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Flights of Fancy - June 22, 2018

There are many variants of this Cessna aircraft, which is the world's best-selling personal aircraft.

Q: In June of 1911, Clyde Cessna climbed into a cockpit and made his first airplane flight. Less than 45 years later, the aircraft company he founded was producing what would become the best-selling aircraft of all time. What's the name of the world's most popular personal aircraft, which is still in use today on every continent?

A: the Cessna 172 Skyhawk
Clyde Cessna grew up in the tiny town of Rago, southwest of Wichita. He was operating an automobile dealership in Enid, Oklahoma, when he witnessed a flight demonstration. In June 1911, after assembling his own airplane from a kit, he and his brother Roy headed to Oklahoma’s Salt Plains for a test. The airplane, which they called "Silverwing," was made of spruce and linen. After a series of crashes and repairs, Clyde Cessna made a successful flight on his 13th try. Clyde didn't know it at the time, but one day, his name would become synonymous with consumer aviation. Wichita-based Cessna has produced three of the most-produced airplanes in the world. In fact, the best-selling aircraft of all time is the Cessna 172 Skyhawk. More than 44,000 of these airplanes have been built since the first one debuted. The first flight for the 172 Skyhawk was on June 12, 1955 - 63 years ago this month! 

Fun factoid: A Cessna 172 was used to set the world record for flight endurance in 1958. The record still stands.

In a recent KPR commentary, Bobbie Athon, with the Kansas Historical Society, talked about Clyde Cessna, the rural Kansas man who built an aviation empire.

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