The old Skymaster

When I worked as mechanic for the flight school (the one which was the main inspiration for Chicken Wings) I always inherited the customer Cessna Skymasters. I worked for a Cessna dealer before and knew a little about them and in this new job I was the only guy who knew them. And as the local C-337 owners talked amongst themselves, word spread quickly that there is a guy on the field who knew Skymasters. I spent almost 2 years working on nothing but Skymasters. They fly nice but as a mechanic I hated them! So much maintenance and so few parts!! And you have to be quadruple jointed in order to reach certain sections in the rear engine compartment.

So, this conversation happened exactly like you see it in the strip (with me being Julio in this) between me and a customer. The plane taxiing by was even the same color.

Another fun fact: Trade-a-Plane refused to print this strip. Their argument was that Cessna is one of their biggest customers and they didn’t want to offend them. They also said that they have Cessna Skymaster Fan Clubs who might take this strip the wrong way. Made sense to us when they said it but we never thought of it before.

But we have not received any threatening letters yet, and something tells me this “fan club” must be comprised of pilots and not mechanics… 😉

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11 comments on “The old Skymaster
  1. JP says:

    Once I fueld one with extended range tank on the wingtips (also giving it a few feet extra span) and its owner must have done much of his own maintenance because he said ” Great plane for the mountains we live in…bit hard to work on at time though” (iirc it was a canadian plane). I always loved the look…as a kid the local pipeline was monitored by one so I grew up seeing one just above the treetops. The pilot often waved at us when we were playing along the right of way.

  2. JP says:

    helpful hint. move the cursor away from the submit button or your cat (not the one in the gravatar, the other) will post you poor spelling and typing for all to see.

    At that same FBO we had a Skymaster that hadn’t moved for years. It was still in place when the fellow above arrived so the tip tanks were quite obvious and he pointed out the differences for the pressurized cabin and the fact his tires were not flat.

    A Mech came not long after that and removed the bird nest from the rear engine, then got it running well enough to fly out for a refurb.

    Our FBO was a home to some oddball planes. We had a Mooney Porsche in need of help as well. They finally found an A&P who could work on the engine and it too left us.

  3. SM says:

    Looks like you drew a C-336. Fixed gear (wheel pants), manual flaps and fixed pitch props. The idea was to build a simple but safe twin engine aircraft. It became the C-337 when retractable gear, electric flaps and variable pitch props were added. I worked on an experimental C-327 Baby Skymaster in the late 60’s. No wing struts, laminar flow airfoil, smaller four passenger cabin with 150 hp engines (think twin version of the C-177). Kept having to beef up the door frame by the front windshield since it carried the wing load the struts use to carry. Cancelled because price and performance weren’t much different than the Skymaster. Then there was the C-187…but that is another story. 🙂

  4. Ed says:

    Ah yes, the Skyb*st*rd. For such a rare bird, there were an alarming number of them in the fire dump at the field where I learned…

  5. mike says:

    Ha! You’re right, SM. I never noticed it before. Actually, it looks like a cross between a 336 and a 337 because the windows look like the airframe is pressurized.

    Two of the Skymasters I worked on were retractable gear, pressurized, AND airconditioned. Those things were so packed you had to remove the rear engine just to change a vaccum pump! It was those two who made me not like ’em.
    In addition on one of them, like in JP’s story, the previous owner had done a lot of his own work. AD’s were missed, baffles missing, heating system put together wrong, it was a mess….
    It took me close to 8 months to get it running and legal again (waiting for parts and fabricating some of my own). Puts a new meaning to the term “annual”…. HA HA

  6. El Flauta says:

    SM, the gear looks like a Cessna 336, but the windows are more like a T337 Presurized Skymaster 🙂

  7. Geoduck says:

    In the ’70s we installed a radio stack in a Slymaster for a guy that was going to Africa to “become a bush pilot (this was at my folks FBO in Eugene, OR). The plane was non pressurized, fixed gear, I believe the plane had yellow and black stripes over the white, your basic Skymaster. It took us about a week to put in all the equipment and then he paid, loaded up and left. After he’s departed my dad commented that was the last we’d ever see of him. I asked why and he said first the guy didn’t have any experience either with flying around the world or flying in the bush or any real knowledge of Africa. Second he mentioned that one of the last thing’s he’d seen him doing was removing inspection covers and then duct taping several hand guns inside the wing. Even if he made it over the Atlantic he’d get nailed by customs and end up in jail in England, or Morocco, or South Africa or somewhere. Time passed and occasionally I’d remember the little yellow Slymaster and think “I wonder what ever happened to…”.

    Some years later I was working at the shop when a plane pulled up. I looked out to see who it was, I recognized the plane, dropped my broom, and ran into the office “Mom, Dad, he came back!!”. He came into the office, a little thinner and tanner, and now sporting a ‘safari hat’ and they chatted a bit. He used the phone to call his family. This was before cell phones or reasonable international rates and all that so they had no idea he was on his way home. When they came to pick him up his brother’s first words after the guy’s being out of contact in the wilds of Africa for years were “I’m so glad you’re back. Now we have a fourth for bridge tonight.”

    Dad didn’t like working on them, that’s where we picked up the name Mixmaster for them, but I always thought they were cool planes that attracted interesting people.

  8. warbirdali says:

    I have always liked the look of the O2 Vietnam ones I have seen at airshows, so now I know who to call for work on it if I ever win the lottery! Hello?……..are you there?……

  9. piet03 says:

    I like O2s also. heard a story about the first ones in Nam. the first one to land at Tan Son Nhut
    told the tower he had a gear warning light, could he have a fly by for visual inspection?
    Tower cleared him so he shut down and feathered the front engine.
    Controller had seen Cessnas, but never a push me pull you. He was speachless

  10. Flu-Bird says:

    Sky King flew a twin engined cessna SONGBIRD

  11. mike says:

    Wasn’t Sky King in our forum for a while? He really likes the Skymasters I remember. He should be a tech rep for them 😉

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