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Cess who? This piece on the Cessna 170 says it all!

As traffic jams become more commonplace in many busy cities around the world today, many would joke about taking helicopters to work. Many do not know, though, that in the 1940s, the Cessna Aircraft Company already thought about this. They thought of the man who traveled for work, or the “businessman-pilot.” Lo and behold, by 1948, the Cessna 170 was born. 

According to a piece written by Mark Twombly for AOPA Pilot, the Cessna 170 “was conceived as a growth version of the two-seat Cessna 120/140.” Its wings were fabric-covered, had rounded tips, and V-type struts. It had a fuel tank capable of carrying 37.5 gallons of fuel — three times the capacity of its predecessor, the C140. 

In February 1948, the first two Cessna 170 prototypes were built. In June of that year, it was certificated as a Normal category airplane. Its gross weight was 2,200 lbs. By July 1948, Cessna 170 received Utility category certification with a gross weight of 1,900 lbs.  

There were 714 Cessna 170 airplanes built in 1948. Later that same year, the 170A was released. From 1948 to 1951, there were 1,522 Cessna 170As built. In 1952, the 170B was introduced. It possessed improvements from both the C170 and C170A models. Production of the Cessna 170 planes ceased in 1956 upon the introduction of the 172. 

Today, this economical and versatile four-seater plane is still a joy to own and fly, for pilots young and old, and those curious about tailwheels which the Cessna 170 is known to have. (Tailwheel aircraft require more precise control on the ground, compared to those with nosewheels.) 

Technical specifications 

Globalair.com lists the following specs of the C170, for proud owners and for those still planning to buy and fly this classic: 

Exterior 

Exterior Height: 6 ft 7 in 

Wing Span: 36 ft 

Length: 24 ft 12 in 

Occupancy 

Crew: 1-2 

Passengers: 4 

Operating Weights 

Max T/O Weight: 2200 Lb 

Max Landing Weight: 1900 Lb 

Empty Weight: 1260 Lb 

Fuel Capacity: 42 gal Lb 

Payload Useful: 995 Lb  

Range 

Max Range: 514 nm 

Service Ceiling: 15500 ft 

Distances 

Takeoff Distance: 650 ft 

Landing Distance: 460 ft 

Performance 

Rate of Climb: 690 fpm 

Max Speed: 140 kts 

Normal Cruise: 124 kts 

Economy Cruise: 105 kts  

Power Plant 

Engines: 1 

Engine Mfg: Continental 

Engine Model: C1452  

Maintaining a Cessna 170 

The first Cessna 170 sold for USD $5,475 to USD $5,995 per unit in 1948. Today, it’s somewhere in the USD $150,000 price range. Think of it like a highly coveted classic car for pilots — the subject of many exciting restoration projects.  

The Cessna 170 exhaust maintenance is important so you can keep flying your aircraft worry-free (so it does not just gather dust in a corner of a hangar). It requires careful and regular inspection to make sure your C170 stays in tip-top shape. 

In the words of pilot Peter Turner who took a Cessna 170 for a test flight in 2018: “The Cessna 170 is a lovely benign aeroplane to fly. I cannot think of a taildragger that is so easy to operate, or so versatile, and this one is a beauty in every respect.” 

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