“... a huge share of the Cherokee’s
October 31st, 1960 / FAA issues type certificate 2A12 for the 160-HP PA-28-160.
success belongs to Karl Bergey,
the man whose job it was to turn a
January 1960 / PA- 28 150-HP prototype
makes first flight.
April 1961 / first PA-28-160 delivered.
preliminary design into something
June 1961 / PA-28-150 introduced, with a
150-HP Lycoming engine.
that would actually fly and make
August 1962 / PA-28-180 introduced,
with higher gross weight and useful load and
improved performance at high altitude. The
Cherokee 180 would become the most popular of all PA- 28 models.
inboard wing. As on Weick’s Ercoupe design, the tanks could
be easily removed by unscrewing a panel on the skin and
unfastening the fuel line from the inlet. Also like the Ercoupe,
the Cherokee wing was given 7 degrees of dihedral.
Why place the door on the right-hand side? “;e left-hand door was common before the Bonanza. Some said it
reflected left-hand horse mounting by the Army Cavalry. ;e
Bonanza’s right-hand door became the standard; “I lost that
one to the sales department,” Bergey said.
To strengthen the floor, four long sti;eners were riveted
down the length of its underside from the firewall to the
flaps. For similar reasons, Bergey made widespread use of
“beading” on the flaps, and the vertical and horizontal stabilizers, allowing the use of thinner, lighter
sheet aluminum. Bergey and Weick chose conventional slotted flaps, aileron, and rudder surfaces,
but they opted for a full-flying stabilator for pitch control since its aerodynamic e;ciency allowed a
“To speed the project, John ;orp was hired to design the main gear, the nose gear, and the stabilator. In the end, we used only his design for the main gear. We adapted the existing Tri-Pacer nose
gear; it turned out so well that we continued to use it in production,” noted Bergey. “When finished,
John’s design for the stabilator was considered to be too complex, so I designed a new one from
scratch. It had fewer structural parts, was easier to build and assemble, and performed well during
static and flight-test programs. It has been used either in its original form or in an expanded version
for all subsequent Cherokees and most of the Cherokee derivatives.”
Piper engineers reckoned that by using a Chrysler alternator instead of a generator a weight sav-
ings of nearly 11 pounds could be achieved. ;e Cherokee became the first production aircraft to
make use of an alternator as a result.
;e history books show some confusion on the question of who designed the Piper Cherokee,
with credit variously being given to just one, some, or all of those involved. ;e truth is that successful aircraft design often bears the fingerprints of multiple creators, and the PA- 28 was no exception.
Pug Piper and Fred Weick contributed the overall layout with a strong emphasis on safety, strength,
simplicity, and manufacturability. John ;orp, one of the most important early figures in the homebuilt aircraft movement, contributed the general design approach and the main landing gear, and
although his specific design was ultimately not used in the Cherokee, he deserves credit for the first
widespread use of a stabilator on a light production aircraft. Numerous concepts were borrowed
from Weick’s groundbreaking prewar W- 1 and Ercoupe designs as well as from his own postwar Ag- 1.
Finally, a huge share of the Cherokee’s success belongs to Karl Bergey, the man whose job it was to
turn a preliminary design into something that would actually fly and make Piper money.
July 1963 / PA-28-235 introduced to
compete with the Cessna 182. Wing span
increased to 32 feet for larger fuel tanks.
Fixed- or variable-pitch propellers o;ered.
Spring 1963 / PA-28S-160 and PA-28S-180
models are approved as seaplanes with EDO
February 1964 / PA-28-140 introduced as
a two-seat trainer
November 1965 / PA-32-260 “Cherokee
Six” introduced to compete with Cessna’s
1965-1966 / PA-32-3M tri-motor is developed, but never produced.
June 1967 / PA-28R-180 Arrow introduced.
The Arrow became so successful, that Piper
ended PA- 24 Comanche production.
1972 / PA-28R-200 Arrow II introduced,
with longer fuselage, greater wingspan and
a wider door.
1973 / PA-28-180 Cherokee introduced with
longer fuselage and wings. Name changed
1974 / PA-28-151 Warrior introduced to
compete with the Cessna 172.
1976 / PA-28-181 Archer II introduced.
1977 / PA-28-161 Warrior II replaces PA-28-
151 with more powerful engine.
1977 / PA-28R-201 Arrow III introduced, featuring new semi-tapered wing.
1978 / Warrior and Archer cruise speed
1979 / PA-28-236 Dakota introduced. Turbo
Dakota o;ered this year only.
FIRST FLIGHT AND INITIAL PRODUCTION
FOR KARL BERGEY THE Cherokee’s first flight on January 14, 1960, was like watching the first steps
of his own child: “Tom He;ner made the first flight, and although it was exciting to see the plane
finally in the air, I was glad when he was back safely on the ground.”
1979 / PA-28RT-201 and PA-28RT-201 T Arrow
IV introduced featuring T-tails.
ILLUSTRATION COURTESY OF ROGER PEPERELL COLLECTION