helped reduced production costs.
The Cardinal uses a cantilever wing design, which eliminates the lift struts for better visibility. A stabilator replaces the standard horizontal stabilizer to resolve issues of elevator control at low airspeeds. The raked windshield and aft-mounted wing allow for better upward visibility combined with the cantilever wing make this airplane a photographer’s dream!
Cessna began production of the Cardinal RG in 1971 and featured an electrically powered hydraulic retractable landing gear. The horsepower increased from 180 to 200 with a new Lycoming IO-360 engine because of the added weight of the landing gear system.
Compare the differences of this 1973 Cessna Cardinal RG to the above photo of the 1968 Cessna 172 “Skyhawk.” Notice the different wing designs, windshields, and landing gears. I’ve only found one picture of a Cessna Cardinal RG so far, and I’ll add any new photos to this post if I see others.
Where to start with the Cessna Skywagon? I’ve learned quite a lot about Cessna, and the many different names or model numbers that refer to the same aircraft when scanning these promotional photos. It’s no surprise with the Skywagon, and hopefully, I can explain what I’ve learned so far.
Cessna started branding the “Skywagon” name on their 180 airframes in the early 1960s, even though the 180 models began production in 1953. The 180 is a taildragger with steerable tailwheel and steel spring main gear legs. The models produced before 1963 have two side windows and three starting in 1964 when Cessna upgraded the airframe to the same one used on the 185s but retained the lower horse-powered carbureted Continental O-470-R engine. This engine is rated to have 230hp at 2600 rpm while the IO-470-F used on the 185s has 260hp and is fuel injected.
The earlier 180, 1953-1963, is a four-person aircraft with the optional “Family Seating” for six people at an additional cost. I can only assume the seating was tight with this option, and I wouldn’t want to be sitting in the back for any length of time. The later 180, 1964-1981, is certified as a six-place utility airplane with the ability to install the optional floats or skis.
The production run of the 185 Skywagon is from 1961 to 1985. The 185 Skywagon gained many improvements over the later 180 when Cessna upgraded the powerplant to the Continental IO-520-D engine, but not until the middle of the 1966 production year. The previous 185s were still using the IO-470-F engines. Floats and skis were still an option along with a cargo pack that attached to the bottom of the fuselage.
The “AGcarryall” is a variant of the 185 and has a 151-gallon belly tank with removable spray booms for aerial spraying. The high wing design made it difficult to see when turning for crop dusting, and the production run was short. The “Agwagon” was well established and better suited for aerial chemical applications.
Be sure to check out the many photos of the Cessna Skywagon that I recently added to the photos page!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!