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Cessna’s story began in 1911, when Clyde Cessna built and flew his first aircraft at his farm in Rago, Kansas. Eventually, Cessna formed a small aviation company in 1927 by the name of Cessna-Ross Aircraft Company. After several business struggles throughout the Great Depression, Cessna Aircraft Company eventually emerged as a top U.S. aircraft manufacturer.
In 1956, Cessna produced the Cessna 172. This aircraft went on to become the most widely produced aircraft in history. After the massive success of the 172, Cessna established itself as a major innovator in the general aviation industry.
Throughout its 90-year history, Cessna has produced hundreds of thousands of aircraft. In this article, we break down the top 10 all-time greatest Cessna aircraft. Read on to discover everything there is to know about Cessna’s long and illustrious history in the aviation industry.
After World War II, Cessna Aircraft Company went on a brief hiatus. During this period, they never produced a single twin-engine aircraft. However, with the release of the Cessna 310 in 1954, Cessna kicked off a series of commercially successful twin-engine planes.
The Cessna 310 is one of Cessna’s very best low-wing aircraft. During its time in production, it would seat four to six passengers, including the pilot. When it first debuted, the plane gained recognition for its innovative design. The sleek and modern-looking monoplane aesthetic portrayed a sense of “newness” that most pre-WWII aircraft did not have.
Overall, the 310 set a powerful precedent in the years to come. With its upgraded 310C version in 1959, the twin Continental IO-470-D engines made for a fast and smooth ride in all-weather conditions. The Cessna 310 was truly ahead of its time.
According to many general aviation enthusiasts, the Cessna 172 was the plane that started it all. Since its release in 1955, the Cessna 172 has become the most popular airplane in the world. In fact, over 44,000 models have been produced by Cessna and their partners as of 2015. If that doesn’t speak volumes about the quality of the aircraft, I don’t know what does.
The Cessna 172 is a four-seater, single-engine, fixed high-wing aircraft. The 172 boasts a cruise speed of 140 mph and an impressive range of nearly 700 nmi. For its time, its instrument panel was sleek and technically powerful compared to its competitors. And at an industry-low price point, the 172 offered high-end power at a competitive cost.
The Cessna 150 was a two-seater aircraft that saw a great deal of success as a recreation and flight training plane. With nearly 24,000 produced over its twenty-year lifespan, the Cessna 150 was cemented a serious legacy in the history of aviation.
The 150 contains top-of-the-line specs for a small two-seat aircraft. Aesthetically, the plane featured rounded wingtips and a modern profile. Subsequent revisions also saw the 150 outfitted with Fowler flaps which helped tremendously with stabilization. Not to mention is American-made Continental O-200-A 100 horsepower engine packed some serious punch.
The 150 could reach maximum speeds of 125 mph at sea level, and a cruise speed of 94 mph. Its large fuel capacity allowed for a decent range of 420 nmi. In sum, the 150 was a well-priced workhorse of an aircraft. It is no wonder that it sold as well as it did.
The Cessna 182 Skylane, better known as the Model 182, is a four-seater, single-engine airplane. The 182 was introduced in 1956 after the success of the 310 and the 172. In total, the Model 182 has sold over 23,000 units and it is currently in limited production today.
With a $480,000 price tag, the Model 182 is well-priced given its specifications. The 182 featured a six-cylinder Lycoming IO-540-AB1A5 engine with a horsepower of 230. This allowed the Model 182 to boast industry-best performance metrics such as a maximum speed of 173 mph and a cruise speed of 167 mph. For the money, you can hardly find a better four-seat aircraft no matter where you look.
Released in 1962, the Cessna 206 (also known as the “Stationair” or “Super Skywagon”) refers to a family of single-engine aircraft with a non-retractable landing gear. Its fixed landing gear made it stand out among Cessna enthusiasts, as most general aviation Cessna aircraft featured retractable landing gear. Today, the 206 has a positive reputation among bush plane hobbyists.
Some experts have described the Cessna 206 as the “SUV of the skies”. And, if we’re being honest, this is as accurate a description as you can get. The aircraft is large by Cessna standards, with a whopping 36 ft wingspan and 28 ft length. Despite its larger size, it maintains a solid range of 840 nmi.
At $665,000 per unit, the aircraft is overpriced compared to some of its contemporaries. However, you still get respectable value for your money. This is mostly because the Lycoming IO engine will reach cruising speeds of up to 163 mph and net you a 988 ft/min rate of climb.
The Cessna 208 Caravan is a single-engine turboprop fixed-gear utility aircraft. Most iterations of the 208 seat, nine passengers plus a pilot, with more recent versions allowing for up to 14 passengers. Given its size, the Cessna 208 has gained success as a cargo aircraft among regional airlines.
The Cessna 208 was introduced in 1984 and remains in production to this day. As a spacious aircraft, the 208 has become notable for its ability to carry skydivers and other utility passengers. Additionally, the plane had an excellent storage capacity and a best-in-class low density seating arrangement. This made the 208 a comfortable ride, every time.
The Cessna 400 is one of Cessna’s newer single-engine, low-wing aircraft. Introduced in 2004, the 400 featured a robust Continental TSIO-500-C engine which produced 310 horsepower when turbocharged. The 400 also features a beautiful Garmin G1000 all-glass cockpit and a Garmin G2000 avionics suite.
The Cessna 400 is a true work of art. The 400 perfectly combines the need for a powerful, lightweight single-engine aircraft with an aesthetic and compact frame. Plus, the avionics and internal equipment is unparalleled among modern aircraft in its price range. In our view, the Cessna 400 is one of the all-time best. It’s a shame it was recently cancelled in February 2018.
The Cessna Citation Mustang, also known as the Cessna 510 or the Model 150, is a very light business jet. The 510 carries four passengers and seating for a pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit. Although it was only released in 2006, the Cessna 510 ceased production in May 2017. In total, 475 Model 150 aircraft were produced.
The 510 features a gorgeous all-leather cabin interior. In our experience, the 510 has always provided a comfortable, luxury flying experience. The premium quality of the interior and the aluminum alloy airframe exterior make for an excellent business-appropriate aesthetic. Plus, its Pratt & Whitney Canada PW615F turbofan engines provide enough power to reach Mach 0.63.
The Cessna 525 is part of the CitationJet series of light business aircraft. Since its first flight in 1991, over 2,000 Cessna 525 models have been produced.
Like the rest of the jets in the CitationJet class, the 525 is a low-wing monoplane with retractable tricycle landing gears and a fully pressurized cabin. It features a distinctive T-tail and twin Williams FJ44 turbofan engines mounted on the fuselage. This gives the 525 a whopping 3,621 lb thrust capacity and a maximum cruise speed of 835 km/h.
The Cessna 525 is truly a beast of a jet. Its most recent release, the Citation CJ4, has a maximum range of 2,165 nmi and a cabin 21 inches longer than its original version. Since the CJ4 can seat up to 10 passengers, this is an astounding range for its class. In our view, this makes the Cessna 525 a modern classic.
The Cessna 560XL (affectionately known as the “Cessna Excel”) is a medium-sized business jet. The 560XL was first flown in 1996 and has since left its mark on the aviation world. It features a stand-up cabin fuselage and two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW500 turbofan jet engines. Together, the engines produce an incredible 4,119 pounds of thrust each.
For a larger business jet, the Cessna 560XL sets a new standard. It has a maximum speed of 507 mph and a range of 1,858 nautical miles. Plus, the Excel features a luxury cabin that offers more room and leisure space than any other jet aircraft in its class. Clearly, there is good reason why the 560XL is still mass-produced even 20 years after its release.