CLYDE VERNON CESSNA
Clyde Cessna was a farmer and car salesman in Enid, Oklahoma, who in 1910 was inspired to get into aviation by a traveling airshow. He became an apprentice at the Queen Aeroplane Company, which produced copies of the Bleriot XI, and used one of the company’s fuselages for his first flying machine, which he crashed multiple times while teaching himself to fly. He nearly bankrupted himself in the process and retreated to his family farm in Wichita, Kansas. There he built his first complete design, Silver Wings, a monoplane constructed of spruce and linen, in 1911. A successful Midwest show circuit followed. Each winter, Cessna would build a new airplane, each an improvement over last year’s model. After the war, which forced Cessna back to farming for a few years, he joined forces with Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman at the Travel Air Manufacturing Company. But Cessna’s strong belief in strutless monoplane designs caused him to resign from Travel Air and start up Cessna Aircraft Company in 1927. Cessna retired and went back to farming in 1936, but with much help from his nephew, Dwane Wallace, Cessna’s company became the most productive airplane manufacturer in history.