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Piper Pawnee - Why This Piper Classic Is Such
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Between 1959 and 1982, the Piper aircraft brand produced a time-tested aircraft design that’s still widely available to single engine general aviation aircraft pilots. The Piper PA-25, also known as the Piper “Pawnee”, is one of the most rugged, easy to fly single engine aircraft that can double as a crop duster or tow plane.

Piper Pawnee: Built for Safety

The Piper brand is recognized for safety, durability and ease of flight. The Pawnee was one of the first single engine aircraft specially designed for safety during an in-flight crash. The cockpit and fuselage of the Piper Pawnee is specially crafted to progressively crush outward, which greatly increases pilot safety.

SIDENOTE: This design was unheard of during the 1960s and 1970s during the top Pawnee production years and pushed this airplane to the top of the safety rating charts. In fact, the Piper Pawnee was one of the first aircraft designed with safety in mind from its engineering inception. In fact, one of the safest Piper designs is the Pawnee D, equipped with twin fuel tanks in the outer wing panels and a reinforced fuselage.

The Piper Pawnee was primarily designed to be a crop duster and agricultural sprayer aircraft. As gliders became more popular during the 1960s, the Piper Pawnee soon became a choice towing plane that would rival the Super Cub.


Today’s Piper Pawnee

For the general aviation pilot, today’s most common Pawnee models on the market is the Piper Pawnee C and D variant. Both come with a 260 horsepower Lycoming engine and enhanced safety features that make these planes very attractive despite their age. Better yet, the Piper Pawnee is easy to maintain and very inexpensive to fix- a great match for a new general aviation pilot or aviation collector.

Today’s Pawnee has undergone an evolution of engineering to create the safe and simple plane of today. First, the Piper Pawnee was fitted with a steel fuselage covered with fabric. The original Pawnee also had a metallic fuel tank closer to the engine instead of near the wing.

As the Pawnee evolved, the fuel tank became fiberglass and gained a rubber fuel cell to cut down on fire hazards. Finally, the fiberglass fuel tank was replaced with two fiberglass tanks in outer wing.

The crashworthiness of the Pawnee has been praised for the last 30 years for being one of the safest Piper designs on the market. As such, you’ll be able to find Pawnee without much trouble for the most part. Pilots want to keep these planes around for a long time.

When buying your first Pawnee, there are a few items and features that will make your flying not only safer, but also more enjoyable.

Most modern Pawnees today will have the following features:

•Upgraded avionics package: While some Pawnees will come with the original Piper brand avionics, many pilots choose to upgrade their package to have a minimum GPS capability. This feature is more common on the later Pawnee variants, the PA-235 and PA-260.

•Engine haul: Pay careful attention to when the last engine overhaul was performed. If you have a Pawnee edging close to 1500 flying hours, an overhaul will be close in your airplane’s future.

•Hopper equipment: This is especially true if you’re going to use your new Pawnee for agricultural purposes. The hopper system should be well maintained, lubricated and show no signs of rust or debris.

•Seating features: The newer variants of the Pawnee sometimes came with a larger seat setup. Advertised as a two-seater, it was closer to 1.5 seats. Aside from already having a huge cockpit, the two-seater is convenient for check rides and achieving glider-tug ratings.


When buying a Pawnee, you can expect to spend anywhere from $120,000 to around $200,000 for a fully-equipped, well-maintained model.

SIDENOTE: This design was unheard of during the 1960s and 1970s during the top Pawnee production years and pushed this airplane to the top of the safety rating charts. In fact, the Piper Pawnee was one of the first aircraft designed with safety in mind from its engineering inception. In fact, one of the safest Piper designs is the Pawnee D, equipped with twin fuel tanks in the outer wing panels and a reinforced fuselage.

Many Piper enthusiasts love the Pawnee for its power and versatility. With a tow, the Pawnee carries enough power to tow effectively and still provide a strong sense of high performance to the pilot. The Pawnee is a great powerhouse aircraft for any tailwheel-trained pilot.

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Happy Flying!

James David

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