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How far can you fly in a Cessna?

How far can you fly in a Cessna? Blog

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You can't go around the world on one tank. But how far can you fly in a sports plane?

Before we look for the answer to this question, it is good to know that people do fly around the world in small planes. This can be done by building in larger tanks. An ocean does not have to be a problem either. The shortest route to the United States, for example, goes via Greenland, Iceland and Canada. Enough islands to make a stopover.

How far can you fly on one tank?

It is very difficult to give one number, because how far you can fly depends on the amount of fuel your plane can carry, the performance of the plane and the weather conditions.

Amount of fuel

Let's take the Cessna Skyhawk 172 (model 1977 to 1997), which is the most widely used aircraft in flying schools and flying clubs, as an example. A popular version of the Skyhawk has a 200 litre (53 gallon) tank.


Consumption depends on a variety of factors:

  • How high you fly
  • How fast you want to fly
  • Temperature and air pressure

We will forget the last one for the moment. We assume 15° C at sea level and an air pressure of 1013 hPa (the standard atmosphere).

According to the manual of our example Cessna 172, at an altitude of 2000 feet, with 74% power, you can fly approximately 207 km/h (112 knots) and consume 32 litres (8.5 gallons) per hour.

So with a 200 litre tank you can fly for about 6.15 hours. At 207 km/h that would mean you could fly 1,294 km.

Will you get there?

No, there are many ifs and buts about this figure:

  • You never empty your whole tank. You always take some reserve in case you have to swerve or can't land right away. Good use is 45 minutes extra fuel
  • If you have a headwind, you don't go as far: 20 km/h of wind simply means that you go 20 km less every hour.
  • The tanks cannot always be full. The plane has a maximum weight. Often if you want to take 4 people with you, you have to leave some kilos of fuel at home.

And so there are a few more. In any case, a very practical one: flying 6 hours in one go is neither sensible nor comfortable. Usually, after a few hours, you need a cup of coffee and a pee break.


If we assume 5.30 hours of flight time (6.15 minus your reserve), you could fly 1,139 km at 207 km/h with a full tank. For your idea: that is approximately from Lelystad to the Spanish border.

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About Eveline van den Boom

The author of this article is Eveline van den Boom. In 2006, she received her first flying lesson as a birthday present; a beautiful flight over Rotterdam. That tasted like more!

In 2010, she got her PPL licence in Lelystad. In 2011, an aircraft was purchased: an Aero AT-3. This aircraft is still flying in the fleet with callsign PH-EVB.

She wrote the theory books "Theory of Flying" and "Theory helicopter flying". These can be ordered with your flying lesson and are also separately for sale on

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