Used Aircraft Guide

August 2008 Issue

Used Aircraft Guide: Piper Tri-Pacer

Piper’s first tricycle-gear airplane retains that vintage feel but can outrun a Skyhawk. Just watch the ground handling.

There was a time when almost all light airplanes were taildraggers. Tricycle-gear airplanes were rare, mainly because taildraggers—or conventional-gear airplanes, if you prefer—generally were better at dealing with the unpaved runways at most airports. This common kinship among light airplanes continued into the early 1950s, broken only by such types as the Ercoupe, Navion and Beech Bonanza, to pick three. Up at Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, in the late 1940s, the Piper Aircraft Corporation was making a wide range of airplanes, including the venerable Cub, mostly of fabric stretched over a wood or metal frame. Out in Wichita, Cessna and Beech were only beginning their transition to all-metal airplanes with tricycle gear, which must have made for some sleepless nights at Piper. While the company apparently couldn’t develop an all-metal airplane overnight, it could convert its four-seat, conventional-gear Pacer to the tricycle-gear configuration ahead of many others.

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