Piper Flyer Association - Technical Know-how, Serious Fun read more

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


See More


“Bold Warrior”: A New Pilot Buys a Piper PA-28-151 for Training & Traveling

“Bold Warrior”: A New Pilot Buys a Piper PA-28-151 for Training & Traveling

Photos by Mike Maez

Ever since I was a kid I’ve always been obsessed with anything fast. Anytime a plane would fly overhead, I was—and still am—the boy that would stop everything to look up and watch it fly by. I spent a lot of my teenage years playing various flight simulator games. 

As I grew older, my obsession with speed and adrenaline obviously led me to cars. I started racing cars as soon as I could drive and did everything from drag racing to professional-level drifting. 

One of the things I was always fascinated with though, was aviation. I just never thought it was possible to get into it so early in life. Boy, was I wrong. 


The fast track

A little over a year ago, I came across a picture on social media of my friend Alex Luke flying a C-172. Having no idea that he was a pilot, I messaged him immediately to tell him how envious I was of him flying planes. I begged him to take me for a ride. 

As it turns out, Alex was building time for an instrument rating, and was constantly spending money to rent the C-172. He was excited to hear how into aviation I was, and agreed to take me up on one of his flights.

I knew this was going to be something special, but I could never foresee what would be coming next. 

We went on one airplane ride and the aviation bug hit me hard. Less than a month later, Alex and I bought a plane together, and my life changed forever. 

I picked up my PPL within two-and-a-half months: I scored 93 percent on my written and passed my checkride on the first try. 

We. Went. Everywhere. 

It seemed like Alex and I were in the air more than we were on the ground—and I was loving every minute of it. We managed to put 300 hours on the airframe in the first four months of ownership. By then, Alex had finished his IFR, and I bought out his share as we had planned from the beginning.


A shiny new panel

Once the plane belonged solely to me, I began researching ways to personalize it. I have always been a tech nerd of sorts, so the panel was definitely something I had my eye on upgrading. 

I started the upgrade by installing a PMA450 audio panel from PS Engineering. I had all the audio panel wiring redone with four-place headset jacks and panel-powered Bose LEMO plugs. I then installed a Garmin GTX 330ES transponder and GNS 430W GPS, and linked them all together for ADS-B compliance. 

I also did my own custom mount under the throttle quadrants for a Stratus 2S to receive ADS-B In, and had an AirGizmos’ iPad panel mount installed. Finally I bought a sheet of real carbon fiber that I had laser cut to complete the panel.


A custom interior

Next up, I really wanted to bring the interior of the Warrior back to life. All of the aviation interiors I was finding online seemed very standard and ordinary. I really wanted something different that wasn’t run-of-the-mill and would also be durable. 

Through my research, I found that Ron from Aviation Creations was the go-to guy to talk to about this. Working with Ron, I carefully crafted my own overall design and picked all of the colors and fabrics to make it a truly custom interior. 

I completely revamped the Warrior’s interior head-to-toe, replacing everything that was worn out or broken, mainly with new OEM Piper parts and all new hardware. This included the headliner, rear bulkhead, glareshield—all of it. I had most of the interior plastics, including the overhead panel, wrapped in aviation-grade Ultrasuede, a synthetic microfiber. 

Doing all of the installation work myself with the help of my friend Alex Simpson, we also replaced all the windows with new solar control windows from Great Lakes Aero Products. I just took my time, and tried to research how to do the stuff online. I also got a lot of advice from my A&P/IA at Falcon Executive.  

I do my own oil changes and my own tire/tube changes as well. Basically anything that I am allowed to do I prefer to do myself. I am a perfectionist, and have the mindset of “do it once, do it right,”—and the same mindset applies to the Warrior. When I am not allowed to do something I work with the staff at Falcon Executive at Falcon Field Airport (KFFZ) in Mesa, Ariz.


Speed mods and STCs

The Warrior already had various speed mods installed when Alex Luke and I bought it. These included upgraded wheel pants from Knots 2U; wing root seals; and Laminar Flow Systems’ flap gap seals, flap hinge fairings and aileron seals. I did replace the landing light with a Teledyne LED light since the OEM light doesn’t provide as much illumination for night ops.

In addition, N4402X had the 180 hp “Bold Warrior” STC applied to it back in 1998. According to the STC, #SA1842NM was issued to Auto-Air and includes installation of a Lycoming O-360-A4M engine and a Sensenich 76EM8-0-60 propeller and associated installation components. 

The STC helps with flying all year long in the hot Arizona desert with high density altitude airports such as Sedona and Flagstaff. Given the flexibility of the extra horsepower—it essentially turns the aircraft into an Archer—and the robustness of the O-360 platform which is known to run well over its 2,000-hour TBO, we managed to put 450 hours on in the first year with no major issues or unwanted downtime. 


A variety of experiences

Over the first year of flying I have experienced a vacuum pump failure in flight, an alternator failure during runup, and got stuck on the taxiway of a very small airport due to a punctured tube. 

I’ve currently have amassed almost 200 hours of cross-country time in just over a year by doing trips all over the Southwestern United States with a lot of night cross-country stuff as well. I have also done numerous flights in and out of fairly busy airports like John Wayne-Orange County Airport (KSNA) in Santa Ana, Calif. and Tucson International (KTUS). 

Most of my flying these days consists of cross-country trips with my girlfriend to some of our favorite stops including San Diego, Orange County and Las Vegas. 

My future plans include adding an instrument rating—and likely upgrading to a larger single, so that I can haul more people to the beach.

After a little over one year of flying, I feel like I have seen a lot already. One of the things that I love about aviation is no matter how much you do, there is always so much more to learn.


Special thanks to Bruce and Brad at Falcon Executive Aviation; Ron Matta at Aviation Creations; and Alex Luke, Alex Simpson and Dax Rodriguez. Justin Derendal is a 34-year-old pilot residing in Peoria, Ariz., and an avid aviation enthusiast. He is a former race car driver and Honorary Commander of the USAF 607th Air Control Squadron at Luke AFB. Send questions or comments to .

RESOURCES >>>>> Upgrades and modifications – PFA supporters

Aviation Creations 
Bose Corp.
Garmin Ltd.
Great Lakes Aero Products, Inc.
Knots 2U, Ltd.
PS Engineering, Inc.
Stratus 2S
Teledyne Technologies Inc.

Other upgrades and modifications 

Laminar Flow Systems
FAA certified repair stations
Arizona Aircraft Accessories, LLC
Falcon Executive Aviation
Premier Edition Piper Dakota

Premier Edition Piper Dakota

A “new-from-the-wheels-up” Premier Edition Dakota from Premier Aircraft Sales is a leading example of Piper’s legendary PA-28 series. 

Like many of you, I learned to fly in what is now described in Piper parlance as a high-wing “Wichita Spam can.” Cessna’s 150, 172, 182, 206, 210 and 336/337—I worked my way up through them all. I thought high-wings were the way to go.

Then in 1983 I got introduced to a brand-new Piper PA-28-236 Dakota. This, to me, was a game changer. Sure, the 182 was and is a wonderful airplane, but the 235 hp Dakota was all that and a bag of chips. In particular, the Dakota can carry a bigger load than the 182s of that era and, of greater significance to me, I think it looks cooler than the Skylane. 

That combination of good looks and good performance are two of the many reasons why Fort Lauderdale-based Premier Aircraft Sales selected the venerable Dakota to create what many would call a better-than-new option for today’s pre-owned aircraft buyer.

“What we chose to do was to take a very good Piper product and update it to today’s standards,” explained Fred Ahles, president and founder of Premier Aircraft Sales, Inc. “I was looking for a project and then I was approached by Bill Nutt about creating a next-to-new Dakota for his son and the project took off from there.”

“There is no good used equivalent for the Dakota, and you can’t buy a new equivalent at close to the price that we can refurbish one for,” he explained. “I think a comparably-equipped new Archer sells for around $500,000 today.”

“Basically, we are selling our Premier Edition Dakotas for between $260,000 and $325,000 depending on the avionics,” Ahles added. 

“That’s a lot to pay for a 37-year-old airplane, but it’s a heck of a lot less than buying a new Piper Archer. And the Premier Edition Dakota is faster and can carry more. All in all, we—and our customers—think it’s a very good value.”

While Premier doesn’t promote the Premier Edition Dakota as a next-to-new airplane, that’s essentially what it is. Premier takes the elements of a typical refurb project and kicks it up quite a few notches.


First comes the “mother of all annuals”

As Barry Rutheiser, Premier’s sales manager explained it, when the company locates a low-time candidate for the Premier Edition makeover, the engine is removed and the airframe is subjected to what he describes as “the first really good annual inspection any of these airplanes have had in at least 10 years.”

“We follow the Piper factory recommended guide and do everything in the book,” Rutheiser said. “We’ve found that typically these older airplanes have been in the hands of owners and mechanics who were doing the minimum to pass FAA muster every year. But that’s not what a Premier Edition buyer wants to have.”

“Our annuals have been running between $20,000 and $30,000 on these airframes—and that doesn’t include the engine,” Rutheiser explained. “That’s bringing everything up-to-date, including replacing every piece of cracked plastic and fixing all of the fiberglass components to like-new.”

The Premier annual also includes a super-detailed inspection by the experienced Piper technicians at Premier Aircraft Services, the company’s in-house MRO. 

“We see all kinds of age-related issues in the airframe, which all get addressed by the shop,” Rutheiser said. “Nothing is left unfixed. It’s really the mother of all annuals.”

One of the items that Premier addresses is the long-standing Piper Service Bulletin 1006 that details a corrosion inspection of the main spar behind fuel tanks. “The inspection is recommended to be done every seven years, so that’s what we do,” Ahles said. 

“You may not have a visible fuel leak, but we find seepage in the little lines at the back of the tanks that feed the fuel system. It’s small, but over time it can build up and cause corrosion on the wing spar. So, of course, we inspect the spars for any signs of damage.”

“When we have the fuel tanks out, we clean and inspect it all. We have yet to find one that doesn’t have some type of leak,” he said. “These are simple little eight-dollar rubber hoses that cost around $2,200 to change—but to do [the job] right, it has to be done.”

“Who wants to buy an airplane with a leaking fuel line? Not me,” Ahles said. “And I won’t sell one, either.”

After the airframe is inspected tip-to-tail and repairs are made, the control cables are all recalibrated to factory-new specifications and new stainless steel hardware is installed. 

As mentioned earlier, when the airframe begins its annual, the engine is removed and sent to Certified Engines Unlimited, Inc. at North Perry Airport (KHWO) in Hollywood, Florida. 

“Certified Engines does a complete overhaul of the Dakota’s 235 hp Lycoming O-540, including new factory cylinders,” Rutheiser said. “It’s a first-rate overhaul.”


It’s exhaust-ing work…

“Another thing I’ve always liked about the Dakota is the way the exhaust pipes come down on the side of the lower cowling. It’s pretty cool,” Ahles said. “But when you open the cowl and look inside these older airplanes, the exhaust looks like a patchwork quilt—there are so many patches welded on. It’s pretty ugly.”

“That’s not in keeping with the Premier Edition concept, so we take all that off and have a local sheet metal fabricator remake all those components,” he said. “When it’s all assembled and put back on the engine, inside the freshly-painted cowling and firewall, it just looks brand-new.”

Rutheiser pointed out to me that Premier is currently doing its first Premier Edition transformation on a Turbo Dakota. And while it’s exactly the same ground-up process, there is one big difference: they replace the original fixed wastegate turbocharger with a new generation Merlyn variable wastegate unit.

“The Merlyn will literally transform the engine’s operation,” he said. “I put one on my airplane, and engine management is now so much easier—and you get way better performance. In the case of the Turbo Dakota, we are literally improving on Piper’s original design.”

Along with all the new goodies under the cowling, Premier Edition Dakota buyers also have the option of upgrading to a new Hartzell three-bladed propeller, which gives the airplane greater climb and cruise performance as well as a quieter cabin. 


New airplane smell comes standard

Once all the mechanicals are brought up to factory specifications—Ahles said the team turns its attention on the interior, starting with totally refurbishing the seats. “We have a really good interior shop nearby and they take the original seats and strip them down to the bare frames. This is not a low-cost operation—it’s first class stuff,” he said. 

The seat frames are tightened up and repainted. Then the shop uses the best seat foam on the market to reshape the seat bottoms and backs. 

“These are much more comfortable than what Piper originally installed,” Ahles explained. “We aim to make them as good as what you find in the new Meridian. The goal is to create seats that are really comfortable.”

“Depending on what the customer wants, the seats are covered in either a high-quality vinyl or leather—and all the owners so far have opted for leather,” Ahles added. “A couple of them have also wanted to go with wool carpeting. It’s very nice.”

When it comes to the avionics package, Ahles said each owner specs out the panel to their liking. Premier offers everything from a basic six-pack of steam gauges to a next generation-ready glass panel built around Garmin’s new G500 TXi display and GTN 750 touchscreen GPS units. Every Premier Edition Dakota leaves the shop fully ADS-B Out compliant. 

While every Premier Edition Dakota the company has completed to date is a custom completion, Rutheiser said that they do start with one of three basic configurations depending on cost. 

“Everyone wants a starting point,” he explained. “We offer a Premier Silver, Gold and Platinum—but I really try not to refer to them too much, because each owner has their own vision of what they want their Dakota to be.”


All dressed up and someplace to go

Obviously, you can’t do all this work on the airframe, engine, cabin and avionics and just rattle-can on any old paint job.

“We have all the paint work done by Ormond Beach Aviation in Ormond Beach, Florida,” Rutheiser said. “They do a great job. Colors are basically up to the individual owners, but we emulate the paint scheme found on the current PA-28s to ensure consistency.”

“After arriving at Ormond Beach, the airplane is stripped to bare metal and acid washed. All of the details—around the window surrounds, door edges, access panels—everything is prepped and painted to the highest quality,” he said. “Then it all gets clear-coated to ensure durability.”

“I’d dare say that the final finish on these airplanes is equal or better to anything that Piper turns out of the factory today,” Ahles said. “That’s not a knock on the factory—they do very good paint jobs in Vero Beach—ours are just that good.”

“And 20 years from now, Premier Edition airplanes will still look terrific.”

The devil is in the details

While investing nearly 900 man-hours totally refurbishing the airframe, engine, interior, avionics and paint down to the tiniest detail would be enough for most folks, it’s not quite enough for the folks at Premier. They want the Premier Edition Dakota program to offer benefits beyond what you’d expect

So Ahles’ team has taken their program further and provided buyers with the option to get great financing and a “power-by-the-hour” engine maintenance program. “The team at Scope Aircraft Leasing has agreed to finance these aircraft at the completed cost, and that’s a really big deal,” Ahles explained. 

“Most times, when you take a nearly 40-year-old airplane and upgrade it at the cost of a couple hundred grand, the finished price is a lot higher than the bluebook value—and that can make financing really hard to get.”

“Scope has seen what we are doing and offers, with 20 percent down, full financing on the rest of the purchase price,” he said. “That’s really helped the program get going. If you already own your Dakota, Scope offers attractive financing on the cost of the Premier Edition upgrade.”

With regard to the piston engine maintenance program, Ahles explained that while every Premier Edition Dakota is covered by a nine-month warranty from Certified Engines Unlimited, Premier has worked out an attractive program with PistonPower™ to provide an optional hourly cost maintenance program on the engines.

“It’s like a power-by-the-hour program you find on turbine engines, but it’s only for piston engines,” Ahles said. “They offer a menu of coverage options. For example, we offer a three-year program under PistonPower that covers the cost of any repairs to the engine up to a major overhaul. Owners can also sign up for a more extensive program that covers that cost when it comes around.” (See the sidebar on Page 47 for details. —Ed.)

“In addition, aircraft enrolled in a PistonPower program will also get a higher residual value from the Aircraft Bluebook, Vref and many banks,” he said. “That’s a double benefit for the owner.” 

Last but not least, as part of the Premier Edition Dakota program, Premier’s Chief Pilot Corbin Hallaran gives each owner a thorough checkout in his or her airplane as part of the delivery process.

“Corbin is not only a terrific pilot, but a terrific instructor as well—the best in the business,” Rutheiser said. “He does a very detailed walkaround with each owner and then gives them as much dual instruction as he feels they need before he will turn them loose with the airplane. It’s all about safety. If both the new owner and Corbin are not comfortable with the way they handle the airplane, they don’t leave here.”


You can make any Dakota a Premier Edition Dakota

While Premier Aircraft Sales started the Premier Edition Dakota program to stimulate sales of legacy Dakotas, Ahles said that if you’re lucky enough to already own one of these exceptionally capable airplanes, Premier is ready to work with you to upgrade it to your specifications.

“Should an owner bring us their Dakota, we can do any or all of our upgrades on their aircraft,” he said. “It’s totally up to the owner’s wants and wishes.”

As for the price, that’s based on what you want done. “I’d say it’s best to start with one of our detailed annuals and go from there,” he said. “That way, the owner will know what condition the aircraft is really in and determine their upgrade path.”


Bill Nutt “premiered” the Premier Edition Dakota

William “Bill” Nutt is the kind of guy you’d like to have in the next hangar over. He’s owned a lot of different kinds of airplanes over the years, and most recently he has had a Piper Archer, V-tail Bonanza, F33A Bonanza, T-34, a Baron, Piper Meridian and Piper Matrix. But the story behind why he went looking for what would ultimately become the Premier Edition Dakota revolves around his son, Alexander.

“My son is in medical residency in Billings, Montana and I wanted him to have an airplane that was a solid instrument platform and would also give him the performance to handle the high altitudes,” Nutt explained. “I’ve always been a huge fan of the Dakota so I started looking for a really nice low-time model for him.”

“I talked to Fred (Ahles) at Premier about the project and he thought it was a great idea. He shared my vision of making a Dakota better than Piper would today,” he said. “It’s one thing to refurbish an airplane for me, but when it’s for my son, it had to be perfect in every respect.”

And according to Nutt, that’s just how N43AN (for “Alexander Nutt”)—the first Premier Edition Dakota—turned out. Nutt found the ideal subject Dakota: a 1980 model in Georgia that was in excellent condition but had reached TBO so the owner wanted to sell.

“This was a great airplane to begin with,” Nutt explained. “The current owner had it for over 20 years and had taken excellent care of it. Premier sent their mechanic to do the pre-buy and then they flew it back to Fort Lauderdale Executive (KFXE) to begin the upgrade.”

“One thing I insisted on was to paint the new panel in light beige, because I think it makes the instrument scan easier,” Nutt said. “We painted it like a new factory Archer DX and it really looks great. It turned out exactly like I wanted.”

Nutt spends his winters living at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Florida and currently keeps the Dakota at the club’s private airport, 07FA. 

“The Dakota is the perfect airplane for having fun flying,” he said. “People think it’s just an Archer with a bigger engine, but it’s not. It’s a much stronger, more robust airframe.”

“I can get in it alone and get an honest 135 knots all day,” Nutt continued. “I recently did something I’d never done before. I took off from Ocean Reef and headed to Billings. It took me two-and-a-half days and was a lot of fun. With the new engine, smoother Hartzell propeller and modern avionics, it was really an enjoyable trip.”

“I’ll have another...”

Nutt said he’s having so much fun with the nimble Dakota, he doesn’t want to let it go—so he bought another one and Premier is doing its Premier Edition magic on this one, too.

“This one will have the complete Garmin glass avionics panel including the new Garmin autopilot,” he said. “Plus, I’m having the engine upgraded to 250 hp. That will make it even better suited for flying in and out of the grass strip we have at one of our ranches in Montana.”

“The Premier Edition Dakota lets me really enjoy flying,” he said. “Last week I made three great trips around South Florida: I took my one son and his girlfriend to Key West to see friends. I flew my other son and his wife to Naples and then I flew my daughter and her two boys to Palm Beach for the day.”

“The Dakota is just that kind of airplane,” he said. “And the Premier Edition Dakota is the best version yet of a wonderfully fun-to-fly airplane.”


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 certificated pilot since 1974 and has flown 35 different types of aircraft. Send questions or comments to .


Piston Power


Premier Aircraft Sales Inc.
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 .



Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook (2015–2034)



Piper Archer DX


Tom Grove's Cherokee 235.

A Fun Flying Machine: Tom Grove’s Cherokee 235

September 2015

With a little (okay, a lot!) of help from his friends, Tom Grove’s Piper PA-28 Cherokee 235 was deemed Outstanding in Type at EAA AirVenture in 2014.

“I think I caught him in a weak moment,” PFA member Tom Grove explained to me when I asked him how he came to own his newest aircraft, a Cherokee 235. The previous owner—who flew it for 27 years—is a personal friend.

“The plane was all original until about 12 years ago,” he said. Then, his friend started some serious refurbishing. Today, it’s a top-of-the-line example of a legacy aircraft.

Grove also owns and flies a 1979 Tomahawk, which you’ll read about in a future issue of Piper Flyer. “I fly both [aircraft] pretty regularly,” he said. And he really enjoys flying around Texas with his buddies.

“I needed a good four-place airplane that could really carry four people, camping gear and other stuff,” he explained. The PA-28-235 allows him to do so easily. “I use it mostly for just playing around, getting hamburgers, flying to Louisiana to visit family, and an occasional long trip.”


Living the $100 hamburger life
As a retired American Airlines check airman, Tom Grove is fortunate enough to live a $100 hamburger life in his retirement. Residing at Eagle’s Nest Estates, an airpark community in Midlothian, Tex., with Rheta, his wife of 47 years, the couple has easy access to their planes, a 3,200-foot lighted runway in their backyard—and plenty of opportunities for socializing with fellow pilots.

Grove and his flying companions can enjoy breakfast or lunch at Lancaster Airport (KLNC) just six minutes away, or they can get a bowl of the best tortilla soup in Texas (Grove maintains that he and his friend Tim are tortilla soup experts!) at Dallas Executive (KRBD), just eight minutes away.

On the weekends, they can head out for the best Sunday brunch at Hicks Airport (T67), a short 12 minutes away. For a world-famous barbecue treat, they head west 32 minutes to the Hard Eight restaurant in Stephenville, Tex. (KSEP). (Regular readers of Piper Flyer may recall Hard Eight BBQ from an article entitled “Best of the Best Airport Restaurants.” This two-part series by Dan Pimentel ran in February and March 2015. —Ed.)


Cross-country Cherokee
Tom Grove does a lot more than fly-out lunch runs. Shortly after he acquired his 235, he and some friends took an extended flying trip from Texas to Utah, Nevada and Arizona. The mission, Grove told me, was to canyon fly—“and generally have fun,” he added.

Grove and his friends camped at the Utah Back Country Pilots fly-in held at Huntington, Utah. They also flew in to the private airstrip at Caveman Ranch Lodge in Moab, Utah.

When I asked him what the best part of the trip was, Grove quickly said, “I got to fly the Grand Canyon corridor and Canyonlands National Park (KCNY) twice with my longtime flying buds!”

Another unforgettable memory for Grove and his friends includes landing at Bullfrog Basin Airport (U07) on the Arizona/Utah border and spending time at a resort in Lake Powell. They arrived just before the United States government closed Glen Canyon National Recreation Area due to sequestration. “Fortunately,” Grove recalled, “it wasn’t closed by air! The park was really spectacular.”


A cool, fun flying machine
Many of Grove’s flying friends are well acquainted with aircraft restoration and have been closely involved in projects on N8771W. In fact, Grove’s 235 wouldn’t be the award-winning plane it is today without the help of many, many hands.

“I would like to thank all my friends at my home base (2TS6) for the hard work, long hours in cold and hot hangars, and the time and energy they’ve given to me and my airplanes,” Grove said.

“Without Jimmy, Steve, Marvin, Dan, Tim and JJ, my airplanes would just be pieces of dusty metal in a hangar, instead of really cool, fun flying machines that make great memories.”


“Phase one” upgrades
“In 2003, a collective effort was started to do a firewall-forward engine overhaul,” Grove explained. “Everything was removed from the engine compartment. The firewall, inside of the cowlings and engine mounts were carefully painted by Jimmy,” he said.

“The engine then went through a major overhaul, with lots of attention to detail by Jimmy, an A&P; Steve, an A&P/IA and me, the Master Flashlight-Holder, Tool Boy and Hangar Cleaner,” Grove recalled.

“After everything was assembled, the engine was painted Lycoming gray with crimson Millennium valve covers and hung back on the airplane.

“All hoses were replaced and firesleeved, along with the addition of a heavy-duty oil cooler and an Airwolf external spin-on oil filter,” he continued.

“The exhaust system was replaced, along with new ignition wires, all-new engine baffles and a new starter. A dual toe-brake system was added. All glass was replaced. Then, dual batteries were installed on an FAA Field Approval,” Grove explained.

The whole process took about a year.


In 2004, the Cherokee’s instrument panel underwent a partial overhaul. “At that time, they updated the panel shape—removed the big hump in the top—and overhauled the Century autopilot, attitude indicator and directional gyro,” he recalled.

“They also added an Electronics International instrument package, including an FP-5 Digital Fuel monitor; SC-5 Superclock, VA-1A Volts and Amps, OPT-1 Oil Pressure/Temperature, R-1 Tachometer and M-1 Manifold Pressure gauge.” An Insight engine analyzer (red LED) was also added.


In 2006, the interior was redone. “The original design in 1964 did not include headrests,” Grove told me, so Steve and Jimmy installed later model front seats. They also removed the rear bench and added later model Piper individual seats in the back. New matching seatbelts were installed.

The aircraft then received a custom three-color leather interior, and matching carpet was installed by a company located at Northwest Regional Airport (52F) in Roanoke, Tex. (The shop has since closed due to the owner’s health. —Ed.) Also that year, third side windows were added.


N8771W received late model main landing gear wheel fairings, new wing gap seals and wing root fairings.

In addition, the previous owner added aileron and flap and stabilizer gap seals and a late model extended vertical fin stabilizer.


The airplane was repainted in 2007 at A-One Aircraft Paint on the field at Midway Airport (KJWY) in Waxahachie, Tex. The paint scheme is crimson and a two-tone gold. The tasteful design and colors were selected by the previous owner and his wife.

“The main color is sand, not white,” Grove said, “and one of the accent stripes is called ‘Las Vegas gold.’

“Several coats of paint plus two coats of clear coat make this plane look like a high-dollar, corporate-jet paint job,” he continued.


Acquiring the plane
“One day, my wife and I were flying back from Alexandria, La. (KAEX) in our Piper Tomahawk after visiting family. The airplane was loaded to maximum with her sewing equipment, which she needed for our bimonthly, week- or two-week visits,” Grove said.

“She mentioned, ‘We could use a four-place airplane that could carry more stuff—or people.’ Now, my wife, being as wise and practical as she is, was absolutely correct.”

He continued, “After some discussion on budget, we decided that maybe my good friend, Steve, might be willing to sell us his now-very-beautiful Piper Cherokee 235.

“After all, I had known the airplane for 10 years; it had even lived in our hangar for a few years when it was an ugly duckling in its original Piper orange and brown paint.”

Furthermore, Grove said, “I’d watched the engine go through a firewall-forward engine overhaul, partial panel upgrade, paint and interior. It seemed like a natural choice to make: low-time, clean airframe; low-time, bulletproof engine; and a good load hauler.

“The next day I called Steve and announced, ‘Steve, I would like to buy your 235.’
“I think he was in shock, because in all the years we had known each other, I’d never expressed an interest in buying it,” Grove explained. “In his disbelief, he tossed out a number you only give to a good friend.

“It was right in the middle of where I’d hoped it would be, and without hesitation, I said, ‘I’ll take it! I’ll be right there with a check.’”

“Before either one of us had a chance to get buyer’s or seller’s remorse, the deal was done. Within a day or two, we exchanged keys and paperwork and taxied the airplane over to my hangar.
“And that,” Grove said, “is how the good ones never make it into the classified ads!”

He added, “Since we live on the same airport community, Steve still has full visitation rights, and is still involved in all the new projects and maintenance.

“He also knows they keys are in it anytime he wants to visit his old friend of 27 years.”
Grove bought the plane in 2012 when it had about 2,700 hours total time.

“During the time my friend owned it, he’d installed a very nice IFR Narco radio stack,” Grove recalled. “I bought it with that panel. It had the old 1960s-style switches—and the old ‘60s wiring,” he said.
N8771W’s O-540 had 300 hours since overhaul, and the prop and governor had been overhauled at San Antonio Propeller.

Grove took it on the cross-country to Utah the following year, and soon, more improvements were to come.


“After we returned from Utah, I decided to redo some things,” Grove said.

He took the plane to Avionics 1st at Dallas Executive (KRBD). “Dennis Sorber, Lloyd Timmons and Gus Moreno got rid of all the old switches and relays,” he recalled. “Dennis gutted almost all the old wiring and replaced it with very nice custom-built harnesses made on-premises.”

“An all-new split electrical bus system was installed; all circuit breakers were replaced with new; and a split master rocker switch was installed,” he said.

“They replaced the old 1960s toggle switches with very reliable factory rocker switches and dual avionics switches.” These electronics components give Grove excellent peace of mind.


Grove started planning his instrument panel project several months before work began. “I used Panel Planner software from One Mile Up. It lets you select every radio, instrument, warning light, switch and knob,” he explained.

“The software allows you to rearrange your panel to your heart’s content—in full color and in full detail.

It even gives you a cost breakdown before any money is spent at your avionics shop,” Grove said.
“My actual panel was so close to the pictures I’d printed from the software, it was amazing.”

N8771W received a completely new upper and lower instrument panel. A new extra-strength metal panel was custom fitted, and all holes, circuit breakers, switch locations and flight instrument locations and controls were carefully placed to allow easy access and viewing.

“The completed panels were then painted to match my interior and sent to a silk-screening company to have all the labels, checklist and limitations imprinted,” he said.

“Next, Dennis Sorber and his team reinstalled my Aspen 2000 Evolution package,” he explained. “They had installed it a year earlier, complete with Synthetic Vision and Terrain Warning on both displays and XM weather.”

“In the center stack they installed a Garmin 340 intercom, and Garmin GNS 530 and GNS 430 WAAS. Just to the right of that, they reinstalled my Garmin 560, which also has a Garmin GDL 39 ADS-B receiver for additional stand-alone weather and traffic alerting,” he said.

“In the far right of the panel, they reinstalled my Century 21 autopilot and added an Aspen EA-100 autopilot interface to control it with digital precision. Just below the autopilot, they installed my Garmin 327 transponder.”

“I didn’t put in a big fancy analyzer,” Grove explained, “but the new G1 engine analyzer is a good color display instrument.

“It flattens the temperature bars, which makes it easy for leaning, and gives you numerical values for your EGT and CHT, as well as colored bars,” he said. “I usually see temps at about 370 to 380.”

“Avionics 1st is very easy to work with and provided a very nice finished panel. With such a large project, there were a few minor problems at completion time, but all items were resolved without hassle,” he said. “It’s a good shop; I will definitely use them again in the future.”


Other changes
The previous owner upgraded to a later model alternator for its better-quality electricity and higher capacity.

Grove upgraded to a later generation lightweight Sky-Tec starter and Sky-Tec starter relay. “The people at Sky-Tec in Granbury [Texas] are very friendly, and a treat to deal with,” he told me. “A great Texas company, full of Texas hospitality.”

Other aftermarket improvements include Bogert Aviation battery cables. “I’m a firm believer in Bogert cables. I’ve put Bogert on every plane I’ve ever had,” he commented.

He elected to keep the vacuum pump on the aircraft, just to have a truly free-standing backup system.


… and a Lindy Award winner, too!
With 46 years of flying and many more to come, Grove has made several trips to EAA AirVenture and other aviation events. With his Cherokee in such fine shape—and some pushing by friends JJ, Danna, Steve and Dan—Grove decided to admit the aircraft for judging in the Lindy Awards just two summers ago.

“Steve and I loaded up the 235 and headed for Oshkosh,” he said. “To our surprise, N8771W received the award for ‘Outstanding in Type’ in the Contemporary (1956-1970) class for 2014.

“The paint job is what probably won me the award at Oshkosh!” he joked. (That, and all the help from his friends!)

“It was a real honor to be chosen from so many airplanes for an award at such a great worldwide event,” Grove said.

“But just as rewarding was the smile on Steve’s face when we walked up to the airplane and saw the announcement hanging from the prop.

“We were like two proud parents—didn’t stop smiling for weeks!”


Heather Skumatz is managing editor for Piper Flyer. Send questions or comments to .


Airwolf Filter, LLC

A-One Aircraft Paint

Aspen Avionics

Avionics 1st

Bogert Aviation
– PFA supporter

Electronics International
– PFA supporter

– PFA supporter

Insight Instrument Corp.
– PFA supporter

One Mile Up, Inc.

San Antonio Propeller Service

Sirius XM/XM WX Weather
– PFA supporter

Sky-Tec Partners Ltd.

Utah Back Country Pilots

Flying the Warrior

Flying the Warrior

October 2005- I had spent hours in the 1976 Warrior II (PA-28-151) working on my instrument rating. It was 1989, I was 19 years old and was going to college and working at Executive Air in Green Bay, Wis. as a ramp rat; learning the ropes, literally from the ground up. I would work the morning shift and finish the day flying.

Before flying the Warrior, all my time was in Cessna aircraft. The first thing I noticed was that the tapered low wing would float down the runway. I needed to peg that final approach speed, adjusted for weight, each time, or I would hover down the runway, using up asphalt.

I liked the aircraft the moment I flew it. I really liked sitting on the wing and when I made turns, the wing would bank away and clear the view. I felt that the Warrior, with the dihedral wing, handled turbulence and bumps better.... but, that could just be me.

The Airplane They Named a Wing After

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

People who know more will ask whether you mean the airplane or the wing. That’s because the semi-tapered “Warrior Wing” introduced in 1974’s PA-28-151 Warrior has since been used in almost all of Piper’s piston singles and twins, replacing the earlier, constant-chord  Hershey Bar wing design that had been a common feature on just about every metal-skinned Piper except the Comanche.

The Hershey Bar wing used on earlier Cherokees (and early Arrows, the Cherokee Six/Lance, and assorted other Piper airplanes) had some good points. It was short—wingspan on the original PA-28 Cherokee of 1961 was just 30 feet. That made for easy ground handling and offered a good roll rate if you were willing to use a little muscle. And with full flaps, you could easily generate a high rate of descent.

The simple design was also easy to manufacture, which helped Piper keep costs down. By the 1970s, though, the Hershey Bar wing made Piper airplanes look dated compared to the competition. The company decided to give its airplanes a better-looking wing and (arguably) improve handling in the process—but it didn’t want to completely retool the production line.

Piper compromised with a semi-tapered wing design: the wing root and inner panels are identical to the Hershey Bar, but the outer wing panels are 2½ feet longer on each side, with a tapered design that looks quite a bit nicer. Balanced ailerons are fitted that don’t offer quite as much roll response, but have a lighter feel, and stall speed is reduced by a few knots.

The result isn’t a huge change—I learned on a Warrior and had no trouble at all transitioning to the Hershey Bar wing when I bought an older Cherokee (and later an Arrow) but it’s noticeable, especially on a short-field takeoff.

Aside from the new wing, the Warrior used the longer fuselage introduced on the PA-28-180 Challenger in 1973. This gave backseat passengers a great deal more room than they had on earlier models. It retained the “Model-A Ford” style hinged cowling that makes a full preflight so easy (I wish my Arrow had the same cowl).

Power was provided by a 150 hp Lycoming O-320, which my mechanic describes as “bulletproof,” and 50 gallons of fuel (48 usable) is carried in two wing tanks. The result was a comfortable (if not particularly fast), four-seat airplane.

The useful load was about 950 pounds, so you could carry four people (if they weren’t too heavy) plus full fuel. There was a decent-sized baggage compartment behind the back seats, but if you’re going to put much back there you’ll need to leave a passenger behind or put in fuel “to the tabs” (35 gallons).

The O-320 sips fuel, so even at a cruise of around 115 knots you can expect range up to 650 miles (no reserve), though if you’re going to fly that far you’d better bring a relief bottle—it will take over five and half hours!

In 1977, Piper upgraded to a 160-hp version of the O-320, creating the PA-28-161 Warrior II. This increased useful load to almost 1,100 pounds, and supposedly increased cruise speed by about four knots. I have a lot of time in a Warrior II and I never saw that speed, but the airplane I was flying had seen a lot of use.

In 1995, New Piper Aircraft cleaned up the control panel, fitted a 28-volt electrical system, and added a lot of soundproofing to create the Warrior III. Useful load dropped to 900 pounds, but the other specifications are basically unchanged, and it remains in production to this day.

What you’ll find in the panel varies: Today’s Warrior III comes standard with old-fashioned round gauges, a single Garmin GNS 430 GPS Nav/Com, and a four-place intercom. Avidyne’s FlightMax Entegra “glass panel” flight deck is available as an option, and these are starting to work their way into university flight departments: starting last fall, Piper sold at least 14 Entegra-equipped Warriors to Dowling College, Ohio University, and The University of North Dakota.

You’ll find a wide range of different radios in older Warriors, though most were originally built with King equipment. Most (though not all) are IFR-equipped. The Warrior has stayed in production so long because it works: it’s a genuinely effective, entry-level four-place single.

It’s not fast, and reaching the 11,000-foot service ceiling can take quite a while if it’s fully loaded, but a Warrior will take you just about anywhere if you’re patient.

Prior gripes and tips

I’ve said a lot of nice things about Warriors so far—now for the downside. Every flight instructor and copilot who spends time in Warriors (or other Cherokees) must curse the door. There’s only one, and it’s on the copilot’s side. That means the copilot has to wait until everyone else gets in the airplane (an umbrella is a handy accessory if it’s raining).

After a few years, the seal around that door starts to leak, and even after it’s closed, the copilot can expect to get dripped on. The copilot also gets to hold that door open during taxi on hot days, unless you’re lucky enough to have factory-installed air conditioning, which was supposedly an option on Warrior IIs and IIIs. (I’ve never actually seen it in a Warrior, it’s a lot more common in Archers and Arrows.)

Next gripe: What was Piper thinking with the Warrior’s landing gear? The nosewheel steering is precise, but the level of pedal pressure required in most Warriors is heavy—much heavier than in older Cherokees. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s a problem on all the Warriors, Archers, and Arrows I’ve flown.

Like other fixed-gear Cherokees, the Warrior’s main gear feature large oleo struts. They’ll take an unbelievable amount of abuse (a good thing, since most Warriors have been abused at one time or another) but over time they tend to get gummed up a bit, and as you turn off the runway, you’ll find one wing high and the other low.

James Ellis recommends a cure for this in his book, “Buying and Owning Your Own Airplane”: Get a small bottle of hydraulic fluid from your mechanic, and when you find a strut hanging up, use a little fluid on a clean rag to scrub the strut. I did that with some success on my Cherokee 140 and 180, and it certainly ought to work on a Warrior, which has the same strut design.

Whether you can see the strut (much less reach it) will depend on whether you have the late model wheel fairings installed. They’re surprisingly effective—removing them cuts cruise speed by some seven knots according to the Warrior II POH—but completely cover the strut and brake. Most flight schools remove them so that students can do a proper preflight inspection on the brakes and tires.

Landing gear strut cylinders on most Warriors (and a lot of other fixed-gear Cherokees) are subject to a service bulletin (SB 1131) recommending repetitive inspection of the upper torque link attach lug for cracks every 100 hours. Most Warrior IIIs have forged strut cylinders and are exempt, and Piper is making forged cylinders available to replace the cast cylinders on older airplanes.

Another service bulletin (SB 886) recommends removing the wing for spar inspection every 1,600 hours on any PA-28 that has a serious damage history or has seen “extreme use.”

Starting a Warrior—especially an older model with a 12-volt electrical system (and in the very early ones, aluminum wiring) can be difficult. A trick that I learned was to skip using the primer on anything but very cold days, and instead shove the throttle quickly up and back once or twice while cranking the engine—don’t do it three times or you’re liable to flood the engine.

The electric fuel pump on the Warrior should be on prior to engine start (that way, you can tell that it’s operating), and then off during taxi (so you can verify that the mechanical pump works too). It goes back on after engine run up and gets turned off again at cruise altitude. It should be on again during a landing approach and at various times Piper has recommended turning it on when changing fuel tanks.

Which brings me to one of the Warrior’s few weak spots as a trainer: Like all Cherokees, it lacks a “both” position on the fuel selector. Student pilots regularly forget to switch tanks—leading to poor trim and (worst case) possible fuel exhaustion. To fight this, I was taught to change tanks every half-hour. When the minute hand on your watch (or the ship’s clock) points to the left, use the left tank, when it points right, use the right tank.

When you change tanks, it’s a good idea to look at the engine gauges on the lower part of the panel in early model Warriors. They’re below the line of sight and easily missed. Descents are pretty simple—Piper recommends reducing power to 2,500 rpm and putting the nose down to Vno (top of the green arc) which is 126 knots (in rough air you’ll want to slow to Va, which varies from 88 to111 knots depending on the weight).

Approach speed is typically 70 knots, slowing to 63 knots (with full flaps) on final. The Warrior Wing pays off in short- (and soft-) field takeoffs. It starts to develop useful lift as soon as you hit the white arc. On a soft-field takeoff, you can use this to unload the nosegear, preventing any tendency to “wheelbarrow.”

Both soft-field takeoffs and short-field takeoffs involving an obstacle are done with 25 degrees of flap (second notch), but the Warrior II POH recommends no flaps at all for a short-field takeoff if there are no obstacles. The downside of the Warrior Wing is a tendency to “float,” which leads to long landings if no flaps are used on final.

The Warrior II POH recommends full flaps whenever possible. With flaps, it’s easy to land a Warrior, but consistently greasing the landing takes practice. Carry a little power—not much, just a bit more than idle—through the landing flare.

If you’re doing a touch-and-go, remember to lower the flaps before taking off again. If not, you’ll get into ground effect quickly but wonder why the airplane won’t climb. Crosswind landing performance of Warriors is outstanding, extending to crosswind components up to 17 knots (don’t try it with full flaps).

Push in enough rudder to line up with the runway, hold off the low wing with the yoke, and adjust power to hold your glideslope. As you get into ground effect, the wind usually eases up, and you can ease off on the rudder to make a decent landing in anything short of a hurricane.

Many aftermarket modifications are available for Warriors. LP Aero Plastics offers ¼” windshields, which reduce wind noise in the cabin. Knots 2U has gap seals, fairings and thin-line strobes for the Warrior. Laminar Flow Systems has gap seals, fairings, and wheel pants. LoPresti offers wingtips, fairings, wheel caps, hinge fairings, and gap seals. RMD Aircraft Lighting offers wingtips with built-in landing and recognition lights.

Pilots who want to practice flying a Warrior using a desktop PC have a number of options. ASA offers an excellent simulation of a Warrior II in version 8.0 of their On-Top IFR flight simulator. For Microsoft Flight Simulator users, SurClaro offers what looks like an accurate Warrior II in its Perfect Flight-General Aviation, a $19.99 add-on product for Flight Simulator 2002 (I am not sure whether it works with Flight Simulator 2004).

John D. Ruley is a freelance writer, instrument-rated private pilot, and volunteer pilot for LIGA International (ligainternational.org). Send questions or comments to .



ASA On-Top 8.0

Avidyne FlightMax Entegra

Knots 2 U (Speed Mods)

Laminar Flow Systems (Speed Mods)

LoPresti Speed Merchants (Speed Mods)

LP Aero Plastics

Piper Aircraft, Inc. Warrior III

RMD Aircraft Lighting (Wingtips with Integrated Landing and Position Lights)

SurClaro Perfect Flight-GA



The New Piper Archer III

The New Piper Archer III

May 2005- 

Let’s get the top-line item out of the way first: The Archer III is a very expensive airplane. New Piper Aircraft, Inc., doesn’t list a standard price on the company web site, but I priced an Archer III four years ago at just under a quarter-million (with air conditioning). Adding the latest glass-panel option, which costs over $55,000, will easily push the price over $300,000. And that’s a lot of money for a four-place piston single.

You can find nice used Archers from the 1970s and ‘80s for $50,000-$80,000. Heck, for $300,000 you can find some pretty nice twins! Why would anyone pay that price for a piston single? Read on!

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.


The landing gear that thinks for itself

Deliveries of the Cherokee Arrow began in September 1967. It featured an automatic gear lowering system which consisted of an auxiliary pitot tube on the left side of the airplane connected to a diaphragm and (through a set of relay switches) to the landing gear.

Dubbed “The Landing Gear That Thinks for Itself,” the gear could be raised by the flip of a switch; or if the gear were still up, power was reduced and airspeed dropped below 105 mph, the gear would automatically extend to the down and locked position. The gear also included an anti-retraction mode that prevented the gear from being retracted below 85 mph airspeed or if the weight of plane were on the wheels.

The 1967 model also introduced the SportsPower Console, grouping throttle, RPM and mixture knob together for ease of operation. Piper sold 94 units in just four months.

As was Piper’s way, the leadership made many incremental improvements to the basic Arrow. Piper introduced a model with increased horsepower in 1969 by equipping the airframe with a 200 hp Lycoming IO-360-C1C. The 1970 model came with new sun visors, flush fit door handles, a larger cabin speaker and centrally mounted microphone.

Arrow II

In 1970 Piper engineers began work on a stretched version of the Arrow. They added five inches to the fuselage between the front and rear seats, brought over the larger stabilator from the PA-32 and increased the gross weight. The new model was roomier with improved ingress and egress from both front and rear seats. Deliveries of the Arrow II began in December 1971 and Piper sold 320 units in its first full year of sales (1972).

PiperAire air conditioning became available on the Arrow II (and for all Cherokee models) in 1972. The 1973 model year brought a padded instrument panel and new seats. 1974 models came with improved nosewheel steering and a new overhead vent system. Options for that year included vertically adjustable seats and a soundproofing package that included double-thick windows and foam backed carpeting.

Arrow III & Turbo Arrow III

Piper debuted the Cherokee Warrior in 1973 with a brand-new tapered wing instead of the constant chord Hershey Bar wing of its predecessors. In 1976 Piper’s engineers were busy fitting the new wing to the Arrow airframe. To begin with they tested it with a T-tail, but the decision was made to produce it with the low tail instead.

Sales began in late January 1977 with a price of $37,850. Photos from sales material of the time show the difference between the II model with its square-ish wing and III model with its tapered wing and nose.

A turbocharged version of the Arrow III was developed which incorporated a Continental TSIO-360-F engine, the fixed wastegate system from the Seneca II, increased fuel capacity and a bump up of gross weight to 2,900 pounds. Deliveries at a base price of $41,800 began in January 1977 and 426 units were sold that year.

Arrow IV & Turbo Arrow IV

Piper had attempted several times to fit the Arrow airframe with a T-tail, but spin problems and accidents seemed to plague the design. Throughout 1976 and 1977 prototypes with both the straight and tapered wing were fitted with a T-tail and test flown.

A stretched fuselage was tested and eventually, Piper built a new tailcone with the frame spacing increased by six inches per bay to get a total of 18 inches. This prototype flew on March 20, 1978 and it seemed Piper had conquered its T-tail demons. Piper dubbed the model the Arrow IV.

Deliveries of the PA-28-RT-201T Turbo Arrow IV began in December 1978 with deliveries of the normally aspirated PA-28-RT-201 Arrow IV following in January 1979. The turbocharged version sold for $49,150 and the normally aspirated for $44,510.

Even with the higher price the turbo version (201T) outsold the 201 in 1979 with 309 units sold compared to 266 for the normally aspirated model.

In 1982 Piper modified the cowl of its Turbo Arrows by adding louvers to the bottom of the lower cowl to aid in cooling the engine. Also in 1982 the TBO for the normally aspirated engine was increased to 1,800 hours. The automatic landing gear was removed from the Arrow IV in March of 1988.


Production of the T-tailed Arrow IV ceased in 1988 and the low-tailed model (both turbo and normally aspirated) were revived, but the turbo version was discontinued in 1991. The normally aspirated model continues in production today.

The modern Arrow is fitted with a Lycoming IO-360-C1C6 200 hp engine. Standard equipped price with a Garmin G400 avionics suite is $431,490.

It’s now 2013 and what options do you have if you want to buy a new single-engine retractable? Mooney is not producing anything; Cessna has no retractables. That leaves just Beech and Piper. That Bonanza G36 is fast and sleek-looking, but sells for close to $700,000.

The modern Arrow is also pretty sleek, and comes with 46 years of Piper heritage. As John Ruley once said, “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.”

For any loyal Piper flyer that makes the choice to go with the Arrow a real no-brainer.

Source: “Piper Aircraft,” by Roger Peperell. Air-Britain, 2006.

Jennifer Dellenbusch is president of the Piper Flyer Association. Send questions or comments to .





Archer: Tried-and-True Trainer

Archer: Tried-and-True Trainer


By the time the Piper Cherokee Archer came to market in 1974 the Cherokee line had been in production for 13 years and had yielded many variations.

The Archer was the product of the “fuselage II” project which had explored options for creating an airframe with a longer fuselage than the original Cherokee. Engineers had proposed either stretching the fuselage (four inches forward and 16 inches aft of the spar was proposed) or by designing a new fuselage with a door on each side. Eventually Piper decided to go forward with the stretched version and abandoned the double-door idea as too expensive.

The stretched Cherokee received a five inch increase between the front and rear seats at the forward wing attach point. A wider door was added which, along with the extra cabin space, provided for easier ingress and egress—a feature that surveys had shown Piper customers wanted.

Initially named the Cherokee Challenger, the airframe was certified on May 22, 1972 and sales began in September of that year at a price of $16,990.

The name was changed to Cherokee Archer for the 1974 model year. That year saw improvements in nosewheel steering, a new overhead vent system and new exterior paint.

Piper built 7,455 Archers through 1975 when it was replaced by the Archer II.

The Restoration of 61 Tango, Part I

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.

First Place Cherokee: Steve Flock’s Award-Winning Aircraft

First Place Cherokee: Steve Flock’s Award-Winning Aircraft

April 2012

“I like the Cherokee a lot,” Steve Flock told me... but he wasn’t looking even looking for an airplane, let alone a Cherokee, when he bought his 1966 Piper Cherokee 140.

The story almost sounds like a tale told out of (flight) school, but it’s the truth. “In 1999, I took a friend for a flight—he’s not a pilot—and after we returned to Joshua Tree from Big Bear, we saw it for sale.”

“I said, ‘Hey, Ken, you want to buy an airplane?’”

We both looked at each other and thought, “Why not?”

The Cherokee—N6318R—needed some TLC, though. “The aircraft had a high-time engine, disappearing paint, and original upholstery. It wasn’t very attractive, but the price was right, so
we bought it,” Flock recalled.

They eventually had the engine overhauled, and Flock later became full owner of One-Eight Romeo. “My partner was too busy with other projects to remain involved in aircraft ownership, so I ended up buying him out.”

Cherokee Homecoming

Cherokee Homecoming

January 2012

 I am convinced that airplanes have personalities. When we get to really know our planes, we know when they are happy and when they are grumpy, when they are feeling good and want to fly, and when they are begrudgingly doing their job.

In addition to having their good and bad days, aircraft also come from somewhere, just like we do; they have a birthplace. Just like a person who hasn’t been home in a long time, I think bringing a plane back to where it was born is a special thing. Last summer, I took the opportunity to bring my Piper Cherokee back to where she was born.


A Real Working Airplane

Some trips are more special than others, especially when you use your aircraft for travel with regularity. In my case, my 1967 Piper Cherokee (N9749J) is what I fly on a regular basis. My work takes me to airports—to conduct checkrides, to instruct, or to travel in my work as Executive Director of the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI).

Subscribe to this RSS feed
  • 1
  • 2