The Cessna 172 is an all metal, four seat, high wing, single engine airplane equipped with tricycle landing gear, having a steerable nose wheel and two main wheels.
According to AOPA.org, pilots dubbed the Cessna 172 with colorful names like “Chicken Hawk,” or “Fryhawk” for those in warmer climates.
Despite the name-calling and sometimes love-hate relationship with the 172, pilots and owners always regale the 172 for its remarkably unremarkable traits. It’s not fast, but at least it’s simple and doesn’t burn a lot of fuel. It’s not sexy, but it’s utilitarian, it’s easy to fly, and it makes a great airplane for getting into and out of short, rough fields. It’s very inexpensive to operate and that, combined with its legendary dispatch reliability, makes it the trainer of choice at many flight schools.
Given its simplicity, can a fighter pilot fly a Cessna 172 without training?
‘After two tours in the Navy flying both F-4 and F-14s among other aircraft, and over 3,000 flight hours with an ATP, I decided one day to get checked out in a Cessna 172 which I had never flown,’ former US Navy fighter pilot John Chesire says on Quora.
‘It was totally foreign to me. However, after turns, stalls, and touch and goes, my instructor said he would “sign me off” but that I really “needed a lot more practice and training.”
‘I could not have agreed more! I was way out of my element. That was the first and last time I ever tried learning how to fly a 172.’
‘TL;DR – So yes, I could fly it without any training, but not very well and not near to standards I was accustomed to.’
‘Possibly, but it would be extremely dangerous and very poor judgment.
‘Military pilots know that the key to safe flying is proficiency, knowledge of your aircraft’s systems, and training…lots of training, lots of practice.
‘I have ~4000 hrs, all jet, but I would not step inside a Cessna 172 without a training curriculum and an instructor pilot to teach me how to fly that airplane. It’s a very different aircraft from the jets I flew, and despite being much lower performance, the 172 is perfectly capable of killing you when it impacts the ground.’
‘Well, as an instructor pilot at Boeing Field in Seattle I was scheduled with a “student “who was due for a two-year biennial flight review in a Cessna 172. Some student. He was an USAF Captain who flew F-16s in Asia, but had been grounded for a few years (sort of) “flying” Predator drones in Afghanistan. Though he should have been a bit rusty, not this dude. Since the slowest airplane he’d ever actually flown was the supersonic T-38 Talon, he tended at first to roar down short final approach flying at the T-38’s 170 knots approach speed. (Note: The Cessna redline never exceed airspeed is 158 knots and normal approach airspeed with full flaps is ~75–85 knots.) So, the answer is yes, some initial or recurrent training is prudent.’
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force and Civil Aviation Patrol
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