What is the record for the longest flight (by either time or ground distance covered) made in a Cessna 172 without obtaining fuel from an external source after take-off? Extra fuel tanks are fine, as long as the plane took off with all of the fuel it burned during the flight. Only flights that landed safely count, but it does not matter if they complied with fuel reserves and other regulations or not. I'm looking for a specific flight, not an estimate of the longest possible flight. For example, a C172 has been flown from Merced, California (KMCE) to Honolulu, Hawaii (PHNL), a distance of 2,521 miles. Perhaps this is the record?

  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall longest that landed safely; landing on fumes counts but crashing does not. How would it be calculated? Is there a way to determine the largest possible extra fuel tank someone could take? $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Jan 18, 2023 at 0:19
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall how was this flight taken? flyingmag.com/how-far-would-you-fly-a-cessna-172 $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Jan 18, 2023 at 0:30
  • $\begingroup$ As for reserves, it doesn't have to be landing on fumes, but if the longest recorded flight did land on fumes, I would accept that answer. If the longest recorded flight complied with reserve requirements, that would be the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Jan 18, 2023 at 0:31
  • $\begingroup$ It's likely that the longest publicly documented flight, and possibly the longest flight, did have adequate reserves, and if so, that would be the answer, but it isn't a requirement for answering the question. $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Jan 18, 2023 at 0:32
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall It might be the longest, but someone else might know of a longer flight. I didn't know about that flight until today, so it is certainly possible there has been a longer one and I haven't heard of it. $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Jan 18, 2023 at 1:01

1 Answer 1


A Cessna 172 flew non-stop, no refueling, from Merced Regional Airport (MCE) CA to Hawaii, at a distance of about 2,190 NM (4,055 kilometers), in about 18 hours.

The Ferry Tanks provided an additional 157 gallons of fuel, beyond the 53 gallon standard tanks. The estimated range with the extra fuel was around 2,500 NM, so they weren't even really at the limits going less than 2,200NM.

So, yes, as best I can find, that ferry flight is the longest recorded flight. Although, around 2,500 miles (+300 more) is theoretically possible.

The full story is at https://www.planeandpilotmag.com/news/the-latest/2022/08/30/the-story-behind-the-cessna-172-that-flew-from-california-to-hawaii/

Or also at:


  • $\begingroup$ Around 2800 lbs. Overweight, but a bit safer. $\endgroup$ Jan 18, 2023 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ I believe its only 2800 lbs if configured normally. But there is a high likelyhood that they removed seats and anything non-essential to save weight and make more space for fuel. I couldn't find anything in the articles that specifically mentioned removing seats, but it is a common practice for ferrying. $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    Jan 24, 2023 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ @abelenky do they send the seats by a delivery company like FedEx or UPS when they do that? $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Jan 24, 2023 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ In many cases, yes, the seats are removed as the ferry-tanks are installed, and can be shipped separately, arriving at the destination before the plane. If its a brand-new plane, the buyer may even ask the seller to never install the seats, and ship them directly to the destination. Especially in a C-172, removing seats is no big deal. (I personally helped removed seats to make extra space for camping equipment) $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    Jan 24, 2023 at 21:29

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