Yesterday was supposed to be my first cross country with Dana. Instead it turned into my first real emergency. The day started with me getting a weather briefing for our flight. Everything seemed good except the cautiously low ceilings. The clouds were supposed to break up later in the morning, so I would have to play it by ear on the altitudes I would fly. I got to Westosha half an hour early so I could pre-flight and get all of my cross country papers in order. When Dana arrived, he checked over my plan and found it to be correct. The one thing I didn’t do was check runway lengths for the two airports I would be stopping at. On the back of my navigation log, we drew a diagram of the runways, labeled their length, and wrote the frequency for the weather system. After finishing the now complete navigation log, we headed out to the plane to launch. I performed the plane’s pre-start checklist like normal and started her up.it took a few seconds, but the prop finally started to pick up speed. The engine ran fine for a few seconds but then died. It’s common for older Cessnas to have a hard time starting in colder weather, even if they are pre-heated. Dana and I kept messing with the primer and the starter but just couldn’t get it started. He got out of the plane to see if there was any fuel dripping off of the plane (that would indicate that the engine had been flooded with fuel). Instead of fuel, he found a nice sized fire blazing out of the air intake port. Dana yelled to me in the cockpit to “keep cranking”. When there is a fire by the engine, you are supposed to keep starting the engine in hopes that the engine will suck in the fire and suffocate it out. I started the engine for a good five seconds but the fire was still burning strong. Dana ran to get the fire extinguisher and told me to get out. I threw off my headset, shut the fuel line off, and ran to an open hangar. By the time I was half way to the hangar, he saw the situation and was running toward the airplane with bottles of coolant. I grabbed one out of his hand and ran towards the fire. We splashed RV coolant on the fire and put it out before Dana could return with the fire extinguisher. We inspected the plane and the only visible damage we could see was the remains of the air filter that was incinerated. There was no way we were going to fly the plane without a proper inspection, so we pushed the plane back into hangar and called an mechanic to give the engine an inspection. I had the option of flying a Cessna 172 (bigger model with 4 seats and a bigger price) but we wouldn’t have been back in time for me to go to work, so I rescheduled for next Saturday. Despite the engine fire, there was some good that happened. Dana got my club key card made, so I can go flying anytime I want now! I’m thinking of flying on Wednesday, but we’ll see how everything goes. Hopefully N64920 will be ready to fly by Wednesday. Thanks for reading everyone!!!