flying the Piper Pa28
by Gene Whitt


In a Piper accident the pilot and his flying will cause about 83% of the accidents. Pipers tend to give pilots more trouble in IFR conditions and at night. Five times as much trouble as in other aircraft. I personally feel that the cockpit lighting of the Piper is much inferior to that of the Cessna. Supplemental lighting is very necessary. A Piper pilot who makes it past the 100-hour mark greatly improves his survivability. Get AOPA "Piper PA-28 Safety Review which includes all PA-28 articles since 1981. 1-800 638-3101.
--Pilot error causes 8`% of Cherokee accident and 71% of Arrow accidents.
--Continued VFR into IFR conditions was most common related cause.
--Arrows have 50% more night accidents as similar aircraft.
--Fixed gear landing accidents were most common due to long landings.
--Arrow landing accidents were related to hard impact--

Piper built the "Short Wing" series in the 1940's; they designed into the plane a stall characteristic that would make it difficult to inadvertently spin a Piper. Stinson aircraft were made with an elevator stop on the flaps. Full up elevator was possible only with the flaps down. This was supposed to prevent stalls and spins. Ercoupe designed an interconnecting rudder with restricted elevator travel. Any turn had built in coordination.

The Piper had a very thick airfoil that used laminar flow to assure that lift would be lost very slowly up to the stall. The wing's design gave a range of attack angles instead of one critical angle of attack. You could enter a slow stall and the plane would rock back and forth instead of pitching forward while at a dramatic sink rate. Only aggressive pitch could get a sharp break and spin. This quality existed in both high and low wing Pipers. The change to the later tapered wing did little to change flight characteristics. The critical approach speed changed from slow with excessive sink when slow to excessive float when fast.

Piper Checkout

Piper checkouts should consist of two flights. The second flight should be at gross. Pipers have somewhat different handling characteristics under different loading that are best learned with an instructor. The pilot who has learned in a Warrior should get his Archer checkout at full gross.

Several aspects of the low-wing Piper aircraft need to be discussed during familiarization, training and checkout. If the following material is not included as required knowledge, what can go wrong will go wrong. Since most pilots will be transferring their flying to other types of aircraft it is wise to include cautions as to what differences exist. A high-time pilot transitioning to a new type of aircraft may have difficulty overcoming ingrained habits and past experiences. Those who believe time accumulated, alone, provides invulnerability are putting themselves and their passengers at risk. The first ten hours are the most likely to produce aircraft damage.

The Engine

The Lycoming engine of the Piper 180's is perhaps the best light aircraft engine made. However, due to the bimetallic construction of its cylinders it can be subjected to avoidable damage by poor operational and piloting techniques. Specifically, shock cooling of the engine and cylinders is to be avoided. Power of 1500 or more should be maintained during all descents. Power off situations should be avoided. The proper planning of airport arrivals and landing approaches will protect the engine from damage.

Lycoming Shutdown

1. Lean, operate at 1200 rpm for 1-minute. (While taxiing?)
2. Operate at 1800 rpm for 20-seconds
3. Reduce to 1200 rpm and kill with mixture.

Piper to Piper Transitions

The Piper pilot should be aware that older Cherokees have a stabilator that is about two feet shorter than later models. This means that at slower speeds much less control power is available. A Hershey-bar wing Cherokee at slower speeds may not have sufficient control to raise the nose. This is especially true at forward C. G. loading. Don't get slow during flare in the Hershey-bar Cherokees or you may drive the landing gear into the fuel tank.

Preflight Items

The spinner nose cone on a Piper is required for flight. It serves as a cooling deflector for the engine air intake. Because of the great centrifugal forces exerted on the spinner, it is vital that no pushing or other pressures be applied while moving the aircraft on the ground. Be sure to check the backing plate and screws of the air filter during preflight. Ingestion into the carburettor will stop the engine. The cowling clamps should be checked to confirm that the toe is tucked under. Feeling for this is better than looking. The bearings of the flap-actuating arm need to be checked for movement and lubrication. There have been reports that the flap attachment bolts and holes can cause unexpected flap operation. The brake lines must be checked for adhering dirt. If ever the cloth cover is letting the underlying metal mesh show have a mechanic check it.

Dirty Trick Engine Compartment
On Piper's unlatch rear engine cowling latch prior to pre-flight to determine if student preflight includes checking latches. Do not start engine without confirming latches properly fastened.

Checking Tires

The preflight of all aircraft should include rolling the tires. Rolling assures that all chains are removed and serves as tire check for "flats" that may be concealed in the wheel fairings. Although retractables pose another issue, it is advisable on fixed gear low-wing aircraft to retract the flaps prior to application of brakes. It is possible to lock the brakes and tires of an aircraft moving in ground effect. In this situation the locked tires will be quickly "sandpapered" to the cord by the pavement. NRI has a $100 penalty for pilots determined to have caused flats' on tires.

The main wheel struts need to have about 8" of chrome showing. It is always advisable to wipe the struts clean during preflight to help preserve the "o" rings. If a strut is low it may be because it is stuck rather than because of low pressure. It is possible to give the strut an assist by carefully backing under the wing tip past the fibreglass tips and locating the main spar with the back and lifting the wing. This is a quick temporary fix.

Neutral Trim Set

During preflight the trim should be set to neutral and the position of the stabilator should be checked against the metal identification plate just forward of the stabilator of the left side of the empennage.


he gas tank caps have a notch and a rubber flapper valve with allows air to enter the tanks as fuel is used. If the operation of this valve is impeded, fuel starvation may occur. A properly installed fuel cap will have the dirty side in. It is advisable to use an 18" stick gauge to determine actual fuel consumption over a period of time. Develop this measuring system where the plane is normally parked as well as on a level surface. Fuel drained from the sumps can be returned to the tanks if no contamination exists. Over a period of time every ounce counts. Gasoline stains under the wings are evidence of hard landings. The tabs inside the tank indicate a 17-gallon level.

It is possible for the fuel tank and engine sumps which have spring loaded drains to stick open. When you take a sample be sure that you let the spring push the sample cup out. If you take it out it is possible for the spring to become stuck. Debris can make it stick open and not leak just long enough for you to get into the airplane.

The manual suggested program of hourly changes give extended flight times with unbalanced weights. Change tanks at altitude in the vicinity of an airport and prior to descent to pattern altitude. Be aware that the loading of the aircraft can greatly decrease the range and greatly increase the fuel consumption. A heavy aircraft may need fuel 100 miles sooner. Change tanks on a scheduled basis. Keep a time log of fuel changes. A low-wing aircraft is twice as likely to have a fuel related accident as is a high-wing. One way of keeping track of the fuel tank selection is using the minute hand of the clock to indicate which tank you should be on. Book performance numbers are for a new aircraft and the best pilot Piper could hire to achieve such numbers, plan accordingly.

Starting: Pump-Pressure (On-Up)
Post start: Pump-Pressure (OFF-up)
Pre-takeoff: Pump-Pressure (On-up)
1000' AGL Pump-Pressure (Off-up)
Tank change: Pump-Pressure (On-up) I try to change tank just before reaching proximity airport and leave pump on for 2 minutes.
Pump-Pressure (Off-up)
Emergency: Pump-Pressure (On-up)
Pre-Landing Pump-Pressure (On-up)
Post-Landing Pump-Pressure (Off-up)

Because of the low wing the electric fuel pump must be operational for all flight. It is a required preflight check. Any time the fuel pump switch is operated the second check MUST be the pressure gauge. The fuel pump is normally ON under five conditions.
(1) Starting,
(2) Takeoff,
(3) Landing,
(4) Changing tanks, and
(5) The second item of the emergency checklist after the first item called "checklist".
Do not push on rudder during preflight!


1. Proper folding of the rain/sun cover to keep the temperature gauge pocket so that it can be easily located and placed when recovering the aircraft. This usually means to fold the cover lengthwise from both sides of the aircraft and then folding from the back to the front.

2. Run an interior cockpit check of the logbook, fuel selector setting to the left tank, fuel gauge check, getting cockpit sump checker, and lowering flaps.

3. Begin along the right rear of the wing, check right tip and leading edge. Unchain right wing, sump wing and use fuel on rag to clean strut while checking brake lines, flap mounts, and security of wheel fairings. Poor excess fuel into tank while visually checking fuel level.

4. Check oil, propeller, alternator belt, and clean nose strut. Drain engine sump and left wing sump. Use fuel to clean strut and check brake lines and security of wheel fairings. Pour surplus into tank when visually checking fuel level.

Piper Oil Check:

Fact is that oil will often creep up the oil stick under certain cooling conditions. First removal of the day will often give a false high oil level reading. Failure to wipe stick and re-insert it for a new reading may cause pilot to depart with far less oil that believed.

5. Check stall warner, leading edge, flap mounts, static and pitot tube, unchain wing and check tip and ailerons hinges and flaps along the trailing edge of the wing.

6. Check and identify antennas, neutral stabilator, unchain tail and return to the nose of aircraft to pull/push aircraft for tire check. Confirm that luggage door is secure. Squat check confirms that preflight is complete.

Top of page

On Entering the Cockpit

Care should be taken when entering or leaving the cockpit to see that wind will not snap the door open. A quick snap of the door can break the door stop mechanism on the bottom of the door. A doorstop was installed on 56K in 1993. Weight should not be placed on the door while entering or leaving since damage to the hinges is likely to occur. All checkouts should caution against stepping or standing on the painted wing surface.

The flap handle operates and locks at 10, 25, and 40 degrees. In the 10-degree position it is very possible to believe that the flaps are up and locked for a step due to the aileron position. This may be an illusion caused by aileron position. Whereas, in reality, they are spring loaded and will not support weight. This condition could result in severe injury to a departing passenger and a barked shin to one stepping onto the wing. Set up this condition to demonstrate during the checkout. Likewise, a passenger on the ground and peering into the cockpit to observe the pilot could receive severe damage to his kneecaps when the flaps are lowered. Always "clear flaps" before lowering. The run up check of the flaps should include visual/manual operation of both extension and retraction through every notch.

The indent position of both left and right flaps should be checked in all settings during runup. The flap operation should be checked through the full range of stop settings, both right side and left side, down and back up. Asymmetric application of flaps will make an aircraft uncontrollable.

A special hazard for Cessna pilots transitioning to Piper. The bar that goes across the cabin just above the rudder pedals should be presented as a potential hazard. If the pilot's toes are allowed to protrude over the toe stops on the rudder pedals so as to reach this bar, it is possible that all directional control and braking can be lost. The misuse is most likely to occur during landing rollout when feet are moved up from rudder to brakes. Every pilot should sit in the aircraft and see for himself how this could happen.

Piper Design Differences

There are several attributes of Pipers that need to be explained to anyone using them. Cherokee D's had the overhead hand crank. Works well once you use it. Much less likely to jam that the between the seat wheel. Could not be made electric.

When Piper went from the Hershey-bar wing to the tapered wing there was a dramatic shift in the critical approach airspeed. The short wing required that the pilot never allow the approach speed get slow. Arrive in ground effect too slow and you would fall right through it. Result was numerous fuel leaks since tanks were adjacent to landing gear. The tapered wing gave the opposite problem. Any approach speed that was slightly fast would cause excessive float. Short runways were the scenes of numerous overruns.

The knurled wheels to each side of the cockpit switches control the interior lights and the navigation lights. Be sure to locate them. The knurled navigational and instrument light potentiometers and switch combination have been, indirectly, the cause of more than a few accidents over the years. If the checkout pilot fails to show the location to a pilot, they are unlikely to be found.

In 1978 Piper changed from the Hershey-Bar wing to a high aspect, high dihedral, semi-tapered NACA wing with sweep back occurring at mid span. The angle of incidence was changed to make the stall move from the root towards the tips. This gave aileron control in the stall.

The Piper manual says to use C.H. only when indicated. However, the NTSB has determined that at least 35 unexplainable engine failure accidents occur every year that are likely caused by carburettor ice. By the time a pilot with reduced power for landing notices the effects of carburettor ice the engine may be so cool that C. H. will not be effective. I recommend that C.H. be applied for all power reductions. It doesn't hurt and may keep you from being an unexplained accident. Good flying habits, such as applying carburettor heat, need to be maintained.

Because of the possibility of an inexperienced person improperly locking the door the pilot should make a practice of always being the one locking the door. The training of every pilot should include the experience of having the door pop open. The door will only open three or four inches. It makes a loud noise and makes talking on the radio difficult but poses no danger.
Option #1 is return for a landing.
Option #2 is to proceed to a safe operational altitude.
Slow the aircraft with reduced power and flaps. Open the pilot's window to reduce the vacuum and slip into the door (right) and attempt to close the door. This is a two-person operation. The pilot must attend to the flying.

Any deflection of the ailerons requires the use of rudder for coordination. In the PA28 series you cannot use ailerons normally without automatic rudder being applied. There is a linkage between the ailerons and the rudder that tends to keep the ball centred and a semblance of coordination. I feel this is the reason that Piper pilots tend to be rudder lazy when compared with pilots flying other aircraft.

The flap/trim engineering geometry of Piper is quite different from the Cessna. At 1500 rpm Piper Archer can be trimmed for about 90 mph on downwind and flaps added with very little trim adjustment required for final approach speed. Each aircraft loading will require slightly different trim and initial speed. Where electric trim is available the electric trim can be used throughout the flare to make the yoke pressures less. This may produce easy to do landings but a go-around with the trim for nose high and full flaps may over-power your ability to keep the nose down.

The piper selection of the stabilator instead of the conventional stabilizer/elevator configuration was done for several reasons. The stabilator gives a wider range of pitch control over all flight speeds. The stabilator is lighter with lower drag. The use of the anti-servo trim design causes the tab to move with the stabilator but the combination requires more pilot input with any increase in speed or deflection. . The stabilator utilizes an "antiservo" tab that deflects upward on the trailing edge of the stabilator as the controls come back. This antiservo tab generates the necessary control feel and feedback to the pilot to maintain the necessary "stick force per G" to keep a ham-fisted pilot from easily breaking the airplane with excessive control movement. This is a safety device improves longitudinal stability while at the same time limiting the pilot ability to cause structural damage.

The "stabilator" affects flight exactly the same as an elevator. However, stability is more difficult to attain with the stabilator because its larger effective surface increases sensitivity. There are two different sizes of stabilators on PA 28 aircraft. One is over three feet less than the other. The control effectiveness of these in landings makes it very important that the pilot be aware of which stabilator is on the aircraft. There are distinctive skills required for proper flying of the older Hershey bar wing with the small stabilator. The older (smaller) stabilator will run out of effectiveness at slower speeds. This is especially critical when the aircraft is loaded toward the aft limits. The stall under these conditions will be unlike any usual Piper stall. It will be abrupt, violent and give a spin all in the same moment. Fuel consumption will cause a gradual rearward movement in the weight and balance envelope. Pipers at gross tend to fly tail low with much greater fuel consumption.

In older models it is possible for one person to easily check the operation of the stall warner. First be sure to open the side window. By reaching into the window you can turn on the master and then by leaning over the wing you can see the stall light go on when the stall vane is operated. Likewise, in the years since the initial use of the vibrator on the left magneto all the publications explaining the operation are out of print. It is important that the new owner/pilot be shown the proper operation. Single magneto operation should only be for a second or two while starting.

The Piper wing has some very fine flight characteristics. The centre of lift moves to the rear as speed increases. This causes the nose to move downward at higher speed. It is possible to go one or two hundred feet above a desired altitude and dive before trimming for level. This effectively puts the aircraft on a step similar to that of a speedboat. This results in a noticeable speed increase in a lightly loaded aircraft. The wing also produces a stall that if approached gradually can be likened to a gentle rocking motion with each motion losing about 100 feet. Aggravated, done too abruptly with improper rudder input, this stall can be violent and result in a spin. Spin recovery is normally but should be initiated immediately since over 1000 feet will be lost per turn. Properly flown both the Hershey-bar short wing and the tapered wing produce excellent results. Its stall development pattern is the best in aviation. The 'book' approach speed for the short and long wing is for a gross weight aircraft. Since stall speeds decrease at lighter weights, float can be reduced by using slightly slower approach speeds when below gross. The only approach speed to use is the 'book' speed adjusted for weight.

Slower than 'book' speeds produce accelerated sink in the short wing Pipers and require cautious use even with judicious power application. The short (Hershey-bar) laminar flow wing has a critical speed at which a sink rate may develop such that the flare may be unable to create the ground effect needed. In fact, the plane will fall through ground effect and make ground contact violent enough to damage the aircraft.

The newer tapered Piper wing has a critical speed at which so much ground effect is produced that the plane has excessive float. Properly flown both wings produce excellent results. The book approach speed (76mph-66kts for 56K) is for an aircraft at gross weight. Since stall speeds decrease at lighter weights, float can be lessened by using slower approach speeds. Know the speeds; fly the speeds. This wing design requires a smooth flow of air for best performance. Any ice or frost is a 'no-fly' condition. Always run your fingers over both wings and tail surfaces. Some surface ice is invisible to the eye.

In the air, a Piper nose wheel will move with the rudder. On the ground it moves with the rudder. In a crosswind landing it moves with the rudder. This means that a cross-control landing slip in a Piper will have the nose wheel cocked away from the low wing and into the wind. Severe landing loads are put on the nose wheel if it is allowed to touch down in this cocked position. It may ever result in a ground loop. The nose wheel of a Piper should never be allowed to touch the runway during landing without having been first aligned with the direction of motion.

The engineering geometry of the Piper nose wheel is different from Cessna. The nose steering is directly linked to the rudder pedals. Move the nose wheel; move the rudder. For this reason the rudder should not be moved during preflight. Crosswind landings in Pipers require a slightly different technique than with Cessnas. Because of the nose wheel geometry any cross control which will hold the nose straight with the runway during a crosswind landing will have the nosewheel turned. For this reason it is important that the nose wheel not be permitted to touch the runway until it has been straightened. Otherwise, an abrupt turn or ground loop may occur. During the crosswind landing the rudder effectiveness of the Piper is less than that available to the Cessna. The rudder area is smaller. Additional speed may be required to increase rudder effectiveness. As crosswind velocity increases and approaches the 90-degree angle, the flap settings should be decreased appropriate to pilot ability.

The stabilator has more upward movement than downward because the plane flies with the nose lower than its ground attitude. The reason for the stabilator pivot point is to provide for pitch stability. If the point were moved forward, the stability would decrease. Moving the hinge back would increase stability, but the controls would be very light and require constant adjustment in flight. Stabilator: Up 14 degrees. Down 2 degrees (Plus or minus one degree) Stabilator Tab: Up 3 degrees, Down 12 degrees; (Plus or minus one degree)

The trim tab is designed to pivot so that it provides larger movement at high angles of attack. This reduces the loss of control feel at low airspeeds. The trim tab on Pipers is an Anti-servo tab. When the stabilator moves the wind pushes on the leading edge and it would have extremely light control forces without the servo. The servo gives you a feel of the controls. The anti-servo tab adds artificial resistance by sticking the tab up in the air as you move the elevator the relative wind on the tap counters the wind effect on the stabilator.

A conventional horizontal stabilizer is fixed and a movable elevator provides pitch control. The Piper Cherokee has a "fully flying" tailplane called the stabilator which moves to change the angle of attack.

The centre of lift moves as the angle of attack changes. As the centre of lift moves away from the hinge point, it introduces an extra torque that tends to rotate the stabilator around the hinge farther than the pilot intended.. The more you move the stabilator, the larger this torque becomes. Torque increase is a "servo" action that makes the control easier to move the more you move it. Over control is the result.

The anti-servo tab on Pipers looks like a small elevator on the back of the stabilator, and is hinged so that it moves in the opposite direction to the stabilator. This gives the 'anti' effect to the stabilator movement. This countering force on the stabilator evens out the control forces as the stabilator is moved. The position of this tab relative to the rest of the stabilator can be changed by the trim wheel. Neutral trim setting is determined when the servo tab and stabilator are even with each other and the leading edge of the top of the aircraft identification on the left side of the empennage.

That tab also doubles as a trim tab through cables to the cockpit trim wheel. Earlier B, C and D PA28 had an overhead crank. Because the whole stabilator moves and the wind pushes on the leading edge when it's deflected, it would tend to have extremely light control forces. A stabilator has considerable authority when compared to the horizontal stabilizer and elevator or other aircraft.

The stabilator trim tab is attached so as to make it deflect more than the stabilator) when the stabilator is moved. The effect is, that for any trim setting, you get the same effect for the same control pressure or movement. The trim tab on a stabilator is actually an anti-servo tab. This gives control feel when you pull or push on the yoke.

The advantages to the stabilator are, smooth control and less drag. Disadvantages are, an increased ability to stall the surface unless controlled by the anti-servo, greater weight, lower control effects at slow speeds.

Piper Takeoff

The short field takeoff with 25 degrees of flaps will produce a dramatic flight angle. This is especially true when lightly loaded. Considerable pilot skill and rudder is required to maintain airspeed at this angle. Unless required in an actual situation it may be better to accept a higher speed and lesser angle for practice.

If, on takeoff, too much speed is acquired before rotation, the Piper will give abrupt and excessive pitch up. This is a poor technique and should be avoided by holding the weight off the nose wheel as soon as power is applied. Every pilot should know that the rotational axis while on the round is at the wheels. On liftoff the rotational axis changes to the centre of lift. Pilot takeoff procedures require a transitional pitch change during takeoff for this reason. When the plane lifts off at about 60 mph, lower the nose and fly in ground effect while acceleration occurs to climb speed. This technique is especially important in heavily loaded or under-powered Pipers such as the 180 H.P. Arrow and 260 H.P Six.

Piper Landings

Another Piper landing difference that is a typical transition problem is allowing the nose wheel to make the initial contact with the ground. This is easy to do if the pilot's desire is to keep the runway in sight. The pilot, sensing that the nose wheel is about to make ground contact will jerk the yoke back. Too late!! The jerk on the yoke is compounded by the decompression of the nose strut. We are now nose high, out of airspeed, and pushing forward on the yoke. Too late!!! The nose is now falling with sufficient momentum to smash the nose gear and propeller. If you sense such a situation developing, GO AROUND.

The landing of a low-wing Piper is deceptively easy. Deceptive because the perceived good landing is holding potential dangers. The Piper can be landed flat with the runway in view. It will feel good. However, a slight increase in speed, a slight forward jerk as ground contact is made can produce wheel barrowing. This is where the combination of flaps and ground effect will raise the main wheels slightly off the ground while the nose wheel becomes the only ground contact. The airplane effectively becomes an unbalanced wheelbarrow and just as uncontrollable. If you sense such a situation, GO AROUND. To prevent wheelbarrowing the yoke must be well back while there is still effectiveness and the nose allowed to fall slowly as the effectiveness decreases. Stop the yoke, yes. Move it forward, never.

A Cherokee will land and you will still have the runway in sight. This landing is damaging to the aircraft. The purpose of learning to do full stall landings, in the first place, is to reduce the potential for damage to the aircraft. Any landing faster than a full stall is too fast. If you can see the runway while landing 56K you have not made a full stall landing. Any pilot who accepts anything less than the best landing needs to get some instruction. Poor landings cost us all more in maintenance than it should. The major cause of poor landings is directly related to the instruction and checkouts given.

Reducing the amount of flaps used will make possible nose high landings if full yoke movement is included in the flare. Some Piper students are being taught to land with less than full flaps but without the required yoke movement. It is easier to teach partial flap ( flat) landings that please the student. However, the student is being taught to fly without a full deck of cards. Full flaps have a purpose. Flaps are meant to improve the approach and landing aim for the pilot. Full flaps, except in crosswinds, are better for this purpose than partial flaps. In addition, with the advent of the long wing Piper students are being taught that an abrupt reduction of power to reduce float can be corrected with the yoke and ground effect. This less than desirable technique can be made to work with long wing Cherokees. Use of this technique on a Hershey-bar Cherokee or in transition to Cessnas produces a very hard landing.

Most Piper pilots do not move the yoke UP. Pulling back and down is the most common action and this fails to produce the required stabilator movement. Full movement of the yoke will cause it to move up one inch for every two inches of the last six inches of rearward movement.

If you are high on final approach and have applied full flaps, have the power off, and have airspeed about 75 mph, An additional 5 degrees of flap may be obtained by pulling back on the flap handle. Pipers slip beautifully even with full flaps.

If you flare too close to the ground with too much speed 56K will rebound to a higher level as though on springs. This is caused by too much ground affect. This can result in a low airspeed at six to eight feet of altitude. GO AROUND because you will no longer have the ground effect needed for a soft landing. A low speed landing without the cushion of ground effect will severely damage the aircraft. Gasoline stains under the wings are frequent evidence of hard Piper landings.

Why does 56K always seem to have collapsed struts? There is no inherent aerodynamic reason. Piper landings do not require that the nose wheel hit before or simultaneously with the main gear. It happens so often that it just seems that way. You can taxi the length of the runway or do touch and goes in 56K without ever using the nose wheel. It is more difficult if there are no back seat passengers but it is possible. Keep a bit of power on.

Some pilots have been taught to use Piper electric trim to make getting the flare attitude easier. It is easy, just level off above the runway at slightly below approach speed and hold the electric trim down. The most desirable of full stall nose landings will occur with very little pilot input. Why not? I would not recommend this landing to any pilot simply because in the event of a go-around a trim induced stall is more than likely to occur. In a PA-28 180 or 181 the yoke pressure to pitch the nose up may well exceed the strength of the pilot to hold it down.

Go over this idea with your instructor. It is relatively dangerous if you need to go-around but it might give you an idea of what things should look like for a landing.

Use a long runway (5000') Flare at hip height at Vref. Vref is the speed for landing adjusted for weight. If only two aboard it amounts to about 5 knots. Some differences depend on the type of Piper wing you have. It makes an even greater difference if you have a short stabilator (Find the difference by comparing old and new Pipers.) Short stabilators run out of authority unless you carry power all the way to touchdown. Carry some power every time if you really want to keep the nose wheel off the runway.

If you have electric trim as the plane sinks to the runway run the trim all the way nose up. Make any power reductions in 100 rpm increments slow and smooth. With manual trim all the way nose up and use power to keep from ballooning. Pipers are relatively difficult to get into a nose high full-stall flare unless carrying rear seat passengers.


1. What will be the differences in a Piper landing with partial flaps?

2. How do you decide whether to use 63 or 69 as glide speed with 56K during a landing?

3. Since the Piper Handbook does not recommend carburettor heat as being required prior to power reduction, what should the pilot do?

4. Why are high density altitudes landings likely to be 'firm'?

5. By what means can an ELT be checked?

6. What is the only solution to be used when you porpoise?

7. What are the five times use of the electric fuel pump is initiated?

8. How is landing gear geometry in Pipers different from Cessnas?

9. In what ways is the critical airspeed between the tapered wing Piper different from than of the Hershey bar wing Piper?


1. The nose can be held higher off the runway during the landing. This is a technique best used when there are no rear seat passengers.

2. Use the lower approach speed when you are well below gross. Using the higher speed at low gross will cause excessive float during landing.

3. It does not do any damage to use heat. NTSB usually has some 35 unexplained fatal accident every year that may be attributable to carburettor icing in aircraft where carburettor heat application is not a preferred POH procedure.

4. A sudden change in density altitude flying can greatly affect how you land an aircraft. The pilot often becomes conditioned to landings in the cooler air of the fall, winter, and spring. The ground effect of this period allows an extended float/flare to be normal. The first high density altitude landing of the year comes as a surprise. The float and ground effect is not there. The plane will 'fall' through ground effect unexpectedly before the pilot raises the last six inches of yoke travel.

Cherokees with full flaps tend to land flat if no rear seat passengers are aboard. It does not take much inattention to cause the nose wheel to hit before the main gear. This is most likely to happen in a high density altitude landing. The one second delay in human reaction is just enough to make the situation progressively worse. Go around on the first bounce!

5. 56K has a cockpit switch on the left side that allows the ELT to be checked. This check will allow a radio tuned to 121.5 to receive the ELT. Such a test should be conducted during the first five minutes of an hour after advising ATC. No more than three tone cycles. Pull the switch arm out before moving.

6. Go around.

7. Start, takeoff, changing tanks, emergency, landing

8.The nose gear of the Cessnas are connected to the rudder pedals by springs. When the nose strut is compressed these springs along with differential braking allow ground steering. In the air, the strut extends, is disconnected from the rudder, and aligns with the relative wind. This that in a crosswind landing with crossed controls the nose wheel will be aligned with the runway. Pipers had to use a less desirable system to avoid patent rights. The nose wheel is directly interfaced with the rudder on the ground and in the air. When you use the rudder you turn the nose wheel. In a crosswind landing it is important not to allow the Piper nose wheel to touch the ground until the rudder pedals are straightened.

9. The critical speed for both types of aircraft is during the landing approach and flare. All landings make use of ground effect as determined by approach speed and wing span. The short span wing has a critical approach speed below which the aircraft will 'fall' through ground effect. The long span wing has a critical approach speed above which the aircraft will have excessive float.

Speed list for older PA28-140 in mph
Vso 55
Vs1 64
Vx 80
Vy 89
Vfe 115
Va 129
Vno 140
Vne 170
125 mph true cruise at 75

PIPER Flow Checklist

Fuel Pump
--Fuel Selector

Fuel Selector
Fuel Pump


Time log check
Release controls
"Clear", lower flaps
Master on, fuel gauges, Master off
Fuel Selector, Left or fullest
Sump cup

Right side:
Right flap, aileron, tip, wing
Tiedown, strut, brake lines, farings
Drain sump, check tank, cap (Pour sump cup into tank)
Latches, oil, belt, prop, sump
Left side:
Tie down, strut, brake lines, farings
Drain sump, check tank, cap
Stall warner, pitot, static air
Wing, tip, aileron, flap
Antennae, stabilator, rudder, neutral trim
Luggage door
Walk to nose and roll plane to check tires and clear cable


Flaps "clear", up The fuel pump is to be
Window, key for five different operations.
Seats, belts, door 1. Start
Mixture, prime 2. Takeoff
Master, brakes, 3. Changing tanks
Fuel pump, pressure 4. Landing
CLEAR" 5. Second item on EMERGENCY checklist
Throttle 1/2"
Idle 1000 rpm, Mixture lean
Fuel pump, pressure
Gauges, radio
Radio Master, ATIS
Into wind, brakes
Controls, flaps
Mixture, 2000 rpm
Mags, Carb heat
Gauges, window
Fuel pump, pressure
Radio, X-ponder
Climb 76 mph, 86 mph, 96 mph
Fuel pump, pressure at 1000'
1. Checklist
2. Pump & pressure
CRUISE 3. Fullest tank
to 5000' 2450 rpm Lean 4. Best glide
to 10,000 2600 rpm Lean 5. Trim
above 2700 Lean 6. Field/Wind
Change tanks on a scheduled basis. 7. Restart
8. Master, mixture, mags
9. 7700/121.5
10. X 3 all words
Keep a time log of fuel changes on sectional
Avoid power off descents
Keep power 1500 or above
Fullest tank before descent to land
Fullest tank
Fuel pump, pressure
Gauges, instruments
Carb, heat, 1500 rpm
Hold heading, altitude
Trim for 86 mph
Flaps 10 degrees
1500 rpm
Flaps 25 degrees
Trim 86 mph
1500 rpm
Flaps 40 degrees
Trim 76 mph
Yoke full back/up
Power off
Flaps up, brakes
Use of electric trim to assist
flare is dangerous if a go-around
should become necessary.
Fuel pump, pressure
Carb heat
Controls for taxi
121.5 ELT check Controls belted
Radio Master Chains
All electrical Plane locked
Log time

Flaps "clear' up Start
Window, key Idle 1000, mixture lean
Seats, belt door Fuel pump, pressure
Mixture, prime Gauges, radios
Master, brakes
Fuel pump, pressure Set alt, HI

Into wind, brakes Fuel pump, pressure
Controls, flaps Trim
Mixture, 2000 rpm Freq/volume
Mags, Carb heat Strobes
Gauges, window, door Time ck.
Fuel pump, pressure Departure
radio, x-ponder 1st ck pt.
Fullest tank Flaps up
Fuel pump, pressure Brakes
Gauges Fuel pump, pressure
NUMBERS Carb heat
Carb heat, 1500 rpm Gauges
Hold heading, altitude Controls for taxi
Notch flaps, trim 86 mph Radio when clear
Notch flaps, 86mph
Notch flaps trim 76mph

121.5 ELT ck. Fuel pump, pressure
Radios off Fullest tank
All electric off Speed/76 trim
Master off Field/wind
Mixture Restart
Mags Master, mixture, mags
Log time 77s00, 121.5
Belt controls X-3 "Mayday" all words
Chains Belts/door
Lock plane

The following Piper checklist is a pocket sized one that is made from a four and one-half by six card that is folded into quadrants and then cut to the centre from one side. This makes it possible to keep the all the checklists in a very compact space that can be clipped to the yoke or kept in a shirt pocket.

Use your own preferred preflight and put it lengthwise down the left side of the card folded lengthwise. This is a checklist not a how to do list. A string around your neck with a paper clip is an easy way to carry and use the list.

Controls...................Free & Correct
Parking Brake.........................Set
Seats, Seatbelt, & Harnesses....Adjusted
Circuit Breakers..................Checked
Lights/Fan/A.C. Switches..............Off
Carburettor Heat.......................Off
Fuel Selector................Desired Tank
Avionics - Check 121.5
ATIS, the......Off
Master Switch..........................On
Fuel Quantity Indicators..........Checked
Speaker "Auto" Button .................In
Primer.................As required, locked
Electric Fuel Pump.....On,
Mixture Control..................Full Rich
Throttle.........................1/4" Open
Clear Prop/Area...................."CLEAR"
Magneto/Start Switch........Engage Starter
After Starting
Throttle...................800 to 1000 RPM
Oil Pressure.......................Checked
Electric Fuel Pump.....Off,
Alternator output..................Checked
Avionics - On...Transponder 12000 & SBY
Mixture......................Leaned 1 inch
During Taxi
Magnetic Compass...................Checked
Gyro Instruments...............Set/Checked



Fuel mark
Master, controls
Log, fuel, flaps
R flap/wing
Sump/gear (3)
Sump/sump/gear (3)
L wing/flap

Pump Pressure
Field, wind
Fullest tank
121.5, 7700
Pre-crash (4)

Checkpoint apts
Prior to Landing

Seats, belts, doors
Key, prime, throttle
C.H., lock, mixture
Master, brakes
Pump Pressure


Wind, brakes, selector
Controls,2K rpm, mags
Pump Pressure
1000 rpm
Trim, flaps

Seats, belts, doors
Pump Pressure, strobes
Radio, x-ponder

Clearing, mixture
Power, yoke
Rotate 60, Climb 86
Pump Pressure @ 1000'

Lean with EGT
Full throttle at 7K

Power above 1500
Pump Pressure
Change tanks high
ATIS, altimeter
Call-up, report


Fullest tank
Pump Pressure
Gauges, instruments

C. H., 1700 rpm
Heading, altitude
Trim 86, flaps 10

1500 rpm, flaps 25
Trim 86
1500 rpm
Flaps 40
Trim 76

Flaps up, no brakes
No hurry to clear
C. H, Pump Pressure
Lean, controls
Radio, x-ponder
Order fuel

ELT, radio master
All electrical
Master, mixture, Mags
Log, controls belted
Clean cockpit

3 chains, clean shocks
Cover, squat test
Clear, start
Radio, lean, 1k rpm,
Pump Pressure/oil

Piper Light Seal

If landing light seal is not sufficient to keep water out you should expect standing water to corrode the air filter. Service Bulletin #975.

Piper vs Cessna

--Seat belt systems are somewhat different.
--Flap relationship to trim is unique one from the other.
--Best to have your own POH for every aircraft you fly.
--Most of the checklist items will have a different sequence
--The first item of your emergency checklist will be different.
--Manufacturer's instructions related to carburettor heat differ.
--Night and cockpit lighting systems require distinctive explanations.
--The manoeuvring and taxiing blind spots are usually quite different.
--One door system is more likely to accidentally open as the other is.
--Cross wind and ground handling in strong winds distinctly different.
--One flap system is more controllable and consistent than the other is.
--Seat adjustment systems are just different enough to cause difficulties.
--Never plan to immediately fly hard IFR in a newly transitional aircraft.
--The way you hold your hands on the throttle should be quite different
--One fuel system is twice as likely to cause an engine failure as the other is.
--POH numbers and explanations vary year to year and even within the year.
--You should always make your own aircraft specific operational checklist.
--Confirm the 'neutral' position of the trim setting indicator with actual trim position.
--Learn all you can about the failure modes of all unfamiliar instruments in either type.
--Gear retraction and extension of one is less likely to give problems than the other is.
--The way you use the rudder pedals and brakes have a VERY dangerous difference.
--The preflights are distinctly different with differing critical points where mistakes occur.
--Get some pre-flight cockpit time for reading the POH and referencing the cockpit to it.
--Run the trim wheel all the way up and down, manually and electrically to become familiar.
--Within the same models of each manufacturer there are wide critical airspeed differences.
--Both manufacturers have made wing, elevator and instrument changes affecting critical speeds.
--Distinct differences in handling when at gross and near either end of the centre of gravity range.
--With two exceptions, one type is more likely to have a stall/mush accident in all its models than the other is.