Cessna 337 Skymaster

This intriguing aircraft is every engineer's dream. It solves a well-known problem in a fairly clever way. The problem with twins is that if one engine goes out, you have asymmetrical thrust, meaning the plane tries to yaw to the side. From what I understand this yaw can be pretty dramatic. This, coupled with a host of other factors, means that twins are harder to fly, and if the pilot is not properly trained and current on emergency procedures, they can be more dangerous to fly. Unfortunately, there are many advantages to twins that tend to make them very attractive despite these safety drawbacks. First, there are some positives on the safety ledger as well. The aircraft will have more redundant systems. If you do know how to handle the plane, the loss of one engine need not result in a forced landing in the nearest field. Second, twins typically can carry more load (i.e. you can take your family on a trip with baggage instead of just you and your buddy going for a $100 hamburger), they are often higher performance than many singles, and being at the higher end of the food chain, they tend to get more nice whizzy avionics, deicing equipment, and the other "gizmos" that pilots like me so love to play with. So what's a poor body to do?

A Prop in Front, A Prop in Back--No Worries...

And all the Goodies!

Enter the Cessna 337 Skymaster. It's a twin, with all the attendant advantages, yet the engines are placed on the centerline, so there is no adverse yaw in an engine-out situation. Pretty nifty huh? It's so cool that the FAA even has a special inline thrust twin rating which acknowledges that the planes are easier to fly. And, you can get them with all the cool goodies like pressurization, de-ice, and cool avionics. Best of all, they can be pretty darned high performance, although they typically are no hotrods unless you fly them up to 20,000 feet or so. But, with pressurization, that's easy to do, right?

To top all this off, Skymasters tend to be available for fairly reasonable prices. Except for the newly fitted out Riley's most Skymasters sell for under $200K with decent avionics. It's pretty hard to beat that deal on a new plane and still get equivalent performance and capability.

The Skymaster would be an excellent first twin IMHO. I doubt I could consider such a thing before I've built my time up to the 300 hour range, but you can bet I'll be interested in considering these planes when I get there!

Links for Skymaster enthusiasts:

  Riley Superskyrocket: These guys hotrod the Skymaster with bigger engines and plush cabins. Check it out!

  Unofficial Skymaster Web Site: Lots of good messages and such about these birds here.

  Adam Aircraft: Makers of a Rutan-designed inline thrust twin


The Adam Aircraft M-309 over the Rockies...

All material 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.