About the Airplane

My airplane is a 1960 Cessna 172A, built before the Skyhawk name was used. It has most of the IFR equipment a pilot needs- two NAV/COMs (a new digital one and an old analog model), two VORs, an ADFglideslopemarker beacon, digital clock/timer, plus the standard instruments, Hobbs meter, and transponder. The new radio holds two COM and two NAV frequencies, so it’s almost two radios in one box. There’s an external antenna for use with a portable GPS. Two of the instruments are of old design. The heading indicator (DG) is a drum-style one; it’s a short cylinder that resembles a compass rather than the newer ones that show the whole 360 degrees at once, like a clock face. The attitude indicator is a black and white design with a simple line for the horizon instead of the newer multicolored ones.

cessna 172The airplane’s logs are complete, all the way back to 1959, and there is no damage history. The engine, a six-cylinder, 145 hp Continental, has about 500 hours left before the overhaul is recommended. The airframe has roughly 3600 hours on it, less than average for its age. An annual was done the month before the sale. The paint is about ten years old, so the airplane looks much younger than it is (especially to someone not familiar with the body style changes of later years). The windshield is new. The interior appears to be original, based on the pattern of the fabric and the lack of a replacement mentioned in the logbook, but it’s in good condition. I don’t expect the airplane to need any expensive upgrades in the next couple of years other than replacing the old radio.

The 172 is not known for its speed; it will cruise at 100-110 knots on 8-8.5 gallons of fuel per hour. The fuel tanks hold 36 usable gallons fuel, so with a half-hour reserve, the range is about four hours. It will carry three actual-size adults with full tanks, or four adults with half tanks. (This capacity is fine for me since I’ve rarely flown with more than two people in the airplane anyway.) The performance is not much different from later models. (See Cessna’s website for details on the new models, which aren’t much faster than my airplane, and cost about $135,000 with IFR equipment.)

There are a few miscellaneous things I like about my airplane:

  • The flaps are manual, controlled by a lever on the floor like the parking brake on some cars. (Unlike electric flaps, manual ones move immediately with the lever, there’s no need to look anywhere to see what they’re doing, and there’s less chance of them failing.)
  • The forward visibility is excellent (it’s always nice to see the runway in front of me).
  • The side visibility is better than that of other Cessnas I’ve flown, because the wings are higher. The bottom surface of the wings is at least six feet above the ground. (In the 152, I always felt like I was wearing blinders because the wings were at forehead level.)
  • There’s plenty of legroom and space for luggage.
  • The plane will run on car gas, which is a lot cheaper and closer to the old 80-octane fuel the engine was designed to use.

I did say that I prefer low-wing airplanes, so why didn’t I buy one? For one thing, I didn’t find any for sale that met my requirements. This airplane answers most of my high-wing objections (except the blocked view when turning, which I’m used to by now). See High-Wing vs. Low-Wing on another page.

Continue to Breaking in the Airplane.

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