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PA-24 Comanche

PA-24 Comanche (6)

The PA-24 Comanche is a four-seat, low-wing, all-metal, light aircraft of monocoque construction with retractable landing gear.

Comanche 180

The original version of the Comanche was the PA-24, which featured a carbureted 180 hp (134 kW) Lycoming O-360-A1A engine, swept tail, laminar flow airfoil, and all-flying stabilator.

Comanche 250

In 1958 Piper introduced the PA-24-250, a 250 horsepower (186 kW) version using a Lycoming O-540 engine.

Comanche 260

In 1965 the first of four 260 horsepower (194 kW) versions of the Comanche was introduced. They were:

  • PA-24-260 (1965)
  • PA-24-260B (1966 to 1968)
  • PA-24-260C (1969 to 1972)
  • PA-24-260TC

Comanche 400

The PA-24-400 Comanche 400,while identical to other single-engined Comanches, it is structurally strengthened, primarily in the tail. The aircraft has an extra nose rib in the stabilator and in the vertical fin. 

Twin Comanche

The Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche is a twin-engined cabin monoplane. It is the twin-engine development of the PA-24 Comanche single-engine aircraft.

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PA-28 Cherokee

PA-28 Cherokee (17)

PA-28-140 Cherokee Cruiser

Two place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-E2A engine of 150 hp (112 kW), gross weight 1,950 lb (885 kg). First certified on 14 February 1964. Approved as a 2,150 lb (975 kg) gross weight four place aircraft on 17 June 1965.

PA-28-150 Cherokee

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-A2B or O-320-E2A engine of 150 hp (112 kW), gross weight 2,150 lb (975 kg). First certified on 2 June 1961.

PA-28-151 Cherokee Warrior

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-E3D engine of 150 hp (112 kW), gross weight 2,325 lb (1,055 kg). First certified on 9 August 1973. Changes from the PA-28-150 include a tapered wing.

PA-28-160 Cherokee

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-B2B or O-320-D2A engine of 160 hp (119 kW), gross weight 2,200 lb (998 kg). First certified on 31 October 1960.

  PA-28-161 Warrior II

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-D3G or O-320-D2A engine of 160 hp (119 kW), gross weight 2,325 lb (1,055 kg). First certified on 2 November 1976. Changes from the PA-28-160 include a tapered wing. Certified on 1 July 1982 for gross weight of 2,440 lb (1,107 kg).

PA-28-161 Warrior III

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-320-D3G engine of 160 hp (119 kW), gross weight 2,440 lb (1,107 kg). First certified on 1 July 1994.

PA-28-180 Cherokee

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-360-A3A or O-360-A4A engine of 180 hp (134 kW), gross weight 2,400 lb (1,089 kg). First certified on 3 August 1962.

PA-28-180 Archer

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-360-A4A or O-360-A4M engine of 180 hp (134 kW), gross weight 2,450 lb (1,111 kg). First certified on 22 May 1972. Changes from the PA-28-180 Cherokee include a five inch fuselage extension, wing span increase, larger horizontal tail, gross weight increase and other minor changes.

PA-28-181 Archer II

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-360-A4M or O-360-A4A engine of 180 hp (134 kW), gross weight 2,550 lb (1,157 kg). First certified on 8 July 1975. Changes from the PA-28-180 include a tapered wing.

 

PA-28-181 Archer III

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-360-A4M engine of 180 hp (134 kW), gross weight 2,550 lb (1,157 kg). First certified on 30 August 1994.

 

PA-28-201T Turbo Dakota

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, turbocharged Continental TSIO-360-FB, engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,900 lb (1,315 kg). First certified on 14 December 1978.

  PA-28-235 Cherokee Pathfinder

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-540-B2B5, O-540-B1B5, or O-540-B4B5 engine of 235 hp (175 kW), gross weight 2,900 lb (1,315 kg). First certified on 15 July 1963.

PA-28-235 Cherokee Pathfinder

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-540-B4B5 engine of 235 hp (175 kW), gross weight 3,000 lb (1,361 kg). First certified on 9 June 1972. Changes from the 1963 certified PA-28-235 Cherokee Pathfinder include a five inch fuselage extension, wing span increase, larger horizontal tail, gross weight increase and other minor changes.

 

PA-28-236 Dakota

Four place, fixed landing gear landplane, Lycoming O-540-J3A5D engine of 235 hp (175 kW), gross weight 3,000 lb (1,361 kg). First certified on 1 June 1978. Changes from the 1972 certified PA-28-235 Cherokee Pathfinder include tapered wing.

 

PA-28S-160 Cherokee

Four place, fixed landing gear seaplane, Lycoming O-320-D2A engine of 160 hp (119 kW), gross weight 2,140 lb (971 kg). First certified on 25 February 1963.

PA-28S-180 Cherokee

Four place, fixed landing gear seaplane, Lycoming O-360-A3A or O-360-A4A engine of 180 hp (134 kW), gross weight 2,222 lb (1,008 kg). First certified on 10 May 1963.

PA-28R-180 Arrow

Four place, retractable landing gear landplane, Lycoming IO-360-B1E engine of 180 hp (134 kW), gross weight 2,500 lb (1,134 kg). First certified on 8 June 1967.

PA-28R-200 Arrow

Four place, retractable landing gear landplane, Lycoming IO-360-C1C engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,600 lb (1,179 kg). First certified on 16 January 1969.

PA-28R-200 Arrow II

Four place, retractable landing gear landplane, Lycoming IO-360-C1C or C1C6 engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,650 lb (1,202 kg). First certified on 2 December 1971. Changes from the 1969 certified PA-28R-200 Arrow include a five inch fuselage extension, wing span increase, larger horizontal tail, gross weight increase and other minor changes.

PA-28R-201 Arrow III

Four place, retractable landing gear landplane, Lycoming IO-360-C1C6 engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,750 lb (1,247 kg). First certified on 2 November 1976.

PA-28R-201T Turbo Arrow III

Four place, retractable landing gear landplane, turbocharged Continental TSIO-360-F or TSIO-360-FB engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,900 lb (1,315 kg). First certified on 2 November 1976.

PA-28RT-201 Arrow IV

Four place, retractable landing gear landplane, Lycoming IO-360-C1C6 engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,750 lb (1,247 kg). First certified on 13 November 1978. Features a T tail.

PA-28RT-201T Turbo Arrow IV

Four place, retractable landing gear landplane, turbocharged Continental TSIO-360-FB engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,900 lb (1,315 kg). First certified on 13 November 1978. Features a T tail.

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PA-32 Cherokee Six/Lance/Saratoga

PA-32 Cherokee Six/Lance/Saratoga (5)

The Piper PA-32R is a six-seat, high-performance, single engine, all-metal fixed-wing aircraft.

PA-32R-300 (1976–1978) 

Marketed as the Piper Cherokee Lance. Initial version of the retractable PA-32 line, with a standard tail in the 1976 model.The 1977 and 1978 models featured a tail modified to a "T" design with the stabilator (horizontal stabilizer/elevator) moved to the top of the vertical tail.

This design placed the stabilator outside of the prop wash compared with the low tail design, and appreciably affected the takeoff and landing characteristics. 

PA-32RT-300 (1978–1979) 

Beginning with this model, the Cherokee name was officially dropped and the model was designated the Lance II. The "T"-tail arrangement was continued on the Lance II. 

PA-32RT-300T (1978–1979)  

Also in 1978 a turbocharged version, designated the Turbo Lance II, was introduced.The Turbo Lance II has a service ceiling of 20,000 ft with a rate of climb of 1050 ft/min. It can cruise at 10,000 ft at 175 kt true airspeed at 75% power burning 20 gal/h. Fuel capacity is 94 usable gallons. 

PA-32R-301 (1980–2007) 

The 1980 models reverted to a standard tail design, and were designated as the Saratoga SP.In 1993 the airplane received several cosmetic and systems updates and was redesignated as the Saratoga II HP

PA-32R-301T (1980–2009) 

The 1980 Turbocharged model was given the name Turbo Saratoga SP. The name and model designation stayed the same through the 1996 model year, despite several updates to the airplane during that time. Starting with the 1997 model year the airplane received a new designation, the Saratoga II TC, and a new Lycoming TIO-540-AH1A engine. Externally the biggest difference was the new cowl, with much smaller, round air inlets. 1997-1998 Saratoga II TC's featured a King avionics suite, which was switched to dual Garmin GNS-430's and a GTX-320 transponder with the 1999 models. In mid-2000 model year the avionics were again updated, with one Garmin GNS-430 and one GNS-530 and a GTX-327 transponder as standard equipment. Beginning in 2004 the Saratoga models were available with an Avidyne Entegra "Glass Panel" avionics system, which was replaced by the Garmin G1000 in 2007. 

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PA-38 Tomahawk

PA-38 Tomahawk (3)

PA-38 Tomahawk

The Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk is a two-seat, fixed tricycle gear general aviation airplane, originally designed for flight training, touring and personal use.

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Piper Cub: J-3/J-4/J-5

Piper Cub: J-3/J-4/J-5 (7)

E2 Cub

The Taylor E2 Cub was a two-seat tandem low powered aircraft with a high-wing and fabric covered tubular steel fuselage, fabric covered wooden wings and open cockpit. It was produced from 1930-1936.

J-2 Cub

The Taylor J-2 Cub (later also known as the Piper J-2 Cub) is an American two-seat light aircraft that was designed and built by the Taylor Aircraft Company. was produced from 1936-1938

J-3 Cub

The Piper J-3 Cub is a small, simple, light aircraft with tandem (fore and aft) seating. It was intended for flight training but became one of the most popular and best-known light aircraft of all time. It was produced from 1937-1947.

J-4 Cub Coupe

The Piper J-4 Cub Coupe is a two place side-by-side version of the Piper J-3. It was Piper's first model with side-by-side seating; combined with docile low-speed handling, this made it a good trainer. It was built between 1938-1942.

J-5 Cub Cruiser

The Piper J-5 Cub Cruiser was a larger, more powerful version of the basic Piper J-3 Cub. It was designed just two years after the J-3 Cub, and differed by having a wider fuselage with the pilot sitting in the front seat and two passengers sitting in the rear seat. Equipped with a a 75-hp Continental engine the plane's cruising speed was 75 mph. Though officially a three-seater, it would be more accurately described as a "two-and-a-half-seater", as two adults would find themselves quite cramped in wider rear seat.It was produced from 1940-1946.

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Piper M Series

Piper M Series (2)

The Piper PA-46 is a family of light aircraft. The aircraft is powered by a single engine and has the capacity for one pilot and five passengers.

PA-46-310P Malibu

The PA-46-310P is powered by a Teledyne Continental Motors TSIO-520BE engine rated at 310 hp (230 kW). The PA-46-310P has lower fuel consumption, greater range, and the ability to cruise at "lean-of-peak." The PA-46-310P has a maximum cruising range of 1,550 nautical miles (with reserves).

PA-46-350P Mirage

The PA-46-350P includes a more powerful Textron Lycoming TIO-540-AE2A 350 hp (260 kW) engine and a new wing.

PA-46-500TP Meridian

The PA-46-500TP is a turboprop-powered version of the Malibu powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42A of 500 shp (370 kW). Some of the changes made to allow for turboprop power include larger wings and tail surfaces.

PA-46R-350T Matrix

The PA-46R-350T is an unpressurized version of the Mirage. The new model has been designated as the PA-46R-350T, indicating retractable landing gear, 350 horsepower (260 kW), and turbocharging. The Matrix's powerplant is a turbocharged Lycoming TI0-540-AE2A producing 350 hp (260 KW).

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Piper PA-11, PA-12, PA-14

Piper PA-11, PA-12, PA-14 (3)

PA-11 Cub Special

The Piper PA-11 Cub Special was a later production, two-place variant of the Piper J-3 Cub light propeller-driven aircraft. It was produced from 1947-1949.

Piper PA-14 Family Cruiser

The Piper PA-14 Family Cruiser is an American-built small touring aircraft of the late 1940s. It was produced from 1947-1949. 

Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser

The Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser is an American three-seat, high wing, single engine conventional landing gear-equipped light aircraft. It was built between 1946-1948.

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Piper PA-18 Super Cub

Piper PA-18 Super Cub (4)

The Piper PA-18 Super Cub is a two-seat, single-engine monoplane introduced in 1949. It was developed from the Piper PA-11, and traces its lineage back through the J-3 to the Taylor E-2 Cub of the 1930s. In close to 40 years of production, over 9,000 were built. Super Cubs are commonly found in roles such as bush flying, banner and glider towing. It was built between 1949-1983 and 1988-1994.

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Piper PA-25 Pawnees

Piper PA-25 Pawnees (1)

The PA-25 Pawnee was an agricultural aircraft. It remains a widely used aircraft in agricultural spraying and is also used as a tow plane, or tug, for launching gliders or for towing banners. It was produced from 1959 to 1982

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Short Wing Pipers

Short Wing Pipers (6)

The Piper PA-15 Vagabond and PA-17 Vagabond are both two seat, high wing, conventional gear light aircraft that were designed for personal use and for flight training.

PA-15 Vagabond

Side-by-side two-seater powered by one 65hp Lycoming O-145 engine.

PA-17 Vagabond

Also known as the Vagabond Trainer a variant of the PA-15 with dual-controls, shock-cord suspension and powered by one 65hp Continental A-65-8 engine.

The PA-16 Clipper is a stretched and refined version of the Vagabond intended to seat four people. It is equipped with an extra wing tank, added doors to accommodate the new seating, and a Lycoming O-235.

The PA-20 Pacer and PA-22 Tri-Pacer are a family of four-place, strut braced, high-wing light aircraft that were built by Piper Aircraft. The PA-20 and PA-22 were produced from 1950-1954 and 1950-1964, respectively.

PA-20

Four-seat, conventional landing gear, light cabin aircraft, powered by a 125 hp (93 kW) Lycoming O-290-D engine. Certified 21 December 1949.

PA-20S

Three-seat, conventional landing gear, light cabin aircraft, with optional float installation, powered by a 125 hp (93 kW) Lycoming O-290-D engine. Certified 18 May 1950.

PA-20 115

Four-seat, conventional landing gear, light cabin aircraft, powered by a 115 hp (86 kW) Lycoming O-235-C1 engine. Certified 22 March 1950.

PA-20S 115

Three-seat, conventional landing gear, light cabin aircraft, with optional float installation, powered by a 115 hp (86 kW) Lycoming O-235-C1 engine. Certified 18 May 1950.

PA-20 135

Four-seat, conventional landing gear, light cabin aircraft, powered by a 135 hp (101 kW) Lycoming O-290-D2 engine. Certified 5 May 1952.

PA-20S 135

Three-seat, conventional landing gear, light cabin aircraft, with optional float installation, powered by a 135 hp (101 kW) Lycoming O-290-D2 engine. Certified 15 May 1952.

PA-22

Four-seat, tricycle landing gear, light cabin aircraft, powered by a 125 hp (93 kW) Lycoming O-290-D engine. Certified 20 December 1950.

PA-22-108 Colt

Two-seat, tricycle landing gear, light cabin aircraft, powered by a 108 hp (81 kW) Lycoming O-235-C1 or C1B engine. Certified 21 October 1960.

PA-22-135

Four-seat, tricycle landing gear, light cabin aircraft, powered by a 135 hp (101 kW) Lycoming O-290-D2 engine. Certified 5 May 1952.

PA-22S-135Three-seat, tricycle landing gear, light cabin aircraft, with optional float installation, powered by a 135 hp (101 kW) Lycoming O-290-D2 engine. Certified 14 May 1954.

PA-22-150

Two or four-seat, tricycle landing gear, light cabin aircraft, powered by a 150 hp (112 kW) Lycoming O-320-A2A or A2B engine. Certified 3 September 1952 as a four place in the normal category and 24 May 1957 as a two place in the utility category.

PA-22S-150

Three-seat, tricycle landing gear, light cabin aircraft, with optional float installation, powered by a 150 hp (112 kW) Lycoming O-320-A2A or A2B engine. Certified 3 September 1954.

PA-22-160

Two or four-seat, tricycle landing gear, light cabin aircraft, powered by a 160 hp (119 kW) Lycoming O-320-B2A or B2B engine. Certified 3 September 1952 as a four place in the normal category and as a two place in the utility category.

PA-22S-160

Three-seat, tricycle landing gear, light cabin aircraft, with optional float installation, powered by a 160 hp (119 kW) Lycoming O-320-B2A or B2B engine. Certified 25 October 1957.

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Flight Test: Piper PA-32 Cherokee Six

August 2013

“There are two Diwys in my life,” said Barry Colvin with a wry grin, “but only one of them is temperamental.”

He didn’t volunteer any further information, and since I had just flown his Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six G-DIWY (named after his Dutch wife) without encountering any problems, I didn’t inquire further into the subject!

Development

The Cherokee Six story really begins in 1957, when Piper hired leading designer John Thorp (of Sky Scooter and T-11 fame) to conduct a preliminary design study for an all-metal airplane to replace the Tri-Pacer.

At that time Piper was committed—philosophically, at least—to metal monocoque airframes, and was already building the Apache and about to introduce the Comanche.

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Piper Cub and the Reed Clipped Wing Conversion

In the early 1930s businessman William T. Piper became involved with the Taylor Aircraft Company. C.G. Taylor designed a light aircraft with steel framework, tubular struts, rubber shock cord landing gear and wood wings with spruce spars. The first production Cub, called the E-2, was soon flying with the A-40…
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Welcome and Able:  A Cherokee Flies in the Backcountry

Welcome and Able: A Cherokee Flies in the Backcountry

I  learned to fly in Cessna 150 rental airplanes out of Colts Neck, N.J., a half-mile dirt strip. When the pressure from real estate developers outweighed the interests of a few grass-strip banner-towing pilots in 1988, Colts Neck closed, and I considered buying one of the student-rental airplanes. My pre-purchase inspection became a “no-purchase” inspection and I ended up buying N4372J, a friend’s 1967 Cherokee PA-28-140. It had lousy paint, a torn-up interior, a chewed-up
propeller... and wonderful handling. From 1988 through 1995, N4372J got an intercom wired in, a new propeller, new paint, a fixed-up interior, a better radio and the other usual improvements we read about in Piper Flyer. It also received a LyCon 160 hp engine upgrade through Western Skyways.

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The PA-18 Super Cub

December 2005- It was the last of the old-time bush and utility planes. It was in production longer than it takes for a human to go from birth to embarrassing 40th birthday presents and parties. It first flew shortly after the Greatest Generation won the “big one,” and is still flying today during a much different but equally important conflict.

The Piper Super Cub, an apt name when comparing it to its forbears the J-2 and J-3, has appeared in more guises and configurations over the years than Liz Taylor or Prince. I don’t think you can name a realm of flight, except perhaps space flight, that the Super Cub hasn’t taken part in.

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Piper PA-16 Clipper

The PA-16 Clipper is a stretched and refined version of the Vagabond intended to seat four people. It is equipped with an extra wing tank, added doors to accommodate the new seating, and a Lycoming O-235.

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Smooth, Simple, Stable: Piper's Archer DX

Smooth, Simple, Stable: Piper's Archer DX

According to Boeing’s Pilot and Technician Outlook (2015–2034), the world’s airlines will need to recruit and train some 558,000 new pilots over the next 20 years—with the vast majority needed in the Asia Pacific region. 

The challenge for the training-aircraft manufacturing industry, heavily based in the United States, is developing an airplane that will provide the level of advanced system familiarity that these students will need and powering it with an engine that doesn’t rely on hard-to-get 100LL Avgas. For a U.S. aircraft manufacturer, it seems like right now is a great time to introduce just this type of training aircraft to the global market.

A global training market 

“From Piper’s perspective, the fact that the trainer market is becoming more active with respect to large fleet purchases prompted us to actively develop a new training aircraft that had a powerplant that is relevant worldwide,” explained Piper’s director of marketing and communications Jacqueline Carlon. 

“Diesel aircraft engines are far more cost effective outside of the U.S., and keeping in mind that we are selling a lot of aircraft into Asia and throughout the Pacific Rim region, this engine type became our obvious choice.”

“Our solution was to partner with Continental Motors to develop a firewall-forward diesel package using its 155 hp turbodiesel CD-155 engine on the Piper Archer,” Carlon said. “We felt this engine gave us the best combination of power, reliability and efficiency.”

As you probably recall, long before Continental bought the rights to the Thielert/Centurion diesel engine technology, the original company had earned an STC to retrofit the then-Thielert 135 hp diesel onto the Piper PA-28-161 Warrior. 

Since the STC already existed, why not just offer the new CD-155 on the Warrior, which is already a market-leading training platform? 

“The primary reason that we focused on the Archer for the diesel engine offering was the fact that we did not certify the Garmin G1000 in the Warrior. It has the G500 displays,” Carlon explained. 

“The majority of large providers require the G1000 package for advanced training. That kind of made the decision easy.”

Creating the DX

As you would expect, there’s a bit more needed to create the DX than just sticking a Continental CD-155 on the Archer’s nose. Because of past experience with the PA-28-161 STC, Piper’s learning curve was shortened, but not eliminated. 

One of the most challenging parts of the project was getting a fully-equipped Archer LX (S/N 701) over to the Technify Motors’ facility in Sankt [St.] Egidien, Germany. That’s a long trip for a little airplane—and while it’s become common practice, navigating several winter storms along the route made this trip a bit more challenging.

Once S/N 701 arrived, the Technify team was ready to get rolling. Markus Steinberg, head of quality and certification at Technify Motors GmbH [Continental Motors] explained that while the company could use some of the data from the earlier Warrior STC, the Archer DX project required some fresh thinking. 

He said that one of the biggest changes was the modification of the Archer’s engine mount and nosegear.

“The devil is always in the details,” said Steinberg. “We could not use the standard engine mount because the angle of the [Archer’s] nosewheel is slightly different and we didn’t want to risk any nosewheel shimmy due to the heavier engine. So we had to copy the angle of the nosewheel on the Warrior and integrate that into a new design for the Archer.

“Of course, since this is a common rail injection diesel engine, we had to modify the factory fuel system with new return lines while ensuring that all the materials and components were capable of dealing with jet fuel,” he continued. 

“We also had to install a second ship’s battery behind the rear seats for the FADEC. That was a major upgrade.”

All totaled, Steinberg said that the DX transformation necessitated 13 changes to the existing PA-28 STC. Among the bigger changes are a new three-blade MT composite propeller and spinner, reworked electrical and fuel systems, and a new cowl design incorporating an integrated air scoop for heater cooling.

“I think the most challenging of them all was the integration of the new G1000 software,” Steinberg explained. “That was new to Garmin as well. This new software version is different from [what is] flying on other aircraft, so we had a lot to learn.”

Steinberg and his team are rightfully proud of the fact that even with 701 arriving a bit late, they were still able to celebrate its first flight with the Continental CD-155 diesel engine on Christmas Eve 2014.

“Timing was a major issue. We had to have the EASA STC issued by April in time for the aircraft’s introduction during the 2015 Aero Friedrichshafen airshow,” he said. “One thing you learn about schedules is after the day comes the night—so if you’re not done, you just keep working into the night.”

Time to fly

Recently I had the opportunity to fly the DX and put it through its paces. I’m figuring pretty much everybody reading this magazine has flown a member of the venerable Piper PA-28 family at least once so I’m going to concentrate on what’s different about the Archer DX. 

Walking up to the airplane, the first thing you notice is the propeller. The three-blade MT propeller really gives the Archer DX a shot in the arm from a styling perspective. 

Before saddling up, Piper’s Chief Pilot Bart Jones walked me through the preflight. Again, it’s pretty much the same as with any Archer. The only real difference is when you first flip on the master power, you need to give the battery indicator on the G1000 a look just to make sure you have plenty of juice in the battery to crank the diesel over. Starts with ground power are prohibited. 

Next, take a minute to look up in the front of the cowling. There’s a little door you open to check a sight glass that shows the gearbox oil level. Speaking of oil, the Continental diesel uses AeroShell Diesel 10W-40, which is not typically found at FBOs. It’s a good idea to carry a quart or two with you. 

The only other difference is when you drain the sumps, you need to make sure the fuel is the color of weak tea and not the blue of 100LL. Piper has placed large “Jet A-1” stickers and used heavy-duty stainless steel fuel filler caps on the DX, but you need to be wary of misfueling the Archer. (If it were my DX, I’d want to supervise every refueling.)

Climbing in the left seat and strapping in is all typical Archer. As you would expect from the top-of-the-line model, the DX’s interior is very nice especially for an airplane aimed at the training market.

Push to start

As you’ve no doubt read somewhere, the diesel engine is literally push-button easy to start. Set the brakes, ensure the thrust lever is set to idle (you have to love having a “thrust lever” in an Archer), flip on the ship’s power, wait for the glow control light to go out, reach up to the overhead switch panel and press and hold the starter button until the engine starts. 

But pay close attention. If you have your headset on, you won’t actually hear the engine start; it becomes obvious when the prop starts spinning. The entire procedure is done in less time than it took you to read this.

Next comes a FADEC Backup Battery Test—a procedure that includes a test of the emergency battery. As I mentioned earlier, the battery’s health is extremely important in the Archer DX. Since the FADEC runs the airplane, and the aircraft’s electrical system runs the FADEC, you need to make sure the alternator is charging the battery before you leave the chocks. 

You do have a second ship’s battery (and the FADEC has a backup battery of its own), but it’s only good for 30 minutes of flight. An alternator failure in an Archer DX is a “land as soon as you can” occurrence.

While these tests are being done, you’re giving the engine oil and coolant time to reach operating temperatures. Once the temps are in the green you can taxi to the runup area and perform the pre-takeoff steps including the mandatory FADEC and Propeller Adjustment Function Check. 

Speaking of taxiing, the first thing that’s obvious when you advance the thrust lever to taxi is how incredibly quiet and vibration-free the diesel engine is. It’s turbine-like in its feel and operation—another benefit when you’re talking new-generation trainer. 

Once we reached the runup area, Jones walked me through the routine. Everything is pretty much like you’d expect but when it comes time to run up the engine, instead of pushing this and cycling that, you just set the power to idle and press and hold the FADEC Test button. The dual channel computers do the rest while you monitor the G1000 displays. 

The last check is to push the thrust lever up to the stops and hold it for a count of 10. You need to see at least 94 percent power with the tach between 2,240 to 2,300 rpm. Max rpm is the same in the diesel Archer as you’ll find in the Avgas model.

Up, up and away

One last thing before calling Vero Beach Tower for takeoff is to set the flaps to 25 degrees. Since I can’t recall ever using flaps for a normal takeoff in any Archer, this step got my attention. 

“That’s the standard takeoff setting for the DX,” Jones explained. “Because this is a 155 hp engine, the 25 degrees of flaps give you the same takeoff performance as the 180 hp Archer.”

Jones and I checked, and according to the POH, the standard Archer would need 1,700 feet of runway to clear the proverbial 50-foot obstacle on a standard day. The 155 hp DX would need 1,673 feet of concrete with 25 degrees of flaps. 

Cleared for takeoff, I advanced the thrust lever to the stops and just flew her off like any Archer. And that’s pretty much how the DX felt for the 1.5 hours Jones and I spent carving up the sky above Vero Beach: an Archer is an Archer is an Archer.

Thanks to the constant speed propeller, you’d really never know you are giving up 25 hp to the Avgas version. The climb numbers for both aircraft are within three fpm of each other—with the DX taking the lead. Jones attributes this to the FADEC and constant speed propeller. 

You can’t talk diesel without mentioning fuel economy, and Jones pointed out that you really don’t see big advantages until you get up higher. Doing touch-and-goes is pretty much a wash.

On this flight we leveled off at 5,500 feet, where I set the power at 70 percent. Once everything was stabilized, the G1000 indicated 101 knots with a TAS of 112 knots. 

Fuel flow was just under six gph, so a full load of 48 gallons of Jet-A would give us an endurance of eight hours. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Jones said that had we climbed even higher, we would have seen both higher speeds and lower fuel burn, offering operators a much more efficient engine/airframe package. 

“The turbocharger and FADEC takes all the guesswork out of engine management in the DX,” Jones said. “You are getting the optimum performance and efficiency at every altitude and you don’t have to be guessing if you’ve got the mixture right. The computer takes care of it all.”

Aside from the FADEC and, as I mentioned earlier, the amazingly quiet cabin—while we were cruising along, Jones and I were able to remove our headsets and hold a regular conversation (try that in a standard Archer)—the DX handles like any Piper PA-28. Smooth. Simple. Stable. Reliable. Everything I’d want in a training airplane. 

Yes, the Archer DX does cost more than the standard model, and yes, the Continental CD-155 does have a 1,200-hour TBR (Time Between Removal)—which the company is working diligently to raise—but even with those points, the diesel powered Archer DX will make a really great training platform.

A better learning environment

As Carlon pointed out, along with the global fuel flexibility of the diesel, the quiet operation and smoothness of the cabin will provide an exceptionally comfortable setting. 

“It’s a much better learning environment for basic and advanced students,” she said. “It’s quieter with less vibration, which means students and instructors will feel less fatigued after hours in the cockpit. Less fatigue means better learning.”

Even after only 1.5 hours in the left seat, I couldn’t agree more.

 

Dale Smith has been an aviation journalist for 30 years. When he’s not writing aviation articles, Smith does commission aircraft illustrations specializing in seaplanes and flying boats. Smith has been a licensed pilot since 1974 and has flown 35 different types of General Aviation, business and World War II vintage aircraft. Send questions or comments to .

 

RESOURCES >>>>>

Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook (2015–2034)

boeing.com/commercial/market/long-term-market/pilot-and-technician-outlook

 

Piper Archer DX

piper.com/aircraft/trainer-class/archer-dx 

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The Airplane They Named a Wing After

October 2005- Few airplanes qualify as icons: Say the name, and everyone (within reason) will know what you mean, though this can sometimes be misleading.

Say “Cessna,” and everyone will assume you mean a high-wing, fixed-gear single. Say “Cherokee” and you must be talking about a low-wing single, fixed-gear single. There are exceptions in each case—Cessna 210’s and Piper Arrows are both retractables—but you get the idea.

Say “Warrior,” though, and you’ll get a different reaction. People who know a little about airplanes will say, “Isn’t that a Cherokee?” And they’ll be right… mostly.

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The Ranch Hand Super Cub

The Ranch Hand Super Cub

Bryan Prevost’s good-looking PA-18 has flown four generations of one family around the grasslands of eastern Montana. 

Unless you grew up in a residential airpark, or maybe in Alaska, you probably didn’t have an airplane hangered in your backyard. But Bryan Prevost did. 

In places like Lambert, Montana, where the Prevosts have a farm and ranch, an aircraft can be as useful as a tractor or a horse—perhaps even more so. With a population of 483 in the settlement and a population density of one person per square mile in the vicinity, there’s some serious territory to cover. 

“My dad purchased the Super Cub that we have today back in 1976 from the North Dakota Game and Fish Dept.,” Bryan said. The Super Cub had seen a lot of flying before the Prevost family acquired it—and it’s seen a lot since.

Growing up in the backseat

“Growing up with a plane, it was like having another vehicle for us,” explained Prevost. “I’m the third-generation aviator in the family. My grandfather and my father were both pilots. My grandfather Joe flew a Waco, a Luscombe, and was the crew chief on the P-51 and P-38 back in World War II.” 

Prevost’s grandfather was part of the 55th Fighter Group and 442nd Air Service Group. Much of Joe Prevost’s deployment was spent in England, and he returned home with a Bronze Star for his service.

Bryan’s father, John, loved to fly the Super Cub. “I can remember as a kid hearing the plane start up in the morning,” Bryan said. “I always made a mad dash to get to the plane when my dad was getting ready to go flying. I guess it was a good way to get me out of bed,” he joked. 

“Every time that plane started up, I was in the backseat. And when I couldn’t go, I was bummed. My mom has a home video of me at age 5 coming out of the Super Cub after a flight. In the video, I’m crying—because I didn’t want to stop flying.”

“My dad taught me the basics of flying that plane,” he continued. “As I got older, I would actually go out to the plane when my dad was gone and start it up and taxi it around—the only problem was, I couldn’t push it back in the hangar,” he admitted. “My dad was not happy. He said, ‘You need to take lessons.’” 

Father and son spent many hours together in the Super Cub. Unfortunately, Bryan Prevost lost his dad suddenly in 2011. John was only 60 years old. “I think we flew together the week before that,” he recalled. “Dad flew.”

 A circuitous path to piloting

“I began flying lessons at 16 or 17,” Bryan explained, “but I just didn’t have the time. I was involved in sports in high school, and it took a lot of my free time.”

When it came time to consider post-high school education, Bryan considered aviation. He went to his high school guidance counselor to talk about attending the University of North Dakota (UND). 

“I struggled in high school with math and science,” Bryan said, “and when I mentioned to the guidance counselor that I was really interested in aviation, he said that there’s a lot of math and science in aviation, so he would advise me not to go into aviation.”

“And I listened to him.”

“I pursued becoming a teacher,” Bryan said. But his heart wasn’t in it. “After three years of college, I decided to come back to work with my dad on the farm.” 

“Then on my 21st birthday, my parents bought me a one-hour aerobatic ride over in Minot, North Dakota at Pietsch Flying Service. I remember when Eric Haagenson rolled the Pitts S2B over, I just said to myself, ‘This is what I want to do!’”

That first logged lesson in a Pitts Special did the trick for Bryan Prevost. He attained his private pilot certificate in 1995, but the training setup wasn’t ideal. 

He explained, “My private pilot training took a while; a little over a year. It was expensive—and difficult to coordinate with the instructor, who also had a full-time job. So I decided to go back to school to get the ratings I wanted.” 

Bryan received an aeronautical science degree in aviation from Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana in 2000. With the previous college credits, the program took him about two years. When he graduated he was a private pilot-instrument, commercial, multi-engine and is a CFI and CFII. 

The classes were difficult, but not impossible and Bryan learned an important life lesson. “When someone tells you that you shouldn’t do something, you should go for your goals no matter how big they are,” he said. 

Prevost has about 2,000 hours now. He flew some game surveys for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) in the early 2000s and has done a little bit of instruction. These days he primarily works on the farm and ranch, as he took on those duties full-time after his dad’s passing.

PA-18 Super Cub Photo: Moose Peterson

PA-18-135, N3689A 

The Prevosts’ Super Cub is a 1953 model. “Before my dad purchased the plane from North Dakota Game and Fish, it was a sprayer down in Pierre, South Dakota,” Bryan explained. 

“We had a total rebuild back in 2005 from a gentleman named Wayne Mackey. He did a fantastic job,” Bryan said. 

At that time, the aircraft received a new fuselage—the original one was completely shot—and all new fabric. The original fuselage had 8,500 hours; the new one has about 500 hours. 

“We went with a red-and-white color scheme. I don’t necessarily want the plane to stand out,” he explained.

“During this time I took the engine to Jeff Skyberg in Circle, Montana. Jeff and Ly-Con Aircraft did their magic: it’s a 160 hp Lycoming O-320-B2B that now puts out almost 180 hp,” Bryan said.

Other features include ThrustLine’s engine mount extension, a Sutton exhaust conversion and Micro Aerodynamics vortex generators. Regarding the new thrust line angle, “I think it does help,” Bryan said. “I also have the CubCrafters’ elevator and rudder gap seals, upgraded seats made by Oregon Aero and a Reiff engine preheater.”

In addition, N3689A was outfitted with landing gear safety cables and an extended baggage kit from F. Atlee Dodge; a Cleveland wheel and brake conversion; an 82-inch McCauley “borer” prop (GM8244) and 29-inch backcountry tires from Alaskan Bushwheels. “I absolutely love these tires,” he said. 

They suit his backcountry flying well. “I don’t hardly land anywhere but turf. I probably fly four or five times a week and just land in the middle of the pasture to check on cattle. I’ll bet I touch down on asphalt about 5 percent of the time—mainly when I need to get fuel, is all.”

“As far as avionics, it’s just the basic intercom and com radio with a Garmin GPS,” Bryan explained. “In the winter, with the weather here in Montana, we don’t fly the Cub too much—mainly because the heater isn’t so good.” 

Safety is foremost for Bryan Prevost. “I respect the weather 100 percent,” he emphasized. “Dad and I once got caught in a windstorm and it got really bad, really quick.”

Jeff Skyberg at Circle Aviation performs the annual inspections and maintenance on the aircraft. “I’ve known him for 25 years—he’s very knowledgeable,” Bryan explained. Circle Aviation is the FBO at Circle Town County Airport (4U6) in Circle, Montana.

Achievements

Prevost likes to share his love of aviation, too. He helped coordinate the Wings of Freedom airshow in Sidney, Montana in 2004, 2009, 2013 and 2016 and seems to have a knack for persuading talent to come to Montana. 

In addition to bringing the Canadian Forces Snowbirds to perform in Sidney—three times!—he also booked Danny Clisham, “The Skytalker,” as announcer for the show. “He’s the best there is,” Bryan said, “and it was great for our audience of mainly non-flyers to have an expert.”

It seems the goodwill Bryan Prevost extends comes back to him. “The highlight of my aviation journey—hands-down—is when I was invited to fly with the Canadian Forces jet demonstration team in 2013. The Snowbirds brought to me a whole new concept of close flying.”

“The one thing that stood out is their skilled teamwork—the ground crew, pilots, everyone associated with the flight—it was unbelievable. I was so honored and privileged to be able to fly with the Snowbirds.”

“I’ve been very lucky to be able to get a couple rides from Warren Pietsch in a P-51 Mustang, and also log some AT-6 time as well,” he added.

Prevost Family PA-18 Super Cub (Photo: Moose Peterson)

A family of friends and mentors

Bryan Prevost was inspired to take flight by his grandfather, his father—and episodes of “Black Sheep Squadron” on television. Today Bryan is inspired by the work of the Texas Flying Legends Museum and all of his many mentors. 

“You’ve gotta have mentors. I truly believe that,” he said. Some of the mentors that Bryan mentioned include Kent and Warren Pietsch in Minot, North Dakota and Jim Peitz in Pierre, South Dakota. “Jim said something one time that has stuck with me,” Bryan explained. “He said, ‘Your heroes become your friends.’ That sure has been true for me.”

The photography on these pages was done by Moose Peterson. “Moose takes a lot of photos for the Texas Flying Legends,” Bryan said. “Brian Strum was the pilot in the 182RG, with Moose doing the photos. I was flying the Super Cub, with Warren Pietsch as my safety pilot.” 

The fourth generation takes flight in the PA-18 Super Cub (Photo: Moose Peterson)

Like having another family member

It sounds like Bryan will never let go of the Super Cub. “We are very fortunate—still are—to have a hangar and the Cub. “It’s like a family member now,” he said.  “Ideally, I would like my kids to keep the Cub in the family,” he said. 

Bryan and his wife, Cassie, have two young children: Ryder, age 5, and Natalie, 3. And it sounds as if the next generation will be growing up in the plane, just as Bryan and his sisters did. “Last year me and my son went up, marking the fourth generation that has flown in that plane. It was a proud moment for sure.” He plans to take Natalie for her first flight soon.

Although Bryan also owns and flies a Beech Bonanza V35B, it doesn’t have quite the same charm as the Super Cub. “If I had a chance to pick any airplane, I’d still pick the Cub,” he said. 

PA-18 Super Cub

Photo by Moose Peterson

 

RESOURCES >>>>>

STCs and Modifications 

– PFA Supporters

 

CLEVELAND WHEEL AND BRAKE CONVERSION KIT
Parker Hannifin
  
VORTEX GENERATORS
Micro AeroDynamics Inc.
 
MCCAULEY GMA8244 PROPELLER 
Univair Aircraft Corp.
 
Other STCs and Modifications
 
ALASKAN BUSHWHEELS
Airframes Alaska
 
ELEVATOR AND RUDDER GAP SEALS
CubCrafters, Inc.
 
EXTENDED BAGGAGE KIT, SAFETY CABLES
F. Atlee Dodge Aircraft Services, LLC
 
ENGINE OVERHAUL/SERVICING
Circle Aviation
406-485-2481
 
Ly-Con Rebuilding Co.
 
ENGINE PREHEATER
Reiff Corp.
 
SEAT UPGRADE
Oregon Aero
 
SUTTON EXHAUST CONVERSION
Professional Pilots, Inc.
 
THRUSTLINE ENGINE MOUNT
ThrustLine Products of Alaska LLC
Originally appeared in Piper Flyer magazine March 2018
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My First Airplane: What Mike Taught Me About Flying

My First Airplane: What Mike Taught Me About Flying

06/2011

My First Airplane:
What Mike Taught Me About Flying
by Steve Ells

I had been bitten by the aviation bug as soon as I joined the U.S. Navy and started sending away to the EAA for booklets on homebuilt airplanes in the mid-1960s. I still have titles such as, “Amateur Aircraft Builder’s Manual, First Volume 1959,” and “Wood, File Number 1.”
After three Vietnam cruises during the three years, 10 months and 21 days I spent in the Navy, I worked my way through the 13-month airframe and powerplant curriculum at Northrop Institute of Technology in Inglewood, Calif.
Then I headed back to Seattle and landed a part-time job at a flying club and a full-time job with Robertson Aircraft (now Sierra Industries) on the Renton, Wash. Airport (KRNT).

 

The Big Leagues
Before long I landed my dream job at Aero Dyne. Aero Dyne owned and operated eight Douglas DC-3s that it had purchased from West Coast Airlines. The fleet included two airplanes with full passenger interiors (we called them the “head haulers”); two equipped with gear to defog Seattle-Tacoma International (Sea-Tac) Airport (KSEA) during winter months; and two that were leased during the summers to the Forest Service in Redmond, Ore. for smoke jumper service.
I was ecstatic. I was working on what I considered “real” airplanes—old Douglas Racers. They weren’t very fast, but they were tough and very historical. I liked the idea of servicing working antique airplanes. At that time I was also young enough (and strong enough) to enjoy servicing Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp radial engines and lugging 70-pound batteries up and down ladders.
The West Coast DC-3s were equipped with dual ADF receivers. Each drove a single needle (one red, one green) on a five-inch rotatable card that was attached to the throttle quadrant. Each receiver-tuner box weighed 40 pounds.


That RCA tube-type remote-mount technology still worked in the 1970s, but only because Jack Vockel and Russ Sorkness—the two retired Northwest Orient pilots that ran Aero Dyne—had also hired the West Coast Airlines radio technician who knew how to keep this equipment alive. I can remember watching this technician tune up an ADF receiver using some spray cleaner and a quick burnish with a pencil eraser.


Russ Sorkness, a very high time captain, would glare at any passenger who dared show up for a ride in one of his DC-3s with alcohol on his or her breath. In Russ’s eyes, it wasn’t done.
Jack Vockel—we called him “Big Jack” behind his back—was equally skilled as a pilot but took things a little easier. Big Jack often flew his personal Bonanza to to his cabin in Powell River, B.C.. He smoked a pipe.

 

The Super Cruiser
Russ logged a lot of hours flying around Alaska. One day I was hustling across the ramp when I saw him rubbing on the cowling of a Piper taildragger. I stopped for a good look. The airplane looked brand-new, was painted a tan color and had small N-numbers. The only other decoration was a patch of semigloss black paint on the cowling in front of the windshield.
I asked Russ if it was his. He told me that he had restored it and was readying it for pickup by an Alaskan resident who had bought it. I asked why he hadn’t put more color into the paint job. He told me that would just add weight. 

When I remarked that the paint layer on the fabric covering of the fuselage looked a little thin, he told me that he built his airplanes to be light and extra paint not only added weight, it made fabric repairs harder and more time consuming.

Russ told me that it was a Piper PA-12; Piper called it a Super Cruiser. I liked the look of it and figured if Russ owned one, it must be a good airplane. After all, it had a stick and a tailwheel, so it fit right into my “real” airplane ideal.

Moving On
During the next few years I got my pilot ratings, attended avionics school and was hired as Director of Maintenance for a two-airplane DC-3 freight outfit that operated out of Laredo on the Texas-Mexico border. The freight business was good and I soon realized I had enough cash to think about buying my own airplane.

I combed Trade-A-Plane looking for PA-12s in South Texas. There was one for sale down the border a ways, and it was in my price range, so I drove down to the McAllen, Tex. area and took a look.
Looking back, it’s fair to say that my excitement at the thought of buying my own airplane rode roughshod over the quality of my pre-purchase inspection and the next thing I knew I owned N3155M, a 1947 PA-12. It was white with an orange trim stripe.

The PA-12 is a good example of postwar light airplane construction techniques. It has a welded steel tubing fuselage. The landing gear shock absorbers are shock rings—also called bungees. The wings have aluminum spars and ribs and both the fuselage and wings are covered in fabric. The avionics suite in my first airplane consisted of one very marginal Narco Super Homer Mark IV navcom. On Dec. 10, 1981, I handed the owner $8,500 and flew it off that farmer’s ranch strip for the last time. I owned an airplane.

Just the Beginning
With my first flights in Mike came the realization that I didn’t know as much about flying as I presumed. I had logged 260 hours and could exercise the privileges of a commercial pilot by then, but almost all of my stick time had been in airplanes that had flaps (!), dual radios with working VORs (!) and control wheels.

I’d never had to control the throttle with my left hand, or controlled an airplane with a stick in my right. I’d never flown an airplane with a stick or a tailwheel. I’d also read enough to have gotten the idea that conventional gear airplanes were devilishly hard to land well.

These tales, plus the fact that in those days I thought and acted like I had just missed an important bus that was steadily accelerating away from me, caused me to fret about ground-looping and damaging Mike during a landing.

Along with this worry came another realization: Mike’s brakes were marginal. Not only that, they weren’t the toe brakes I was used to in the Beechcraft and Cessna aircraft I had been flying. No, these were heel-activated brakes.

After many unsuccessful attempts to twist my ankles and stretch my toes as required to keep my heels on the brake pedals and manipulate the rudders, I finally determined that it was physically difficult—if not near impossible—for me to do both during the landing phase of flight. I learned that Mike had enough rudder and aileron power for me to maintain control during landing. I ignored the brakes during landing until I was in the rollout then did the foot dance required to apply the anemic brakes.

I, along with my pilot friend Pat Connors, immediately jumped in Mike and headed for a remote paved strip. I don’t know how Connors felt, but I quickly realized that I didn’t know how to land a light airplane—the maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of an unmodified PA-12 is 1,750 pounds with no flaps and wing loading of 9.8 pounds/square foot. During my training I’d always counted on those big Cessna and Beechcraft flaps to make spot landing. The more I flew Mike, the better I got at slips and nailing my over-the-fence speeds.

Practice, Practice
I gained a better feel for flying Mike by taking baby steps in handling new challenges like crosswind landings and takeoffs. I was fortunate to be able to practice on the wide open spaces of the Laredo airport (KLRD). This uncontrolled ex-military field with two long parallel runways and an additional (long) intersecting runway was the perfect place to learn more about flying Mike, and I began to gain some confidence in my abilities and to appreciate the good manners and flying qualities bred into Mike.

Did I ground loop Mike? Sure I did. But it never hurt the airplane. I never dragged a wing or tucked a landing gear leg. I was lucky.

For the first few months I flew around locally and up to San Antonio on parts runs. Then in March of 1982 I decided to visit a friend in Tulsa, Okla. I filled the tanks with 36 gallons of 80 octane and took off early in the morning. Soon I encountered low ceilings but flew on for 4.5 hours until I landed just short of the Texas-Oklahoma border at the North Texas Regional Airport (KGYI) between Sherman and Denison. I’d averaged 98 mph as near as I can figure. My main navaid was Highway 35. I tied Mike down and called it a day.
On March 5, I flew the 150 miles to Tulsa. The return took 7.1 hours; I had a headwind.

Mods, Missions
I had installed a four-cylinder exhaust gas temperature (EGT) gauge and probe system. This was to help me lean the engine effectively and to keep an eye on the engine health.
When I leaned in accordance with Lycoming’s recommendations, I determined that the cruise fuel consumption for my middle-aged Lycoming four-cylinder 108 hp O-235-C1 engine was 5.9 gph. Cruise speeds averaged just over 100 miles per hour.

Mike was a patient teacher, and my piloting skills and confidence increased as we flew together. I flew a lot of short one- to two-hour flights around South Texas as spring gave way to summer.
One of the pilots in the freight company liked to skydive so we pulled off the door—there’s only one, and it in typical Piper fashion it’s on the right side of the fuselage—and slowly climbed up until there was enough altitude for a safe jump and out he went. My logbook shows that Mike performed jump duties four times during the summer of 1982.

There were also a couple of trips up to San Antonio to pick up parts needed to keep the Douglas Racers going. That 130-mile trip always seemed to take 1.6 going up and 1.4 coming back, or vice versa.

Challenges and Changes
Due to fluctuations in world oil markets, a presidential election in Mexico, and an overvalued peso, the border freight business began to dry up in early 1982. Almost overnight the peso was devalued from approximately 26 pesos to the dollar to approximately 150 pesos to the dollar. I found another job in at a Cessna Service Center in Rockport, Tex. but it wasn’t as much fun as working on DC-3s.
Mike and I flew another 25 hours in Texas around the Rockport, Corpus Christi and San Antonio areas during the winter and early spring of 1982 and 1983 before I got a call from an operator I knew in Soldotna, Alaska offering me a summer job maintaining his DC-3.

On April 30 I loaded Mike with a toolbox, a couple of soft bags, a sleeping bag and tent and some survival gear and started west. Mike and I were headed to Alaska for a “road trip” adventure.
I’ll continue with more of the “Mike and Steve” adventures—including that long cross-country—next month. I can tell you this: that little Piper never let me down.

Steve Ells has been an A&P/IA for 38 years and is a commercial pilot with Instrument and Multi-Engine ratings. Ells also loves utility and bush-style airplanes and operations. He’s a former tech rep and editor for Cessna Pilots Association and served as Associate Editor for AOPA Pilot until 2008. Ells is the owner of Ells Aviation (www.EllsAviation.com) and the proud owner of a 1960 Piper Comanche. He lives in Paso Robles, Calif. with his wife Audrey. Send questions and comments to .

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