In response to market demand, Cessna developed the 182, a tricycle gear variant of the Cessna 180. The basic 182 model became available in 1956. In 1957, the Skylane model appeared, differences being in the level of equipment on board.
As more avionics, larger fuel capacities and better accommodations were incorporated, the airplanes got heavier, necessitating max gross weight increases. The first model had a max gross of 2550 lbs. The A-D models were designed to max out at 2650 lbs. Gross weight was, again, bumped up with the E model in 1962 to 2800 lbs. Cessna’s 1970 Skylane weighed 2950 lbs. That figure only varied by 10 pounds for the next 10 years. The last weight change brought the R model up to 3100 lbs.
The aircraft has seen many design changes over the years, resulting in 23 distinctive models, counting the RG and Turbo versions. Older models were powered by the Continental O-470 series and were rated at 230 hp. Cessna ceased production on single engine piston aircraft in 1986 due to increasing product liability suits. With the passage of the General Aviation Revitalization Act in 1994, Cessna announced it would resume production; but it wasn’t until 1997 that we saw our first new 182, an S model. The S and the T model (which is currently in production), are the first to sport Lycoming’s O-540 engine. They are also rated at 230 hp. For the technology lovers, the 2004 T model had the option to be equipped with Garmin’s G1000 glass avionics suite. On any models produced in 2007 or after, the G1000 is part of the standard equipment.
Skylane enthusiasts refer to this venerable aircraft as solid and forgiving, able to cover many a sloppy maneuver with stable predictability. As a natural step-up for 152 and Skyhawk pilots who want more capability, the airplane earns high marks for ease of transition and its popularity has been consistent throughout its 50-plus year history.