Piper Aircraft Co. History & Info (10)
The Meridian M500 is not your typical turbine.
Sometimes, the more things change, the more they improve. This is certainly the case for Piper’s latest commodity, the Meridian M500. While the airframe remains true to its esteemed Meridian roots, the M500 embodies advancements in avionics and other improvements that move this turbine into impressive new aviation territory.
Unveiled last January, the M500 has long been a labor of love. When it wasn’t concealed in the shadows of the experimental hangar, monopolized by obsessive engineers, Piper’s M500 was chasing tempestuous skies.
Test pilots pushed the envelope of conventional parameters flight after flight, trying to elicit an acute response from the M500 and refining its systems until they were satisfied that the aircraft would be a preeminent example of the safety available in a modern turbine.
At the forefront of the M500’s mission is safety. With continued emphasis on the safety and convenience of flying, manufacturers are pursuing avenues to not only invent modernized and more secure aircraft, but to implement aggressive safety measures and improve upon existing models currently in production.
This brings us to the M500. It is a uniquely refined aircraft. Tracing its lineage to Piper’s Meridian, the M500 contains the best DNA of its predecessors while exhibiting its own new impressive features—most notably in the cockpit.
Some of its attributes are those you might expect to find, such as a digital pressurization system; XM Weather digital monitoring; electroluminescent placards and an extended squitter transponder and traffic advisory system with ADS-B In and Out functionality.
However, it is the remarkable capabilities of the all-glass Garmin G1000 cockpit that advance the M500 to a superior safety class with a sophistication all its own.
Perhaps most impressive is the enhanced Autopilot Flight Control System (AFCS). With the ability to perform coupled go-around, engage automatic underspeed protection, command an expanded autopilot engagement envelope, offer an automatic wings-level mode and prevent the onset of stalls, spins and spirals with Electronic Stability Protection (ESP), Piper’s M500 is arguably the industry leader in safety equipment for its class.
Functioning independently of the autopilot, ESP is a passive feature that deters the aircraft from operating outside of its optimal flight envelope. ESP acts on roll, pitch and airspeed, applying a subtle corrective force if the aircraft moves outside of its desired range of operation, gently nudging it back into the preferred envelope.
Automatic Level Mode (LVL) will return the aircraft to wings level when the blue button is pushed. Simply by engaging the LVL button, the plane is restored to straight and level flight—another safety redundancy for pilots.
Underspeed Protection (USP) is an intuitive flight director function that reacts to underspeed conditions in a way that allows the autopilot to remain engaged, but prevents the airplane from stalling.
Add all of these advanced safety measures to its tried-and-true powerful Pratt & Whitney 500 shp engine, and Piper’s new product is a pristine performance machine, one certainly deserving of the attention it is getting.
Just how revolutionary is this turboprop? That remains to be seen, but from a company that prides itself on changing the countenance of aviation since the late 1930s with its iconic Cub, challenging the way pilots think about safety in a turbine is a natural trajectory for Piper Aircraft.
Elaine Ryan joined Piper Aircraft’s marketing team in early 2014, bringing substantial experience in copywriting, editing and photography with her. Ryan graduated from the University of California, San Diego and has worked in the creative marketing field for more than 20 years. Because her father was a private pilot, Ryan was exposed to aviation at an early age. She continues to be enamored with aircraft and the infinite sky. Send questions or comments to
Piper employees enjoy their work, and they also enjoy giving back.
The people who design and build Piper airplanes work for the largest private sector employer in Indian River County, Fla.
Vero Beach, the largest town in the county with approximately 15,000 residents, has an economy that generally revolves around tourism, the citrus industry and services.
What we call the Treasure Coast is a great place to live, raise a family—and manufacture airplanes. We have 26 miles of oceanfront shore and in addition to ocean beaches, the Indian River Lagoon passes through Vero Beach. It forms a large part of the Intracoastal Waterway and is a center for boating, fishing, water skiing, diving, kayaking and other small-craft waterborne activities.
As you might imagine there are plenty things to do in our community after we are done for the day designing, manufacturing and supporting your airplanes. We are aviators, moms and dads, and active citizens with a wide range of interests.
Our Community Outreach committee meets monthly to look at ways we can be even more active in the community where we live, and we choose projects that support our values, reach individuals who are similar to our employee base and project a positive image of Piper.
Our past activities have included support for the Education Foundation of Indian River County through volunteering as judges at a regional science fair and recognizing accomplishments through the Piper Innovation Award.
We have also provided scholarships, supported Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and United Way’s Day of Caring and its annual campaign. We have sponsored sports initiatives for kids including a youth little league, high school boosterism and a youth football team.
We have been longtime supporters of the American Cancer Society and the Indian River Blood Bank. We recently established the Piper Pantry to provide emergency and confidential assistance for employees who are experiencing difficult times in their lives.
Last year’s achievements
In 2014, the Community Outreach Committee created a pool of employees who are strong presenters to form a company speaking team to respond to local requests.
More than 20 employees worked together to transform a truck trailer into a work of art as a support vehicle for the Vero Beach High School band.
In addition, Piper team members donated more than $1,000 of school supplies to the School District of Indian River County.
Employees and their families took part in an International Coastal cleanup at Humiston Park along the Treasure Coast.
As a confidence builder for girls from third grade to 12th grade, the company and employees sponsored a 5K race called Girls on the Run.
Piper also sponsored and participated in the Indian River Lagoon Science Festival and contributed to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Campaign and Relay for Life.
Also on the Community Outreach Committee’s agenda in 2014 was support for Habitat for Humanity, the Vero Beach Airshow, a golf tournament for the National Navy SEAL Museum and Memorial Trident House.
The Trident House is a tranquil waterfront residence on Indian River which serves as a critical and complimentary respite for the families of U.S. Navy SEALs and other military personnel who are killed in the line of duty, battle-worn or injured.
Our group sponsored Kids Blast with a Piper exhibit including a Cub mockup that was enjoyed by more than 1,500 area children. We also sponsored the Vero Beach High School softball team and the Sheriff’s Youth Camp.
The Piper team enjoys what we do for our customers, and we also enjoy where we live and play and we try to give back whenever we can.
The new year is already full of airshows, conferences and opportunities for Piper Aircraft.
As we look forward to 2015, Piper plans another active year of events, which gives us an opportunity to meet with and break bread with Piper aficionados around the world.
We begin the year with a very special event in January where we will reveal details about a marvelous advancement for one of our iconic airplanes. I cannot tell you much more than that at this time, but stay tuned—and check Piper.com for details as they are disclosed. To get all of the latest Piper news notifications, follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/PiperAircraft), Twitter (twitter.com/PiperAircraft) or YouTube (youtube.com/PiperAircraftInc).
Round of airshows
In April we will be exhibiting at Sun 'n Fun in Lakeland, Fla. For those Piper enthusiasts on the Continent, we will be in Germany at Aero Friedrichshafen in April, and will make our annual pilgrimage to the Cannes Airshow in June.
We will also be represented at that greatest gathering of aviators in Oshkosh known as EAA AirVenture in July, and we will be represented again at the China Airshow in September.
NBAA's annual meeting and convention in Las Vegas is on tap for the fall of 2015, as is the fifth annual Redbird Migration.
Of course, we always look forward to seeing Piper buffs in Vero Beach—the winter months are a pretty good time to come see us at the factory!
Flight Training Conference
Reinforcing our strong commitment to the training of new pilots and our commitment to the continuous improvement training of existing pilots, we took a Piper Archer TX trainer to Texas for the annual Migration Flight Training Conference held at Redbird's San Marcos Skyport training laboratory last November.
The Piper Archer on display was equipped with the Garmin G1000 avionics suite and the Appareo Vision 1000 flight data management system for increased situational awareness. Additionally, Redbird exhibited its own G1000 equipped Piper Seminole twin-engine training aircraft.
The fourth annual Migration conference offered interactive sessions and more topic areas than ever. The most important of these were student-led experiential learning sessions in simulators; a "connected" airplane that plays a direct role in student training and teaching the economics of all-diesel training fleets.
"Migration is where we open the doors to our customers and show how specific Redbird products or projects fit into our ultimate goal of revitalizing the industry," said Charlie Gregoire, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Redbird Flight Simulations.
Redbird Flight Simulations is continually advancing the state of the art in pilot training and, as a leading manufacturer of simple and complex training platforms, we were delighted to be right there with them in this pursuit. Jerry Gregoire, Chairman of the Board of Redbird Flight Simulations, said, "We are especially pleased to have an aircraft manufacturer with Piper's strong commitment as a partner in our efforts."
Growing the global sales
and service networks
We have made a concentrated effort to build our global sales, service and parts distribution network to benefit the Piper community. Our highly qualified sales and service group is the key to our long-term success and to your customer satisfaction.
We have extended this global reach by appointing 30 carefully selected dealer/representatives. With over 55 sales professionals and over 100 service providers positioned around the world, Piper continues to strengthen this global footprint. We are proud of our sales and service team members—and proud of their decades and decades of Piper expertise and dedication.
Seminole and Garmin's GFC 700
In the fall of 2014 Piper Aircraft received Type Certificate change approval from the FAA to incorporate the Garmin GFC 700 flight control system into Garmin G1000-equipped twin-engine Seminoles. Moving the Seminole aircraft equipped with G1000 avionics to the Garmin GFC 700 is another step in giving buyers of new Piper airplanes the most modern cockpit experience possible and offers Seminole pilots a far more sophisticated level of integration and situational awareness.
Fully integrated with the G1000 glass flight deck, the GFC 700 is an advanced AHRS-based automatic flight control system that provides flight director, autopilot and automatic and manual electric trim capabilities, and brings a high level of digital sophistication to General Aviation flight control.
Originally designed to fly on turbine aircraft—incorporating the top-level safety and performance features found on that class of aircraft—the GFC 700's scalable architecture enables exceptional flight automation, precision and value in piston aircraft.
A fully digital dual-channel flight control system capable of using the depth and breadth of data available in the G1000 system, the GFC 700 offers inherent advantages in safety, redundancy and reliability, while optimizing performance over the airspeed envelope. Providing crisp flight maneuvering in response to Garmin's solid-state MEMS-based AHRS data, the GFC 700 is built to inspire confidence while ensuring optimum smoothness and comfort.
Additionally, the GFC 700 as certified in the Seminole includes ESP (Electronic Stability and Protection), which augments pilot vigilance—it assists, but does not take control.
ESP includes the following benefits:
• Enhances safety by providing
electronic stability and protection
for an aircraft being hand-flown
• Activates whenever the airplane exceeds one or more flight parameters
• Uses autopilot servos and sensors, yet operates when the autopilot is turned off
• Helps correct excessive pitch attitude, roll attitude, or airspeed
• Offers low airspeed protection (requires supported angle of attack/lift sensors)
to help prevent inadvertent stalls
• Can be overridden by the pilot
at any time
• Increases corrective pressure as
exceedances move beyond safe limits
• Gently returns the aircraft to
stable, straight-and-level flight
• Operates unobtrusively;
stimulates aircraft's natural stability
• Can be temporarily turned off for
training or flights where extreme
maneuvering is anticipated
According to Reuters News Agency, China's national civil aviation authority says the country will need to train about 500,000 civilian pilots by 2035. "This possible aviation boom comes as China allows private planes to fly below 1,000 meters [in 2015] without military approval," reports the agency. Commercial airlines are not affected, but more than 200 new firms have applied for General Aviation operating licenses, and China's business community is also eager for permits to fly their own planes. Reuters reports that the civil aviation authority's own training unit can only handle up to 100 students a year.
Piper has been an active but cautious player during these regulatory changes in China, as the potential could be large. Piper and one of our dealers there, Hanxing General Aviation Co., Ltd., exhibited a new unpressurized piston-powered Piper Matrix at Airshow China 2014, held last November in Zhuhai. It was Piper's first Matrix sold in that country.
Airshow China, formally the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, is the only international aerospace trade show in China endorsed by the Chinese central government. It features aircraft, trade talks, technological exchanges and flying displays. This was Piper's first aircraft exhibition in China since we received a Validation of Type Certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for Piper M-Class aircraft.
Piper Aircraft has been busy. Busy adding to the 130,000 airplanes the company has built since it began with the iconic Cub over 75 years ago—and busy supporting the thousands of airplanes flying daily on every continent of the world. In March, Piper delivered the company's 550th Meridian. It went to a Swedish customer.
This year Piper Aircraft added to the pilot training fleets of flying schools across the globe, reinforcing its commitment to helping the aviation industry regenerate itself by bringing new flyers into the fold.
Training new pilots
The Aeronautics Division at Kent State University's College of Applied Engineering, Sustainability and Technology is getting two new Piper Arrow trainers this year for its own airport in Stow, Ohio. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University gets five news Arrows for its Daytona Beach campus. Prince Aviation of Belgrade, Serbia, took delivery of a new G1000 Seminole for its flight training fleet.
Piper also took orders for three Piper Seminoles from the UND Aerospace Foundation which provides training and aircraft for the University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. These aircraft will join the UND aviation department's growing fleet of trainers. Piper also delivered another five new Piper Archer TX training aircraft to the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla.
Oshkosh adventure for really good kids
A number of years ago, Woodland Elementary School fifth grade teacher Eric Vander Loop's teacher's aide shared that his mother had been diagnosed with cancer. In this unfortunate situation, Vander Loop saw an opportunity to help while teaching his students about kindness to strangers.
Last summer, that opportunity presented itself at one of aviation's premier events. EAA, AOPA and Piper Aircraft hosted a special group of students and their teacher from Appleton, Wis., during EAA's AirVenture Oshkosh 2014.
Since Vander Loop took action, students at the school district in Appleton have raised more than $120,000 for cancer research—a compassionate outcome that earned Vander Loop a recent invitation to represent the Milwaukee Brewers during the All-Star Game as one of 30 winners of People magazine's and Major League Baseball's All-Star Teachers campaign, presented by Target. The students that began the program in fifth grade are high school juniors today.
When we read about Vander Loop and his students in the People article, we thought of friends and family who have also been impacted by cancer. At Piper, we also saw an opportunity to reach out to an extraordinary teacher and his special students by giving them a day to remember at AirVenture Oshkosh.
Vander Loop and his students had their admissions to AirVenture and lunches provided by Piper, and we enlisted the support of EAA and AOPA to make the day even more special. EAA gave the group a VIP tour, and AOPA offered the kids a free membership in its AV8Rs program for aspiring aviators. We think stories like this best reflect Piper's attitude and commitment to the communities of which we are a part—locally and globally.
Garmin GFC 700 approved
This year Piper also worked with the FAA to get Amended Type Certificate approval to incorporate the Garmin GFC 700 autopilot system in new Garmin G1000-equipped twin-engine Seneca V aircraft.
Moving the Twin-Class Seneca V equipped with G1000 avionics to the Garmin GFC 700 is another step in giving buyers the most modern cockpit experience possible. The G1000 and GFC 700 are providing Seneca pilots a more sophisticated level of capability.
Fully integrated with the G1000 glass flight deck, the GFC 700 is an advanced AHRS-based automatic flight control system that provides flight director, autopilot, yaw damper, automatic and manual electric trim capabilities and brings a high level of digital sophistication to General Aviation flight control.
Originally designed to fly on turbine aircraft—and incorporating the top-level safety and performance features found on that class of aircraft—the GFC 700's scalable architecture enables exceptional flight automation.
Mirage named "Best of the Best"
Piper is also pleased to report that its pressurized piston-powered Mirage was named "Best of the Best Personal Aircraft for 2014" by the Robb Report. "A pressurized cabin, six seats, and a full-size airstair door are unusual features for a piston-powered single-engine aircraft, but they are part of the package with the Piper Mirage," wrote the luxury lifestyle magazine.
"While the plane is designed primarily for utility and efficiency, Piper did not overlook comfort," according to the publication. "The cabin features roomy leather-upholstered fold-down club seats, electric outlets for personal devices, reading lights, and an easily accessible interior baggage compartment."
Most popular piston twin in China
Another positive recognition came when the Piper Seminole was named the Most Popular Twin-Engine Propeller Aircraft in China by U-Jet, China's first exclusive journal for private aviators. U-Jet is published under auspices of the General Administration of Press and Publication of China and is the nation's most widely circulated magazine dedicated to the subject of private flying.
In the area of foreign approvals, Piper received a Validation of Type Certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for its top-of-the-line M-Class single-engine aircraft. The Piper M-Class series consists of the turboprop Piper Meridian, the pressurized piston-powered Piper Mirage and the unpressurized piston-powered Piper Matrix.
The company also received approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to incorporate the Garmin G1000 avionics suite, as well as the Aspen Avionics EFD1000 Pro standby PFD into new twin-engine Piper Seneca V aircraft.
Piper Aircraft Inc. was one of the first manufacturers to adopt the G1000 software for a three-display avionics suite as standard equipment equipped from the factory in its Seneca V. Garmin's G1000 is a seamlessly integrated all-glass avionics suite that makes flight information easier to scan and process, reducing pilot workload.
The G1000, with the standard three-display glass screens for the Seneca V, gives pilots rich flight-critical data that provides exceptional situational awareness and contributes to safer flight. Garmin's G1000 system offers pilots intuitive and advanced technology with increased levels of situational awareness, simplicity and safety.
EASA also approved Piper Seminoles and Archers to be equipped at the factory with Garmin G1000 avionics and the Aspen Avionics EFD1000 Pro standby PFD. The Aspen Evolution EFD1000 is proving to be a popular option in the United States for Piper's training-class aircraft and with additional approval of the system for the 32 EASA member states, Piper can offer the system to even more flight training programs. Piper is also the first OEM to install the Aspen EFD1000 as a standby system.
Piper and Continental Motors Group collaborated to obtain an EASA STC for Piper Archer aircraft powered by the Centurion 2.0S diesel engine. The prototype aircraft was unveiled in Germany last April and began a marketing and demonstration tour throughout Europe.
The milestone development by Piper and Continental represents a continuation of Piper's strategy to provide multiple fuel solutions for customers. This is the next step in ensuring that future Piper owners and operators have access to more economical and readily available fuel supplies, especially in Europe where traditional leaded Avgas is hard to find and expensive.
Piper and Aircraft Technical Publishers (ATP) have recently introduced electronic Pilot Operating Handbook (E-POH) libraries for Piper's M-Class and Twin-Class aircraft using ATP's HubConnect™ App for iPad®. These libraries—for Meridians, Matrixes, Mirages, Seneca Vs and Seminoles—give operators and owners anywhere access to the documentation necessary to support compliance and safety.
All E-POH libraries from ATP include ADs, Service Bulletins (SBs) and Special Airworthiness Information Bulletins (SAIBs) related to the specific aircraft model. Libraries also include Advisory Circular (AC) 43-16A maintenance alerts and the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). Daily revision services for all content are included with an E-POH library subscription.
Additionally, Piper has taken its website a notch up. The refreshed Piper.com has a super-clean look and feel, including user-friendly functionality for Piper owners, operators, dealers and customers. The website makes it easier and quicker for Piper loyalists to engage with us through the internet.
The site features an interactive paint scheme selector for the company's top-of-the-line M-Class aircraft and the Piper Seneca V. It also has a fully interactive, 360-degree tour of our airplanes, a competing aircraft comparison tool, and video content.
The site's new aesthetic features high-impact visuals with a responsive format that has been optimized for mobile devices to provide a better browsing experience. The site offers easier access to Piper's important online content areas, including in-depth profiles of the entire Piper product line, global sales and dealer contacts, product support networking, parts and warranty, technical publications, event schedules, financing and tax information, a photo gallery, leadership summaries, employment opportunities and press releases.
After five to six months of planning a special edition of Piper Flyer with its ever-so-cool genealogy pullout chart, Jen and I were on a plane to corporate headquarters of the world famous Piper Aircraft to celebrate the company’s 75th anniversary.
Smooth flying set the stage. Landing at Orlando International (KMCO) we were welcomed by a cool, brisk wind—comforting after a four-hour flight from the West Coast. Forty-five minutes later we arrived to beautiful accommodations at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. (Thanks, Piper Aircraft.)
On the Piper grounds
We’re not strangers to the Piper facility. Years back, we were in Vero Beach after Hurricane Frances hit and caused substantial damage to a few of Piper Aircraft’s manufacturing buildings.
Today the grounds look beautiful and the hangars are outfitted with the latest hurricane brace technology, as pointed out by Simon Caldecott—the CEO of Piper himself!—as we looked at the ceiling in admiration. Caldecott, we discovered, has time for everybody and is phenomenal with names. He is very approachable.
This first-class, two-day event started with familiar faces and friends setting up booths at the perimeter of this gorgeous building. Jacqueline Carlon, Elizabeth Groom and Alba Walcott from Piper’s marketing department were at hand to help and assist those with questions.
As usual, I started setting up my booth… only to get sidetracked talking to Vern Rodgers of Parker-Hannifin, and Mark Seaver at the Vantage Plane Plastics booth. Feeling guilty, I hustled back to help Jen finish the task at hand.
1925-1926 North Star Aerial Corp. founded at Rochester, N.Y. by Clarence Gilbert and Gordon Taylor using a restored Curtiss Jenny
1928 Moved to Bradford, Penn. and formed the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Co. (TBAC)
1928 William Thomas Piper Sr., an oil man, joins the TBAC Board of Directors
1928-1930 TBAC produces the side-by-side A-2, B-2, C-2 Chummy aircraft
1930 D-1 glider made
1930 TBAC bankrupt, W.T. Piper Sr. purchases assets and renames it Taylor Aircraft Co. with C.G. Taylor as Chief Engineer; 50-50 ownership
12 Sept 1930 E-2 attempts to get airborne with Tiger Kitten engine supplied by the Light Manufacturing and Foundry Co.
The engine engenders the name “Cub”
23 Sept 1930 E-2 Cub flies with pilot Bud Havens, Salmson engine
March 1931 First E-2 Cub with Continental A40 engine
1931 E-2 production commences. Also F-2, G-2 and H-2
1931 Walter Jamoneau joins Taylor Aircraft Co.
1935 J-2 Cub designed by W. Jamoneau whilst C.G. Taylor is away ill
December 1935 W.T. Piper Sr. and C.G. Taylor split, Piper buys out Taylor’s half;
C.G. Taylor sets up Taylor-Young Co. in Ohio (later Taylorcraft)
March 1937 Bradford factory burned to the ground
June 1937 Taylor Aircraft Co. moves to an abandoned silk mill at Lock Haven, Penn.
It started back in the mid-1920s when brothers Gilbert and Gordon Taylor (along with their father, Arthur) purchased a surplus Curtiss JN-4 aircraft and learned to fly. The Taylors started a barnstorming business, the North Star Aerial Service Corp. in Rochester, N.Y.
In 1927, the Taylors were in the aircraft manufacturing business. Their first aircraft was a two-seat (side-by-side) monoplane known as the A-2 Chummy. Unfortunately, Gordon was killed during an airshow in 1928, but Gilbert vowed to continue in the aviation business.
He built a new model—the B-2 Chummy—and named his business the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Co. Thinking of aircraft production, Gilbert realized that the Rochester facility was too small and looked for larger premises.
In the winter of 1928 he moved to Bradford in northern Pennsylvania. Bradford had been an oil-rich town, so new businesses were welcomed. On the town council was a certain William Thomas Piper, who joined the board of Taylor Brothers.
In 1929, Gilbert entered the Guggenenheim International Safe Aircraft Competition with a reworked Chummy, the C-2. The C-2 had variable-incidence wings. (This design feature is also called a variable-sweep wing, swept wing, or “swing wing.” —Ed.)
The B-2 Chummy did not sell well—it was heavy and expensive—and Taylor Brothers Aircraft Co. went bust in the summer of 1930.
PF: What areas at Piper need strengthening right now?
SC: I took over as CEO last October; the first thing I did was stabilize the business. I had already been working on that in my previous role on the operations side in terms of leveling out production schedule—getting the production demand to match our sales need.
Then we launched a series of improvement programs at the end of last year in order to attack every part of the business that we felt needed strengthening. We actually have about 50 projects on the go right now and every one of the senior staff—director and above—is responsible for one or more projects. And it covers everything from product development, to meeting the needs of our customers, and looking at our cost controls so we can build a strong company.
Probably our biggest one is actually attacking the markets that we’re not really playing in. I call that “new market development,” and I mean markets like Australia, India, China. We haven’t been addressing those markets properly as a company for a long time. I see that as a big growth opportunity.
Piper, once synonymous with the Cub that most non-aviators think is the archetypical little airplane, hasn’t made that aircraft or any of its variants since 1981.
The company left Lock Haven in 1984 for Vero Beach in Florida, although the Piper Aviation Museum still makes its home in Pennsylvania, and each June since 1985 Pipers and their pilots descend on William T. Piper Memorial Airport (KLHV) for the “Sentimental Journey” fly-in there.
Aficionados even intensely discuss the firm’s early history in order to establish the birthday to celebrate for the company that built, and continues to build, the airplanes we choose to own and fly.
Where shall we begin to count? Do we start with the Taylor Brothers’ founding in September 1927, or the day William T. Piper bought out C.G. Taylor in 1935, or in November of 1937, when for the first time it was called Piper Aircraft Corporation?
The Piper name is perhaps the most famous in all of aviation, but the fact that William T. Piper was even in the airplane business was a fluke. When the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Co. was raising local money to relocate their operation to Bradford, Penn., Piper’s partner in an oil company committed $400 of Piper’s money while he was out of town. Piper was named to the board of directors, and appointed treasurer.
Less than a year later the Taylors were bankrupt, and Piper bought their assets for a bid of $761. A savvy businessman, he put designers to work improving the Taylor product, and the E-2 emerged. The Taylor J-2 Cub followed in 1935.
Two years later a fire destroyed the Bradford factory and the company moved to Lock Haven, where the name was changed to Piper Aircraft Corp. and their first product was the J-3 Cub, priced at $1,270.