Address: 400 N. Main, Kingman, KS 67068
Clyde V. Cessna, aviation pioneer, designer, and founder of Cessna Aircraft Corporation, had a dream to build and fly a full cantilever wing (single wing plane), a revolutionary idea at the time, and in December 1911 he successfully flew his first plane, the Silverwing. 1879-1954.
Becoming the owner of his first horseless carriage, he
followed avidly the trends in improvement and in this way became a mechanic
salesman and in time operated an automobile sales agency in Enid, Oklahoma.
Clyde Cessna, photo courtesy Kingman County Economic Development
It would be the Wright Brothers and early airplanes that really caught his
imagination. In 1911 he bought his first monoplane, a copy of the Bleriot X1
and tried to teach himself how to fly it. After repeated crack ups and being
about ready to give up, on the 13th attempt he made a successful flight.
Although the plane had started as a Bleriot X1, with all the changes he had
made, it was his first Cessna plane.
In 1913, he moved his family to an acreage near his childhood home in Kingman County, Kansas, and built a metal shop for his operations. During the cold Kansas winters he built a new, improved airplane each year in preparation for another season of contracted exhibition flying at county and state fairs and public celebrations throughout the midwest and south into Florida. By 1913, he had accumulated enough money to buy an AnzaniEngineso he did not need to disassemble the plane after every performance, he could fly to his exhibitions.
In 1917, he built several monoplanes at the Jones Six Plant in Wichita, Kansas,
using the planes for pilot training. In 1925, Walter Beech, Lloyd Stearman, and Clyde Cessma founded Travel Air Incorporated. Cessna was the initial president and first major financier. However, after two years at the company,
design disputes with his partners over the monoplane versus the bi-plane, Cessna
left the company with plans to again start his own.
Cessna's first plane Silverwing. This photo was taken of Cessna flying it on April 14, 1912.
Photo courtesy Kingman County Economic Development
Leaving Travel Air Company in January 1927 he developed his favored
cantilever wing monoplane on his own, forming the Cessna Aircraft Company
and becoming its president and chief engineer later in 1927.
Production of his Model "A" series monoplane began in 1927 and was followed by a series of improved models, as well as a variety of racing planes and primary gliders designed with the help of engineer son, Eldon. After the plant was closed by the depression he and Eldon, formed the Cessna Aeroplane Company, a 50-50 partnership. Thereafter they built the CR-1 Racer which placed in three events of the 1932 National Air Races. Their CR-3 Racer set an international speed record in 1933.
After he was re-elected president of Cessna Aircraft Company in 1934, the Model C-34 was designed. It won the second and third year title of "The World's Most Efficient Airplane" for permanent possession of the trophy.
After selling the Cessna Aircraft Corporation to his nephews Dwane and Dwight Wallace in 1936, Cessna returned to a life of farming.
In his later years Clyde and his wife, Europa Dotzour
Cessna, resided at the country place near Rago,
Kansas, where they lived after
their marriage June 6, 1905. This became a center throughout his life for his
farm-related businesses, which underwrote much of his aviation enterprises and
retirement needs. Clyde Vernon Cessna
died in 1954, at the age of 74.
Europa and Clyde Cessna, December 7, 1941. Photo courtesy Kingman Co. Economic Development