Used Aircraft Guide

August 2012 Issue

Used Aircraft Guide: Cessna 185 Skywagon

This aerial pickup truck is still a favorite for those who need maximum load and backcountry performance.

In an age when the majority of new airplanes are made of plastic and equipped with glass panels and envelope-protected autopilots, it’s hard to imagine that as recently as 1985, at least one company was still making a popular taildragger. But it was. That company was Cessna and the airplane was the 185. It’s no stretch to say that if the Skywagon was popular then, it may be even more in demand now, given the prices the latest models fetch on the used market. Cessna 185 owners don’t just like these airplanes, they rave about them. It’s not hard to understand why, either. No newer airplanes will do what Skywagon can, in terms of load hauling and taildragger ruggedness. You’ll see Cherokee Sixes plying gravel strips in Alaska, but you’ll see many more 185s. There are lots of other working airplanes, but the Cessna 185 is perhaps unique for its reputation as the airborne version of a four-wheel-drive, three-quarter-ton pick-up truck, easily able to haul heavy loads into and out of short, unimproved strips. With plenty of power and two front cabin doors, it’s also a prized floatplane. And for all of that, some owners just like them for fun flying.

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