Piper Cherokee

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, 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, but with investment from new Piper owners Imprimis, will be revived in 2010.

Piper has created variations within the Cherokee family by installing engines ranging from 140 to 300hp (105-220kW), 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.


Originally, all Cherokees had a constant-chord rectangular planform wing, popularly called the chocolate bar wing because of its resemblance to the convex, rectangular chocolate bar.

Beginning with the Warrior in 1974, Piper switched to a tapered wing with the NACA 652-415 profile and a 0.61 m 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 chocolate 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. 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, cancelling 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.

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All members of the Piper PA-28 family are all-metal, unpressurized, single-engine piston-powered airplanes with low-mounted wings and tricycle landing gear.

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