What Makes a Plane a Classic?
In the sky our hearts beat faster when we admire the enduring loveliness of a particular airplane, which for one reason or another achieves the status of a standard of perfection. It is the quality of enduring value that defines something as a classic, rather than being a passing fancy.
The Cessna 195, Cessna's cabin class "Business Liner" possesses these qualities. A little before its time, already an antique, round engine and taildragger makes it instant nostalgia.
With its big wing and sleek lines, the 195 was a very efficient, and yet very rugged ship for its day. It was designed for a time when municipal airports were more often muddy, dirty strips rather than thousands of feet of smooth pavement. There can be no doubt that she's an aircraft from a different era in American aviation, although the fine performance and load-hauling capacity of this classic airplane keeps it in the competitive world of today's aviation.
The big Jacobs radial may block your vision, leak a little oil, require additional pilot attention, but it sounds beautiful. The nostalgic sound of a radial engine coughing and sputtering to life is one that inspires awe and respect from many pilots. Born in anticipation of a post-war aviation boom that never materialized, the 195 was the last of its kind. Stately and proud to be sure, but old before its time.
After all, why should anyone pay $22,000 for a radial engine, fixed-gear monster when the newest sexy V-tail retractable delivered greater range and economy for four thousand dollars less. Whatever the price, Cessna's radial engined single retains the class of an era long past and mostly forgotten. Like a not quite retired thoroughbred, the 195 has grown old gracefully, defiant of the hands of time, reluctant to bow to its descendants and fully deserving of the title "Classic."
By Kent Blankenburg
With Respect for Mr. Cessna's Finest Airship