The Cessna Model 172 is the most successful light aircraft in history with 44,000 production units made since series introduction occurred in 1956 (and production continuing today - 2018). The Model 172 was developed from the earlier Model 170 which appeared in 1948 as a single-engine, shoulder-winged general aviation aircraft with fixed, "tail-dragging" undercarriage through 5,174 examples. The follow-on Model 172 found huge success in the general aviation market as well as the military sphere and, despite its Cold War-era introduction, continues to "fly high" even today (2018).
The Cessna 172 was drawn up as an improved version of the original Model 170. The series was first-flown in January of 1955 as the "Model 170C" and carried a Continental O-300-A engine driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose. The tailfin and elevators were both redesigned from the original and were given an increase to surface area for added stability and control. Further changes (following certification) of the C-model ultimately introduced the iconic fixed, wheeled tricycle undercarriage common to Model 172 aircraft today. Cabin seating allowed for four-to-five persons to be carried including the pilot. Forward positions numbered two (side-by-side) with the remaining three in the back (side-by-side-by-side). In this revised form, the aircraft was first-flown on June 12th, 1955 and was introduced for service as the "Model 172". The type proved immediately popular with thousands being manufactured in the first few years of availability alone.
Throughout the course of its operational service life, the Cessna 172 underwent an evolution that saw both minor and major revisions to the line - increasing gross weights, aerodynamic efficiency, performance, ergonomics and the like. Modifications allowed for floatplane /amphibious models to emerge and the type was also taken into military service by the USAF as a flight trainer through the T-41 "Mescalero" variant (detailed elsewhere on this site). The Model 172A of 1960 introduced the modern swept-back tail fin while the "Skyhawk" deluxe package was introduced in the Model 172B of late-1960. The Model 172I of 1968 was the first to switch over to the Lycoming O-320-E2D engine of 150 horsepower (thereby increasing some performance figures).
Various other military powers soon adopted the type in useful numbers for both land- and sea-based service to undertake a plethora of roles. The Model 172 has since evolved to much more modern forms today (2018) all the while retaining its versatility, reliability, and popularity - making it a sound choice for first-time student flyers and veteran general aviation buffs alike.
The Cessna 172 as a Record-Setter
In 1958, the Cessna 172 was used to set an endurance record in which the aircraft covered 64 days, 22 hours, 19 minutes and 5 seconds in a flight originating from, and ending at, McCarran Airfield in Las Vegas, Nevada. With some modifications in place as well as a very detailed flight plan, the aircraft with its crew of two were able to make the round-the-world journey in the light airplane. The flight went down in the history books and the record stands to this day.
The base Model 172R form offers a cruising speed of 140 miles per hour with a range of 800 miles. Its service ceiling is 13,500 feet and rate-of-climb reaches 720 feet-per-minute. Empty weight is 1,700lb against an MTOW of 2,450lb. The Garmin 1000 avionics fit is an optional upgrade to the cockpit.
Dimensions include an overall length of 27 feet, a wingspan measuring 36 feet, and a height of 8.10 feet.
Status Active, In-Service
Production 44,000 Units
Cessna Aircraft Company / Textron Aviation - USA
Austria; Australia; Bolivia; Brazil; Canada; Chile; China; Ecuador; Finland; France; Guatemala; Honduras; Iraq; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Liberia; Lithuania; Madagascar; Norway; Pakistan; Philippines; Portugal; Russia; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; South Africa; South Korea; Spain; Sweden; United Kingdom; United States
- Navy / Maritime
- Commercial Market
- VIP Transport
- Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC)
- Search and Rescue (SAR)
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
27.17 ft (8.28 m)
36.09 ft (11 m)
8.92 ft (2.72 m)
1,640 lb (744 kg)
2,557 lb (1,160 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Cessna 172 production model)
(Variable): 1 x Continental O-300 six-cylinder, air-cooled engine developing 145 horsepower; 1 x Textron Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine of 180 horsepower.
186 mph (300 kph; 162 kts)
14,009 feet (4,270 m; 2.65 miles)
736 miles (1,185 km; 640 nm)
730 ft/min (223 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Cessna 172 production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Cessna 172 production model)
172 - Base Series Designation; original production form of 1955; gross weight of 2,200lb; powered by Continental O-300 145 horsepower engine; 4,195 examples.
172A - Model of 1960; swept-back tail fin; 1,015 examples.
172B - Model of 1960 (late); revised undercarriage and engine mounting with redesigned cowling; Skyhawk package made available; increased gross weight to 2,205lb.
172C - Model of 1962; internal changes; 889 examples.
172D - Model of 1963; modified lower rear fuselage; wrap-around rear window; revised front windshield; 1,146 examples.
172E - Model of 1964; switch to electrical fuses; revised instrument panel; 1,401 examples.
172F - Model of 1965; electrically-driven flaps; 1,436 examples.
172G - Model of 1966; revised spinner; 1,597 examples.
172H - Model of 1967; short-stroke nose gear oleo; revised cowling; electric stall warning indicator (instead of horn version).
172I - Model of 1968; initial Lycoming-powered model; Lycoming O-320-E2D engine of 150 horsepower; slightly increased performance.
172J - Proposed cantilever-wing / stabilitor; not enacted due to dealer pressure.
172K - Model of 1969; redesigned tail fin and rear window panes; optional long-range fuel tanks; 1,170 examples.
172L - Model of 1971; modified main landing gear legs; 1,811 examples.
172M - Model of 1973; dropped leading wing edge introduced; 7,306 examples.
172N (Skyhawk 100) - Model of 1977; O-320-H2AD engine fitted; rudder trim option.
172O - Designation not used.
172P (Skyhawk P) - Model of 1981; Lycoming O-320-D2J with improved performance and reliability; 196 examples.
172Q "Cutlass" - Model of 1983; IO-360-A4N engine of 180 horsepower; gross weight of 2,550lb.
172R - Model of 1996; IO-360-L2A engine of 160 horsepower; fuel-injection; gross weight of 2,450lb.
172RG "Cutlass" - Retractable Gear variant; model of 1980.
172S - Model of 1998; IO-360-L2A engine of 180 horsepower; Garmin G1000 avionics optional.
Reims FR172J - Rolls-Royce FI Continental IO-360-H(B) engine of 210 horsepower.
R172K "Hawk XP" - Model of 1977; Continental FI IO-360K engine of 195 horsepower.
172TD - Model of 2007; porposed diesel-fueled variant; not furthered.
172 Electric - Model of 2010; proposed electric-powered variant; successfully test-flown.
T-41 "Mescalero" - USAF flight training platform; introduced in 1964 and produced into 1996.
(Cockpit image represents the T-41 Mescalero production model)
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of a possible 100.
Relative Maximum Speed
This entry's maximum listed speed (186mph).
Graph average of 150 miles-per-hour.
Cessna 172 operational range when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Span
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
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