Have You Ever Wondered How Long A Cessna 172 Skyhawk Can Last Non-Stop?: Well, today, I found out the biggest facts known to aviation history and it just so happens that the Cessna is apart of something huge!
Insight: Now some of these things that I am about to tell you, you may have heard some time but never really knew the whole story! Well during the months of December 1958 and January and February 1959 two very young men, flew a “missioned” Cessna 172 around and around, over the desert Southwest for 64 days, 22 hours, and 19 minutes! This specific event that took place in Las Vegas NV, was called the “Endurance Test, Circa 1958” which was 150,000 miles without landing the Cessna anywhere. The designated callsign was N9172B. The aircraft was customly modified to withstand the new fueling process in which would have to undergo and being able to withstand a long period of time! The Hacienda Hotel, a hotel in which sponsor this event was the primary focus as well for all the materials needed to do this flight. The record-setting flight of a prosaic Cessna 172—with Hacienda Hotel prominently painted on the side—would draw nationwide attention to the hotel. It would surely be prominently featured on national news broadcasts. The whole aircraft was completely remodeled to fixing the fuel gauge to remodeling the inside of the aircraft into a makeshift bedroom. A small platform could be lowered out of the co-pilot’s door to provide additional footing during refueling operations. A single four-inch-thick foam pad measuring four feet by four feet was installed on the co-pilot’s side of the cabin after the seat was removed. There was even a small stainless steel sink installed to enable the two-man crew to wash up and shave themselves! All was provided by the Hacienda. What were the two pilots name you may ask, well it was simple. Their names were Robert Tim and John Cook.They were both flight mechanics. They were both highly trained Cessna pilots with over 100 flight hours! But little what they knew what they were going into! They flew into the deserts of California and Nevada and New Mexico. Robert Replaced the back 2 seats with an extra 95 pound fuel tank and took out the co pilot seat to replace with a mattress. He also replaced the current engine with a new one and was funded $100,000 by the Hacienda Hotel.
How was the One Engine Cessna Able to Withstand 65 Days before Landing back at McCarren?: Well here are a few things that kept that Cessna Up and Running
- They were able to maintain sanity
- Food Service Was Provided to keep the pilots active every day
- They each took turns piloting
- The Cessna was modified for this specific event
- When it was time to refuel, the Cessna would fly directly over a freeway where a pickup truck would maintain the same speed and shove a “pump” through the Cessna’s modified fuel gauge in which they refueled using a big tanker hauled on the truck. They were often given their meals (provided by the Hacienda’ Kitchen) as well.
- Each pilot took a different shift so they were able to sleep, fly and sleep again.
- They took in flight showers aboard the Cessna as well which wasn’t very sanity nor safe.
- They refueled each day, and were provided some fun activities to do while not dying of boredom.
- It was the constant state of repetition that kept that Cessna in the air
Downsides that Were Faced: Well, the pilots mental and physical state of being in a cockpit for 3 months had eventually took a toll and they were aching to get out soon. It tested their mental and physical state of being up in the air trapped until they finally broke. Also mid air collisions were also a big key. Some times when it was time for refueling, the Cessna would bank at a angle and almost collide with the truck, which had some often close calls In flight bathing as another one. When you leave the Cessna alone on auto pilot by itself, it won’t avoid the incoming obstacles ahead and because the Cessna flew at very low altitudes, it had some very close calls while the pilots were either brushing their teeth to being buck naked in the middle of the shower. The engine was so loud as well, it was a pain having to hear that every day especially when you try to sleep. Also during the flight mechanical problems were finally erupting.The generator failed on day 39. From that day forward, all the fuel had to be transferred to the wing tanks with a hand pump. A wind-driven generator was installed on the strut, but its output was limited. Then just what they feared happened—a night refueling. There was no moon that night in mid-January. They eventually had lost the generator, tachometer, autopilot, cabin heater, landing and taxi lights, belly tank fuel gauge, electrical fuel pump, and the winch. The downsides put a major setback to the pilots as they were just about to end their flight. Carbon had eventually clogged the combustion chambers in the aircraft which will get into next.
What Ended The Flight and Where Did they End Up: Get this… The Cessna eventually had a fuel leak and carbon had clogged the combustion chambers in the Cessna. The pilots had broke the previous record of 50 days continuously non stop and the isolation and their mental state had finally got to them. They decided it was time to head home. The flight ended at McCarran Field and cemented its place in the books! The record still holds and the aircraft is still here today. The flight was all provided by two young men destined to place themselves in the books of aviation and is currently still #1 as longest Cessna Flight Non-Stop!
Facts and Pictures Provided by: https://disciplesofflight.com/flight-endurance/
In This picture, food and fuel is being hoisted aboard:
Actual Picture taken of the Cessna Hacienda Hotel:
Let me know what you think about this and if this is still the current record holder Just happened to let some of you know just in case you wanna try the same thing out (only with a KC-10 ;) Thanks so much and Merry Christmas!