50th Anniversary of the 172

June 1, 2006

Cessna 172 50th Anniversary C172 50th Logo
2006 Special Report Timeline 1992 Special Report Links Member Experiences

Timeline

1920-1929

1927: The Cessna Aircraft Company was formed on September 7, 1927.

1928: Cessna produced the first full cantilever-wing light airplane to go into production in the United States. In order to demonstrate the strength of this new type of wing, Cessna loaded sandbags on the wings and also had six men stand on top of the wings for a combined load of 15,752 pounds spread over both wings — more than double the stress load required for safety.

1929: On October 29, 1929, the stock market collapsed. Clyde Cessna found investors to keep the company afloat.


1930-1939

1931: As the Depression deepened, Cessna Aircraft Company's directors demoted Clyde Cessna and closed the factory.

1934: Clyde Cessna regained control of the Cessna Aircraft Company with the help of his nephews Dwane and Dwight Wallace.

1934: Soon after the factory reopened, Cessna's first airplane in the popular Airmaster series, the C-34, was introduced.

1936: Clyde Cessna retired, and Dwane Wallace became president of the company.

1939: On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland — the beginning of World War II.


1940-1949

1940: Cessna geared up for wartime production: The T-50, Cessna's first twin-engine aircraft also known as the Bobcat, was originally intended for civilian use, but during the war it was used to train bomber pilots and haul cargo.

1943: Cessna built more than 750 gliders, capable of carrying 13 troops plus equipment, for the Army Air Force.

1945: On September 2, 1945, Japan surrendered — World War II had ended.

1945: The two-place Cessna Models 120 and 140 were introduced. The 140 was the fore-runner of the 170.

1948: Cessna entered the four-place aircraft market in 1948 with the Cessna 170 model (a four-seat version of the 140), also dubbed the "family car of the air."

1949: The 170 Model was converted to metal-covered wings.

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1950-1959

1956: Cessna introduced N5000A, the first Cessna 172 model.

1956: The 172 was marketed as a businessman's airplane.

1956: During July, Ward and Ralph McDowell from Forth Worth, Texas, took delivery of Cessna's 1,000th Cessna 172, which rolled off Cessna's assembly line. Cessna President Dwane Wallace (second from left), presented the two brothers with a gold key to the airplane.

1959: Cessna purchased the Aircraft Radio Corporation.

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1960-1969

Undated: Roy Schmidt, vice president of John G. Kelly, Inc., Long Island, New York, pictured with his wife Mona, posed in front of Cessna's 30,000th airplane — a Cessna Model 172. Schmidt's firm originally leased the airplane, but the company decided to purchase it after flying it only 25 hours.

1960: The Cessna 172A, the swept-tail model, made its debut in 1960.

1960: A Cessna 172 brochure introduced "new fly-away business travel freedom in your own flight/sweep Cessna 172 for '60 — you simply get in and GO!" The pamphlet went on to describe the 172: " ...and if you drive, you can fly...LAND-O-MATIC takes over as soon as your Cessna 172 touches the ground, automatically points you straight down the runway."

1960: Cessna introduced the IFR versions of the Cessna 172, called "Skyhawks" — the name stuck.

1960: Cessna affiliated with Reims Aviation, in Reims, France, where the R172 model began production in 1968.

1961: The Cessna 172 gained a Narco autopilot.

1962: Cessna's 1962 New Airplane Buyer's Guide touted the Cessna 172 virtues as compared to a Piper Cherokee. The brochure's cover included an icon of the Cessna Anniversary Fleet.

1963: Cessna produced its 50,000th airplane — a Skyhawk.

1963: The "Omnivision" Model D (with rear windows) was introduced.

1963: AOPA Pilot's June cover featured the Skyhawk.

1965: Electric flaps were added to the Cessna Model 172.

1966: A 1960 Cessna 172 photographed by Max Karant ( AOPA 18 and founder of AOPA Pilot) makes up the cover picture of the AOPA Pilot November issue.

1967: The Civil Air Patrol took delivery of its first Cessnas — a fleet of Skyhawks.

1968: The R172 "Reims Rocket," built in Reims, France, began production.

1968: The 172 switched engines from the six-cylinder 145-hp Continental O-300A to the four-cylinder, 150-hp Lycoming O-320-E2D.

1969: A booklet labeled "Cessna '69-172/Skyhawk: One of the freedom fleet from Cessna," extolled the merits of the 172 for business travel. The introductory paragraph exclaimed: "When you step aboard a Skyhawk, you're in a new time zone... Skyhawk Savings Time."

1969: June 20, the 15,000th Skyhawk was delivered to the Telephone Employees Flying Club of the New York Telephone Company.

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1970-1979

1970: A fold-down child seat for the Cessna 172 made its debut.

1970: Cessna inaugurated a nationwide network of Cessna Pilot Centers, featuring the Cessna Integrated Flight Training System.

1971: The original spring-steel-leaf landing gear was upgraded to the tubular-steel gear, with shock-absorbing struts, still in use on the model.

1972: An extended dorsal fin updated the empennage.

1973: A redesigned leading edge, the "camber-lift cuff," highlighted the Model M.

1975: Cessna produced its 100,000th single-engine airplane.

1977: Another engine change took place, bringing the Cessna 172N a 160-hp Lycoming O-320-H2AD.

1978: The AOPA Pilot December issue carried a cover story on the Skyhawk's big brother, the Hawk XP with a 195-hp engine.

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1980-1989

1983: The AOPA Pilot November issue featured extended coverage of the Skyhawk.

1986: Cessna announced the suspension of all piston aircraft production.

1986: The last Skyhawk, a Model P, was the fastest of all the Skyhawks produced thus far.

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1990-1999

1992: The May issue of AOPA Pilot incorporated a special section providing an extensive look at the Cessna 172 evolution. The articles from that section are included in this " AOPA Pilot Special Report" celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Cessna 172.

1994: N172GN, the first AOPA sweepstakes Cessna 172, received prominent coverage in the AOPA Pilot January issue. Better known as the "Good As New 172," it was also the first aircraft refurbished by AOPA to be given away to one lucky AOPA member.

1994: On August 17, the General Aviation Revitalization Act was signed into law.

1994: In December, Independence, Kansas, was selected for the new single-engine production facility.

1995: The second AOPA sweepstakes refurbishing project (a 1978 Cessna 172) was featured in the January AOPA Pilot. The aircraft, also known as the "Better Than New 172," was delivered to yet another lucky AOPA member.

1996: April 16 saw the first flight of the new Skyhawk. A May 1996 In Flight USA article announced the new 172's first flight at Cessna's East Pawnee Field. Production test pilot Lionel Diamond, who stayed aloft for 25 minutes, piloted the airplane.

1996: In June, the FAA granted certification of the Skyhawk, and production began in July.

1996: The June AOPA Pilot cover story featured a Cessna Hawk XP taildragger conversion.

1996: During November, the first Independence-built Skyhawk rolled out. The airplane was delivered to AOPA sweepstakes winner Sharon Hauser in January 1997.

1996: AOPA Pilot Editor in Chief Thomas B. Haines wrote about the rebirth of the Skyhawk in "First New 172: A tradition continues," featured in the December AOPA Pilot.

1997: A Cessna 172 was featured on the cover of the AOPA Pilot June issue.

1998: The 172S Skyhawk SP (Special Performance) was announced, and the first aircraft was delivered in July.

1999: The 1,000th Independence-built Skyhawk was delivered in October.

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2000-Present

2003: The January AOPA Pilot issue dedicated a cover story to the Skyhawk SP.

2004: In March, Cessna celebrated the delivery of the 5,000th single-engine piston aircraft since restart of production in Independence, Kansas.

2004: In June, Cessna began providing customers with the Garmin G1000 factory-authorized orientation program. This syllabus meets the FAA Industry Training Standards (FITS), and it is designed to assist pilots to transition from traditional aircraft panel gauges to the new all-glass cockpit.

2004: July 27 saw the 150,000th single-engine piston aircraft with a 172S Skyhawk SP delivery.

2004: On July 27, Cessna announced the Garmin G1000-equipped Skyhawk.

2005: Cessna 172 Skyhawk Models S and R — with the Garmin G1000 avionics suite — received certification in March.

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Updated Tuesday, March 14, 2006 2:53:08 PM