From time to time, we ask a particular aviation personality to answer some random questions. Harry Clements was an aeronautical engineer for many years with his hand in the design of some well-known airplanes. Now retired, we posed these questions to Harry to delve into the mind of an engineer.
Articles By: Harry Clements
In 1954, just after the cessation of hostilities in the Korean war, the Marines wanted an improved model of Cessna’s L-19 Army Liaison/Observation airplane. The Marines only wanted a few of these good airplanes, and they were willing to pay–quite a bit more–for them.
You don’t think of leading edge aeronautical research being conducted in the General Aviation industry, especially in Wichita, Kansas. But Cessna did just that, in the early 1950s, and on its own planes. And not only was it successful, but it was incorporated in some famous long run production airplanes–unfortunately, not Cessna airplanes.
It was a day like any other day. I was the flight test engineer/observer on the Cessna M310 prototype and we were taking off on a routine test flight, the purpose of which I’ve forgotten, but it was to be a long one. Right after lift off, a loud metal popping noise was heard at the nose of the airplane.
In very early 1952, I was an undergraduate working part time in Cessna’s Flight Test, Aerodynamics and Preliminary Design Group when a request for proposal for the TX came in from the Air Force. The TX was to be the first, that is the primary, trainer in a series of three new trainers which would finish with the TZ, a supersonic one.
The author played a key role in designing and testing the ground-breaking Cessna 310. In this one-of-a-kind article, he shares some of the struggles that went on behind the scenes, including issues with stability and performance. He also shares his suspicions, untold for over 50 years, about a unsigned drawing he discovered.
Our Vice President of Engineering at Cessna during my time there in the Golden 1950s was sort of a contrary guy. He was absolutely sure that wind tunnel tests were a waste of time. But after heartfelt discussion, he reluctantly agreed to let us do it on the proposed Cessna 620.
In 1935 I was six years old, and we were living in Ponca City, Oklahoma. One day a Ford Tri-motor flew into our grass airfield and offered rides, at a price, to our “city’s” inhabitants. I was completely hooked on aviation from that moment on, and determined that I wanted to be part of it.
Former Cessna engineer and test pilot Harry Clements shares his personal history of designing the Cessna 180. As you might expect, not everything went smoothly during this bush plane’s development.
The author, an engineer at Cessna in the 1950s, helped to design the legendary Cessna 172–but didn’t realize it until much later. Read Harry Clements’ fascinating story of how the iconic Skyhawk came to be.
The Cessna 620 was unique because it was a small version of the modern airliner of the day, sized to carry half a dozen or so executives in luxury accommodations, above the weather, in pressurized, air conditioned comfort. Why did it get canceled? Harry Clements worked on the project, and shares his opinion.