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Posted on Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 5:55 a.m.

From Wichita to Ann Arbor: Cessna Skycatcher to join Michigan Flyers' training fleet

By Sven Gustafson

Aviation geeks will be watching the skies this week as one of Ann Arbor’s oldest flying clubs returns from an interstate shopping trip with an eagerly anticipated new training airplane that pilots say makes it easier to learn to fly.

Two members of the Michigan Flyers plan to spend today piloting a new Cessna 162 Skycatcher some 780 miles from Cessna’s headquarters in Wichita, Kan., to the Ann Arbor Airport, where the two-seater will become the fifth plane in the club’s fleet.

The single-engine light-sport aircraft, an update of the company’s 152 model, allows people to acquire a sport pilot certificate with fewer hours of training.


Andy Fowler | Courtesy of Michigan Flyers

“That model has been pretty anxiously awaited by people in the aviation community,” said Andy Fowler, a club member who planned to travel to Wichita on Sunday and spend a day training in the Skycatcher on Monday. He said many pilots did their training on the 152, which was designed several decades ago. “This is essentially the next step in that aircraft, which has been kind of needed for a while from Cessna.”

The plane’s horizontally opposed 4-cylinder, direct-drive engine allows for cruising speeds of up to 118 knots (about 136 mph) with a range of 400 nautical miles. It’s intended for flight training and personal use.

Cessna announced the new model in 2006 and delivered the first model in late 2009, yet has seen its rollout slowed by a robust order log and slower-than-anticipated production; as such, the Flyers club says it is receiving the 84th serial-number Skycatcher.

Thumbnail image for sin_catcher_ext14_2010_hires.jpg

The Cessna 162 Skycatcher has been highly sought-after since the company announced plans to build it in 2006.

“The aircraft itself is pretty similar to the 152s that we already own,” said Fowler, a 26-year-old who received his pilot license in January. “It’s got a glass cockpit, which all of the new Cessnas are sold with the glass cockpits, with an LCD that displays all of the flight information and air speeds.”

Fowler will fly the Skycatcher with Kathryn Robine, a certificated flight instructor at the club and a retired airline pilot. They’ll follow visual flight rules, which requires flyers to be able to see the ground and have at least 3 miles of visibility at all times in order to fly.

The two plan to document their trip via live updates on Twitter, photos and brief stories.

“We’re really excited about that,” said Fowler, who works in software development at, an Ann Arbor startup. “There’s a lot of that in general aviation. I’m a computer programmer, and you find a lot of techies in aviation … hobbies and interests attract each other.”

The Michigan Flyers hopes to have its members flying the plane by next weekend, Fowler said.

Here's a video about the plane:

Sven Gustafson is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at 734-623-2530 or


Andy Fowler

Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

Thanks for sharing our story,! We had an absolute blast flying home this great aircraft. I can't imagine how the manufacturing country affects the quality of the airframe. It's a beautiful plane -- one I look forward to flying with friends and family.

Bob Bethune

Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 1:22 p.m.

If you think you're avoiding products made in China, think again. Remember that a product can have a pretty large proportion of foreign-made parts and still be labeled as "Made in the USA." The likelihood is very strong that the car you drive, the plane you ride in, the clothes you wear, the medical equipment your doctor uses, the phone you carry in your pocket, the computer on your desk, the watch on your wrist, and even the house you live in are at least partly made in China and you don't even know it.


Wed, Jun 29, 2011 : 6:45 a.m.

Congrats on the new acquisition, Michigan Flyers! I wish more comments on news sites were positive!!


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 7:14 p.m.

Usually, I would think they mean 'eager' instead of 'anxious'. But given that two typical full-grown American males and full tanks of fuel put the Skycatcher overweight, the resulting anxiety of surviving a flight in a Skycatcher in less than ideal and standard conditions makes me think that they did mean 'anxious', or perhaps it was a Freudian slip.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 2:46 p.m.

Its all the Unions fault, bla, bla, bla. Even if they hire non-union, they won't work for $3 an hour like they will in China. Blame the company. I would not buy a plane made in China, either.


Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

I do agree Bryan, it is distressing that Cessna would be this aircraft in China. On the other hand the unions have had a strangle-hold on the aircrafter manufacturers like Boeing,Cessna, UTC and others. Am I alone in finding the timing for this article a bit ironic, coming on the heels of the crash of Dr. Hatch's Bonanza ?

Bryan Dever

Tue, Jun 28, 2011 : 12:13 p.m.

I was really excited about the 162 until the announced that it would be made in China. Aside from my political and moral problems with buying from china, think about quality. I wouldn't buy a car or even a motorbike made in China because their quality has always been poor. Why would I trust them to build my airplane?