The incredible expanding airplane manuals

Do you still have your 1980s-era Walkman? It looks pretty big compared to an iPod, doesn’t it?

While personal stereo technology has gotten smaller over the years, owners manuals for aircraft have grown — some have even tripled in size. For example, a 1971 owners manual for a Cessna 172 Skyhawk measures less than a quarter inch thick. The 1986 and later manuals measure more than three-quarters of an inch.

The style of the book has changed as well. On the first page of the 1971 manual there is a greeting to the new owner that begins “Congratulations. Welcome to the ranks of Cessna owners!” The first page of the 1986 manual begins with this warning “NOTICE: AT THE TIME OF ISSUANCE, THIS INFORMATION MANUAL WAS AN EXACT DUPLICATE OF THE OFFICIAL PILOT’S OPERATING HANDBOOK AND THE FAA APPROVED AIRPLANE FLIGHT MANUAL AND IS TO BE USED FOR GENERAL PURPOSES ONLY.”

My, how times change.

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