The PA-32 series began life in 1965 as the 260 horsepower (190 kW) PA32-260 Cherokee Six, a significantly modified six (or seven) seat development of the PA-28 Cherokee.
The Cherokee Six and its successors feature a baggage compartment in the nose between the cockpit and the engine compartment as well as a large double door in the back for easy loading of passengers and cargo.
Many pilots thought the original 260 hp (190 kW) Cherokee Six was under-powered so in 1970 Piper offered an optional 300 hp (220 kW) version, known as the PA-32-300.
The 1975 addition of retractable landing gear resulted in the first of the PA-32R series, the Piper Lance. This was the earliest aircraft in the Piper Saratoga family, Piper's luxury high-performance single line.
Piper's transition to tapered wings for the Cherokee series resulted in a new wing for the PA-32 series as well. The tapered-wing version of the Cherokee Six was named the Saratoga and debuted in 1980. Due to product liability concerns and economic conditions, the general aviation industry went into decline in the early 1980s and Saratoga production ceased in 1985.
After the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994, production of the retractable-gear Saratoga resumed in 1995. A fixed-gear PA32 was re-introduced in 2003 as the Piper 6X and the turbocharged 6XT. Sales of the 6X and 6XT models did not meet expections and production ceased in late 2007.
Piper built a prototype PA32-260 with IO-360 engines mounted on the wings. The tri-motor aircraft was the proof-of-concept aircraft for the twin engined, retractable gear version of the Cherokee 6, the Piper PA-34 Seneca.
The Cherokee Six is commonly used for small air cargo operations.
Specifications (1972 model PA-32-300)
Data from 1972 Piper Cherokee Six 300 "E" Owner's Handbook
Published in July 2009.
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