Taking Apart a Perfectly Good ‘Dog

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May 2005-

When I first laid my eyes on what would become my next airplane, I immediately thought that it was quite attractive. The L-19 Bird Dog (type certificate Cessna 305F) sat up high and appeared to be alert and powerful—a good hunting dog, one might say.

The unusual ingredient in my first impression of this airplane was that I had absolutely no intention of buying it. That’s not what I was there for.

My mission for that day was to fly this pristine (actually, nearly brand-new—more on that later) warbird in pursuit of a feature article for the December 2004 issue of Cessna Flyer. It was an airplane type that I had never flown before, and it looked like fun. I flew it, and I began to learn about it.

The Bird Dog was Cessna’s entrant into a bid competition in 1949 to come up with a new light airplane to meet various military observation and liaison assignments. Cessna won the competition and began producing this military variation on what was basically a Cessna 170 on steroids for the next twelve years, with total production run topping 3,600.

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