Cessna Aircraft Company

Cessna CR-3

The Cessna CR-3 established an international speed record in 1933.

Cessna T-50

Cessna introduced its first twin-engine design, the Model T-50, in 1939.

Cessna 150L Commuter

The Cessna 150L was the most popular trainer aircraft of the post-World War II era.

Cessna Model 170

The Cessna 170 was the biggest selling and most widely produced light aircraft in history.

Cessna O-1A (L-19) Bird Dog

During the Korean War, the Cessna L-19 was used for a variety of missions including artillery spotting, laying communications wire, evacuating wounded, and dropping supplies and flares. It was also frequently used as an observation platform for commanders in the field.

Cessna 180 Spirit of Columbus

Geraldine Mock became the first woman to pilot an aircraft around the world in this Cessna 180, the Spirit of Columbus, in 1964.

Cessna Citation X

The Cessna Citation X business jet first flew in December 1993. It became one of the fastest mass-produced aircraft in the world, capable of flying at Mach 0.92 while carrying 14.

Clyde Vernon Cessna was born in Iowa in 1879 and grew up on a Kansas farm. He became captivated with flying after learning of Louis Blériot’s 1909 flight across the English Channel. He purchased a monoplane for himself and 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.

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.

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.

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. Commercially successful, the Phantom, along with the Model AW and DC-6, sold well until the start of the Great Depression.

Clyde and his son Eldon turned their attention to building racing
aircraft in the early 1930s—their CR-1 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.

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 four-passenger 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 C-38. 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 two-seaters 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