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July 19, 2022

Vintage Cessna Aircraft Ads From the Early 1940s

The Cessna Aircraft Company was an American general aviation aircraft manufacturing corporation headquartered in Wichita, Kansas. The company produced small, piston-powered aircraft, as well as business jets. For much of the mid-to-late 20th century, Cessna was one of the highest-volume and most diverse producers of general aviation aircraft in the world.

Clyde Cessna, a farmer in Rago, Kansas, built his own aircraft and flew it in June 1911. He was the first person to do so between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains. Cessna started his wood-and-fabric aircraft ventures in Enid, Oklahoma, testing many of his early planes on the salt flats. When bankers in Enid refused to lend him more money to build his planes, he moved to Wichita.

Cessna Aircraft was formed when Clyde Cessna and Victor Roos became partners in the Cessna-Roos Aircraft Company in 1927. Roos resigned just one month into the partnership, selling back his interest to Cessna. Shortly afterward, Roos’s name was dropped from the company name.

The Cessna DC-6 earned certification on the same day as the stock market crash of 1929, October 29, 1929. In 1932, the Cessna Aircraft Company closed due to the Great Depression. However, the Cessna CR-3 custom racer made its first flight in 1933. The plane won the 1933 American Air Race in Chicago and later set a new world speed record for engines smaller than 500 cubic inches by averaging 237 mph (381 km/h).

Cessna’s nephews, brothers Dwane and Dwight Wallace, bought the company from Cessna in 1934. They reopened it and began the process of building it into what would become a global success.

The Cessna C-37 was introduced in 1937 as Cessna’s first seaplane when equipped with Edo floats. In 1940, Cessna received their largest order to date, when they signed a contract with the U.S. Army for 33 specially equipped Cessna T-50s. Later in 1940, the Royal Canadian Air Force placed an order for 180 T-50s.

Below is a small collection of vintage advertisements for Cessna aircraft in 1942 and 1943. The company was purchased by General Dynamics in 1985, then by Textron, Inc., in 1992. In March 2014, when Textron purchased the Beechcraft and Hawker Aircraft corporations, Cessna ceased operations as a subsidiary company and joined the others as one of the three distinct brands produced by Textron Aviation.


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