Cessna 172: An Iconic American Airplane

Cessna 172 in the air

The Cessna 172 made its debut in the world of aviation more than 72 years ago. Fast forward to today, the name Cessna 172 still commands respect and admiration among aviation experts and aficionados. It’s also one of the top choices for pilot training.

History of the Cessna 172

With the Cessna 172, you get almost everything you want in a plane. Whether you want an afternoon joyride, short-haul trip with friends, or you’re trying to build time, the Cessna 172 is exactly what you need.

Undeniably the most popular aircraft, the Cessna 172 is the most produced aircraft in the world with well over 44,000 units produced.

It was 1956 when the world first met this beautiful aviation marvel. With a foundation crafted from the 170, the Cessna 172 was designed with unique features such as an angular tailfin, lowered rear deck (which made it possible to add a rear window) the tricycle landing gear and larger elevators.

These modifications increased the plane’s popularity, with at least 1,400 airplanes produced within one year of its debut. Today, there have been more than 44,000 units produced, cementing the Cessna 172 in aviation history.

Cessna 172 Models

The earliest model of the 172 which debuted in 1956 saw a variety of changes and upgrades, including the creation of special variants such as the 172 Hawk XP seaplane and a proof-of-concept electric-powered Cessna 172.

In 1986, the 172 ceased production, after almost 20 years due to liability concerns. Cessna, a company established in 1911 was acquired by Textron in 1992. Production of the 172 model resumed in 1996 after the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 was passed.

Engineering efforts were channeled towards the building of the 160 horsepower 172R Skyhawk. This model was the first 172 which was fitted with a fuel-injection engine and had a redesigned interior and ventilation system.

The 180 horsepower Skyhawk subsequently followed production in 1998, aptly named the 172S Skyhawk SP.

Due to its multi-purpose capacity and robustness, the Cessna 172 remains popular. While there are other faster and more agile planes from competitors like Beechcraft and Piper, the Cessna is relatively easier and less expensive to maintain.

Due to its popularity, parts are readily available and nearly every aviation mechanic has worked on a 172.

Cessna 172 on the ground

Record Setting Flight in a 172

Robert Timm and John Cook’s names are synonymous with the Cessna 172. It’s hard to talk about this plane without mentioning the world record for flight endurance undertaken by these two pilots from December 4, 1958, to February 7, 1959.

With a registered Cessna 172, Timm & Cook took off from the McCarran Airfield in Las Vegas, Nevada, and flew the 172 for a total of 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes, and 5 seconds. This world record was done to raise funds for the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund.

Cessna 172 Cockpit

Where the cockpit is concerned, modern Cessna 172’s feature an integrated set of cockpit avionics, known as the Garmin G1000 NXi which included an all-new and improved graphical interface, high-resolution displays, powerful hardware, wireless technology, and increased functionality for situational awareness.

This information is displayed on two screens in the cockpit, together with altitude, airspeed, and geographical position.

Some 172’s also include a digital autopilot feature. This digital autopilot feature was capable of sustaining a steady rate of descent and ascent, consistent speed, and altitude ranges in a completely automatic way. A pilot had the capability of recovering from unwanted altitudes with just a push of a button on the autopilot.

Flight Training in the Cessna 172

Nearly every flight school around the world has at least a few Cessna 172’s in use. Many of the features listed above are the reason. The 172 is aerodynamically stable and easy to handle for new pilots. The high-wing design gives the student a bit of added visibility.

Another reason it’s popular among flight schools is the standardized components. Since the plane has been around for so many years, parts are readily available so the plane doesn’t need to spend time at the mechanic’s shop waiting for parts like other models may have to do.

Overall, the Cessna 172 is an incredibly popular aircraft for good reason. How do you feel about the Cessna 172? Let us know in the comments below.