Piper PA-20 Pacer
|Piper PA-22-150 Tri-Pacers. The red one is in original configuration, while the blue one has been converted to conventional landing gear|
|Role||Civil utility aircraft|
|First flight||1949 (PA-20)|
|Number built||1120 (PA-20)|
|Variants||Javelin V6 STOL|
The Pacer is essentially a four-place version of the two-place PA-17 Vagabond, with conventional landing gear, a steel tube fuselage and an aluminum frame wing covered with fabric, much like Piper's famous Cub and Super Cub. The Tri-Pacer is a development of the Pacer with tricycle landing gear, while the Colt is a two-seat flight training version of the Tri-Pacer. Prized for their ruggedness, spacious cabins, and, for the time, impressive speed, many of these aircraft continue to fly today.
Factory installed 108 hp (80 kW), 125 hp (93 kW), 135 hp (100 kW), 150 hp (112 kW), and 160 hp (120 kW) engine options were available, and 180 hp (135 kW) engine after-market conversions have been offered.
The Pacer and the Tri-Pacer were the first post-World War II Piper designs with flaps and a control yoke instead of a center stick, and they belong to a sub-group of Piper aircraft popularly called "short wing Pipers," reflecting their shorter wingspans compared to the earlier J-3 Cub and PA-18 Super Cub. The PA-20 Pacer is a tailwheel aircraft and thus has somewhat limited forward visibility on the ground and relatively demanding ground-handling characteristics. To help introduce more pilots to easier, safer flying, from February 1951, Piper introduced the PA-22 Tri-Pacer with a nosewheel instead of the tailwheel landing gear. Additionally, the Tri-Pacer offered higher-powered engine options in the form of 150 hp (112 kW) and 160 HP (120 kW) engines, whereas the largest engine available to the original Pacer had an output of 135 hp (100 kW). At the time the tricycle undercarriage became a popular preference and 1953 saw the PA-22 Tri-Pacer outsell the Pacer by a ratio of six to one. Due to the geometry of the nosewheel installation, the aircraft is sometimes called the "Flying Milk Stool."
In 1959 and 1960 Piper offered a cheaper, less well-equipped version of the Tri-Pacer with a 150 HP (112 kW) Lycoming O-320 designated the PA-22-150 Caribbean. Over 9400 Tri-Pacers were produced between 1950 and 1964 when production ended, with 3280 still registered with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in April 2018.
An unusual feature of the Tri-Pacer is bungees linking the ailerons and rudder to facilitate coordinated flight. The system can be easily overcome by the pilot as needed and allowed the installation of a simple autopilot marketed by Piper under the name Auto-control.
A trainer version of the PA-22 Tri-Pacer, the PA-22-108 Colt, was introduced to compete directly with other popular trainers such as the Cessna 150, and was powered by a 108 hp (80 kW) Lycoming O-235. Hastily designed in late 1960, the two-seat Colt was offered at a substantially lower price than the Tri-Pacer, and omitted the four-seat aircraft's flaps and second wing tank along with the rear side windows and door. The Colt otherwise closely resembles the Tri-Pacer, using the same front seats and door, landing gear, engine mounts, windshield, tail surfaces, struts and instrument panel. Over 2,000 Colts were manufactured and it was the last Pacer variant—and thus the last short wing Piper—to be dropped from production.
The last batch of 12 PA-22-150s were built for the French Army in 1963 and the last of the family, a PA-22-108 Colt, was completed on 26 March 1964. The type was replaced on the Vero Beach production line by the PA-28 Cherokee 140.
Some PA-22s have been converted to a tailwheel configuration, resulting in an aircraft that is very similar to a PA-20 Pacer, but which retains the model refinements and features of the PA-22. These conversions are often referred to by owners as PA-22/20s and are often listed in classified aircraft ads as such, although officially such converted aircraft continue to be designated by the FAA as PA-22 Tri-Pacers. When this conversion is accomplished, a disc brake conversion is usually installed in place of the original drum brakes, and the Lycoming O-360 180 HP engine is the preferred upgrade. Some PA-22s have a Hartzell constant-speed controllable propeller or Koppers Aeromatic propeller. Each of these installations improves performance and economy at the sacrifice of payload. A few Colts have also been converted to tailwheel configuration, although this is not as popular as converting Tri-Pacers.[failed verification]
Between 1953 and 1955, the Cuban Army Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Ejército de Cuba, or FAEC) received 7 PA-20s, 4 PA-22-150s, and 3 PA-22-160s. During the Cuban Revolution, PA-22s had their rear-doors removed and a .30 caliber machine gun installed in its place for use against insurgents, along with hand-dropped grenades. A PA-22 providing ground support for the Cuban Army during the Battle of Guisa is believed to be the lone aircraft lost by the FAEC to enemy fire.
During the Congo Crisis, Katangese separatists received five PA-22-150s from the South African Air Force for the Force aérienne katangaise. Deployed against ONUC forces between 1961 and 1963, their status at the end of the conflict remained somewhat uncertain.
- Four seats, conventional landing gear, 125 hp (93 kW) Lycoming O-290-D engine. Certified 21 December 1949.
- Three seats, conventional landing gear, optional float installation, 125 hp (93 kW) Lycoming O-290-D engine. Certified 18 May 1950.
- PA-20 115
- Four seats, conventional landing gear, 115 hp (86 kW) Lycoming O-235-C1 engine. Certified 22 March 1950.
- PA-20S 115
- Three-seat, conventional landing gear, optional float installation, 115 hp (86 kW) Lycoming O-235-C1 engine. Certified 18 May 1950.
- PA-20 135
- Four seats, conventional landing gear, 135 hp (101 kW) Lycoming O-290-D2 engine. Certified 5 May 1952.
- PA-20S 135
- Three seats, conventional landing gear, optional float installation, 135 hp (101 kW) Lycoming O-290-D2 engine. Certified 15 May 1952.
- Four seats, tricycle landing gear, 125 hp (93 kW) Lycoming O-290-D engine. Certified 20 December 1950.
- PA-22-108 Colt
- Two seats, tricycle landing gear, 108 hp (81 kW) Lycoming O-235-C1 or C1B engine. Certified 21 October 1960.
- Four seats, tricycle landing gear, 135 hp (101 kW) Lycoming O-290-D2 engine. Certified 5 May 1952.
- Three seats, tricycle landing gear, optional float installation, 135 hp (101 kW) Lycoming O-290-D2 engine. Certified 14 May 1954.
- Two or four seats, tricycle landing gear, 150 hp (112 kW) Lycoming O-320-A2A or A2B engine. Certified 3 September 1952 as a four place in the normal category and 24 May 1957 as a two place in the utility category.
- Three seats, tricycle landing gear, optional float installation, 150 hp (112 kW) Lycoming O-320-A2A or A2B engine. Certified 3 September 1954.
- Two or four seats, tricycle landing gear, 160 hp (119 kW) Lycoming O-320-B2A or B2B engine. Certified 3 September 1952 as a four place in the normal category and as a two place in the utility category.
- Three seats, tricycle landing gear, optional float installation, 160 hp (119 kW) Lycoming O-320-B2A or B2B engine. Certified 25 October 1957.
Specifications (1958 PA-22-160 Tri-Pacer)
Data from Piper PA-22-160 pilot's operating handbook, issued January 1960
- Crew: one
- Capacity: three passengers
- Length: 20 ft 6 in (6.25 m)
- Wingspan: 29 ft 3 in (8.92 m)
- Height: 8 ft 4 in (2.54 m)
- Wing area: 147.5 sq ft (13.70 m2)
- Empty weight: 1,110 lb (503 kg)
- Gross weight: 2,000 lb (907 kg)
- Fuel capacity: 36 U.S. gallons (140 L; 30 imp gal)
- Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming O-320-B four cylinder, four-stroke, air-cooled, horizontally opposed, piston aircraft engine, 160 hp (120 kW)
- Propellers: 2-bladed metal, fixed pitch
- Maximum speed: 141 mph (227 km/h, 123 kn)
- Cruise speed: 134 mph (216 km/h, 116 kn) 75% power, 7000ft
- Stall speed: 49 mph (79 km/h, 43 kn)
- Range: 500 mi (800 km, 430 nmi) with reserves, 610 with optional tank
- Endurance: 3:30 at 65% power with one hour reserve
- Service ceiling: 16,500 ft (5,000 m)
- Rate of climb: 800 ft/min (4.1 m/s)
- Wing loading: 13.5 lb/sq ft (66 kg/m2)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Piper PA-20 Pacer.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Piper PA-22.|
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era
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