When the Cessna 190 series was introduced in the late 1940s, it was known as the Businessliner. Magazine advertisements for the four- to five-place airplane featured smiling, suit-clad men with chiseled features using the airplanes to travel across country to business meetings.
The big Cessna quickly earned a reputation as a comfortable cross-country airplane. In fact, in some circles it became known as a flying station wagon, as it carted families across country on vacation.
That’s certainly the purpose it serves for David and Sue Cole from Willis, Texas, who arrived at this year’s Sun ‘n Fun in their blue and white 1947 Cessna 195.
There are faster airplanes available, notes David Cole, but none with the style of the C-195.
“There is a little bit of classic element in it that throws back to earlier years,” he says. “I have always enjoyed the looks and the lines of the airplane with the round tail and the big round engine and the sound of that engine when it starts up. It throbs.
“Flying-wise it is a little heavy on the ailerons, but very light in pitch,” he continues, “although it can be a bear to handle on the landings so you do have to watch it — you know, typical tail dragger stuff. I would say that it is probably a little more sensitive than other tail draggers, but other than that it’s a great cross country airplane.”
The couple’s Cessna 195 was purchased in 2000 as a project airplane.
“It was in pieces,” Sue Cole remembers. “It had been disassembled in 1964 and stayed that way until my husband bought it. It took two years and about 4,000 hours to restore.”
“I did the work myself with an inspector looking over my shoulder,” David says with a smile.”Sometimes I felt like it would never get done! When it was done, it was a tremendous sense of accomplishment.”
The finishing touch, of course, was the paint job.
“The scheme is original for 1947, as are the colors, although Cessna delivered most of them with polished metal,” says David. “I don’t have the time to polish aluminum, so we went with a white base coat and the blue trim. I just went through the color charts until I found what was called Steel Blue. I really like the way it glistens in the sun, so that’s what we went with.”
One of the common misconceptions about the Cessna 195 is that, because of the radial engine, it is a speed demon.
“It is not,” Sue laughs. “It only goes about 140 knots in cruise and it is noisy, so you do have to wear a headset. But it is a chance for the two of us to get away together.”
“And it’s a great way to see the country,” David adds with a smile.
This is the second 195 the couple has owned. “We got our first one in 1979 and took our two children all over the country in it,” Sue says.
“They were ages 5 and 7 at the time. We made a square of the country,” adds David. “We went to Florida, up to New England, Indiana, Iowa and back then you could fly across the Grand Canyon, so we did that and on out to California. It took six weeks and the kids had a blast.”