Clyde Vernon Cessna was raised on a farm in Kansas after being born in Iowa in 1879. After learning about Louis Blériot’s 1909 trip across the English Channel, he got fascinated with flying. He bought a monoplane and spent the following years at air shows, where he met many of the renegade pilots of the day, including Roland Garros, René Simon, Charles Hamilton, and René Barrier.

In order to master the principles of flight and the craft of making aircraft, Cessna travelled east to New York and spent a month at the Queen Aircraft Corporation factory. He developed such a passion for flying that he spent his whole $7,500 life savings on an exact replica of the Blériot XI monoplane, which he shipped to his home in Enid, Oklahoma. Cessna made display flights around the Midwest with this plane and others he planned and built, always tweaking the aircraft to increase performance.

Clyde joined forces with fellow aviation pioneers Walter H. Beech and Lloyd C. Stearman in 1924 to found the Travel Air Manufacturing Co., Inc., a company that produced biplanes in Wichita, Kansas. Clyde became the company’s president and invested money and equipment in the startup.

But, Clyde had a strong preference for monoplanes and left Travel Air in 1927 to start his own business, the Cessna Aircraft Corporation. There he would construct the Phantom, a full-cantilever-winged monoplane that represented his idea of the ideal aircraft. The Phantom, together with the Model AW and DC-6, was a commercial success and enjoyed strong sales up until the start of the Great Depression.

Early in the 1930s, Clyde and his son Eldon focused on creating racing aircraft. Their CR-1 racer produced an impressive showing at the National Air Races in 1932, and the CR-3 set an international speed record in 1933. Yet Roy Liggett’s death in the accident of a racing plane made by Cessna caused Clyde to abruptly leave the aviation industry. He never again took an active role in the business.

the racing Cessna CR-3 aircraft

Aeronautical engineer Dwane Wallace, brother Dwight, and engineer Jerry Gerteis created the Model C-34, a sleek monoplane, as Clyde’s nephew. Dwane then took the helm and revived the Cessna Aircraft Corporation in 1934 to produce and sell the aircraft.

The C-34 was instrumental in Cessna Aircraft Company’s ability to survive the Great Depression and establish itself as a dominant force in American general aviation. It was a four-passenger high-winged monoplane with a peak speed of 162 mph (261 kilometres per hour). The C-34, also known as the Airmaster, was named the “world’s most efficient aeroplane” in 1936.

With bigger fuselages, improved landing gear, rubber engine mounts, wing-mounted flaps on the C-37, and a belly-mounted drag flap on the C-38, the Airmaster developed into the C-37 and C-38. The C-145 and C-165 variants of the final Airmasters had longer fuselages, split wing-flaps, and more potent engines.

After a total of around 180 had been constructed, the Airmaster line came to a stop with the outbreak of World War Two. The larger, all-aluminum Cessna 190 and 195, built from 1947 to 1954, featured its design once more.

The Type T-50, the first twin-engine aircraft from Cessna, was unveiled in 1939. During World War Two, thousands were sold to the Canadian and American military forces for use as pilot training aircraft.

Before switching to the production of four-seat aircraft, Cessna’s facility built more than 7,000 of these well-liked and reasonably priced two-seat tail-wheel monoplanes, the Model 120 and 140, after the war ended in 1946.

Advertisements for the Cessna 170, which would go on to become the most popular and widely produced light aircraft in history, started to appear in aviation periodicals in 1948. This four-seat, single-engine aircraft was a stretched-out variation of the Type 140. It had three fuel tanks for extra range, fabric-covered wings, and V-shaped wing struts. The most recognised version of the aircraft—now known as the Cessna 170A—was made by Cessna by changing the fabric-covered wings for all-metal ones with wider flaps and changing the V-strut to a single strut design in the latter half of 1948. Cessna’s focus was now on creating high-winged, monocoque, all-aluminum aircraft with side-by-side seating, flat-spring steel landing gear, and dependable engines. Almost 5,000 Cessna 170s of all varieties, known as a “good, honest taildragger,” were produced throughout the course of the plane’s six-year production period; half of those aircraft were still in service in 2001.

The Model 310 is a twin-engine, lightweight, five-passenger aircraft that Cessna started producing in 1953. The Model 310, made famous by the television show “Sky King,” is recognised as one of the most beautiful aeroplanes ever created. More than 5,500 Model 310s were produced over the course of nearly 30 years, eventually rising to the position of Cessna’s most widely used twin-engine type.

Early in the 1960s, Cessna introduced two twin-engine aircraft, the Model 336 Skymaster (with fixed landing gear) and the Model 337 Super Skymaster, which were created to prevent the asymmetrical drag that frequently happens if one of the two engines fails (with retractable landing gear). It served with the American armed forces in the Vietnam War and has a six-passenger capacity. The aircraft was well suited as a spotting aircraft that scouted and marked targets for other aircraft to attack due to its adaptability and outstanding cockpit visibility for the pilot. In its 20-year production life, which came to an end in 1983, almost 2,000 Skymasters were produced, making it Cessna’s second most popular twin-engine type.

The Model 188, a specialist aircraft made for crop dusting, was created in the middle of the 1960s and sold under various names. This aircraft had safety windscreens, lights for nighttime flying, and wire-cutter blades for unforeseen collisions with telephone wires. An estimated 4,000 Model 188s were produced, each having big hoppers and strong turbocharged engines.

In 1956, the Model 170 was superseded by the Model 172 Skyhawk, Cessna’s response to Piper Aircraft’s well-liked PA-22 Tri-Pacer. It had a brand-new tail design and tricycle landing gear. The Model 172, which could fly at approximately 144 mph (232 kph) and was inexpensive and simple to operate, would go on to become (and still is) the most popular four-seat aircraft in general aviation history.

The Model 150, a tricycle-geared variant of the Model 140, quickly became the most popular two-seat training plane in aviation. Its manufacturing initially commenced slowly, but it eventually became the second-most popular general aviation aircraft ever built. In 1959, the first year of production, just 122 were produced, but by the time production stopped in 1977, a total of 23,840 had been produced.

A version of the 150 known as the Model F150 began manufacturing in 1966 in Reims, France; 1,758 model F150 vehicles were produced. Limited manufacture of the 150’s aerobatic version began in 1970. Over its 18-year production run, Cessna made a number of improvements to the aircraft’s airframe and configuration. This aircraft had a four-cylinder, 100-horsepower (75-kilowatt), Continental O-200 engine. The more potent Model 152, which was likewise better suited to more recent aviation fuel blends, was released by Cessna in 1978. 7,500 Model 152s had been produced in all by the time production ceased in 1985.

With the pressurised cabin types 411 and 421, Cessna started making smaller twin-engine aircraft in the 1960s. In 1968, the company entered the commercial jet aircraft market with the turbofan-powered Fanjet 500. The inaugural flight of the Cessna Citation X business jet, one of the world’s fastest mass-produced aircraft that can transport 12 passengers and two pilots while travelling at Mach 0.92, took place in December 1993. (about 600 miles per hour [447 kilometres per hour]).

Due to worries about product liability, Cessna ceased making piston-engine aeroplanes with the 1986 model year after becoming a part of General Dynamics Company in 1985. Cessna Aircraft was acquired by Textron, Inc. in 1992, and the company immediately started making light aircraft again. Nevertheless, the company decided against reintroducing the well-liked and reasonably priced two-seat models due to increased production costs and worries about product liability.

With only a fifth-grade education and no private pilot’s certificate, Clyde Cessna contributed to the development of the general aviation sector. The Cessna name has come to be associated with small planes as a result of Clyde Cessna’s vision, even though it was his two nephews Dwane and Dwight Wallace who turned Cessna Aircraft into the aviation powerhouse that produced more than 100,000 piston-powered aircraft and another 2,000 Citation jets.