After several attempts at flight and 12 crash landings, the founder of Cessna Aircraft Company, Clyde Cessna, completed his first successful flight in June 1911, one hundred years ago, according to company archives. The 31-year-old Cessna had added an engine and propeller to a copy of the Blériot XI fuselage and was teaching himself to fly, only eight years after the Wright brothers’ first successful powered flight.
At the time, Cessna was living in Enid, Oklahoma, where he ran a car dealership. His interest in aviation sprouted as a result of the Wright brothers’ accomplishments and Louis Blériot’s flight across the English Channel. And his passion grew when he attended a traveling air demonstration in Oklahoma City. He used most of his life’s savings to purchase the Blériot.
At the end of 1911, Cessna moved back to Kansas where he started manufacturing airplanes in 1916. In 1927, the Cessna Roos Aircraft Company was founded. Since then, more than 190,000 Cessna airplanes have left the factory floor in Wichita, Kansas.