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“As the Hangar Door Shuts” Blog - by Brooks Margolien, 7/17/13

Cessna RGs

In a Cessna single engine boardroom a long, long time ago....

“Well, gentleman, we have great airplanes, people love our planes, the 205 can haul its own weight in cargo, but we just don't build anything like the Bonanza or the Comanche, and it bothers me. Our sales team wants something new, our dealers want something new, our pilots want something new - what can we do!”

Someone blurts out from the rear, “Let's build a low wing.” “Blasphemy!” says the director.

“Let’s throw retracts on the 205; we'll pick up 20 knots!” Eyes open wide. And, since you can see the landing gear out the window, no pilot will ever land with the wheels up!

“Done!” says the director, “Build me one in 90 days.”

Some days later, the first 210 must have bellied in.

Now, I only theorize that this is how the whole concept went down. I did not even check it on Wikipedia. But, I would have been the first one to think that no one could forget to extend the gear on a high wing with retracts. Just a peek out the side window would tell you if anything was missing. Wrong!

If anyone knows the actual story of the first 210 to be bellied in, let me hear it, and if anyone was in the room when Cessna decided to move on from a utility plane to a cross country machine to compete with the Bonanza, let me know.

I'm writing about them today because we have been working on a really nice Cessna Cardinal 177RG. Really nice even though it needs paint and an interior? Yes, I say. This particular plane is a 1978 model with 28 volt electrics. Besides the voltage change, a few upgrades to the electrical system have done wonders to this model. They are so fun to fly. Recently the after market PowerFlow exhaust system became available for this model, and it does wonders - adds another 15 hp, removes a whole bunch of plumbing and makes the plane as fast as the SR20. I know most anyone that learns to fly in a low wing plane will never consider a Cessna, but the Cardinal was the last plane single drawn on a clean sheet until the Skycatcher came along 45 years later. And it flies like it.

I know, I know, Cessna has since drawn up many a new jet powered plane. Apparently their economists knew what my father knew in 1971 - the working class was doomed and here comes the Jet Set. In 1982, at Hanscom field we ogled over a Citation, the odd Falcon, by 205 the pecking order starts at a Gulfstream, more often than not, jet ops outnumber piston twins.

But we're here to discuss the Cessna RGs and they are Cessna's best. The Cardinal is tops for ease of entry and exit, open door, sit on seat and rotate. Those seats are ahead of the wing and view in the pattern is excellent. They even have little crank to windows to pick up a breeze without having to open and close the big doors in the run up area. More airplane is the 182RG, which at 150 kts is just a great plane. The high wing is more efficient than a low wing, add the retracts and you have efficiency and shade! Plus you can park two cars under it inside your T-Hangar, and they fit inside a 40 ft hangar door - a lot easier than a SR22.

The top of the line 210 Centurion is such a great plane, way faster than the PA32 series, comes straight or turbo, can be fitted with same 310 hp, 6 point engine mount, tuned intake IO-550 as a Cirrus SR22. Yes, some people still don't like the high wings, and all I can say is get a ride in the P-210. It's a superior airplane, rattles and creaks are gone, smoothness coming from a pressurized vessel and thick glass.

If you are considering a plane with a turbo charger, than you must consider the P-210. Why carry around all weight and not take advantage of pressurization? If you add deicers and air conditioning, I must tell you now, those systems alone are nearly equivalent of maintaining another airplane alone, so make sure your guns are loaded if you go down that path.

For the rest of us, examine the 182 RG. It carries a boatload, is so much faster than a regular 182, the price is right and the classic legacy Cessnas have the largest parts support of all of GA. So, yes, the airframes are older, but the wider parts and upgrade choices put them on an even playing field with the newer manufactured planes.

I admit I own a Cherokee 140. It came my way from a customer for a fair price, but that doesn't mean I don't have my dreams. One of them is a high wing Cessna with big leather seats! And a 530, a JPI-930, an autopilot, and a crazy paint job. And parked under its wings in the hangar will be my race car, my minibikes, my go kart, and God knows what else.

Brooks Margolien is president and chief technician of Aero Care, Inc., a state-of-the-art piston engine aircraft (13’6” H by 50’ W door opening) maintenance shop in Orange, MA. Brooks has been an aircraft mechanic for over 23 years. You can reach Brooks directly at

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