Piper PA-15 Vagabond

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PA-15 & PA-17 Vagabond
PA-17 Vagabond
Role Personal and training aircraft
National origin USA
Manufacturer Piper Aircraft
First flight 1948 (PA-15)
Introduction 1948 (PA-15)
1949 (PA-17)[1]
Number built 601
Unit cost
$1995 in 1948
Developed from Piper J-3 Cub

The Piper PA-15 Vagabond and PA-17 Vagabond are both two-seat, high-wing, conventional gear light aircraft that were designed for personal use and for flight training and built by Piper Aircraft starting in 1948.[1][2]


The PA-15 was the first post-World War II Piper aircraft design. It utilized much of the same production tooling that created the famous Piper Cub, as well as many of the Cub structural components (tail surfaces, landing gear, most of the wing parts).[3] The Vagabond has a wing that is one bay shorter (30 ft (9.1 m) versus 36 ft (11.0 m)) than that on the Cub, which led to the unofficial term describing the type: Short-wing Piper. This allowed the aircraft to be built with minimal material, design and development costs, and is credited with saving Piper Aircraft from bankruptcy after the war.

Vagabonds used a new fuselage with side-by-side seating for two instead of the Cub's tandem seating.[2]

The PA-17 Vagabond version features dual controls, enabling it to be used for pilot training. It has a bungee cord shock-absorbed landing gear (solid gear on the PA-15), and a 65 hp (48 kW) Continental A-65 engine.[1]

The Vagabond was followed by the Piper PA-16 Clipper, which is essentially a Vagabond with a 17 in (43 cm) longer fuselage, Lycoming O-235 engine of 108 hp (81 kW), extra wing fuel tank, and four seats, the Pacer, Tri-Pacer and Colt, which are all variations of the Vagabond design and thus all Shortwing Pipers.[1][2]

Operational history[edit]

Piper PA-17 Vagabond

In March 2018 there were still 167 PA-15s[4] and 101 PA-17s[5] registered in the USA.

There were 13 PA-15s and 12 PA-17s registered in Canada in March 2018.[6]


1948 Piper PA-15 Vagabond at the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum.
PA-17 interior
PA-15 Vagabond
Side-by-side two-seater powered by one 65hp Lycoming O-145 engine, 387 built.
PA-17 Vagabond
Also known as the Vagabond Trainer a variant of the PA-15 with dual-controls, shock-cord suspension and powered by one 65hp Continental A-65-8 engine, 214 built.

Specifications (PA-15)[edit]

Data from 1978 Aircraft Directory[1], [7]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Capacity: one passenger
  • Length: 18 ft 8 in (5.69 m)
  • Wingspan: 29 ft 3.125 in (8.91858 m)
  • Height: 6 ft (1.8 m)
  • Airfoil: USA 35B[8]
  • Empty weight: 620 lb (281 kg)
  • Gross weight: 1,100 lb (499 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming O-145 4-cylinder air-cooled horizontally-opposed piston engine, 65 hp (48 kW)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller


  • Maximum speed: 100 mph (160 km/h, 87 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 90 mph (140 km/h, 78 kn)
  • Stall speed: 45 mph (72 km/h, 39 kn)
  • Range: 250 mi (400 km, 220 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 10,000 ft (3,000 m)
  • Absolute ceiling: 11,500 ft (3,505 m)
  • Rate of climb: 510 ft/min (2.6 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 7.5 lb/sq ft (37 kg/m2)
  • Take-off run: 900 ft (274 m)
  • Landing run: 300 ft (91 m)

See also[edit]

Related development:

Comparable aircraft:


  1. ^ a b c d e Plane and Pilot: 1978 Aircraft Directory, page 59. Werner & Werner Corp, Santa Monica CA, 1977. ISBN 0-918312-00-0
  2. ^ a b c Montgomery, MR and Gerald Foster,: A Field Guide to Airplanes - Second Edition, page 72. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1992. ISBN 0-395-62888-1
  3. ^ "The Vagabond Story". Sport Aviation. January 1961.
  4. ^ Federal Aviation Administration (March 2018). "FAA REGISTRY - Make / Model Inquiry Results - PA-15". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  5. ^ Federal Aviation Administration (March 2018). "FAA REGISTRY - Make / Model Inquiry Results - PA-17". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  6. ^ Transport Canada (March 2018). "Canadian Civil Aircraft Register (File download link)". Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  7. ^ Bridgman, Leonard, ed. (1949). Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1949-50. London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co. pp. 268c–269c.
  8. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". m-selig.ae.illinois.edu. Retrieved 16 April 2019.

External links[edit]

Media related to Piper PA-15 Vagabond at Wikimedia Commons