One of the best planes Cessna developed was the Cessna 180. Powered by a 230 horsepower Continental engine, the 180 could carry four at speeds of about 135 knots. At the same time, she could carry a load of luggage and enough fuel to do 500 nm in three hours and 40 minutes.
With the Continental burning a nominal 11 gallons per hour, the airplane carried enough fuel in standard tanks to go 635 nm with a 45-minute reserve. Later models had 80-gallon long-range tanks, which would allow the airplane to travel more than 1000 miles between fuel stops at lower power settings.
In the air, the airplane was as solid as a rock. With a typical gross weight of 2650 to 2800 pounds depending on model year, the 180 felt like a real airplane. She possessed the typical stability of almost all the high-wing Cessnas. Put her into a bank, trim her out, and she would stay in that attitude all day long, or until you placed her in another.
One feature many pilots liked of the airplane was that she was rugged. A taildragger, the 180 could land just about anywhere. With oversized tundra tires, this airplane did not need a runway for normal operations.
She also functioned well with skis, floats, and normal tires. Indeed, this airplane is one of the most favored by bush pilots around the world. On a set of amphibious floats, the 180 excels in Alaska and Canada as the airplane of choice.
Like all the modern Cessna airplanes, the company constructed the plane of all metal. The fuselage is semi-monocoque in construction and the wing has a single strut. The empennage consists of generous surface area in both horizontal and vertical stabilizers, as well as in rudder and elevator controls.
Extensive flap area and 40 degrees of “para-lift” flaps give the airplane good, low-end flying characteristics. These two attributes make the airplane exceptional in soft, short runway environments, as well as at off-airport sites.
Like her tri-geared cousin, the 182, the airplane is spacious and roomy inside. The cabin provides a comfortable ride for four large adults, once they are inside the plane. Getting in and out of the airplane, however, can prove an effort for some.
Because the 182 sits in a level flight attitude on the ground, getting in and out of the airplane is relatively easy. The 180, on the other hand, sits in the traditional nose high manner of all taildraggers. This places the cabin at an uncomfortably high position off the ground. Although the doors are wide, getting up and down from the flight deck is sometimes a challenge.
One record this airplane holds over others, is that it carried the first solo woman aviator around the world. In 1964, Geraldine “Jerri” Mock flew an 11-year-old Cessna 180 around the world. With additional fuel cells loaded into the cabin, the 38-year-old mother of three planned, engineered, and flew the 180 around the world. (See Jerri Mock Returns Home.)
The airplane is a workhorse and that is why it is so popular with bush pilots and ranchers around the world. It is Spartan on the inside, with Cessna keeping the creature comforts to a minimum. Those interested in working the airplane however, don’t seem to mind.
They really enjoy the flying characteristics and performance the airplane allows.
© 2011 J. Clark