For the average pilot, civilian aircraft form the nucleus of their world. While they might admire and desire the faster, more exciting models that are seen at military airbases, it is the slower, more functional models that bring home the bacon. In general, civilian aircraft are more affordable and are easier to obtain as they are sold by both private sellers and dealers. This section of Airplanes.com covers not only all these factors, but also takes a look at some popular classic and vintage aircraft for the connoisseurs of flying.
2006 marks the 50-year anniversary of the Cessna Skyhawk 172. The tricycle-gear 4-seat Cessna 172 is one of the world’s most popular airplanes of all time. To date, Cessna has delivered more than 35,000 of the single-engine, high-wing airplanes. The 172 is a forgiving aircraft which makes it attractive for novice pilots or those who operate on short strips or unpaved runways.
Another reason given for the 172’s popularity is that Cessna has consistently improved the aircraft’s design, engine, and avionics. Some of these changes include adding a rear window, aerofoil modifications, increased fuel capacity, and more horsepower. From 1956 until 1967, the 172 ran on a 145-horsepower six-cylinder Continental O-300 engine. From 1968 until 1984, Cessna replaced that engine with a 150-horsepower four-cylinder Lycoming O-320 engine.
Cessna then ceased production of the Skyhawk 172 until 1996, when they released the 172R with the current 160-horsepower, fuel injected four-cylinder Textron Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine.
Higher performance variations of the 172R come with more features and more horsepower. The 172RG featured retractable gear and a variable pitch, constant speed propeller with a more powerful engine in the 180-horsepower Lycoming O-360.
Specifications of the current Skyhawk Model 172R:
Engine: Textron Lycoming IO-360-L2A, 160 BHP at 2,400 RPM
Landing Performance: ground roll 550 ft
Propeller: 2-bladed fixed pitch
Cruise Speed (80% power at 8,000 feet):122 kts
Takeoff Performance (total distance over 50 ft obstacle): 1,685 ft
Optional Garmin G1000 NAV III glass cockpit