The Great Depression hit the U.S. aircraft industry hard and the Cessna Aircraft Company was no exception. People didn’t have the money to buy airplanes nor were there any significant investment funds available to help keep aircraft companies solvent. Clyde Cessna did his best to keep the company’s doors open and convince his directors that there was still a market for airplanes, but it was a dark time for the company. Cessna’s son Eldon came up with an interim solution: gliders. If they could produce something simple and cheap, it might just keep the company afloat - and keep people interested in flying - until they could afford more advanced, powered aircraft.
The CG-2, inspired by some of the German primary gliders of the day, was introduced in 1930, with an ad campaign that promised that “man might fly first, without power, in safety.” The price was $398 (about $5,700 in 2015 dollars) for the aircraft and a bungee-based launch system, crated and ready for shipment. Also included was an assembly manual; one of the reasons the CG-2 was so cheap was that it was a true do-it-yourself project and was shipped as a kit. Once built, it could be launched using the bungee cord method, or be towed by car or airplane.
Some accounts state that Cessna produced at least 300 CG-2s, but that’s not confirmed. However many they produced, they didn’t sell enough to keep the company from closing its doors for two years, starting in 1932. There are two known CG-2s on display in museums: ours and one at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.
The Cessna CG-2 glider was donated to the EAA AirVenture Museum by Leland Hanselman and C. VanAirsdale.