In 1956 the general aviation scene was changed
considerably with the general introduction of
the tricycle landing gear. It could be
likened, I suppose, to the advent of the automatic transmission
automobile. Once you have driven the latter, the stick
shift is either passé or, in some cases
(like my wife), not
doable. In other words, the day of the taildragger, as far as
was concerned, was
over. Cessna introduced the 172 late in 1956. Here is a
brand new one in
1957. Arguably the most successful light plane ever
built, this early 170 spawned countless
model variations and advancements over the years and
is still in production (with a hiatus in
the 1990s when production
ceased due to high litigation awards in the US courts**). To date
some 35,000 have been produced.
** The scenario went
thusly: John Doe bought himself a Cessna, say a new 172
nice machine, but not exactly a Tiger Moth (the
school I learned on). One day his 50 hrs on
type places him in a situation from which he does
not have the experience to recover. His brand
new Cessna is a write-off.
So is John Doe. His widow sues Cessna and (cop this) wins the lawsuit.
She gets awarded
ten million dollars (turns out John was a successful stockbroker with
many years of
earnings ahead of him). Why? ......"well
Cessna shouldn't have sold him the machine in the first place
or some such similar implausible nonsense" said the
jury. So, the US light plane manufacturers just
quit making light airplanes.
some modicum of common sense has now returned to the legal
system and production is
under weigh again with the proviso that, if you crash it, and it was
we ain't gonna pay. (The
European manufacturers had such a proviso, backed by their courts all along,
of course, and cleaned up during
the period when US manufacturers were out of the business).