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Wed, Mar 12, 2003

Clyde Cessna's First Plane

A replica of Clyde Cessna's first airplane, Silverwing, was hung at Exploration Place, located in Wichita (KS), this week.  Silverwing will be on display for eighteen months, and is part of the "Centennial of Powered Flight" project at Exploration Place.

This project is to commemorate the 100th anniversary of flight and the continuing evolution of aviation.

Silverwing was built and flown by Cessna in 1911. Although the actual aircraft no longer exists, several replicas have been built. The replica hanging at Exploration Place, which was built by Cessna team members in the 1960s, is approximately 26 feet long, with a 26-foot wingspan. It features the popular Gnome engine (rather than the lighter, less-powerful Anzani that was also used on similar machines).

"Because of Clyde's passion for aviation and his entrepreneurial spirit in providing a new means of transportation, the Cessna Aircraft Company was founded in 1927. We are proud of our strong aviation heritage in Wichita and are delighted that the replica of Silverwing has been chosen for display at Exploration Place in honor of the 100th anniversary of flight," said Charlie Johnson, Cessna's President.

Silverwing, actually a then-popular Blériot design, made famous in the Frenchman's huge accomplishment (the first heavier-than-air aerial crossing of the English Channel in 1909) was a breakthrough in pre-WWI aviation technology. Surprisingly modern in planform and basic characteristics, its pioneering design is quite evident, even in today's GA aircraft.

FMI: www.cessna.com; www.bleriot.org/docs/CollegePark.htm

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