Air Capital Aviation Report, July 30, 2006

Carl Chance

By Carl Chance, Wings Over Kansas’s aviation & aerospace correspondent, former news consultant and producer for Wingspan Air & Space Channel.

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk and 182 Skylane Turn 50:

1956 was the year two of Cessna Aircraft Company’s best selling tail draggers would be modified into two of the most heavily produced tricycle gear airplanes in the world.

“This year, Cessna’s 172 Skyhawk and 182 Skylane mark their 50th anniversary and celebrate the production of more than 65,000 airplanes since 1956,” said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jack J. Pelton. “While the 172 and 182 have each had more than 250 modifications in their 50-year lifespan, the fundamentals of these legendary airplanes have remained the same — they are easy to fly, extremely safe, and dependable. This is why more young men and women in every country in the world have learned to fly in a Cessna than all other manufactures’ airplanes combined.”

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Orders 29 Cessna 172 Skyhawks:

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University announced an order for 29 new Garmin G1000-equipped 172 Skyhawks from Cessna Aircraft Company.

“Cessna’s are the most reliable platforms for teaching young people to fly because they are forgiving during flight training, east to maintain and economical to operate,” said Chancellor of Embry-Riddle, Thomas Connolly. “Now, since the technology exists to have Skyhawks with the Garmin G1000 avionics, training has become even more advanced. The Skyhawks with glass cockpits give our future airline and military pilots the experience they need to easily transition to flying jets with glass cockpits.”

At any given time, about 1,700 students are learning to fly in Embry-Riddle’s Skyhawks at the Daytona, Fla., campus and Prescott, Ariz., campus. With the additional 29 Skyhawks on order, the all-Cessna fleet will now include 69 Skyhawks.

Civil Air Patrol and Cessna Aircraft Celebrate 60-Year Partnership:

Cessna’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Pelton and Civil Air Patrol (CAP) National Commander Maj. Gen. Antonio J. Pineda exchanged anniversary coins, as a symbol of their ongoing partnership, in the Cessna exhibit area in AeroShell Square during AirVenture Oshkosh 2006.

CAP is celebrating 65 years of conducting 95 percent of the nation’s inland search and rescue missions, aerial reconnaissance for homeland security, and disaster relief and damage assessment, among other services to the United States. To accomplish their missions, CAP operates the world’s largest single-engine piston fleet, of which about 500 are Cessna aircraft.

“Cessna aircraft — with their superb levels of reliability and quality, have been instrumental in carrying out our wide range of missions for more than 60 years, said Pineda. The CAP began flying Cessna aircraft shortly after World War II, and today the organization is Cessna’s largest single-engine piston customer.

Cessna Unveils Light Sport Airplane:

Following much rumor and speculation among industry officials, reporters and pilots, Cessna Aircraft unveiled its light sport aircraft (LSA) proof-of-concept model at the Oshkosh airshow.

The high-wing strutted airplane, which has yet to fly, boasts an aluminum fuselage and a composite cowl, with a full-castering nosewheel. The aircraft currently has a 100-hp Rotax 912S engine; a preliminary choice made for its weight-to-power ratio. The final choice of engine, among most other aircraft components — including the possibility of a whole-airframe parachute — will wait until the company has determined whether it will enter the market or not.

The entire proof-of-concept vehicle came together within the past 10 weeks at Cessna, under a challenge from management to the engineering team to put together an example LSA in time for the show. Cessna will be surveying show attendees on their response to the aircraft design and overall LSA concept. Said Jack Pelton, Cessna’s Chairman, CEO, and President, “The driver is going to be cost, not volume,” whether the company enters the LSA market.

If Cessna can prove to itself that the market is there at an attractive cost of production, the company will jump in. “We’re not expecting numbers like 2,000 a year,” said Pelton. Just a sustainable number through the economic cycles common to general aviation. “It would be an extension of our product line to stimulate new pilot starts.” A “go/no-go” decision would be made by the first quarter of 2007.

B-29 “Doc” Restoration Project Update:

Good news for all B-29 enthusiasts and potential volunteers. A web site for “Doc” has now been posted online.

The site features History, Goals, Status, Volunteers, Sponsors/Contributors, Publicity and Other B-29 Sites.

Simply log on to and have fun surfing the site.

This major restoration project is to put the world’s last restorable Boeing B-29 Superfortress in the air. Out of the 3,970 B-29’s manufactured, only one remains flying today. The United States Aviation Museum will make that two flying B-29’s. This restoration of “Doc” is now going on at Boeing Wichita plant on the East side of Oliver.

I’ll have more news and items of interest in my next report. Please keep logging on to for weekly aviation and aerospace update stories, features, history and more.

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