Aircraft Welding Diaries: History of Cessna

Knisley Welding caters to the aircraft welding of some of Cessna’s aircraft. Let’s take a look into the brief history of Cessna and how it has come about, how it has contributed to the aircraft industry, and how it is doing now.


Cessna’s Foundation

Cessna Aircraft started as the Cessna-Roos Aircraft Company in 1927 by Clyde Cessna and Victor Roos.

Clyde V. Cessna

Clyde Cessna was a farmer in Rango, Kansas. In June 1911, he was the first person to have flown between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains – and using an aircraft he built on his own at that. Afterward, Cessna made and sold aircraft made from wood and fabric in Enid, Oklahoma. He tried to acquire loans from banks there, but he was refused. He then decided to move to Wichita.

It is in Wichita where Cessna and Roos formed the Cessna-Roos Aircraft Company. After just a month, Roos resigned and sold back his interest in the partnership to Cessna. Shortly, Roos’ name was dropped from the company name.

Cessna and the Great Depression

On October 29, 1929, the Stock Market Crash of 1929 (also known as the Black Tuesday, the Wall Street Crash of 1929, or the Great Crash) occurred. This signaled the start of the decade-long Great Depression, severely affecting all Western industrialized countries.

On the same day, one of Cessna’s aircraft, the Cessna DC-6, was certified. The DC-6 was a high-wing four-seat tourer. It was subsequently used by the Army Air Corps of the United States, calling it the UC-77 or the UC-77A. Only 20 of these were built because of the Great Depression.

In 1932, the effects of the Great Depression were staggering. Cessna had to close its doors and shut down its operations.

Production may have been halted, but Cessna still had the opportunity to gain fame. A custom racer, Cessna CR-3, took flight in 1933. It triumphed in the 1933 American Air Race held in Chicago. Moreover, it had set a world record in speed for engines smaller than 500 cubic inches. It had an average speed of 381 kilometers an hour.

Cessna’s nephews, brothers Dwayne and Dwight Wallace, urged their uncle to reopen the company. They did so and Cessna remained to be President, while Dwayne became general manager. Cessna retired two years later.

Cessna under New Management

When Dwayne Wallace took over Cessna in 1934, the aircraft company inched its way to global fame and success. Dwayne actually had a brief experience working for Walter Beech, the founder of Beechcraft.

Some of the achievements brought in through the leadership are the following:

  • The production of Cessna’s first seaplane, the Cessna C-37, equipped with Edo floats in 1937.
  • The Model 140, one of two models released after the lifting of wartime production restrictions, was named the Outstanding Plane of the Year by the US Flight Instructors Association in 1948.
  • The Cessna CH-1, Cessna’s first helicopter, received FAA-type certification in 1955.
  • Cessna 172, the world’s most-produced airplane in history, was introduced in 1956.
  • Cessna had its 50,000th plane in 1963.
  • The Cessna Citation I, Cessna’s first business jet, took its first flight in 1969.
  • Cessna had its 100,000th plane in 1975.

Acquisition by General Dynamics Corporation

In 1985, Cessna was purchased by General Dynamics Corporation. Cessna became its wholly-owned subsidiary. It was at this time the Cessna Caravan was produced.

Acquisition by Textron, Inc.

In 1992, General Dynamics sold Cessna to Textron, Inc.

In 2007, Cessna purchased Columbia Aircraft.

Finally, in 2014, when Textron completed its acquisition of Beechcraft, Cessna and Beechcraft were combined to create Textron Aviation. All aircraft produced today are now named after Textron Aviation.

For more information regarding Cessna aircraft, or if you are in need of aircraft welding for a Cessna plane, just give Knisley Welding a call and we will give you just what you need!