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Piper Cherokee 235


piper cherokeeThe PA-28-235 series began in 1964 with the Cherokee 235. One major selling point that dealers like to stress is that the aircraft can almost carry its own weight in useful load. Actually, it carries more in some configurations.

The 1973 model was dubbed the Cherokee Charger. The major alteration that year was a stretch of the fuselage, giving passengers an extra five inches of legroom. The useful load doesn’t equal the aircraft’s weight on this model, though that’s hardly worth mentioning when you consider what it carries, a whopping 1450 pounds. In case you’re wondering, that’s full fuel, 200 lbs. of baggage, and four passengers at just under 190 lbs. each.

The 1974 model was designated as the Cherokee Pathfinder. The biggest change was a redesign of the windows to reduce outside noise. One Cherokee pilot said, “as one who has spent more deafening hours behind the yoke of a Cherokee 235 than I can unclog my head to remember, I can say that the soundproofing option Piper offered this year is one no Pathfinder should leave the factory without. Cabin noise is cut considerably, and a comfortable conversation can be had at 75% power” (Bill Wilson, AOPA Pilot, May, 1974). Performance and load carrying capabilities were not significantly changed on this year’s model.

While the 235 models lose a little something in speed, as compared to retractables in the PA-28 series like the Arrow, their exceptional load carrying capacity and long-range capability more that make up for it.

Wilson continues, “but there are drawbacks to the 235. A perennial complaint is that the airplane’s Lycoming O-540 is brutal on fuel consumption. A saving grace is that the engine is set up to burn 80/87 octane, making the 235 series’ final cost per mile surprisingly acceptable. If you get into a pinch, the engine happily guzzles 100 octane. Also to consider, with 84 gallons sloshing around in the aircraft’s four tanks, a genuine effort is required to fly manually on long trips. If you plan on cross-country flying, an autopilot would be a smart investment. The 235s fly somewhat differently than smaller Cherokees. They require a bit more speed and power in landings, and the pilot should be cognizant of the fuel weight from the extra 34 gallons aboard. Otherwise, the exceptional performance in climb out, short-field work, and cruise speed are obvious benefits of those two extra cylinders up front.

Performance Summary

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

This airplane is certified in the normal category. In the normal category all aerobatic maneuvers including spins are prohibited. The airplane is approved for day and night VFR/IFR operations when equipped in accordance with F.A.R. 91 or F.A.R 135.

The aircraft is powered by a Lycoming O-540-B4B5 six cylinder, normally aspirated, direct drive, air cooled, horizontally opposed, carburetor equipped engine rated at 235 horsepower. Major accessories include a geared starter, a 35-amp alternator, dual magnetos, vacuum pump drive, fuel pump, and a float carburetor. Exhaust gases are carried through a system constructed of heavy gauge stainless steel.

The two main inboard tanks, which hold 25 gallons each, are attached to the wing structure with screws and nutplates. The tip tanks are constructed of resin-impregnated fiberglass and hold 17 gallons each. Fuel quantity gauges for each of the four tanks are located in the engine gauge cluster on the instrument panel. Dual electric fuel pumps are provided for use in case of failure of the engine driven pump.

The aircraft 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 235
1973 Piper Cherokee 235 Charger  PA-28-235 1977 Piper Cherokee Pathfinder  PA-28-235
Model Lyc. O-540-B4B5 Lyc. O-540-B4B5 Lyc. O-540-B4B5
No. Cylinders 6 6 6
Displacement 541.5 cu. in. 541.5 cu. in. 541.5 cu. in.
HP 235 235 235
Carbureted Or Fuel Injected Carbureted Carbureted Carbureted
Fixed Pitch/ Constant Speed Propeller Either option available Constant Speed Constant Speed
Fuel Capacity 84 gallons 84 gallons 84 gallons
Min. Octane Fuel 80 80 80
Avg. Fuel Burn at 75% power in standard conditions per hour 14 gallons Unknown 15 gallons
Weights and Capacities:      
Takeoff/Landing Weight Normal Category 2,900 lbs. 3,000 lbs. 3,000 lbs.
Takeoff/Landing Weight Utility Category N/A N/A N/A
Standard Empty Weight 1,470 lbs. 1,550 lbs. 1,592 lbs.
Max. Useful Load Normal Category 1,430 lbs. 1,450 lbs. 1,408 lbs.
Max. Useful Load Utility Category N/A N/A N/A
Baggage Capacity 200 lbs. 200 lbs. 200 lbs.
Oil Capacity 12 quarts 12 quarts 12 quarts
Do Not Exceed Speed 171 KCAS 171 KCAS 171 KCAS
Max. Structural Cruising Speed 136 KCAS 135 KCAS 135 KCAS
Stall Speed Clean 61 Knots 64 Knots 57 Knots
Stall Speed Landing Configuration 52 Knots 57 Knots 53 Knots
Climb Best Rate 825 FPM 800 FPM 725 FPM
Wing Loading 17 lbs./sq. ft. 17.7 lbs./sq. ft. 17.6 lbs./sq. ft.
Power Loading 12.4 lbs./sq. ft. 12.8 lbs./sq. ft. 12.8 lbs./hp
Service Ceiling 14,500 ft. 13,900 ft. 14,000 ft.