Although I have a list of aircraft to do now based on suggestions and personal interest, I decided before I proceed further I should recognize what I personally think is the most important family of aircraft in aviation history AND the current community: The high-wing Cessna's.
Okay, so my Plane of the Week again is not a particular plane, but a family...sorry, but no one Cessna high wing can be discussed without covering its sisters.
To start, I probably should explain why I think it is the most important family of aircraft. This opinion comes the fact that it covers the most numerous aircraft EVER: The 172. To add to that, this family of aircraft feature utilitarian designs with gentle flight characteristics, affordable, and trust worthy. Their performance numbers may not be the best, but the balance of all characteristics and attributes is the source of the success.
To start things off, I suggest reading though the 'history' section on Cessna's own website. It is a great starting point for those wanting to go more in depth than I have time for.http://www.cessna.com/CessnaHistory/His ... -1939.html
List of models:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Cessna_models
For kicks and grins, a list of registered Cessnas on the FAA registry:http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry ... =&PageNo=1
Apparently there are too many!
So to make it manageable, here is a list of 172s:http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry ... 2&PageNo=1
There are a huge amount of versions of high-winged Cessna's spanning the years, so forgive me if I mix one up or dont mention one.
Anyways, it seems the first of the Cessna family of high wings as we know them would be the 140 produced shortly after WW2. However, the 165, sporting a radial, was produced before the war. However, it seems that design was more of a visual inspiration than a real start to the line. The 165 featured traditional construction of tubes, fabric, and wood. Thus, the 140, carrying on some of the visual cues of the 165, was made with aluminum construction and an inline engine. Being a two seater, relatively cheap, and easy to fly, the 140 was one of the first (I would say thee first) private post war aircraft that fits our modern view of a private plane. However, the uggly tailwheel vs nose wheel debate come up...some apparently think a taildragger is harder to handle on/near the ground ::)...So Cessna modified the 140 putting a nose wheel up front creating the 150. The 152 being a later development. I challenge any of you to find a pilot that has NOT flown at least once in a 150/152! Our beloved Fozzer seems to love his! Although Im pretty sure his comes from the bowls of some secret military research facility
Shortly after the 140, the 170 appeared. Basically the 170 is a 140 with 4 seats. The 172, being born out of a trike version of the 170 just like the 150 was with the 140.
Eventually, the 172 was further developed into the 182 with better performance primarily. Along the way, a stretched version was made, the 206, retracting gear and cantilever wing 177/210, earlier too was the 180 (think supped up 170), and finally the turbo prop 208. The growth through these models was rather smooth, with most changes being logical and straight forward. Usually the change being either A) more room or B) better performance. The 208 Grand Caravan could be considered the ultimate development of the original 140 considering its lineage goes straight back.
One note about the switch from tail wheel to nose wheel: Cessna dubbed its trike layout as the "land-o-matic" gear because they said it was so easy to land with a nose wheel, the plane practically lands itself! ::) (dont tell student pilots that)
The 208, 206, 180, and 172 are stars of the recently finished Discovery Channel series: Flying Wild Alaska thanks to their propensity of being used as airborne utility vehicles in tough environments.
I should mention the last radial Cessna and easily my favorite tail dragger Cessna: the 190/195. This was developed straight from the 165 after WW2 but it was the end of the radial Cessnas which stretched back to the very first Cessnas including the AW.
Finally, the last model I want to mention would be the 337/336 Skymaster or as some call it the "Skysmasher". Personally I prefer the latter
This twin is extremely unique in having its engines laid out in a pusher-puller configuration, giving it better aerodynamics and superior engine-out characteristics to any other twin. However, its pusher engine like most pushers, has a propensity to overheat. There have been cases in which pilots would do a long taxi in hot temps leading to the aft engine overheating and shutting down. What would follow would be a disastrous single engine take off with the pilot unaware of the aft engine's state. That said, the "Skysmasher" is a wonderful aircraft featuring the unique retracting main wheels like the 210, 182RG, and 177. I have heard that these can get stuck sometimes in the 182RG, a pilot I know mentioned always having an umbrella so he could use the curved handle to grab the mains as he leaned out of the airplane to pull them down! At any rate, the "Skysmasher" has had its moment in the Hollywood spotlight in the movie 'Bat 21' featuring Danny Glover as an intrepid FAC pilot known as 'Bird dog' flying the military version called the O-2 Bird Dog. This movie features a ton of fantastic low flying scenes of the O-2 tearing up the tree tops and I highly recommend it purely for those flying scenes.
Trailer for Bat21 (based on a true story)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=065ygnrssgw
One last thing that is on my mind: high wing vs low wing. Some say the high-wings are more stable, some say low wings are more stable. There is logic to both arguments so it is a wash. HOWEVER, there are 2 clear un-questionable points: 1) high wings hinder view into a turn (which is a big reason I do not like high wings) 2) low wings tend to float a lot more on landing as they are closer to the ground and are thus deeper in 'ground effect'. All other points to me can be swung both ways in one way or another.
Now about sim versions of these planes.
Superb payware ones available here, I do not have any though as I have to pay for college. http://www.carenado.com/CarSite/Portal/index.php
I did buy this one though when there was an awesome sale on:http://www.fsd-international.com/Hangar/C337/index.htm
Hands down this is my favorite piston GA aircraft in my sim hanger. She is an absolute joy to fly with wonderful sound.
There is an ex ALPHAsim Cessna 170 that is free available here and many other sites. It is decent, although the VC seems a tad butchered.
Repaints and mods are abundant on SimV, I would post a link there are just so many for all the sims I suggest searching for what you want.
That concludes my 7th Plane of the Week. I feel this family of aircraft is so common we have all grown too accustom to seeing a 172 or 152 that we have lost sight of the tremendously successful family they come from. I hope I shined enough light on it.
As always, I know I do not give the most in-depth coverage, I encourage the reader to investigate the parts that interest you the most.
Feel free to post your own stories of these ubiquitous aircraft!