Short Wing Piper History
Short-wing Pipers are the PA-15 and -17 Vagabonds, PA-16 Clipper, PA-20 Pacer, and PA-22 Tri-Pacer and Colt. The Vagabonds, Clipper, and Pacer are taildraggers; the Tri-Pacer and Colt have tricycle gear, although many have been converted to Pacer tailwheel status. 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.
These were the last steel-tube fuselage, fabric-covered Pipers and, with the exception of the PA-18 Super Cub, the last to evolve directly from the Cub. They were designed and built at a pivotal point in the history of Piper Aircraft Corporation. The company was making a difficult transition from a family-run business that was the world's most prodigious manufacturer of small, simple, inexpensive airplanes to one that had to compete in a more sophisticated market with larger, more complex, and much more expensive models.
The Pacer was the first of Piper's post-war models to have flaps and dual control yokes in place of sticks. It shared separate doors for front and rear seat occupants with the Clipper. Pacers were delivered with either a 125-hp or optional 135-hp Lycoming O-290. An adjustable-pitch Aeromatic propeller was also an option.
The Pacer was joined in 1951 by the tricycle-gear Tri-Pacer. Moving the gear from tail to nose had a dramatic effect on sales. The Tri-Pacer debuted with a 125-hp O-290 but almost immediately was upgraded to 135 hp. In 1959 and 1960 Piper offered a cheaper, less well-equipped version of the Tri-Pacer with a 150 HP Lycoming O-320 designated the PA-22-150 Caribbean.
An unusual feature of the Tri-Pacer is the incorporation of bungee linked ailerons and rudder, simplifying the coordination of in-flight manoeuvres.
The last of Piper's tube and fabric models was the PA22-108 Colt, which appeared in 1961. Intended as a low-cost trainer and personal airplane to compete directly with other popular trainers of the day, such as the Cessna 150. The Colt was a barebones version of the Tri-Pacer with a 108-hp O-235 engine, however has no flaps. It uses the same landing gear, engine mounts, front seats, windshield, door, tail surfaces, struts and instrument panel.
Over 2000 PA22's were still registered with the FAA in 2006.