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Piper Cherokee

By Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia,


This article refers to Piper's PA-28 series of two- and four-seat aircraft. For the PA-32 six-seat series, see the Piper Cherokee Six article.
PA-28 Series
Piper PA-28-236
Role Civil utility aircraft
Manufacturer Piper Aircraft
Introduced 1960
Number built 32778+

PA-28-151, built in 1976
PA-28-151, built in 1976

The Piper PA-28 Cherokee is a family of light aircraft designed for flight training, air taxi and personal use, built by Piper Aircraft.

All members of the PA-28 family are all-metal, unpressurized, four-seat, single-engine piston-powered airplanes with low-mounted wings and tricycle landing gear. All PA-28 aircraft have a single door on the co-pilot side, which is entered by stepping on the wing.

The first PA-28 received its type certificate from the FAA in 1960 and the series remains in production in 2009. Current models are the Arrow and Warrior III. The Archer was discontinued in 2009.

Competition for the PA-28 series include the Cessna 172, the Grumman American AA-5 series and the Beechcraft Musketeer.

Piper has created variations within the Cherokee family by installing engines ranging from 140 to 300 hp (105-220 kW), providing turbocharging, offering fixed or retractable landing gear, fixed-pitch or constant speed propellers, and stretching the fuselage to accommodate 6 people. The larger, six-seat variant of the PA-28 is generally the PA-32; earlier versions were known as the "Cherokee Six," and a PA-32 version is still in production today under the model name Saratoga.


At the time of the Cherokee's introduction, Piper's primary single-engine, all-metal aircraft was the Piper PA-24 Comanche, a larger, faster aircraft with retractable landing gear and a constant-speed propeller. Karl Bergey, Fred Weick and John Thorp designed the Cherokee as a less expensive alternative to the Comanche, with lower manufacturing and parts costs to compete with the Cessna 172, although some later Cherokees also featured retractable gear and constant-speed propellers.

The Cherokee and Comanche lines continued in parallel production serving different market segments for over a decade, until Comanche production was ended in 1972, to be replaced by the Piper PA-32R family.

The first PA-28 Cherokees

The PA-28-161 Warrior II flying in the livery of the Singapore Youth Flying Club. The Warrior II is still widely used in basic flying training worldwide.
The PA-28-161 Warrior II flying in the livery of the Singapore Youth Flying Club. The Warrior II is still widely used in basic flying training worldwide.

PA-28-180 on floats
PA-28-180 on floats

The original Cherokees were the Cherokee 150 and Cherokee 160 (PA-28-150 and PA-28-160), which started production in 1961 (unless otherwise mentioned, the model number always refers to horsepower).

The current Warrior model is the descendant of the Cherokee 160.

In 1962, Piper added the Cherokee 180 (PA-28-180) powered by a 180 horsepower (134 kW) Lycoming O-360 engine. The extra power made it practical to fly with all four seats filled (depending on passenger weight and fuel loading), and the model remains popular on the used-airplane market. In 1968, the cockpit was modified to replace the "push-pull" style engine controls with levers. In addition, a third window was added to each side, giving the fuselage the more modern look seen in current production.

The Archer model is the descendant of the Cherokee 180.


Piper continued to expand the line rapidly. In 1963, the company introduced the even more powerful Cherokee 235 (PA-28-235), which competed favorably with the Cessna 182 for load-carrying capability. The Cherokee 235 featured a Lycoming O-540 engine derated to 235 horsepower (175 kW) and a longer wing which would eventually be used for the upcoming Cherokee Six. It included tip tanks having 17 gallon capacity each, bringing the total fuel capacity of the Cherokee 235 to 84 gallons. The aircraft had its fuselage stretched in 1973 giving much more leg room in the rear. The stabilator area was increased as well. In 1973 the name was changed from "235" to the Charger. In 1974 it was changed again to Pathfinder. Production of the Pathfinder continued until 1977. There was no 1978 model year. In 1979 the aircraft was given the Piper tapered wing and was again renamed to the Dakota.

PA-28-140 Cherokee 140

PA-28-140, built 1966
PA-28-140, built 1966

In 1964, the company filled in the bottom end of the line with the Cherokee 140 (PA-28-140), which was designed for training and initially shipped with only two seats. One source of confusion is the fact that the PA-28-140 engine was slightly modified shortly after its introduction to produce 150 horsepower (112 kW), but kept the -140 name.


In 1965, Piper developed the Piper Cherokee Six, designated the PA-32 from the PA-28. It which featured a stretched fuselage and seating for one pilot and five passengers.

PA-28R-180 and PA-28R-200 Arrow

Piper PA-28R-200 Cherokee Arrow showing the landing gear doors that distinguish this retractable gear model
Piper PA-28R-200 Cherokee Arrow showing the landing gear doors that distinguish this retractable gear model

Piper PA-28R-201 Cherokee Arrow IV with its distinctive
Piper PA-28R-201 Cherokee Arrow IV with its distinctive "T" tail

In 1967, Piper introduced the PA-28-180 Arrow. This aircraft featured a constant-speed propeller and retractable landing gear and was powered by a 180 horsepower (134 kW) Lycoming IO-360-B1E engine. The engine was upgraded to a Lycoming IO-360-C1C of 200 horsepower (149 kW) in 1971 and the designation was changed to PA-28R-200. At the time the Arrow was introduced, Piper removed the Cherokee 150 and Cherokee 160 from production.

In 1968, the cockpit was modified to replace the "push-pull" style engine controls with levers. In addition, a third window was added to each side, giving the fuselage the more modern look seen in current production.

In 1976, Piper introduced the Arrow III (PA-28R-201), which featured a semi-tapered wing and longer stabilator, a design feature that had previously been introduced successfully on the PA-28-181 and provided better low-speed handling. It also featured larger fuel tanks, increasing capacity from 50 to 77 gallons.

In 1979, the Arrow was re-styled again as the PA-28RT-201 Arrow IV, featuring a "T" tail that resembled the other aircraft in the Piper line at the time.

PA-28-140 Cherokee Cruiser 2+2

In 1971, Piper released a Cherokee 140 variant called the Cherokee Cruiser 2+2. Although the plane kept the 140 designation, it was, in fact, a 150 horsepower (110 kW) plane (112 kW), and shipped mainly as a four-seat version.

In 1973, the Cherokee 180 was named the Cherokee Challenger, and had its fuselage lengthened slightly and its wings widened, and the Cherokee 235 was named the Charger with similar airframe modifications.

In 1974, Piper changed the names of some of the Cherokee models again, renaming the Cruiser 2+2 (140) to simply the Cruiser, the Challenger to the Archer (model PA-28-181), and the Charger (235) to Pathfinder.

PA-28-151 Cherokee Warrior

Piper reintroduced the Cherokee 150 in 1974, renaming it the Cherokee Warrior (PA-28-151) and giving it the Archer's stretched body and a new, semi-tapered wing.

Polly Vacher, a record-breaking UK pilot, in her PA-28-236 Dakota. The aircraft was built in 1994.
Polly Vacher, a record-breaking UK pilot, in her PA-28-236 Dakota. The aircraft was built in 1994.

PA-28-236 Dakota

In 1977, Piper stopped producing the Cruiser (140) and Pathfinder (235), but introduced a new 235 horsepower (175 kW) plane, the Dakota (PA-28-236), based on the Cherokee 235, Charger, Pathfinder models but with the new semi-tapered wing.

PA-28-201T Turbo Dakota

The PA-28-201T Turbo Dakota followed the introduction of the PA-28-236 Dakota in 1979. The airframe was essentially the same as a fixed gear Arrow III and was powered by a turbo-charged Continental Motors TSIO-360-FB engine producing 200 hp (149 kW). The aircraft did not sell well and production ended in 1980.

PA-28-161 Cherokee Warrior II

In 1978, Piper upgraded the Warrior to 160 horsepower (119 kW) PA-28-161, changing its name to Cherokee Warrior II. This aircraft had slightly improved aerodynamic wheel fairings. Later models of the Warrior II, manufactured after July 1982, incorporate a gross weight increase to 2,440 pounds, giving a useful load over 900 pounds. This same aircraft, now available with a glass cockpit, is available as the Warrior III, and is marketed as a training aircraft.

Brazilian and Argentinian production

The PA-28 was also built under licence in Brazil as the Embraer EMB-711 Corisco (PA-28R-200), EMB-711T Corisco Turbo (PA-28R-200T), and the EMB-712 Tupi (PA-28-181). Argentinian production was made by Chincul SA, Posito, San Juan,Argentina. Chincul SA built 960 airplanes between 1972 and 1995.The models made by Chincul SA were: :PA-28-140 Cherokee, PA-32 Cherokee Six, PA-25 Pawnee, PA-23 Azteca,PA-34 Seneca,PA-28 (Archer, Dakota, Arrow, Turbo Arrow), PA-36 Brave, PA-31 Navajo, PA-31 Navajo, PA-31T Cheyenne I y II y PA-42 Cheyenne III

New Piper Aircraft

The original Piper Aircraft company declared bankruptcy in 1991. In 1995, The New Piper Aircraft company was created. It was renamed Piper Aircraft once again in 2006. The company currently produces two PA-28 Cherokee variants: the 160 horsepower (119 kW) Warrior III (PA-28-161) and the 200 horsepower (149 kW) retractable Arrow (PA-28R-201). All are now available with Avidyne Entegra glass cockpits.

Design Features

Wing design

Originally, all Cherokees had a constant-chord rectangular planform wing, popularly called the Hershey Bar wing because of its resemblance to the flat candy bar.

Beginning with the Warrior in 1974, Piper switched to a tapered wing with the NACA 652-415 profile and a two foot longer wingspan. Both Cherokee wing variants have an angled wing root; i.e., the wing leading edge is swept forward as it nears the fuselage body, rather than meeting the body at a perpendicular angle.

The documented takeoff distance, cruise speed, and landing distance of Cherokees of the same horsepower with different wing types is very similar and some of the differences that do exist in later taper-wing models can be attributed to better fairings and seals rather than the different wing design. The Hershey Bar wing design is not markedly inferior to the tapered design, and in some ways is quite advantageous. As Piper Cherokee designer John Thorp says: "Tapered wings tend to stall outboard, reducing aileron effectiveness and increasing the likelihood of a rolloff into a spin."

As Peter Garrison further explains: "To prevent tip stall, designers have resorted to providing the outboard portions of tapered wings with more cambered airfoil sections, drooped or enlarged leading edges, fixed or automatic leading edge slots or slats, and, most commonly, wing twist or "washout." The trouble with these fixes is that they all increase the drag, canceling whatever benefit the tapered wing was supposed to deliver in the first place."

Flight controls

For the Cherokee family Piper used their traditional flight control configuration. The horizontal tail is a stabilator with an anti-servo tab (sometimes termed an anti-balance tab). The anti-servo tab moves in the same direction of the stabilator movement, making pitch control "heavier" as the stabilator moves out of the trimmed position. Flaps can extend up to 40º, but are considerably smaller, and arguably less effective, than the flaps on a Cessna 172. Normally, 25º flaps are used for a short- or soft-field takeoff. The ailerons, flaps, stabilator, and stabilator trim are all controlled using cables and pulleys.

In the cockpit, all Cherokees use control yokes rather than sticks, together with rudder pedals.The pilot operates the flaps manually using a Johnson bar located between the front seats: for zero degrees the lever is flat against the floor and is pulled up to select the detent positions of 10°, 25° and 40°.

Older Cherokees use an overhead crank for stabilator trim (correctly called an anti servo-tab), while later ones use a trim wheel on the floor between the front seats, immediately behind the flap bar.

All Cherokees have a brake lever under the pilot side of the instrument panel. Differential toe brakes on the rudder pedals were an optional add-on for earlier Cherokees, and became standard with later models.

Some earlier Cherokees used control knobs for the throttle, mixture, and propeller advance (where applicable), while later Cherokees use a collection of two or three control levers in a throttle quadrant.

Cherokees normally include a rudder trim knob, which actually controls a set of springs acting on the rudder pedals rather than an external trim tab on the rudder — in other words, the surface is trimmed by control tension rather than aerodynamically.


On September 9, 1969, Allegheny Airlines Flight 853 collided with a Piper PA-28-181 Archer over the city of Fairland, Indiana, killing all aboard both planes.

On August 31, 1986, Aeroméxico Flight 498 collided with a Piper PA-28-181 Archer over the city of Cerritos, California, killing all aboard both planes and 15 people on the ground. It was the worst air disaster in the history of Los Angeles.

Specifications (1964 model PA-28-140 Cherokee 140)

Data from Piper Aircraft Owner's Handbook

General characteristics

  • Crew: one pilot
  • Capacity: three passengers
  • Length: 23.3 feet (7.16 m)
  • Wingspan: 30.0 feet (9.2 m)
  • Height: 7.3 feet (2.25 m)
  • Wing area: 160 sq ft (15.14 m²)
  • Airfoil: NACA 652-415
  • Empty weight: 1201 lb (544 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 2150 lb (975 kg)
  • Useful load: 949 lb (430 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 2150 lb (975 kg)
  • Powerplant:Lycoming O-320-E2A Sensenich M74DM, 150 hp (113 kW)
  • Propeller diameter: 74 inches (1.9 m)


factory standard 1964, none

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

External links

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Published in July 2009.

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