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The Cessna L-19 as a Bushplane

I flew to CYHE on my long cross country. When I got there I was surprised to see what this old Cessna L-19 warbird on the ground. I was pretty sure what it was, but I was sure I’d seen pictures of this type of military Cessna before.

I jumped onto Barnstormers.com when I got home to see if I could identofy the model. No luck. I hit Google and searched Cessna military aircraft. There wasn’t much there. I searched the Civil Aviation Registry, but I had made a mistake. I had the wrong mark- the mark I had belonged to a PA-28 registered in Ontario. I went back to Google and stumbled across a forum discussion about why L-19s are so expensive. There are two reasons: one, they’re considered warbirds, by some and two, they’re great for towing gliders.

CYHE is home to a bunch of gliders, and that’s who the L-19 belongs to, and what it’s there for. I went back to the Civil Air Registry, searched L-19s and found one that belongs to the Vancouver Soaring Association.

It’s a cool looking plane. I noticed it because it’s reminiscent of my plane, a C-150. What’s cool is the cockpit and canopy. The Cessna L-19 has a canopy style set up, so there’s lots of visibility. Being a tail-dragger helps in the cool looks department too.

The military designation was Cessna 0-1 Bird Dog. It was used as a liaison and observation aircraft. Production began in 1949. They’ve been used by armies all over the world. There were 3,431 built.

Cessna L-19 numbers:

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 25 ft 9 in (7.85 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in (10.97 m)
  • Height: 7ft 3½ in (2.22 m)
  • Wing area: 174 ft² (16.16 m²)
  • Empty weight: 1,614 lb (732 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 2,400 lb (1089 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental O-470-11 flat six piston, 213 hp (159 kw)
  • Maximum speed: 130 mph (209 km/h)
  • Range: 530 miles (853 km)
  • Service ceiling: 20,300 ft (6,200 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,040 ft/min (317 m/min)

It’s got a great rate of climb and service ceiling, a good load and range.

RCAF Cessna L-19 16724
RCAF Cessna L-19 119703
RCAF Cessna L-19 705

The Cessna L-19 has a wide door (the military wanted it big enough for stretchers), which is handy in a bushplane. It’s got a great rate of climb and was designed for rough field landings. From what I read in the Air Cadet League of Canada manual I found on the net it takes off a little sooner than my 150- at between 50 mph and 60 mph. I lift off right at 60 mph. With 60 degrees of flap it will stall at 44 mph unloaded, and 54 mph at gross. It needs about 560′ to get aloft, and 600′ to land, according to specs, but bushpilots on internet forums say it gets off in 400′. It’s got 60 degrees of flaps, and as Budd Davisson points out, that’s like 90 degrees to the ground when you flare!

I found these pictures of a re-built L-19 on floats and skis. It was used by a wilderness camp operator in Ontario. You can find out more about it at CANAV Books Blog.

Cessna L-19 on floats

Cessna L-19 on skis

Here is a link to the International Birddog Association.

My name is Rob Chipman and I’m a realtor and pilot based in Vancouver, BC. I AM NOT A FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR AND I AM NOT OFFERING FLIGHT INSTRUCTION! I am sharing my study notes and other things I’ve learned while getting my education as a pilot. You’re welcome to make use of this information, but do not treat it as expert advice.

I really enjoy flying, real estate and the Chilcotin.  My company is Coronet Realty Ltd., located at 3582 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, V5K 2A7. I have a C-150L that I own with two other pilots, based out of Pitt Meadows. Do not hesitate to contact me by email if I can help you do anything, especially if its likely to be interesting or concerns selling remote property in British Columbia.

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