Modifying your Cessna into a better aircraft

If you are thinking of modifying your Cessna for the better, a lengthy article by Bill Walker for General Aviation News is a must read filled with useful ideas and tips. In Bill’s experience, most of the changes people make to their aircraft generally involve safety, power/performance, appearance or some combination of these and then he outlined some of the following changes he made to his Cessna 172:

  • Adding Shoulder Harnesses. Bill’s first modification was rather minor as it involved replacing the original lap belts with shoulder harnesses incorporating a lap belt. He mentioned Hooker Harnesses and B.A.S. Inc. for other pilots looking to do the same.
  • Changing the Engine. Bill’s 172 left the factory with a Continental O-300 145-hp 6 cylinder but now he flies with a 180-hp Lycoming 0-360 A1A and a Hartzell constant speed propeller. If you are thinking of doing an engine change, Bill devoted several paragraphs mentioning names of those who offer various types of conversions in the USA.
  • Adding a Westach Carburetor Temperature Gauge. Bill mentioned the addition of a Westach carburetor temperature gauge through Aircraft Spruce was useful as it provides instant feedback on any possible carb icing.
  • Installing a Baggage Door and Door Organizer. Since early Skyhawks did not have a baggage door, Bill purchased a used door from Wentworth Aircraft. He added that a nice addition for 172, 182 and early model 210 aircraft is a baggage door organizer which he ordered one from Denton Enterprises in Nampa, Idaho. The organizer screws inside the door and provides room for a couple of quarts of oil and plenty of small items.

The above were just some of the modifications Bill made to his aircraft with two other major modifications being the conversion of the aircraft to conventional gear and the addition of bigger tires.

Its worth mentioning that Bill’s article noted the starting point for all modifications for American pilots would be the Supplemental Type Certificates (STC) for aircraft make and model listed by the FAA (the list can be viewed online here). In addition, UK based pilots and aircraft owners should check with the Civil Aviation Authority’s Approval of Modifications and Repairs for CAA Regulated Aircraft page as a starting reference point.

Finally, we would like to ask you our readers: Have you modified your Cessna? If so, what were the modifications you made and where did you have these modifications done?

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