Entries by

How do you report something that’s physically impossible?

It was required that we do a project to evaluate dives and recoveries of the T-37 Air Force trainer, though I was not then, and am still not, sure how that was to be utilized in the training curriculum. We decided to do the two ingredients separately in programmed, and recorded, flight testing – dives at various angles, and pullouts at various g’s – and then recombine them in various combinations analytically.

The vanishing airplane – in the pattern with me

I tried looking forward on the downwind leg, high and low, right and left and back along the leg, high and low, right and left and saw no other airplane. I called and declared my intention to turn downwind, and the tower acknowledged my transmission, so I did. The other pilot called and said she was on downwind – my attitude changed to near panic.

Into the eye of the storm

My destination that day was New Orleans, and they were expecting a tropical storm, maybe a hurricane, to make landfall somewhere around there that day. New Orleans was where, in the early to mid-1950s, Cessna delivered planes destined for overseas customers – to places like Australia, Africa, Europe, South Asia, and even South America.

The in-flight emergency nobody prepared me for

The flight in question was a routine one, with three jumpers who wanted to jump from 10,000 feet. I did the usual full-power climb to 10,000 and was right at the jump zone so was ready to reduce power and level off for the jump. Except I couldn’t budge the throttle.

The Cessna Fanjet 310 – a half century ahead of its time, sort of…

A Cessna 310 with fanjet engines mounted over the wings?! The improbable design was actually considered in the early 1950s, and one of the designers who worked on the project shares his memories. While the airplane never flew, there are echoes of it in the new HondaJet.

The low wing Cessna 170 – a great idea that didn’t fly

The three views, of the airplane described by the article title, that accompany this piece were taken from an “unofficial” board size drawing I knew I had stowed away somewhere around the house, but only recently found and reclaimed. The drawing is entitled “Preliminary Design, Model 170 Replacement” and dated February 2, 1955.

Profiling works in solving airplane problems–usually

Profiling is, in this discussion, a procedure to narrow down the possible causes of a problem based on its location in the airplane and timing in the order of events in a flight, and then with evaluation of the potential causes, select appropriate solutions to try. The case I’m going to describe occurred with the Cessna T-37 twin jet trainer.

9 questions for Harry Clements

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.

The Cessna OE-2: a mishmash military model

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.

Leading edge aeronautical research on the plains

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.

I held three jobs on one flight

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.

The production T-37 “Tweet” serves up an enduring mystery

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.

Defining the Cessna 310

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.

Assessing necessity – wind tunnels at Cessna

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.

Two Ford Tri-motor flights – 75 years apart

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.

Designing the Cessna 180

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.

Tracking the conception, birth and life of the 172

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.

Cessna’s 620 – the stillborn prodigy

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.