The first Piper Tri-Pacer was the PA-22 model. Piper manufactured 7,668 of these airplanes from 1952 through 1960. The name Tri-Pacer is based on its tricycle landing gear configuration, though a number of owners have converted the plane to a taildragger, with the third wheel being located beneath the tail.
One of the unique features of the Tri-Pacer is the light spring load installed between the rudder and the aileron. It was intended to counteract the adverse yaw that planes naturally experience when turning.
Not everyone liked this feature however, and it was removed from many planes, especially those that were converted to a taildragger. Another unusual feature of the Tri-Pacer is the braking system. A lever that many pilots call a “Johnson Bar” hangs down from beneath the control panel. It activates both brakes simultaneously. As with some of the other features, the Johnson Bar has been converted to standard individual toe brakes on many Tri-Pacers.
The true test of a pilot’s knowledge regarding the Piper Tri-Pacer is if he or she knows how to start the plane. Except for those airplanes that have been converted to a standard starting system, Tri-Pacers have the starter button and master switch located underneath the pilot’s seat instead of on the control panel.
Because of the Tri-Pacer’s short wingspan, it doesn’t glide like a Cessna 172. Some complain that the airplane practically falls to the ground when the engine is off or at idle because it glides faster and steeper than its rival aircraft.
Maximum speed: 133 mph (PA-22-125), 137 mph (PA-22-135), 139 mph (PA-22-150), 141 mph (PA-22-160)
Cruise speed: 123 mph (all versions except PA-22-160 which is 125 mph)
Range: 580 miles (PA-22-125), 570 miles (PA-22-135), 492 miles (PA-22-150), 500 miles (PA-22-160)
Ceiling: 14,250′ (PA-22-125), 15,000′ (PA-22-135 and PA-22-150), 16,500′ (PA-22-160)
Length: 20.4′ (PA-22-125 and PA-22-135), 20.6′ (PA-22-150 and PA-22-160)
Wingspan: 29.3′ (all versions)
Height: 100″ (all versions)
Maximum weight: 1,800 pounds (PA-22-125), 1,950 pounds (PA-22-135), 2,000 pounds (PA-22-150 and PA-22-160)
Empty weight: 1,000 pounds (PA-22-125), 1,060 pounds (PA-22-135), 1,000 pounds (PA-22-150), 1,060 pounds (PA-22-160)
Engine(s): Lycoming O-290-D (PA-22-125), Lycoming O-290-D2 (PA-22-135), Lycoming O-320-A (PA-22-150), Lycoming O-320-B (PA-22-160)
Rate of climb: 810′ per minute (PA-22-125), 620′ per minute (PA-22-135), 725′ per minute (PA-22-150), 800′ per minute (PA-22-160)
Stall Speed: 48 mph (PA-22-125 and PA-22-135), 49 mph (PA-22-150 and PA-22-160)
Takeoff Run: 1,372′ (PA-22-125), 1,220′ (PA-22-135 and PA-22-150), 1,120′ (PA-22-160)
Crew: One pilot and up to three passengers