“If at first you don’t succeed, patch up the fuselage and have another go at it.”
Now - - we aren’t exactly sure Clyde Cessna actually uttered those words, but he certainly would have had ample opportunity before he made a successful flight! After attending an air show in Oklahoma City, Cessna, a farmer/mechanic, went to New York to purchase an aircraft so he could make “big bucks” as an exhibition barnstormer. Well, he came home with a French Bleriot aircraft kit and, after putting it together, set off for the wild blue yonder. He didn’t make it. After recording one of the first successful “nose dives” in the state of Kansas, he repaired the plane and tried again. And again. And again. And again. In fact, it wasn’t until the thirteenth try that he actually got airborne. Perseverance paid off, and, eventually, he became a passable pilot. What he became much more noted for, however, was the aircraft that he developed and built!
While working in the rent-free space provided by the JONES MOTOR CAR factory in Wichita, Kansas during the winter of 1916-17 he completed the first airplane manufactured in Wichita. Suffering the same birthing pains of any new company, CESSNA held its own until 1939, when the impending war became a reality. The company responded with the T-50 Bobcat, which became a military trainer craft used by both the U.S. Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
In 1954, CESSNA entered the realm of the Business Aircraft Market. The first effort was the Cessna 310. At the end of the decade, they also introduced the Cessna 150, which was popular with flying clubs and flight schools and led to their growth in the 1960s.
The 1980s found CESSNA beginning work on a “new era” craft, if you would. It was to be designed for hauling both cargo and passengers. What resulted was the Cessna Model 208 Caravan. It was a single-engine turboprop that featured a box-like fuselage, a high wing and a fixed tricycle landing gear. It allowed for sitting three abreast, and contained a large cargo door. It was in 1983 that CESSNA “teamed up” with an unlikely partner, FEDERAL EXPRESS. They had just introduced the Cessna 208 Caravan, a turboprop utility plane that was “perfect” for small, metropolitan markets.
“The popularity of that craft,” Dale Wolcott, President of TURBINE TRAINING Center in Manhattan, Kansas explained, “is what finds us so involved in Cessna 208 training today.”
“In fact,” his son, Jason, who serves as Vice President of the company, added “we even acquired and utilize a cessna caravan simulator in our training process.”