Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

An Enthusiastic Cherokee

Maybe it isn’t the fastest 140 in the world…but then again it might be

An Enthusiastic CherokeeThe very nature of Cherokee 140s wouldn’t seem to lend itself to speed. After all, the airplane made its reputation based on a docile stall and some of general aviation’s most benign flying qualities. The littlest Cherokees have always been regarded as among the gentlest of trainers, so universally respected for their predictable manners that some instructors actually criticize them for being too easy to fly. " />

Few owners use a Piper Cherokee 140 in a full, four-seat capacity, but there are exceptions. Dave Jackson, now president of King Schools in San Diego, used to own a Piper Cherokee 140 that he used primarily to commute back and forth to work, flying from Torrance Airport south of Los Angeles to Van Nuys Airport, well north of the city in the San Fernando Valley. On a few occasions, however, Dave, his wife and two kids went traveling in his Piper Cherokee 140, deliberately downloading fuel to the 36-gallon limit. “At only about 8.5 gph,” says Jackson, “I could still fly for over three hours with a reasonable VFR reserve, and that was about as long as most of us wanted to sit in a Piper Cherokee anyway. We did have to ship our baggage by United Parcel Service in order to make the trip work. The rear seat area is the baggage compartment, and if you use it for people, there’s really no place left to carry bags.”

Stalls in a Cherokee 140 almost aren’t stalls. Pull the power off, ease the nose 15 degrees above the horizon, and the airplane’s eventual reaction will be a little more than a gentle nose-bobbing up and down as the wing alternately stalls and unstalls. If the airplane is properly rigged and symmetrically loaded, you can sit there with the yoke against the back stop, mushing slowly downhill with good rudder control and even a semblance of aileron response until you run out of altitude.

Landings deserve credit for making the Cherokee legendary. Like the airplane itself, they’re sheer simplicity. A full-flap stall is well below 50 knots, so a 65-knot approach speed works well. The wing is so predictable and the gear so forgiving that the Cherokee may be the easiest-landing airplane in general aviation.

The owners of Power Flow Systems continue to pursue the same goals on a variety of other Lycoming O-320 and O-360-equipped airplanes, and so far, they’ve delivered nearly 1,500 systems. In addition to the Piper Cherokees and Cessna Skyhawks, the system is now approved on the Cessna Cardinal, Grumman-American AA-5 series and 180-hp Mooneys. By the time you read this, Power Flow Systems hopes to have approval for the 200-hp, IO-360 engines installed in Mooney Chaparrals, Executives and 201s. For its part, Laminar Flow products are currently installed on Piper PA28s, PA32s and PA34s.

Modified or not, Piper Cherokees continue to soldier on. Despite the advent of modern, composite designs, such as the Diamond Star and Cirrus SR-20, New Piper’s Warrior III and Archer III have carried the basic Piper Cherokee idea into a new century, proving, if nothing else, that simplicity does sell.

SPECS: 1969 Piper Cherokee 140 N140HC

Labels: Piston Singles


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