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Clyde Cessna's 195 Skymaster

Short Flights


I love the lines and sound of a Cessna 195! Our friends, James 'JB' Brown, (former Lockheed test pilot and this month's speaker at Plane Crazy Saturday!) and Jere Calef and his wife, Heather Benes have beautiful examples of the Cessna Airmaster!

The Cessna Airmaster is the plane that rescued the Cessna Aircraft Company from oblivion in the 1930s. 

Clyde Cessna helped create the General Aviation industry without a pilot's license and only a fifth grade education. Born in Iowa in 1879, he grew up on a farm in Kansas, and was always attracted to machines. He became expert at repairing tractors and automobiles.

Even though Cessna had only a fifth-grade education, he obviously had a drive to learn more than the average person and was able to nurture his natural engineering spirit and become skilled at designing, building, developing, and flying aircraft and overseeing aircraft manufacturing companies.

By 1911, he had designed and built a monoplane or single wing aircraft using spruce wood covered in linen, similar to the lines of the French Bleriot XI. He named it "Silverwing."

He taught himself to fly the Silverwing with numerous mishaps and crashes before a successful five-mile flight and good landing in the same place he had taken off.

When Cessna was 47-years-old in 1925, Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman offered him a partnership in the Wichita Travel-Air Company. He served as president of the company for two years, but moved on after a disagreement with his partners over aircraft design. Cessna preferred the cantilevered wing monoplane (single wing) and Beech was determined to build a biplane (two wings).

The two General Aviation pioneers built classic designs that are still popular today, proving that opposing ideas can sometimes produce two good products.

The Depression caused Cessna to close his business in 1931, but he reopened in Wichita, three years later.

Cessna and his son, Eldon, began building racing aircraft and the CR-1 racer made a good showing in the National Air Races in 1932, with another variant, the CR-3 establishing an international speed record in 1933.

When his friend, Roy Liggett was killed while racing an aircraft built by Cessna, he immediately retired from the aviation industry and returned to farming. His nephews, Dwane and Dwight Wallace purchased the company and quickly revived the Cessna Aircraft Company.

They produced the C-34 Airmaster, a four-passenger high-winged monoplane that achieved a top speed of 162-miles-per-hour. It won the title of the world's most efficient airplane in 1936.

When World War II broke out, the Airmaster assembly line ended after building a total of 180 aircraft, but after the war, the design reappeared as an all-aluminum Cessna 195 Business-liner and was produced from 1947 until 1954. That same year, Clyde Cessna passed away, at the age of 74.

A 275 horsepower, seven cylinder, air-cooled Jacobs R755B2 radial engine powers the Cessna 195. Later models of the Cessna 195 featured a crosswind gear that allowed the wheels to swivel for slight drift or a crab during landing.

After World War II, production began on the Cessna 120 and 140 tail-wheel monoplanes. Later, the four-place Cessna 170 was introduced. It was a stretched and enlarged version of the Cessna 140.

I am thankful that Clyde Vernon Cessna was so determined; he made outstanding aviation history and his company made great, dependable airplanes!

See you on our next flight!


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