Pitcairn Mailwing

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Pitcairn pa-5 mailwing National Air and Space Museum photo D Ramey Logan.jpg
A Pitcairn Mailwing PA-5, displayed in the Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC
Role Mail Carrier and Sport
National origin USA
Manufacturer Pitcairn Aircraft Company
Designer Agnew E. Larson
First flight 1927
Introduction 1927
Primary user U.S. Postal Service
Number built 106
Developed from Pitcairn PA-4 Fleetwing II

The Pitcairn Mailwing family was a series of mail carrier and sport aircraft produced in the U.S. from 1927 to 1931.

Design and development[edit]

The Pitcairn Mailwings were developed by Pitcairn to carry air mail for the U.S. Postal Service. Of simple and robust construction, they also had relatively benign flying characteristics.[1]

They were constructed using chrome-moly steel tube and square-section spruce spars with spruce and plywood built-up ribs. The fuselage was faired using wooden formers and covered with fabric. The tail sections were built up from steel tube and fabric-covered. The Pitcairn Mailwing had a ground-adjustable fin and in-flight adjustable tailplane, features not often seen in other aircraft.[1]

The undercarriage was of outrigger type with Oleo-Spring shock absorbers and disc brakes on the mainwheels. All models looked very similar; changes were minor, with several fuselage extensions being the most obvious.[1]

The mail was carried in a fireproof metal-lined compartment forward of the pilot's cockpit. The Mailwings were flown extensively by the U.S. Air Mail service from 1927 until the end of dedicated Air-Mail routes.[1]

Pitcairn also built the same aircraft in sport versions for private use. These aircraft had the mail compartment removed, and a side-by-side two-seat cockpit was fitted.[1]


Data from: Aerofiles : Pitcairn[2]

  • PA-5 - original production version of 1927 with Wright J-5-9 engine; ATC 18 (32 built)
    • PA-5 Mailwing - mail carrier version
    • PA-5 Sport Mailwing - sport version with seats for two passengers
  • PA-6 - 1928 production version with Wright J-5-9 engine; ATC 2-22 (early), 92 (late) (53 built)
Pitcairn PA-6 Super Mailwing displayed at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome Museum near New York in June 2005
    • PA-6 Super Mailwing - mail carrier version
      • PA-6B Super Mailwing - (1 converted from PA-6)
    • PA-6 Sport Mailwing - sport version with seats for two passengers
  • PA-7 - 1929 production version with Wright J-6 engine; ATC 196
PA-7A Sport Mailwing model on display
    • PA-7A Sport Mailwing
    • PA-7M Super Mailwing - mail carrier version (12 built)
PA-7S Super Sport Mailwing
    • PA-7S Super Sport Mailwing (15 built)
PA-8 model on display
  • PA-8 - 1930 production version with Wright J-6 engine; ATC 364
    • PA-8M Super Mailwing - mail carrier version (6 built)


 United States

Specifications (PA-7M Super Mailwing)[edit]

Data from Jane's all the World's Aircraft 1931[4], Aerofiles: Pitcairn[2]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: mail compartment 40 cu ft (1.1 m3) / 550 lb (250 kg) payload
  • Length: 23 ft 9 in (7.24 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 6.5 in (2.908 m)
  • Wing area: 243.5 sq ft (22.62 m2)
  • Airfoil: Pitcairn No.1
  • Empty weight: 1,820 lb (826 kg)
  • Gross weight: 3,050 lb (1,383 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 60 US gal (50 imp gal; 230 l)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Wright J-6 Whirlwind 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 220 hp (160 kW)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed Standard steel propeller


  • Maximum speed: 150 mph (240 km/h, 130 kn)
  • Landing speed: 57 mph (50 kn; 92 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 112 mph (180 km/h, 97 kn) (PA-5)[2]
  • Stall speed: 45 mph (72 km/h, 39 kn) (PA-5)[2]
  • Range: 520 mi (840 km, 450 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 18,000 ft (5,500 m) (PA-5)[2]
  • Rate of climb: 1,100 ft/min (5.6 m/s) (PA-5)[2]
  • Wing loading: 12.1 lb/sq ft (59 kg/m2)
  • Power/mass: 13.8 lb/hp (8.4 kg/kW)


  1. ^ a b c d e Juptner, Joseph P. (1963). U.S. Civil Aircraft Vol.2. Los Angeles: Aero Publishers. pp. 279–81.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Eckland, K.O. "Pitcairn". aerofiles.com. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Pitcairn". Retrieved 23 January 2011.
  4. ^ Grey, C.G., ed. (1931). Jane's all the World's Aircraft 1931. London: Sampson Low, Marston & company, ltd. p. 307c.

External links[edit]

Media related to Pitcairn Mailwing at Wikimedia Commons