Used Aircraft Guide

August 2009 Issue

Used Aircraft Guide: Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser

If you’re looking for an airplane with more utility than a J-3 but not as high-toot as the Super Cub, the PA-12 may be just the thing.

While much of the recent chatter among used-airplane market watchers involves the seemingly bottomless price plunges for plastic and metal cross-country platforms, the rag-and-tube market isn’t down nearly as much. Part of the reason, of course, is these airplanes never appreciated like big-bore singles. Another reason is constant demand for simpler, slower, inexpensive fun airplanes capable, in a [IMGCAP(1)]pinch, of actually going somewhere, albeit sedately and only in good weather. The steady growth in light sport aircraft popularity demonstrates the depth of a market for new low-and-slow airplanes, even if many of them first see service as trainers. But the price point for a new LSA can easily scare away the buyer in search of a simple, fun airplane, leading them to consider older, classic airplanes of relatively simple fabric and tube construction. Any time fabric-covered airplanes are considered, Piper’s classic J-3 Cub and PA-18 Super Cub usually make the list. Sometimes overlooked is the PA-12 Super Cruiser, which falls somewhere between those two icons, yet provides a low-cost entry into the world of utility and fun flying. For many missions, the Super Cruiser is a reasonable and less-expensive alternative to the Super Cub, affording greater speed, comfort and flexibility than the J-3. One downside, of course, is these early Pipers are more than 50 years old—while parts availability is still good, finding a competent mechanic familiar with tube-and-fabric designs to stay on top of mechanical concerns is critical.

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