Way back in December of 1958, pilots Robert Timm and John Cook took off in a lightly modified Cessna 172 with a bold plan: they would remain airborne in their airplane, dubbed ‘The Hacienda,’ for 50 straight days, in hopes of breaking the world record.
They added a 95-gallon fuel tank to the belly of the aircraft with an electric pump that could transfer fuel to the internal tanks in the wings. They also replaced the co-pilot’s door with a special accordion-style setup that allowed them to lower the door for better footing as they refueled and resupplied from fast moving cars that would meet the aircraft as it flew just a few feet above the tarmac.
After 50 days of sleeping in shifts and keeping the plucky 172 aloft, the record was their, but they decided to see how much further they could push it. After 64 days, 22 hours, and 19 minutes, the two men finally brought their little plane in for a landing. Their record, which stands to this day, isn’t just a testament to the reliability of the Cessna 172 Skyhaw. In a way, it also serves as a worthy metaphor for how the aircraft itself has thrived for decades.
— Why the Cessna Is Such a Badass Plane, Alex Hollings in Popular Mechanics