Used Aircraft Guide

April 2008 Issue

Used Aircraft Guide: Piper Warrior

Piper’s answer to the Skyhawk was the first PA-28 with the semi-tapered wing, transforming it into real competition against the Cessna.

When considering basic airplanes, the 150/160-hp four-place, fixed-gear single is about as ubiquitous as one can get. The niche serves as the beginning rung of a market ladder where airplanes begin to be used as practical transportation tools. They won’t haul a lot of people or cargo, nor will they do it quickly, but they offer economical travel. They often serve as a pilot’s first "real" airplane after primary training, and the market demands they be reliable, inexpensive to operate and relatively easy to fly. Airplanes in this class are sort of like Toyotas: not terribly exciting or fancy, perhaps, but they do what you need them to without costing an arm and a leg. Cessna’s Skyhawk owns this market, of course, and used-airplane prices reflect that dominance. At least two of its mainstream competitors, the Piper PA-28-151 or -161 Warrior and AGAC AA-5 Traveler/Cheetah, are good, solid airplanes that can be had for less. (Beech’s entry, the Sport, is short on performance when compared to the Warrior and Cheetah.) The AA-5 went the way of the dodo in the late 1970s, and attempts to resurrect it (in the form of the Tiger) failed. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Piper, too, fell on hard times and was forced into bankruptcy, finally emerging several years (and a few abortive buyout attempts) later as the New Piper. In 2006, "new" was dropped from the company’s name. Unlike the Skyhawk, and with only one or two exceptions, the Warrior has been in production throughout, even if the number of airframes manufactured in each model year could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Now in the "Warrior III" configuration, the model is marketed mainly as a trainer.

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