8 Wonders of Kansas people

An 8 Wonder of Kansas People

Clyde Cessna, Rago, Kingman, Wichita

Address: 400 N. Main, Kingman, KS 67068
Phone: 620.532.3694
Website: www.wingsoverkansas.com/profiles/article.asp?id=70

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.

Clyde Cessna, photo courtesy Kingman County Economic Development
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.

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.

Europa and Clyde Cessna, December 7, 1941. Photo courtesy Kingman Co. Economic Development
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.

Source: www.wingsoverkansas.com/profiles/article.asp?id=70



  • Kingman County Museum, 400 N Main. 620.532.5274 or 620.532.3694.  Open Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. or by appointment.           Display, photos, and artifacts of Clyde Cessna.
  • Stan Herd Mural of Clyde Cessna,  north wall at 400 N Main.
  • Cessna gravesite at Greenwood Cemetery.  Intersection of SE 70 Avenue and SE 60 Street, Kingman County.
  • Clyde Cessna Field at Kingman Airport at 2114 N Koch Industrial Ave., Kingman, KS 67068

  • Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum, 204 S. Main. 316.265.9314. Open Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 1-5 p.m. See a display and watch the video.

  • Gary Krehbiel of Rago does a historical portrayal of Clyde Cessna.