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I’m pretty sure I own the world speed record in a Cessna 172

March 2, 2014

Groundspeed, that is. Between the Independence factory and Shreveport Louisiana, during the airplane’s very first flight after delivery, we saw groundspeeds over 180kts. I don’t remember the actual top speed I saw on that flight but I remember 182kts and 188kts. I’m not sure but it seems to me either 188kts or 192kts was the top groundspeed during the flight. If you’re not a pilot or not familiar with the Cessna 172, the airplane’s typical cruise speed is about 125kts (~140mph).

The flight was our first leg on a delivery from the factory to South America, middle of winter a couple of years ago. We departed the factory a day after a storm system moved through and our route of flight to Shreveport was directly along the direction of the winds on the back side of the storm. Here in the Northern Hemisphere the winds circle the low pressure system in a counter-clockwise manner. Not very often do you see winds that strong (in excess of 50kts) at the altitudes a C172 flies and usually when the winds are that strong at 10,000 feet the weather would be too bad to fly in. In this case the storm was well ahead of us, we barely hit a few thin layers of clouds and had VFR with reasonable winds at the surface.

After we got to Lima a few days later I scrolled through the history on the G1000 and saw the top recorded groundspeed. I was in a hurry to get back home but I should have thought to stop and take a picture of the display. At any rate it struck me how this airplane – given the life expectancy of your typical C172 – may fly the world over for the next 40+ years and possibly never see groundspeeds in that magnitude again. Never come close to the speed it reached on its very first flight out of the factory. No matter how many C172s I may or may not fly again in the future, I doubt that I’ll ever see groundspeeds that high in a C172 again.

Cessna 172 flying down the Bahamas

Cessna 172 flying down the Bahamas

The Andes mountains in Peru on our G1000 MFD

The Andes mountains in Peru on our G1000 MFD

One Comment leave one →
  1. BDP permalink
    February 27, 2021 2:24 pm

    According to the info in this article, I would actually have the world record ground speed in a Cessna 172 (1979 C172N).
    My gps Logged a top speed of 201kts at 9000’ on a 2014 flight from Crossville Tenn (KCSV) to Hackettstown NJ (N05) The 570 nm flight took just over 3 hrs to complete I was aware of the intense direct tail wind and chased it between 8000 and 9000 feet.

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