Piper Tri-Pacer - What Every Pilot Should Know
About This Great Aircraft
One of the true "classic" Pipers is the Tri Pacer. This brand from Piper has been around since 1949 and even though it did evolve over the years, it is still a very popular airplane to this very day.
This airplane seems to have somewhat of a "cult" following. A lot of pilots who fly the Tri-Pacer really love it and proof of this is the fact that there are very few for sale at any given time. And if you are looking for an airplane - you have to realize that is a very good thing! (-:
SIDENOTE: Some people have converted the Tri-Pacer back to a tail dragger. They are still referred to as the "Tri-Pacer" even though they are a tail dragger so you are going to have to make sure you just confirm it's originality before you buy the one you are looking at...
Reason #1 - The Performance Numbers Are Great (Here's Why)
You have to give Piper a lot of credit for this airplane as they did an amazing job at developing it over the years. The 1958 Tri-Pacer will cruise at around 113 knots and only burns about 8 gal/hr of fuel.
That is really good if you don't want to break the bank spending money on fuel. You can do a lot worse then 8 gal/hr in terms of fuel consumption. You have to realize that this kind of fuel burn rate is very good for a plane of this age.
Sure you can get a light sport aircraft that only burns 4 gal/hr, but then you have to spend A LOT more to buy the aircraft as they are a lot newer and more expensive in most cases. So for the price you pay for the Tri-Pacer, the fuel burn rate is very, very good.
The other great thing about this Piper 4 seater is the fact that it has a great usable load. You are going to have about 890 pounds of capacity that you can use. After factoring the weight from 36 US gallons of fuel your still going to be left with roughly 670 pounds you can use for people and baggage.
That is VERY GOOD for a 1958 aircraft! If you compare it to some other entry level 4 seater's from the era, you are going to find that the Tri-Pacer really stacks up well.
Reason #2 - Good Ones Are Hard To Find (This Is A Good Thing For You)
The great thing about this airplane is the fact that there are not a lot on the market at any given time. The reason that is a good thing is because that means there should always be a good resale market for this aircraft.
If you are looking at buying an airplane and there are l00's for sale on the websites that you are look at where they are listed - your in some serious trouble! It is like buying a house - when you see half the neighborhood up for sale, your probably going to wonder what is going on.
That is the same thing with airplanes, a lot of pilots think they are going to get a great deal if they buy a cheap airplane but they don't realize that if they ever want to sell it to "upsize", they are going to likely take a financial bath on it.
Also - if an airplane is in somewhat high demand, that usually means owners like it and it is not financially draining them. Some older airplanes can be parts hogs that will suck you dry. But if you see a model that is in high demand and short supply, you are going to want to really look at buying it.
IMPORTANT: You always want to make sure you take your time and not jump on the first Tri-Pacer you see that you like. If you wait and be patient, your probably going to increase your chances of finding a good deal that fits your situation. Waiting also gives you time to do your background research to make sure you know what you are getting into...
The actual price you are going to have to pay for a Tri-Pacer will vary A LOT. Because they are older, you are going to have some that need an engine & body rebuild and some that have gone through the rebuild process.
You Have 2 Choices
Most times you can simply take your pick - pay for a rebuilt one or buy one and fix it up as you go. In most cases your going to want to get one that is ready to fly. Sure you'll pay a bit more - but you don't have to take on a rehab project that could last for months.
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