It’s 1967 and you want to buy a new single-engine retractable. What are your options? Beech, Cessna, Mooney and Piper all have offerings, but you’re a loyal Piper flyer and want to stick with the brand. That still leaves you with two alternatives: the PA-24 Comanche and the newly introduced PA-28R-180 Cherokee Arrow.
The Comanche is fast and sleek. The Cherokee Arrow looks like and flies like—well, a Cherokee—which is not necessarily a bad thing, but here’s the clincher: the Arrow’s base price is just $16,900. The Comanche is groovy, but its $30,000-plus price tag is a bit of a bummer. Besides, the Arrow has that rad landing gear system.
The Arrow project began in 1964 as the Cherokee 180 C “Special.” Work focused initially on finding the right engine and nosewheel combination. The Lycoming O-360 was chosen originally and paired with various nosegear retraction systems, but none were suitable.
Eventually the fuel-injected IO-360 was chosen as it allowed room under the engine for gear retraction. It was necessary, however to reduce the nosewheel size to 500 x 5 inches to get the gear to fit.