Every airplane model has a personality; some even have a stereotype. The V-tail Bonanza is either a joy to fly (according to owners) or a doctor killer (according to the internet). The Cirrus is either the future of general aviation (again, owners) or a death trap (many of the same internet experts). Beauty is most certainly in the eye of the beholder when it comes to airplanes.
So when a friend recently asked what I thought of the Cessna 210 Centurion, I hesitated. I felt qualified to offer an opinion since I flew one for about five years in the early 2000s, but I also felt obligated to go beyond cliches. I have very fond memories of the 210, but it is a love it/hate it type of airplane – its strengths are unique, and its weaknesses are maddening. (Note that I’m excluding the pressurized P210 model, which is an entirely different animal, and exhaustively analyzed by Richard Collins here.)
First, the reasons to love a Cessna 210. While many pilots obsess about cruise speed or short field takeoff length, I always found the 210’s incredible load-hauling ability to be a breakthrough in performance. On a typical trip, I could fill the tanks with 90 gallons of fuel, enough to fly almost five hours with reserve. Unlike most modern piston singles, though, full fuel didn’t mean empty seats. I could still put almost 1000 lbs. in the cabin, and I often did. That meant four 200 lb. adults and lots of baggage, something that isn’t possible with most Bonanzas or Saratogas. With less than full fuel, I could stay in the envelope even with six adults and bags. The back two seats in a 210 are not exactly spacious, but they work well for shorter flights or for kids.
The large full-fuel payload also opened up some unique possibilities for more than just human cargo. With one of the middle seats removed, the cabin could accommodate all kinds of gear. I once flew two people and a complete, 4 ft.-long cornhole set (Google it – it’s a lawn game) to Put-in-Bay, a small island in Lake Erie. Some friends in an Aztec and a 182 couldn’t find a way to make it work, but it was easy in the Centurion. For the same reason, many check-hauling operations flew 210s for years, criss-crossing the country at night with cabins stuffed full of canceled checks. With the strut-free high wing, cargo loading was painless. The 210 was the original “if it fits, it ships” airplane.
The flexibility in the cabin led to another character trait: its truck-like handling. Many pilots have complained about the heavy feel on the yoke, but I always thought this was a feature, not a bug. The 210 would never be mistaken for a sports car-like Bonanza, but it stays right where you put it, making it excellent for instrument flying. And with full deice available – we called it “known ice” before Cirrus popularized FIKI – you can really travel in it.
A trip into Washington Dulles one day in 2004 sold me on the airplane. First, I had the pleasure of flying an honest-to-goodness holding pattern, one of only two I’ve ever flown for real in my 24 years of flying. ATC was nice, but it was clear that I needed to spend some time in the penalty box while the unbroken line of airliners blew past me. Of course I was IMC, of course there was a little ice, and of course there were a few bumps over the eastern edges of the Appalachian Mountains. I won’t say it was fun, but it was certainly no big deal in the 210. The TKS deice fluid kept the wing reasonably clean and the airplane stayed steady in the light to moderate turbulence.
When I was released after four turns in the hold, the controller asked what speed he could expect from me on final. I knew he was bracing for an inconveniently low number, so I was proud to surprise him with 150 knots. The 210 I flew, a 1980 model with no rear gear doors, boasted a maximum gear speed at the bottom of the yellow arc, so I used the landing gear like a speed brake. Coming into Washington, I kept the power up until three-mile final, then dropped the gear and ten degrees of flaps. In no time I was slowed below 100 knots and made a smooth landing on the two-mile long runway at IAD. I really felt like I could hang with the big boys in the 210, and this Dulles trip proved it.
Passengers seemed to enjoy the 210 as well. With no wheels or struts in the way, the view out the window was unparalleled and sightseeing on a long trip was good fun. Without my saying anything, passengers’ noses always seemed to be pressed against the glass right after takeoff. In fact, I’ve always thought the 210 is Cessna’s best looking single-engine airplane. Loyal Cardinal owners may disagree, but it just looks sleek on the ramp.
Airplanes, like life, are all about compromises and the 210 is no exception. High on the list of reasons to hate the airplane is maintenance. A new owner who approaches annual inspection with a 172 mindset will be quickly disappointed. The fuel system is complicated, turbocharged models need a little extra TLC, and some parts are hard to find. Many 210s have also lived hard lives as freight airplanes and have the skimpy maintenance history to prove it.
Without question, though, the weak point of a Cessna 210 is the landing gear. It’s a complicated dance to get those wheels folded into the fuselage of a high-wing airplane, and the resulting system demands good maintenance. An inexperienced mechanic who misses a minor squawk can create a much bigger problem when one wheel doesn’t come down in flight. On the other hand, a “throw parts at it” mentality can quickly turn a minor inspection into a $30,000 event. Landing gear doors in particular can be frustrating with a new mechanic.
From the pilot’s perspective, there are also compromises. Compared to a Cirrus SR22, Cessna’s top-of-the-line single is complicated, with gear, prop, and cowl flap controls to manipulate. A typical after-takeoff flow for me in the 210 was to count 1-2-3 twice: three handles and three levers. That meant gear up, flaps up, confirm cowl flaps open; then throttle reduced, prop RPM reduced, mixture leaned. In a Cirrus the only thing to do is raise the flaps and enjoy the view. Certainly all those levers are manageable in the Cessna, but it does require extra work – work that can quickly add up during single pilot IFR flights. The accident record shows that quite a few 210s land gear up every year, and while some of those are caused by mechanical failure, many are caused by inattention and poor procedures. Such an accident isn’t possible in a Cirrus.
Not coming back
The original Cessna 210 was certified 60 years ago, and went through dozens of design changes over its 27-year run. What started out as a bump-nosed airplane with strut-braced wings evolved into a sleek cross-country traveler. And yet 33 years after it went out of production, there is no modern version of the Cessna 210. Cessna brought back the 172 and 182, but not the 210. Why?
The unfortunate reality is Cessna couldn’t make a 210 today – at least not one that would sell. Cessna always hinted that the fully cantilevered wing was expensive to make, and it’s notable that all of the single-engine airplanes currently manufactured by Cessna feature strut-braced wings.
Even if the 210 were made in 2019, the full fuel payload would probably be significantly lower under current certification standards. With 26G seats and extra soundproofing, the post-1997 Cessna 172s and 182s have about 25% lower useful loads compared to pre-1986 models. And with new 172s selling for over $400,000, it’s easy to imagine a million dollar 210. Would anyone want a weight-limited, retractable gear piston single for $1 million? Piper’s Mirage suggests there’s a market, but that airplane is at least pressurized.
We’ll never know, because Cessna took the opposite approach, buying the Columbia 350/400 series and trying to out-Cirrus Cirrus. The result was failure and another shuttered production line, even though the airplane was a great performer. Maybe the answer is a high performance high wing, not a low wing composite?
For now, the Centurion flies on as an older but still refined airplane. For the owner who’s serious about maintenance and proficiency, it offers good cruise speed, huge load-hauling capabilities, and honest flying qualities. I’m not sure I want to own one again, but I’d sure love to fly one again.
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Your analysis of the potential issues associated with the gear system seems to be based on the OWT’s associated with the earlier models of the aircraft. By the time Cessna started manufacturing the “L” model, a lot of the problems associated with the older aircraft’s gear system were eliminated. Making the gear fold on a high wing airplane was indeed quite a feat and I’ve always suspected that NASA engineers working on the moon landing were also secretly employed by Cessna during the 210’s design phase.
It is a load hauler, not quite as fast as Bonanza, but at least everyone faces forward and passengers can either look out the window or fully recline their seats. The standard tanks carry way more fuel than my bladder can tolerate.
Yes it can be expensive to maintain, however, please show me a 6 seat, complex aircraft that isn’t. Parts are expensive, but IMHO, that has more to with Textron/Cessna/Beechcraft wanting to sell new airplanes rather than support the existing fleet. To their credit, we can still get parts and aftermarket suppliers like Rob-Air, McFarlane, and others are filling in the gap. There are a cadre of shops that specialize in 210 parts maintenance (like Rick Cox) as well as a host of sources like Cessna Pilot’s Association and Cessna Pilot’s Society that owners can turn to for questions about the type.
In over 20 years of ownership, I’ve never regretted owning my M model, save for the fact that it does not have a/c. That is a nicety that a bucket of money will solve one day.
Agree on the AC – that is one thing that really is nice when I fly a Cirrus.
I’ve always admired and feared the 210. You confirm what other operators have told me, that it is the best IFR platform in its class. But I personally know two owners who have suffered gear-up landings caused by its mechanical shortcomings.
Composite construction should reduce the manufacturing cost of that beautiful cantilever wing. Perhaps someone will resurrect the 210’s capability in that format.
Finally, NO…. The Cardinal is by far the sexiest design Cessna produced. I want one!
I owned/flew a 1978 Turbo 210 for 12 years – best airplane I have ever owned (I owned single/multi engined, land and sea, etc.) Mine had the “RAM” conversion as well as the gear doors removed. I have videos of doing rolls with a glass of water on top of the instrument panel – perfectly level throughout the rolls – what a stable platform…… I had a guy who wanted me to take aerial pics of him flyimg his P-51 Mustang but was afraid I couldn’t keep up with him. LOL He had trouble keeping up with me.
Would enjoy seeing those videos!
I have a 1977 T210. Owned it 40 yrs next March have put 20,000 hrs on it doing Aerial photography. Still going strong.
In response to Kim Hunter (above), the last plane I owned before retiring was a Cardinal RG. I agree, a sexy airplane – exactly like a 210 (often mistaken as a 210 by ground control) except for speed and load capacity –
I owed a T-210L for 30 plus years flew it for 35 years. Enjoyed it and flew it for 2500 plus hours. Put a couple of fact. New engines while I owned it.
39 yrs my 210. Have put 20,000hrs. 15 + engines still going
Excellent! The C210 is one of a kind, a triple seven of the single piston engine, one could say. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it! The C206 have maybe kept some of its market, haven’t it?
Camelia and I bought a 1979 T210N new 4 hours on it we have 5100hrs on it now when we have all ways been the pic since 4 hours. Have yet to have it passed by the so called faster popular airplane. In 1979 gross wt was raised to 4000 from 3800 lbs and no gear doors. About 1150 lbs of people and stuff full of fuel and go. I learn early that it’s hard to find a comparable air plane haven’t yet. Gear was made much more simple and reliable in 79. Love the 210N . Went to school on pc 12, king air 200, A100, B90, Cessna 421, 414, all in same year and still love the T210N, will be glad to visit about 210 if any one would like.
Hi Bill! Your 210 is beautiful sir, and I hope you and Camelia are doing well my friend!
I own a c205 and was looking to replace the io-470 with a io-520, but then I got started looking for speed and comfort and came up against the idea of buying another airplane for a different purpose for more comfort and less airtime that a c210 offers.
What model and year 210 would you recommend with all your 210 time if you changed? Would you go pressurized and what model would you think would be best? Is turbo necessary for over 15,000 altitude flying? And when does the fuel efficiency change that makes it morat costly?
Thanks for any feedback you might have. Iam 69 old and have 3000 hours and would like to keep flying another 10-15years
If you get a 210 with the main gear doors, consider the door elimination kit. They are real problematic. If you don’t need a turbo for performance, get one without. A naturally aspirated 210 is fine unless you are in big mountains. I’ve flown P210s and yes they are nice. Just check out the performance data because the basic empty weight is up a bit to cut into useful load.
I have a T210N, 1983 version. Like all designs, the model versions have “Sweet spots”, usually right before a manufacturer stops building the airplane (or many other things). The post-1982 210’s come with an “improved” fuel system. Earlier models had a (probably undeserved) reputation for vapor lock. These fuel systems had a Left-Right-Off fuel selector (no “Both” setting). Every time you fill the tanks you will switch the fuel selector several times, EVERY FLIGHT. Could that be a good thing? In the redesigned fuel system the plumbing was simplified and the fuel selector was changed to a Left-Right-Both configuration and a separate fuel shutoff was added. With this modification the fuel selector can be left on Both, with only occasional use of separate tank positions for balance. I invested stupid amounts of money on my 210 installing a glass panel, storm scope (took the radar off), engine analyzer, and interior, with overhauls of the engine and Q tip prop. The airplane is “Known Ice”, built-in oxygen, and AC. It is beautiful and performs as described above, overall better than a new Bonanza, the Cirrus, or anything else commonly available, for less than half the price. This is a pilots airplane that must be flown. Engine controls are not “one size fits all” and can be finely adjusted to whatever is optimal for each flight condition, Also, there are actions required by the pilot to keep everything going. Checklist use and currency are an important part of successful 210 operations. It can cover so much of the common travel flight need spectrum with ease. If the pilot is up to it the 210 is a truly great airplane. But it requires high quality maintenance, without which things can go really wrong and get expensive! See Cessna Pilots Association and the 210 book by John Frank. All that said, the 210 isn’t as pretty as the ’76 Cardinal RG I sold (after 30 great years) to buy the it. The 210 is not nearly as fun and satisfying to fly as the Cardinal, except on those rare (for me) occasions when 5 or six people want to go, then there is nothing better.
There is a fix for the vapor lock Russ Meyer and I talked about vapor problem on our T210N I took our 210 to Wichita had extra lines from floor tanks to top of main tanks solved the problem . Think there is a service bulletin on the fix. I have bought and sold several 210S from 60 models up but always kept the 79 T210N fantastic airplane just haven’t found anything better
How much did the vapor-lock fix cost?
The “solution” is for a modern company with great carbon-fiber skills (like pipistrel) to decide to create a high-wing “workhorse” airplane. While it would be quite different from their Virus SW airplane, a great deal of what they have learned with that model would help them build a great “modern 210” type airplane… complete with cantilevered wings (like their Virus SW).
Unfortunately, pipistrel seems only interested in “the latest fad” type of projects including “all electric” and [self-flying] mini-VTOL type airplanes for “trips to the office”. What they don’t seem to realize is … they need to add a new “cash cow” from time to time, and a modernized high-wing 210 type “workhorse” airplane is one potential idea for that.
Fad is for sure about the electric Pipistrel. Divide its battery capacity by its motor’s power and you get 14.5 minutes at full power! Is that even legal to take off? What a bloody joke!
I suspect it is all about getting government subsidies.
The only replacement for a 210 is another 210 .
I owned two 210s, flew them for over 30 years and 5000 hours. The horror stories about maintenance, landing gear, etc. never played out, but the speed and payload sure did. I had many annuals under $1000. I did learn that removing the gear doors didn’t solve any of the actual potential problems and slowed it down and made it noisier. Having a shop that knows 210s is the best way to prevent problems.
My first 210 was a 1964 210D, the first year with the IO-520. I bought it in 1985 with 1025 hours on it. I had less than 200 hours on me, but I had little trouble moving up from my 150. Once I had an instrument rating (later that year) I stopped using the airlines at all. My family and I traveled all over the country in that 210. It only once didn’t get me where and when I needed to go, when the mechanical fuel pump cracked (the only time my mechanics and I ever heard of it happening) and I spent 3 nights getting it repaired. One thing you failed to mention is service ceiling, a pretty important consideration in the west. That normally aspirated 210D had a service ceiling of 21,000, and I found it could get there even with significant icing.
In 2004, I replaced the 210D with a 1967 T210G. Yeah, the turbo added some maintenance cost — primarily overhauling every 1000 hours — but the additional climb performance and speed at altitude paid for it. (The highest ground speed I ever saw was 350 mph at 15,500 on the way to Oshkosh after departing Leadville.) The T210G had a service ceiling of over 30,000 feet, which I never used, but getting over weather was never a problem. Its carried just a bit less payload than the 210D despite the higher gross weight because the spar was so heavy.
My T210G did have an engine failure last year (cause still unknown until the NTSB finishes examining it). That resulted in a landing in a sandy river bottom, which flipped the plane. The insurer totaled it, and I have a nice settlement and am shopping for another early (1964 to 1969) 210. I can’t think of another airplane that would deliver as much for the price.
Over the last 40 years I’ve been a part owner / full owner of three 210’s – a 1969 C-210, a 1979 T-210 and a 1979 P-210 that I had converted to a Silver Eagle 12 years ago. Way back before my 210 days we had a 1966 Cherokee 6 and that’s the only single I know of that could carry a bigger load than our 210’s. On the other hand the 6 only did about 140 kts. We hauled our family (3 kids) all over the country at nice speeds and loads.
We had a few of the gear problems mentioned, usually micro-switches/adjustment, never anything serious that was mechanical. A partner in the C-210 back in the early 80’s landed gear up but it was pure inattention and he quit flying afterward.
My favorite is obviously the Silver Eagle. It’s an out performer in speed, load and with pressurization. Great airplane. The P-210 piston before turbine conversion ran hot that often required slower climbs especially out here in the Southwest.
Terrible article couldn’t be further from the truth written from ignorance from somebody who apparently doesn’t have much time in the aircraft the Cessna T210M or N Is in a league by itself performance useful load the real true comparison would be more towards a twin Aircraft Even though there are no twin aircraft that have the same useful. Cessna has always been superior in customer support compared all the other manufacturers that’s why they’re still in business So if you can’t afford the Best aT210 M or N don’t buy one You have to pay to play. You should talk to somebody who has experience with the aircraft for many years and get a true story
Sorry you didn’t like it Rob but I thought it was mostly complimentary. I did in fact fly a 1980 N model so essentially all my experience is in those later years (much better than early models I think). I didn’t compare it to a twin because it’s just apples and oranges. I’ve got some Aztec time and it hauls a good load but it’s just a totally different airplane than a 210.
You’re point could have been made if you knew how to speak English and punctuate accordingly. You’re response is nonsense. Sorry.
Maybe…..but he knows the difference between “your” and “you’re”.
Enjoyed your article and brought back many happy memories. Had a ’78 T210 which I sold a few years back and still miss it everyday. Great King equipment package, flight director, HSI, rnav, loran, and storm scope. Was a dream to fly and you’re right about the IFR performance. Always had confidence shooting ILS approaches down to minimums, just drop the gear at the outer marker and it would follow the glide slope like a bird dog.
Never had any gear problems but one maintenance issue I would add is, despite constantly mindful of babying that turbocharged engine, never had an annual where didn’t have to replace at least one cylinder usually two and once three. Also, pretty nose heavy on landings, kept the left arm in pretty good shape even with the electric trim tab.
Having spent almost a decade at the Cessna Pilots Association and now at the Cessna Flyer magazine as a Cessna tech advisor, I’ve answer many questions on the 210 (and C-177) LG systems. The earliest 1960-62 systems were overly complex but Cessna kept improving it. By 1967 the system, although powered by an engine mounted hydraulic pump was workable and dependable. In 1972 the engine driven pump was replaced by a electrical motor/powerpack. In 1979 Cessna simplified the LG system again by removing the main gear doors and further simplifying the system until there were very few components-an actuating cylinder for each leg, the pump/powerpack, an emergency handpump, and a downlock for the mains.
I flew with John Frank in his 1967 T210 and we never had any problems with the gear system. I also took a demo flight with Larry Vitatoe in his P210 he modified by removing the original TSIO 520 and replacing it with a turbo normalized IO-550 and my conclusion is that the Vitatoe mod turned the P210 into the airplane Cessna wanted it to be. Cool running and powerful up into the service ceiling. If I had the need and $$$ I would own a Vitatoe-modified P210.
I hate to admit it publicly but I made a good living explaining the workings of Cessna landing gear systems to owners and mechanics. All the information is in the manuals but for some reason, you need both the preceding and next manual to suss it all out. If
I devoured John Frank’s book on the 210 – he was the source of so much knowledge about the airplane (as you are too!).
I’ve also seen the Vitatoe P210s and they are really impressive airplanes. I think I’d look carefully at one if I were in the market for a 210.
Mr. Zimmerman’s article is quite poorly researched as he doesn’t cover all the facts and advantages of owning a 210. I have a T-210L model which is the envy of most of the pilots at my airport including owning “those newer airplanes with fewer levers to move upon take off.” Facts that Mr. Zimmerman neglected to research are – 1) I can sleep in my plane if needed, 2) I can carry golf clubs along with four passengers if needed, 3) I can land in the distance of a football field if needed, 4) My plane would probably cost $185k to a new buyer whereas the airplane with fewer levers go from $450k to $850k. 5) Have you ever tried to take a picture from a “newer airplane”? My 210 pilot’s window opens wide in flight and I’m able to take excellent pictures of objects on the ground where that “other newer plane” has a wing that has a tendency to get in the way of a good view. I could go on and on but I think I’ve made my point. Mr. Zimmerman you need to talk to more owners before you comment on a particular plane.
Holy moly. I thought I wrote a fairly positive article about an airplane I love. Who knew the 210 crowd would take it so personally?
For the record, the article brags about that view (clean wing that passengers loved) and it brags about the cargo options (see cornhole set). So to reiterate: it’s a marvelous airplane that I love. But like all machines it’s a compromise. And it’s out of production.
Mental note. Never chat up a 210 pilot. Temperamental and marginal reading skills. Makes me wonder about their SA too.
Now I gotta worry about flying near 210s. Thanks John
I used my 1966 C-210 (no turbo) flying check from 1977 to 1983 at nearly 100 hours a month. Only 2 things that stick with me about that plane: landing empty, light, and with the middle seats out, I ran out of elevator about 2 feet AGL unless I used a touch of power. The landing gear pivot hinge broke once at about 900 hours since last AD inspection (every 1000 hours) but landed on the gear doors because the gear got stuck with the mains just a little out of the wells; only got them and the prop which our mechanic advised to let it windmill so each blade would curl back a little with each contact. The engine lasted full term (before required overhauls). So not really a belly landing. (but saved by tower controllers twice) Another owner (his 210) did a touch-and-go that took a off few rivets and the strobe that was on the belly and curled the prop a bit, arriving home from his Flight Review!!
In the late 80’s early 90’s, I owned both a 74 Cardinal RG and a 76 T210. I had the Cardinal for 10 years and the 210 for two. I loved both. I think the Cardinal RG is the best looking plane Cessna ever built. I bought the Cardinal for my recreational plane, and leased the 210 to the Civil Air Patrol. They eventually bought it. I loved flying both, but like the fuel cost of the Cardinal much more. 95% of my flying was solo. I felt much more confident in IFR in the 210. Eventually, I didn’t like flying IFR in any small plane. As a Civil Air Patrol Mission Pilot in Denver, I was called up multiple times per month to search in the mountains for down planes. The T210 was unsurpassed for that work.
I spent more for gear work on the Cardinal than the gear work on the 210. The turbo and exhaust were expensive on the T 210. The Cardinal had a $10K broken o-ring that took 4 years to finally find. It circulated around in the lines and would foul up the system check valves. Cessna fixed the Cardinal gear in 78. The last year it was made. I have always been a recreational flyer. The 210 is a serious airplane, the Cardinal is a fun airplane. If you’re going to fly straight west from Denver, take a T210.
My father owned a turbo 210 with struts. Some of my happiest memories are flying the 210. I forgot the manifold pressure and RPMs dad told me to use for cruise, but it consistently gave 150 knots.
Once I watched it take off and saw the gear retract. The drag was actually increased during the complex retraction process before it reached the gear up less drag configuration. Watching all the gyrations for the gear to come up, I felt proud to be flying a retractable gear plane. It looked so cool. Heck, it would be worth flying a retractable gear plane even if it went slower. Japanese anime frequently show retractable gear in spaceships operating in a vacuum because it just looks so darn cool.
Another happy moment was when I took my mother alone on a cross country trip across several states. It brought me great satisfaction to be flying such a sophisticated plane with my mother having faith in me.
The turbo in our unpressurized 210 seldom worked, but when it did it made a super good impression on me. Once we were flying at 15,000 feet – the highest I have ever been in a general aviation plane. Breathing through an oxygen mask and being so far above the Rockies it looked as if there was no need to learn mountain flying while still having about 2 inches of throttle left was a heady experience.
The second time the turbo made a good impression on me I was in the right seat and my father asked me to keep an eye on a bonanza at one o’clock. Later he asked where it was and I pointed to it at a 3 o’clock position. He said, “That’s impossible, we aren’t faster than a bonanza.” He paused and said, “Unless they don’t have a supercharger.” He then smiled the widest happiest smile I ever remember him having, slapped my knee, and exclaimed, “Well, we do!” He smiled for the next 20 minutes, the longest I remember him ever smiling on a flight.
Sorry this note is not technical, but for me the 210 means joy.
Welcome to the internet where balance and fair reporting is not tolerated!
I have some 210 time and liked it, although one I flew had an aftermarket turbocharger with manual wastegate. There’s a handful! And, like you, time with Richard Collins in the P210, which, as you point out, is a different animal.
Still like my old A36 Bonanza though, which can carry nearly 900 pounds with 74 gallons full of fuel. LOP that’s about 5.5 hours. And I can take the back doors off and have a fine photo platform.
Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
You’re either a Coke or a Pepsi man. I suspect it’s the same with the 210 vs. Bonanza debate. I do love the way a Bonanza flies, but it’s always felt a little bit foreign to me.
Punctuation, a rare indulgence as well.
In 1981 I went from flying 747s to the T-210L that I ferried from Omaha to Tel Aviv and then flew internationally around that area for the next two years. What a great machine! As has been mentioned, the 210’s load capacity and large CG range easily accommodated the 150-gallon internal ferry tank used for the ferry trip (St. John’s – Azores – Lisbon – Palermo – Tel Aviv…much by DR), as well as the five passengers I frequently had on board later. The FAA-approved maintenance and annuals in Israel were certainly not cheap, but I NEVER had even a minor maintenance issue with the 210. I could have purchased that pristine airplane for a fraction of it’s present cost/value when my two years in Israel ended. Regrettably, though, I did not. I left that great experience to eventually fly MD-80s back in the U. S. However, I will never forget the amazingly useful and great-flying 210. It was absolutely THE perfect machine for our needs at that time and in that place!
I appreciate your article on the C210. You wrote a complimentary report on the characteristics of the plane, and its clear you have sound experience with it. I have some P210 time, and a lot of years in a 206. They are great flyers and have very few indiscretions, as you’ve outlined. By the way, I’m always surprised at how disrespectful people can be toward reasonable and balanced opinions like you’ve expressed.
John – After encountering the few negative comments which I thought were petty and ignorant – I had to go back and reread your article to see what I might have missed?
Nope – didn’t miss nothun’ – and concur wholeheartedly the second time around on all of your points based upon 1500 hours in 1977 T-210M (our first corporate airplane) in the middle 80’s before moving up to TBM 700.
Now retired with 1978 Cardinal FG – I still long for the days and cross-countries high above the Rockies circumventing weather with our StormScope in N4818Y. Those were the days my friend!
I’m with Tom and will stay with Beechcraft. I was never impressed with the 210 and glad I’ve never owned one. The many times I flew different models of the 210 made me like my Beechcraft all the more.
I’ve loved the other Cessnas I’ve owned and flown and they did a fine job. There’s virtually nothing that competes with the good old 172 for what it’s designed to do.
But my friends with their 210s have way more maintenance than I’ve had with my A36 and I’ve found no mission the 210 could do that the A36 couldn’t. And many things the A36 could do that the 210 couldn’t.
The 210 is not a “bad” airplane, but its not a “great” plane, either.
John- your article is well done and on the mark. My brother and I fly an ‘81 turbo 210N
And based on our experience of owning and flying this aircraft, your article accuracy is spot on. Nice job!!
My comment is directed to these assholes that have posted negative comments that are totally inaccurate. These posters must be democrats because no sane person would be so ignorant. Good job and great article. Keep’em coming
I think most of those abusive guys (and occasionally ladies) are either intoxicated or mentally ill and definitely haven’t read John’s article from end to end.
Keep it up John, more stuff like that!
Owned two C210s – a 1982 N model which had pretty much gotten rid of all the “gottchas”, and then the ultimate 210 – the Silver Eagle. Great airplanes, unfortunately the FAA saw fit to pull my medical, but that’s another story.
According to a Richard Collins article I came across, the Silver Eagle was actually originally designed by Cessna as the C250 (rember it has an A250 turbine) but never made production. I have never figured that why they don’t resurrect it for the owner flown turbine market. It would be the perfect fit at the bottom end.
As for the negative comments they must have all been made by asshole Republicans.
Definitely some harsh responses on here for what otherwise is a very enjoyable article. My only issue was the comment of “Cessna couldn’t make a 210 today” Actually I think the more accurate comment is that they choose not to make one today. Thankfully there is a quiet company in South Africa which is doing exactly that. Check out the Centurion Revisited at http://www.centurion-revived.com/
I have no ownership or stake in the org, but I am keeping a close eye on their progress. If they can pull it off, I’d say they’ll have a winner that can’t be beat. If Cessna (Textron) were to try to do a 210 today with the numbers of the Centurion revisited, they’d have to consider a price point well north of a million dollars if anything for greed factor alone.
Anyway – who knows. The Centurion may rise again.
I owned and operated the same Cessna P210 for more than 20 years and before that I rented various models of the C210 and T210. Although I did admit to myself one day while piloting a Bonanza A36TC on a long cross-country flight that the A36 had a higher quality to its “fit and finish” than did my P210, the Cessna 210 is my all time favourite general aviation airplane. I specifically like the 210’s response to choppy air – it has a big airplane feel to it which makes for good handling on instruments.
A few years after acquiring my 210 I received a copy of William D. Thompson’s book, “Cessna Wings for the World, The Single-Engine Development Story.” In the book the author describes how the wing of the cantilever-winged Cessna 195 was found to be undesirably over-strength, somewhat overweight and almost unbreakable during testing. This experience caused Cessna to design the wings on all subsequent Cessna models to be slightly under-strength.
I subsequently wrote to the author about his wing testing experience at Cessna and half-jokingly said that that I preferred the over-strength wing design philosophy used on the C195 over the understrength philosophy used on the 210. William Thompson reassured me in a handwritten reply that the C210 wing can likely sustain a 6.5g load before it fails. He computed 6.5g from the 3.8g design limit load, the 1.5 (50%) safety factor required by the FAA and an additional factor of 1.15 (15%) because of the quality materials used by Cessna.
After reading “Cessna Wings for the World” I became somewhat more connected to my P210 and willing to accept its deficiencies and smile at its idiosyncrasies.
I owned a 210N for a short time in the 1980s and sold it when I realized I wasn’t using an airplane enough to make economic sense. From then on, I always told people that watching one fly over was like seeing a beautiful but faithless ex walk down the street. She was both a source of great joy and acute pain. I miss her.
Great article. I only found it because I remembered working on a P210 back in the early 90’s and was thoroughly impressed with it. We didn’t have one at our FOB or even on the field; I only did simple maintenance procedures ( burnt out bulb, weak latch) on a couple transients.
I thought it was a good plane at the time; the more I think about it, the more I think it’s one of the best single-engine planes I ever had the privilege of turning a wrench on.
Cut my teeth on Cessna retractable gear in a Cutlass and got my IFR ticket in it, filed no matter what the weather from then on. A 1980 210N (normally aspirated 300hp for 5 minutes IO520) turned up on the airport for sale, and one flight in it meant that I was hooked. Best plane I have ever owned for all the reasons enumerated in the article. Mine was “built on a Tuesday” so it trued out at an honest 175Kt. Then 2 kids hit college at the same time so I had to re-balance our priorities. Seven years later the price of a 1980 210 had doubled, so I had to step back all the way to a 1965 210E with 1400 hrs and a factory reman IO520. It came complete with the struts that sang when encountering ice. I owned it for 12 years, but it is still out there flying. Not the same as the 210N but a keeper too. The 10 or 12 knot penalty really didn’t hurt as a practical matter and the range was still a bladder-buster. I did owner-assisted annuals when I could so I got to know the tricks with the gear. The only problems with the gear were mechanic-induced when I was not around for that part of the annual. Had to pump them down once. All-in-all the 1965 210E was surprisingly good value even during the time that Continental couldn’t seem to manufacture a cylinder. John Frank’s book was a keeper too.
Enjoyed the comments,except the political one, but they’re everywhere nowadays…I am in the market for a 210 now..have flown 210’s years ago, and loved them..I have owned 206,180, baron,debonair..all good , but I don’t like climbing over the wing in beeches, and 206’s are few and far between, 180 too small for current needs…thanks for the owner comments..good info
I flew the Turbo L model for four years, much of it out of California and into Utah and Montana. It was a trade out deal my time was theirs, otherwise the plane was mine for the gas. Once took it up to 24,000 feet *we had oxy. to get over bad weather which tried my nerves since I had two on board. Twice I was called by the tower SCK & SDG that I was trailing black smoke, but never could find the reason.
I gave up the experience when a family member wanted to take over the job. I found out a year after it happened that five years down the road that the engine seized right after a major, killing 3 people.
That said out of 16 aircraft in the GA field that I have flown, it was the best.
I used to own a 1979 P210 for 20 years, the airplane flies great, its fast and economic to get there.Sold it 7 years ago and bought Turbo Prop, that is more expensive on the maintenance.Sold it las year and bought again a P210R 1986, airplane flies fast and has 120 gal. Fuel tanks so you can get anywhere. Maintenance is easy on this airplane.
I trained two student pilots from scratch on their own 210’s. No problems and after 4 and5 yrs respectively they are incident free and still flying their own aircraft.
Not only a nice looking aircraft, it flies nice as well. Pity they don’t make them anymore.