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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