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Piper Cherokee


Piper CherokeeFor those who grew up in the era of all-metal airplanes, the Cherokee is as synonymous with Piper Aircraft Corporation as the Cub. But when the first PA- 28 rolled off the brand-new assembly line at Vero Beach, Florida, 30 years ago, it was a significant departure from the tried-and-true tube-and-fabric designs made famous by Piper in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. The Piper design team headed by Fred Weick never set out to earn a place in aviation chronicles. Their goal was straightforward: Build a good, simple, four-seat airplane at low cost.

"The airplane started out to be a simple little replacement for the Tri-Pacer, and the eye was on low cost. I thought you could make an all-metal airplane for as low a cost as a fabric one," Weick recalls. "Pug [Howard] Piper and I sat down and worked out what we wanted. We had specifications on the shape and the size and the power and the performance."

The new airplane, designated the PA-28 or the twenty-eighth Piper model, would be all metal, with a low wing to enhance ground handling characteristics. The gear on a low wing airplane can be placed farther apart than on a high-wing design, and handling in a crosswind was deemed better in low-wing airplanes, thanks to the wide-spread gear and low center of gravity, Weick said. It would seat four, be powered by a four-cylinder, 150-horsepower Lycoming (150 or 160 hp would be available in early production models), and would have tricycle gear with a 10-foot tread. It would be fairly small, with a wingspan of about 30 feet. Not wanting the PA-28 to compete with the higher priced, retractable Comanche (introduced in 1958), Piper limited the Cherokee's cabin width to 42 inches, 2 inches narrower than the Comanche's.

Cherokee production began slowly but, by late summer, was up to about five airplanes a day. Cost for the standard model was $9,995, although many optional accessories were available at added cost. Soon, higher powered models were available, as were ski- and float-equipped versions. In early 1962, Piper delivered its 500th Cherokee only three months after delivering the 250th. The 1,000th was delivered in the spring of 1963.

The rest, as they say, is history. Cherokee's direct offspring included various models of the Warrior, Archer, Arrow, Dakota, Pathfinder, and Cadet. Among later refinements to the basic Cherokee design were tapered wings, bigger powerplants, larger fuselages, retractable landing gear, and turbocharging. The lessons learned and theories proved in the Cherokee's development, production, and success were reflected in the entire line of Piper models to follow.

Performance Summary

All structures are of aluminum alloy. The airplane is a two-place (optional four-place), low wing, single engine airplane equipped with fixed tricycle landing gear, having a steerable nose wheel and two main wheels.

This airplane is certificated in the normal and utility category. In the normal category all aerobatic maneuvers including spins are prohibited. In the utility category certain maneuvers as per the aircraft’s POH are permitted. The aircraft is approved for day and night VFR/IFR when equipped in accordance with F.A.R.FAR 91 or F.A.R.FAR 135.

The engine is a Lycoming Model IO-320-E2A and is rated at 140 horsepower at 2450 RPM. Major accessories include a geared starter, a 35-amp alternator, dual magnetos, vacuum pump drive, fuel pump, full flow oil filter, and a float carburetor.

Fuel is stored in two twenty-five gallon tanks, which are secured to the leading edge structure of each wing by screws and nut plates. An auxiliary electric fuel pump is provided for use in case of failure of the engine driven pump. Fuel quantity and pressure are indicated on gauges located in the engine gauge cluster on the instrument panel.

The Cherokee is equipped with the Piper F.T.P. (Full Time Power) Electrical System. Its 12-volt alternator provides electrical power at all engine speeds and results in improved performance for radio and electrical equipment and longer battery life. In addition to the alternator, the electrical system includes a 25 ampere-hour battery, a voltage regulator and a master switch relay.


  1964 Piper Cherokee PA-28-140 1967 Piper Cherokee
Model Lyc. O-320-E2A Lyc. O-320-E2A
No. Cylinders 4 4
Displacement 319.8 319.8
HP 140 150
Carbureted Or Fuel Injected Carbureted Carbureted
Fixed Pitch/ Constant Speed Propeller Fixed Pitch Fixed Pitch
Fuel Capacity 36 gallons
Long Range Tanks: 50 gallons
36 gallons
Long Range Tanks: 50 gallons
Min. Octane Fuel 80 80
Avg. Fuel Burn at 75% power in standard conditions per hour 8.4 gallons Unknown
Weights and Capacities:    
Takeoff/Landing Weight Normal Category 1,950 lbs. 2,150 lbs.
Takeoff/Landing Weight Utility Category 1,950 lbs. 1,950
Standard Empty Weight 1,180 lbs. 1,201 lbs.
Max. Useful Load Normal Category 770 lbs. 949 lbs.
Max. Useful Load Utility Category 770 lbs. 749 lbs.
Baggage Capacity 100 lbs. 200 lbs.
Oil Capacity 8 quarts 8 quarts
Do Not Exceed Speed 148 KCAS 148 KCAS
Max. Structural Cruising Speed 121 KCAS 121 KCAS
Stall Speed Clean 57 KCAS 55 KCAS
Stall Speed Landing Configuration 48 KCAS 47 KCAS
Climb Best Rate 820 FPM 660 FPM
Wing Loading 12.2 lbs./sq. ft. 13.4 lbs./sq. ft.
Power Loading 13.9 lbs./hp 14.3 lbs./hp
Service Ceiling 15,000 ft. 14,300 ft.