Clyde Cessna

Clyde Vernon Cessna was born on 5 December 1879 in Iowa, USA. He was one of the first owners of an automobile and became a capable mechanic and car salesman. In 1910 he witnessed an aviation exhibition and immediately became interested in flying. During the following year, he taught himself to fly and, after much trial and error, designed his own experimental light aircraft. He then built several more aircraft and even opened a flying school. The United States entered World War I in 1917, severely hampering the civilian aircraft industry in the country. However, when the war ended in 1918, the industry recovered. In 1925, Clyde Cessna joined Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman to found the Travel Air Manufacturing Company. Two years later, Cessna left Travel Air to start the Cessna Company with his son Eldon. As president and chief engineer, Clyde Cessna developed several successful light aircraft. In 1930, he focused on gliders, racers and affordable aircraft, but the Great Depression forced him to close the company in 1931. Even so Clyde and Eldon Cessna continued to build custom-ordered aircraft and racers. In 1934, Clyde Cessna's nephew Dwane Wallace helped him re-open the Cessna Company's doors. Cessna contributed to the design of several successful light aircraft, before selling the company to his nephew in 1936. Clyde Cessna died in November 1954 at the age of 74.