The 185 Skywagon is a light utility tail dragger produced by Cessna capable of accommodating six occupants in flight. The aircraft’s matter-of-fact balanced performance can fly up to 720 nautical miles with a cruising speed of 145 knots. It has a very straightforward design that only needs little unscheduled maintenance.

United States
1961 to: 1985
US$.32 million (2019)
1x Continental IO-520-D
300 horsepower
Max Cruise Speed:
145 knots
269 Km/h
Approach Speed (Vref):
49 knots
Travel range:
720 Nautical Miles
1,333 Kilometers
Fuel Economy:
Service Ceiling:
17,150 feet
Rate of Climb:
1010 feet / minute
5.13metre / second
Take Off Distance:
416 metre - 1,364.81 feet
Landing Distance:
426 metre - 1,397.62 feet
Max Take Off Weight:
1,519 Kg
3,349 lbs
Max Landing Weight:
1,519 Kg
3,349 lbs
Max Payload:
635 Kg
1,400 lbs
Fuel Tank Capacity:
65 gallon
246 litre
Baggage Volume:
Seats - Economy / General:
6 seats
Seats - Business Class:
Seats - First Class:
Cabin Height:
1.19 metre - 3.90 feet
Cabin Width:
1.02 metre - 3.35 feet
Cabin Length:
3.09 metre - 10.14 feet
Exterior Length:
7.85 metre - 25.75 feet
Tail height:
2.36 metre - 7.74 feet
Fuselage Diameter:
1.15 metre - 3.77 feet
Wing Span / Rotor Diameter:
10.92 metre - 35.83 feet
Wing Tips:
No Winglets

185 Skywagon Production

The 185 Skywagon is an evolutionary successor of the well known Cessna 180. In July 1960, this light utility aircraft took its maiden flight. In March 1961, the first production type was completed.

The Cessna 185 Skywagon was produced from 1961 to 1985 with over 4,400 units built.

185 Skywagon Design and Development

The aircraft has a strengthened fuselage with an external length of 7.85 meters, height of 2.36 meters and fuselage diameter of 1.15 meters. It has a high-wing design with a wingspan of 10.92 meters and a wing area of 16.2 square meters.

Compared to its predecessor Cessna 180, the Skywagon has a larger vertical fin and fitted with a new Continental IO-520-D engine. The later version of the 185 Skywagon features a factory fitted avionics system.

The cabin of the aircraft has a length of 3.09 meters, width of 1.02 meters and height of 1.19 meters. The right cabin door is fitted with detachable hinge pins and a removable door stop that allows easy removal of door when bulky or sizable cargo needs to be loaded. The aircraft can carry up to six occupants on board.

The Cessna 185 Skywagon is fitted with a tail wheel type landing gear with two main wheels positioned forward and a third small skid or wheel positioned at the tail. It has a wheelbase of 6.28 meters. The small tires of this conventional type gears decrease the induced drag of the aircraft for the same power setting.

The aircraft is commonly used in bush flying where it operates in rough terrain where there are no arranged landing strip or runways on numerous occasions. The 185 Skywagon can also be designed as a floatplane or amphibian.

185 Skywagon Engine and Performance

The Continental IO-520-D powers the 185 Skywagon. This piston engine is supplied by Teledyne Continental Motors, an aircraft engine manufacturer in the United States. The Continental fuel injection engine has a maximum thrust of 300 horsepower. Its two bladed constant speed propeller has a diameter of 2.08 meters.

The Skywagon has a standard fuel tank capacity of 65 gal. Fuel is being supplied to the engine coming from two tanks, one in each wing. The fuel system is composed of a fuel tank accumulator, shutoff valve, strainer, bypass, and engine driven fuel pump that enable the fuel from each wing to flow by gravity.

The aircraft has a maximum take off and landing weight of 1,519 kg and a maximum payload of 635 kg. It has a travel range of 720 nautical miles, a service ceiling of 17,150 feet, and a rate of climb at sea level of 1,010 feet per minute. The maximum speed of the aircraft is 155 knots and its cruise speed is 145 knots. It has a stall speed of 49 knots.

185 Skywagon Variants

The Cessna 185 Skywagon produced eight civilian variants and three military variants.

The first five civilian variants have the same gross weight of 1,451 kg. The initial 185 Skywagon was certified on January 31 1961. The 185A received its certification on September 20 1961. The 185B was on June 25 1962, then after a year, the 185C was certified on July 19 1963. The 185D received its certification on June 17 1964. The 185E with a higher gross weight of 1,497 kg was certified on September 24 1965. The A185E Skywagon and AgCarryal is an agricultural aircraft with a gross weight of 1,520 kg received certification on September 24 1965 and the A185F Skywagon and AgCarryal was certified on October 16 1973.

The first military variant U-17A is powered by a Continental IO-470-F piston engine with a thrust rate of 260 horsepower. The United States Air Force supplied this version to several countries under the Military Assistance program. The U-17B is powered by a Continental IO-520-D with a thrust rate of 300 horsepower. The last military variant U-17C is a four-seat aircraft outfitted with a Continental IO-470-L piston engine.

185 Skywagon Notable Accident and Incident

On August 26 1984, a Cessna A185F from Lake Delton crashed after take off during a sightseeing flight. Among six occupants, four were killed on the accident.

On August 19 1989, a Cessna A185E crashed when the pilot unintentionally stalled the aircraft while on a balked landing. There were three occupants on board, all of them were extremely injured.

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