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Cessna 170 as a first plane?

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Cessna 170 as a first plane?

I really like what the Cessna 170 has to offer but I'm curious to hear what you might say about it being a first plane.... for example prone to maintenance nightmares (I know any airplane can have surprise but a history of issues). How about the age of the aircraft? Is it an extra burden for a 1st timer? Obviously a good pre buy inspection is a must.

Overall just want to hear what you have to say.

Thanks
Titus577 offline
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

That's what I bought and I love mine.
907Pilot offline
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

Depending on the condition, total time on the airframe/engine and possible corrosion to name a few items to look for, I don't think age is anything to worry about when it comes to aircraft.

But, I do believe it's a psychological thing when it comes to non-aviator type of people, friends and some family members. When I tell some people my plane was built in 1958, they usually freak out for a second, or two, or for a few minutes :D After I explain to them about the "extreme" thorough annual inspection, low time on the airframe, "always kept in the hangar" among a few things, they usually calm down and about half of them people will still want to go for a plane ride :D Not sure if this helps you out at all :?

Oh..... one more thing :idea: :idea: Have you considered a Maule?? :D :D (just kidding!! :D )
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

I only know a few people good looking and smart enough to choose the Cessna 170 as their first plane. There is plenty of recent reading to be done should you feel so ambitious. The search will net some results too.

http://www.backcountrypilot.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=7829

http://www.backcountrypilot.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=7405

Type really has little to do with being a first time buyer/owner. Most of the good lessons of aircraft ownership apply to all types, one of which is to research the type in question. :) AD's, common issues and mods, the health and quality of the support community, etc. There is little that is special about the 170 in this regard that would distinguish it from the 180, 172, 182 models.

As big a pain in the ass as it is sometimes, the FAA maintenance regulations for certified aircraft have resulted in 60 year old planes that have stood the test of time and haven't been morphed into frankenplanes.
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

Go for it. It's manageable enough, and should serve your needs more broadly than several of the other common starter options out there.

- '53 170B owner, and glad of it 8)
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

One of the things you must consider is the quality of the "type club" that is associated with the airplane. There is a strong and highly educated 170 type club (though some of their egos caused some bad blood with me personally). I believe they would be very very helpful to you. Kind of like meeting the girl's family and learning about the downside - before you marry the girl.
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

Nothing at all wrong with either the 170 or the 172. I personally think it is probably one of the best airplanes a person can buy for a first plane. I started with a 150 and within a few hours flying time I traded it up for a 172. That was nearly 25 years ago and I still have that same plane. Over the years I have wanted something else but when it came down to it, the 172 fills 99% of the missions I fly. I keep thinking a 180/182 would be better but with fuel costs and other expenses involved with the bigger plane I could never really get the number to work out for me.
The good thing about the 170/172 series is most any mechanic out there worth a grain of salt can work on one, parts are easily obtainable, and the plane is economical to operate and own. I also have a Champ and while it may burn a little less fuel the 172 cost nearly the same to fly in the long run. Don't be overly worried about the nay-sayers that put down the Continental motor either. Mine has been easy on fuel, reliable, and much smoother than a typical Lycoming.
Good luck with whatever you decide.
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

I bought a 170 as my first plane back in October and I have maybe 85 hours or so since then in it. So far I'm having a lot of fun with it. I run mine at 2550 rpm and I see about 120mph at that rpm, I have the standard prop. Fuel burn cruising at higher altitudes is right at 7gph and goes up to maybe 7.5 or a little higher when flying near sea level. It is a pretty comfortable plane to fly, I'm 6'4'' and it fits me just fine. I have about 10hrs in Stinsons and I find them much more cramped, especially if youre flying with 2 people up front. With the back seat out there is plenty of room for cargo, my wife and I just got back from Johnson Creek and we easily loaded the plane with all of our camping gear. A 170 isn't the best performing plane but we still got to go to a lot of the backcountry strips in Idaho with out any trouble, just fly light and early and you will be fine.

Here are a couple of similar topics to read if you haven't already:
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=7405
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=7829

edit: looks like Zane beat me to it
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

Zane wrote:I only know a few people good looking and smart enough to choose the Cessna 170 as their first plane.


Why, thank you. I'm blushing :oops:

I think the 170 is an excellent first plane. Docile yet having all the advantages of a taildragger (too many to list here :lol: )

My advice is really seek out an outstanding example of the species and be prepared to pay a little bit of a premium for it. A ratty interior or faded but intact paint is fine (one can fix that up at one's convenience) but the beginning of intergranular corrosion on internal aluminum surfaces or poor steel, or an engine that could be in better shape than it is, or poorly repaired damage, is not.

Also, if you don't really need that size cabin and useful load there are cheaper planes out there to purchase, operate (gallons per hour) and maintain. The Cessna 120/140, or other planes in that class. For me, the 170 met my mission so that's what I bought.

The hangar forum at the International Cessna 170 Association website is publicly viewable and has some good information on watch-out items for a prospective purchaser as well as recommended mods you should look to either have already installed, or install after you purchase.
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

My '52 170B was the first plane I ever owned. Owned it for 10 years and flew it 870 hrs..very few AD's on it (seat Track and Bendix Mags) and averaged 7.2 gal/hr. I loved what it could haul and it's short field landing ability. The only thing I did not like about it was it's lack of power on takeoff at high density altitude. I crossed the Rockies several times with it and had it up over 14K.
I still look at any 170 I see and think of the fun times I had in mine. HC
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

You know, back when I lived in Colorado I didn't have the 170 on my list due to the high density altitude with the O-300 engine. Those with the O-360 were very pricey. So here I sit in Washington at 1000'MSL and am working to figure out my next plane and again, the 170 wasn't on it. Then I remembered I'm not at 7000'MSL anymore...so an O-300 engine would be just fine. So I guess I should put it on my list of planes to choose from.

Guess I should go do a search for usefuls, fuel, speeds, and such now...
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

Tadpole wrote:You know, back when I lived in Colorado I didn't have the 170 on my list due to the high density altitude with the O-300 engine. Those with the O-360 were very pricey. So here I sit in Washington at 1000'MSL and am working to figure out my next plane and again, the 170 wasn't on it. Then I remembered I'm not at 7000'MSL anymore...so an O-300 engine would be just fine. So I guess I should put it on my list of planes to choose from.

Guess I should go do a search for usefuls, fuel, speeds, and such now...


My plane is on the heavy side and I have 750 useful, most O-300 equipped models are around 800 and change....gross weight on the A and B model is 2200lbs. No upgross STC's available on the 170. Unmodified A and B model have 38 gallons usable. Most people flight plan for 7.5 - 8 gph in normal conditions. I'm conservative and plan for 8.5 in the summer and 9 in the winter (yes mine has a bit larger displacement.)

Speed depends on the prop pitch (and rigging) but it is like an older 172 - cruise between 105 (70%) and 125 knots (WOT) ( I'm on the low end because of my climb prop.) It can land much shorter than it can take off in all (legal) weight and CG profiles.
Last edited by onceAndFutr_alaskaflyer on Wed Jun 29, 2011 7:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

History of the Cessna 170 Airplane

The following is an excerpt from "The 170 Book" and was originally written by Bob Baas


Early in 1948, aviation publications across the country were publishing press releases similar to the following, which appeared in the February issue of FLYING magazine:

“Wichita, Kansas - A full line of Cessnas will roll off the lines this year. Deliveries of the new 1948 model Cessna began early in January... The big news in the way of completely new aircraft at Cessna this year is the Model 170, a four-place plane powered by a 145 hp Continental engine. Selling at $5,475, this new 170 is the low-cost four-placer to complete Cessna’s full line. Deliveries are expected to begin in March.”

During the late 1940s through the mid-1950s over 5,000 Cessna 170s were manufactured and well over half that number survive today. This alone should indicate that this aircraft has certain qualities that make it a desirable aircraft to own and has also gained it recognition as a Neo-Classic in various aircraft organizations.

The Cessna 170 began it’s life looking much like it’s little brother, the Cessna 140. In fact, the 1948 C170 is quite often mistaken for the smaller two-place C140 by the casual observer. In 1948, Cessna expanded and stretched the 140 to make it a four-place aircraft and called it the 170. It had no dorsal fin, had fabric-covered wings, vee-type wing struts and three C140 fuel tanks to give it the necessary range for it’s larger engine. The engine used was a Continental C145 (later designated the O-300A) and would be used throughout the entire production run of Cessna 170s.

The first production model was serialized #18001, but both it and #18002 were experimental and eventually scrapped by Cessna. The first C170 produced for sale to the public was SN18003, which rolled out of the factory doors on February 6, 1948. She made her first trip on February 27, 1948.

Beginning very late in 1948 with SN18730, Cessna began producing the all-metal, slicked-up version with a single strut and a dorsal fin identical to the one used on the C195. The price new was $5,995, and it was called the Model 170A. The plane had an all-metal wing with slightly larger flaps which ran from zero to 50 degrees. The 170A, which was produced through 1951, is commonly called the “straight wing” model because, unlike later 170Bs, the C170A has no wing dihedral. There were very few changes made in the C170A in it’s three years of production.

The Cessna 170B was introduced in 1952 and continued in production with several changes until production on the series ended in 1956. The most obvious change from the 170/170A is the large semi-Fowler flaps similar to those used on the L-19. The flaps were labeled “Para-lift” by Cessna, but the term “barn door” is the more common description. The flaps originally had four settings: 0, 20, 30 and 40 degrees. Beginning in 1955, Cessna added a 10 degree flap setting.

The dihedral angle was increased to 3 degrees on the 1952 and all subsequent models, and more twist was given to the wing between the strut and the tip. The stabilizer and elevator shape was changed and the aerodynamic balance area was increased. A mass balance, enclosed in the aerodynamic balance section, was added, requiring less control pressure.

The Cessna 172 was introduced in 1956, and tricycle gear took over the general aviation scene. Since Cessna had parts left for some C170s, they continued to produce the C170B until the parts were gone.

As for performance, the stock Cessna 170 will pretty much do what the Owner’s Manual says. It will get into a much shorter field than it will get out of at gross weight. It will cruise in comfort at about 118 mph at 65% power at 4,000’ - 7,000’ and burn about 8 gph with engine properly leaned.

Most C170s will take two adults, two children, 100 pounds of baggage and full fuel and still be legal for a gross weight of 2200 pounds. The C170 will climb 500-700 fpm at this weight and land at about 52 mph.

The Cessna 170 is a good, honest taildragger and has had very few AD notes on either the airframe or engine.
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

I agree with everything stated here, except the one about a 170 having more room than a Stinson :?: :?:

Love both and have flown both a lot, and would not hesitate to own either.
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

I have fond memories of the C170B that was my first plane. The engine was ready for overhaul when I got it so I did the Avcon conversion (180 hp Lyc. + CS prop) and it really woke up the otherwise anemic plane. As a roomy, basic, all metal tail dragger the 170B is a good investment that you should be able to get your money back on if you keep up the maintenance. I miss the good forward visibility over the nose.
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

soaringhiggy wrote:I agree with everything stated here, except the one about a 170 having more room than a Stinson :?: :?:

Love both and have flown both a lot, and would not hesitate to own either.


I guarantee the 170 has more room than a Stinson. Last week I flew my Dad's Stinson and my 170 on the same day. I was in the right seat of the Stinson first and had nowhere to put my legs without the yoke hitting my knees when turned to the side. I flew from the left seat for a while afterwards which was a little better because that seat is modified and sits an inch or so further back than the right seat. Also getting in and out of a 170 is much easier becasue the seat slides way back and the door is much bigger and goes all the way to the floor. When we loaded our planes with camping gear it's obvious that the 170 has more room than the Stinson with both rear seats removed. My dad had stuff stacked up to the ceiling, but not me. Don't get me wrong, I love Stinsons and think they are a great plane and they do have their advantages over the 170. I just think that the 170 is more comfortable for ME (I'm 6'4'') and I think there's more cargo room... and it burns about 3gph less. That and the fact that the 170 is all metal (I need to store my plane outside) are the reasons I chose a 170 over a Stinson which was on my list before I bought a plane. I could have bought a beautiful restored Stinson with a low time engine on it for less than my 170 but I didn't.
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

Thanks for the replies! I know there are many factors that go into the price of a plane such as smog and total time. A plane of this age... what would be a low total time peat least something to look for? Im willing to pay more for something that has a strong airframe and power plant. As mentioned earlier paint and cosmetics can be upgraded later if need be.
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

Titus577 wrote:As mentioned earlier paint and cosmetics can be upgraded later if need be.


A VERY simple, VERY basic paint job, done even sorta properly nowadays is going to cost you well on the north side of $10,000. So, you'd be looking at anywhere from one half to one third the value of the airplane, right??? Paint, unless you can do it yourself (and it ain't a car, folks) is a HUGE factor, in my opinion.

Find one with a GREAT or at least a good paint job and a relatively low time engine, OR find one for pennies on the dollar value, and plan to spend a LOT to get it up to speed.

Don't pay much attention to total time on the airframe....pay attention to CONDITION of the airframe. I've seen 1500 hour Cessnas that were essentially junk, and I owned a C-180 with 8,000 hours on it that was a super clean machine. The 180 had been wrecked and rebuilt (well) at 6500 hours.

Find a REALLY anal Cessna mechanic to do a thorough pre-buy. You want to know EVERY little niggly flaw-ask the mechanic to really pick it apart, then give you a list. Then YOU decide, in consultation with your mechanic, of course, which of those flaws you can live with, which ones will need to be fixed, and what that'll cost.

Paint is often overlooked, but it is expensive and it is the first and foremost thing that everyone sees of your airplane.

Interiors can be redone. I redid mine, using Airtex sets. Not cheap, but doable as an owner. You'll be looking at around $1000 to 1500 for interior if you do it yourself. Remember also that YOU will be looking at that part of the plane all the time you're flying, but you'll be looking at the OUTSIDE the rest of the time, just like everyone else.

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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

I think a 170 would be a great plane for you. The ones I'm familiar with have served their owner's very well. I'm ageeing with Mike also. If nice paint is important to you, buy one already painted up pretty. You'll spend way more than you think fixing one up. By the nicest one you can possibly afford right away. Quite honestly, fuel burn is really a non- issue in all these light planes. If you break it down to pounds of payload flown per mile per gallon, they are all pretty close. If you're mission calls for hauling 3 people around, even a 185 is more fuel efficient than a little two seat t craft. For the 50-100 hours/year that most owner's fly, fuel burn just doesn't matter.
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Re: Cessna 170 as a first plane?

MTV is correct on the paint and prebuy/mechanical issues, most likely you will never paint a plane.

Also look at the useful load that you will be try to use.
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