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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 (4)

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 (5)

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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The Restoration of 61 Tango, Part I

June 2012

For well over a year I had been looking for a true four seat, single engine, fixed gear aircraft that was airworthy and would fit my budget. My budget was a little tight, so I had to be very careful. I was willing to do some repairs and cosmetic upgrades. After all, I had the advantage of growing up with aviation.

My father is an A&P mechanic and a recipient of the FAA’s Charles Taylor “Master Mechanic” Award. He has over 50 years of military, airline and General Aviation experience. My brother, also an A&P mechanic, has over 30 years of experience. This allowed me many resources and connections.

Piper Cherokee 61 Tango was exactly what I had been searching for—and she was right in my own backyard. I am based in upstate New York at the Schenectady County Airport (KSCH) and I found her at the Sullivan County Airport (KMSV), only a two-and-a-half hour drive to the south.

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Piper Arrow: Hitting the Mark for 46 Years

Piper Arrow: Hitting the Mark for 46 Years

June 2013

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.

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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 Arrow

November 2004       

Of the many variants of the basic PA-28 Cherokee airframe produced over the last 40 years, one stands out as a unique success: The PA-28R Arrow is today (and has been since the mid-1970s) the nearest thing to a standard complex single-engine airplane that we’re likely to see. Pilots moving up from fixed-leg trainers to their first retractables frequently get their training in an Arrow (unless they already own something else).

There are good reasons for this longevity: Among complex piston singles, the Arrow offers a useful combination of performance and range, in a simple well-proven design that’s about as safe as such airplanes can be. And because Arrows have been around so long, they’re easy to find, and can be cheap to buy. That’s the good news.

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Piper's Ubiquitous Cherokee

October 2004 -

If you tell someone you fly a Piper PA-28, you should be a little more specific. There is a choice of 12 separate types with a dozen different names and at least 30 variations on those themes. And they have straight wings or tapered wings and T-tails and flying tails. They range from 113-knot two-seaters to 175-kt cross-country speedsters.

PA-28s comprise the largest number of aircraft Piper has produced over the last 40 years. It all started innocently in the early 1950s, when Piper Aircraft Co. saw the need to supplement—if not replace—their tube and fabric aircraft.

They had been successful with the PA-22 Tri-Pacer, of which they had built nearly 4,500 from 1950 to 1956, but chief competitor Cessna was beginning to corner a big share of the single-engine market with their all-metal 180 (at twice the price) and was making plans to add more models to their line, while Beech's successful Bonanza was defining GA aircraft of the future.

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Piper Saratoga

August 2005- 

Piper compares today’s normally aspirated Saratoga II HP and turbocharged Saratoga II TC to SUVs. A friend who owned a 1981 fixed-gear Saratoga called his airplane a flying pickup truck. Having flown both, I think the SUV analogy is pretty close—and it turns into a pickup truck if you take the passenger seats out.

The Saratoga appeared in 1980, as a fixed-gear, six-seat single based on the earlier PA-32 Cherokee Six and Lance models. It differed from them in its longer, semi-tapered wing (derived from the “Warrior Wing” introduced on the PA-28-161).

In addition to making the airplane look better, the wing change improved handling and vastly simplified fuel management: the Saratoga has just two fuel tanks, one each in the left and right wings, holding a total of 107 gallons (102 usable). The earlier airplanes had a more complicated system with multiple fuel tanks that led to fuel exhaustion and resulting accidents in some cases.

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Tri-Pacer Time Machine

Tri-Pacer Time Machine

The author tracks down a unique bird tucked away on a Minnesota grass strip—a completely original and actively flying 1953 Piper PA-22-135 Tri-Pacer.    

Most pilots, and certainly all airplane restoration buffs, have heard stories of the ultimate find—an airplane discovered in like-new condition tucked in a hangar somewhere. Finding such a gem is rare enough, but to locate one that is still in flyable condition is even more unusual. Finding what may be the oldest known airworthy unrestored tube-and-fabric airplane is nothing short of amazing.

Early last winter, I saw a few posts on social media about a Piper Tri-Pacer that had been stored away in a climate-controlled hangar for years. Apparently this 1953 PA-22-135 had never been restored.

The poster claimed it was virtually all original and the airframe and engine had just 836 hours total time. I was skeptical, but then I noticed that the posts were from Vaughn Lovley, the owner of the Vagabond I wrote about in the November 2014 issue of Piper Flyer. (Mibus’ article, “Airshow Entertainer: Lowell White’s Vagabond,” is available online at PiperFlyer.org. —Ed.)

My interest was piqued as I knew Vaughn to be a reliable source. I got ahold of him to find out more.

Believe it or not, Vaughn told me that the Tri-Pacer was based at my neighbor Toby Hanson’s hangar, just down the runway from my home at Sky Harbor Residential Airpark (1MN8). He had delivered the plane to Toby only a few days before.

The collector

It was a pleasant evening when I made my way over to Toby’s to see the Tri-Pacer. “Hello!” I called as I walked inside the hangar to find Toby and Vaughn standing at ease, talking airplanes.

A Luscombe project was tucked in one corner, still in the wings-and-gear-off stage of restoration. The workbench was full of projects in progress.

Standing in the middle of the hangar was the airplane I’d heard so much about; the Tri-Pacer—a genuine, never-been-restored 1953 PA-22-135.

“There’s kind of a neat backstory to the airplane,” said Vaughn as he walked over to greet me. About 25 years ago, a pilot and antique airplane aficionado based at Anoka County-Blaine Airport (Janes Field/KANE) north of Minneapolis started buying up airplanes. He flew the planes some, maintained them, and kept them from the harsh Minnesota weather in a climate-controlled hangar.

As he got older, Vaughn explained, this collector flew his planes less and less often. Instead of just locking the door and hiding the planes away, his generous nature prompted him to open his hangar to people who were interested in getting a glimpse at his historic collection.

When he reached his 90s, the collector decided it was time to liquidate his airplane collection. His son tried selling off the collection but didn’t make any progress. Time was running out as the collection needed to be sold by the end of the year. The family sought help from someone with experience in flying and restoring antique airplanes: Vaughn’s dad, Forrest Lovley.

Forrest took stock of the collection. There was a 1930s-era Rearwin Sportster, a Waco 10, a Stinson SR-10 and other highly sought-after planes; 14 in all. There were hard-to-find engines, projects in process and antique airplane parts. And there was what appeared to be an ordinary little green-and-gray Piper Tri-Pacer.

Forrest figured he could find buyers for the rare airplanes, engines and parts among his friends and connections in the Antique Airplane Association. He wasn’t sure, however, who would want the ordinary Tri-Pacer.

The find

The Tri-Pacer is a stout, tricycle gear airplane in the predominantly taildragger world of antiques. With its comical “flying milk stool” appearance, the Tri-Pacer is sometimes not taken all that seriously, especially when compared to sleek antiques like those that filled the hangar.

Yet Forrest took a closer look. He quickly assessed that the Tri-Pacer’s interior, panel, fabric and engine had not been modified or restored. The Tri-Pacer, like the other planes in the collection, was still in flyable condition.

He realized that the airplane might well be one of the oldest, if not the oldest, unrestored yet still flyable airplanes in the country. Sitting before him was a virtual flying time machine—looking almost exactly like it did the day it rolled off Piper’s assembly line.

Forrest knew he had a diamond in the rough on his hands. Tri-Pacers from the early 1950s are fairly common, but nearly all have undergone some modification or restoration. This aircraft was different; in its current state, it was a valuable all-original reference for the Piper restoration community. Forrest was determined to find a buyer for the plane who would appreciate what it was.

Vaughn certainly appreciated the plane and was really taken with it, but he wasn’t in the market for a Tri-Pacer. Vaughn already had his Vagabond and other planes to fly. Additionally, out of respect for his dad who was handling the sales, he didn’t want to chance taking the Tri-Pacer away from other prospective buyers.

One by one, the airplanes in the collection sold. The engines and parts were crated up and shipped away, and the projects found their way to new owners. Several people checked the Tri-Pacer out, Vaughn said, but no one snatched it up.

Here’s where my neighbor Toby comes into the story.

The buyer

“I’ve known Toby since the day he was born,” said Vaughn. Both men grew up around airplanes and connections between their two families go back three generations. Their mothers even got their licenses in the same plane: a Piper PA-11 owned by Forrest.

“Toby needed something to fly while he was working on his Luscombe project, which was still a couple of years away from flying,” Vaughn explained. “So, I called Toby and said, ‘Hey, this should be in your hangar.’”

Toby wasn’t really looking for a plane, but there was a trust between the two men which had been built through the years—one strong enough so that when Vaughn told Toby there was an airplane he had to buy, it didn’t take much convincing for Toby to agree. It took one phone call and one hangar meeting, Vaughn said, to sell Toby on the idea.

“Well, I needed something to fly so I could stay current,” Toby explained. “And then Vaughn calls up and says, ‘I found a pretty good deal on an airplane,’ and I thought, shoot, might as well.”

Once Toby had decided to buy the Tri-Pacer, Toby and Vaughn got to work.

Vaughn recounted their next steps: “Toby and I did some brake work. I had to do some patch work to the fabric, areas of wear from where people had pushed the plane by the tail section and from prop blast wear.” The patch work was minimal and they finished it in a day.

They replaced a hose, cleaned up a few things, got an annual inspection done and flew it to its new home in Toby’s hangar.

Clear prop!

“How does it fly?” I ask as Toby opens the hangar door.

Toby, usually soft-spoken, is quick to answer. “Pretty darn good!” he exclaims, smiling.

“Best Tri-Pacer I’ve ever flown,” Vaughn chimes in. Then, with a mischievous grin he adds under his breath, “It’s the only Tri-Pacer I’ve ever flown.” The friends laugh as they push the little plane out of the hangar.

“I don’t know of an older, never-restored, tube-and-fabric airplane. Almost nothing has been done, added, changed to this airplane over the course of its 63 years,” Vaughn says as he looks the plane over. “It’s like flying a time machine.”

But is this really the oldest airworthy unrestored tube-and-fabric airplane? Well, it’s hard to know for sure, Vaughn admits, as Toby climbs in the plane and he gets ready to follow suit.

Vaughn has done extensive online research to see if he can find another one like it, but hasn’t. He and his father are well connected in the antique airplane circles and thus far no one has come forward with information about an older unrestored airplane.

“I really think it could go to Oshkosh tomorrow and win something,” Vaughn says of the well-preserved airplane as he climbs in, settles into the right seat and shuts the door.

At the time of this writing, they don’t have set plans to fly the Tri-Pacer to AirVenture. That said, all it takes is a bit of hangar conversation for a couple of good friends to come up with new plans—so you might just find the Tri-Pacer Time Machine at Oshkosh with a crowd gathered around.

For the moment, though, their attention is on getting up in the sky and having some fun. Toby scans the area around the plane. “Clear prop!” he yells and, moments later, the Tri-Pacer’s engine roars to life.

He adds a little power and as he starts his taxi to the runway. The men give a nod and a quick wave to say goodbye. Toby does a runup. The engine sounds as smooth as it did 64 years ago.

Toby taxis onto the grass runway, adds power, starts his takeoff roll and the Tri-Pacer lifts off into the sky.

Myrna CG Mibus is a freelance writer as well as a pilot, artist, gardener and bicyclist. She specializes in writing about aviation, and her articles and essays have appeared in General Aviation News, Minnesota Flyer, Sport Aerobatics, and several other regional and national publications. She and her pilot husband, Owen, live on a residential airport near Webster, Minn. and fly a 1955 Piper Pacer. Send questions or comments to .

 

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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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Logbook Forensics

September 2015

Many of those “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” television shows begin by the discovery of some old, forgotten bones… after which the beautiful young CSI members, clad in tight jeans and T-shirts (don’t they have a dress code at work?) swarm the scene. They whisk away the remains to their lab and use every high-tech gadget the script writers can imagine to tell a story.

I’ve been trying to do the same, except without Ted Danson and his hair to help me.

Much like a TV show, this case began with the rumor of some remains stashed in a hangar for decades.

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Piper PA-28 Cherokee

Piper PA-28 Cherokee

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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