Since its introduction in 1956, Cessna’s 172 had been dominating the single-engine market, both for personal use and flight training. The folks at Piper thought a version of its popular Cherokee line—with a higher useful load and minimum-four-place design—might give Cessna a run for its money.
Using the longer fuselage of the Archer, Piper added a large all-moving horizontal tail and a new semi-tapered wing, subsequently nicknamed the “Warrior wing.” According to Piper’s official historian Roger Peperell, “the wing was not constant chord planform as used on the existing Cherokees, but a semi-tapered design incorporating a laminar flow NACA 652-415 airfoil section and large aerodynamically balanced (Freize) [sic] ailerons to improve pilot control in crosswinds and slow speed flight.”
The new aircraft would be powered by the Lycoming O-320-E3D and featured a streamlined cowl, small nosewheel and large stabilitor.
Initially Piper had planned to call this model the Lance, but that moniker was given to the retractable Cherokee Six and this model—the PA-28-151—debuted as the Cherokee Warrior. Sales began in September of 1973 at a price of $14,990.
Unfortunately the model was hit with an Airworthiness Directive early in its run when in 1974 a PA-28-151 lost a wing. The FAA limited the gross weight on the model until the wing could be strengthened. Piper provided a kit to fix the problem on older models, and produced the Warrior with stronger wings beginning with serial number 28-7415538 that same year.
A new wing was developed for the 1976 model year which used hinged ailerons instead of the Frise type. The ‘76s also came with new wheel fairings and new paint. The PA-28-161 Cherokee Warrior II powered by the 160 hp O-320-D3G or O-320-D2A was certified on Nov. 2, 1976.
In 1978 Piper dropped “Cherokee” from the model and it became simply the Warrior. The 1978 model also came with wheel fairings, reputed to increase speed by 5 percent over the 1977 model.
The 1983 model year Warriors came with a gross weight and useful load increase of 115 pounds. This was strictly a “paper increase,” as no structural changes were made to the plane.
In 1988 Piper introduced the PA-28-161 Cadet—basically, a stripped-down version of the Warrior aimed at the flight training market. The third, aft window was eliminated and it came in VFR and IFR configurations which sold for $45,995 and $54,995 respectively. Flight Safety International, Inc. placed a large order in the Cadet’s first year.
Stall strips were added to the wings in 1989.
Production of the Cadet was halted in 1990, but some unfinished aircraft were completed in subsequent years, and some were converted to Warriors and Archers.
Piper began production of the Warrior III in late 1994 for the 1995 model year. It featured a new panel, new control yoke and 28 volt electrics. The Warrior III received a couple of avionics facelifts during its run, including Avidyne’s FlightMax Entegra integrated flight deck that was offered as an option in 2004.
The Warrior is no longer in production, but its place in Piper history is secured as the progenitor of a new kind of wing as well as for its solid dependability.
“Piper Aircraft,” by Roger Peperell. Air-Britain, 2006; TCDS NO. 2A13; Piper advertising material.