Piper Warrior Guide and Specs : Is It Easy To Fly?

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The Piper Warrior is part of the Piper PA-28 Cherokee family of aircraft. These are all two-seat or four-seat light aircraft, designed mainly for flight training and personal use by private pilots They are all-metal, unpressurized, single-engined, piston-powered airplanes, with low-mounted wings and tricycle landing gear, ie a nosewheel. They have a single door on the right side, which is entered by stepping on the wing and then climbing inside.

The Warrior is distinguished from its Cherokee predecessors by its double-tapered wing and two-foot-wider wingspans. The first of the Warrior series came out in 1974, followed by the Warrior II in1977. The airplane is still in production today, as the Warrior III model, which was first certified in 1994.

Specifications (Piper Warrior II)

Piper

Exterior

  • Exterior Height: 7 ft 3 in
  • Wing Span: 35 ft
  • Length: 23 ft 8 in

Interior

  • Cabin Height: 4 ft 1 In
  • Cabin Width: 3 ft 6 In

Occupancy

  • Crew: 1
  • Passengers: 4

Operating Weights

  • Max T/O Weight: 2325 Lb
  • Max Landing Weight: 2150 Lb
  • Empty Weight: 1353 Lb
  • Fuel Capacity: 48 gal Lb
  • Payload Useful: 972 Lb

Range

  • Max Range: 590 nm
  • Service Ceiling: 14000 ft

Distances

  • Takeoff Distance: 975 ft
  • Landing Distance: 595 ft

Performance

  • Rate of Climb: 710 fpm
  • Max Speed: 127 kts
  • Normal Cruise: 118 kts
  • Economy Cruise: 108 kts

Economy Cruise: 108 kts

Power Plant

  • Engines: 1
  • Engine Mfg: Lycoming
  • Engine Model: O-320-D3G

Prices

Piper Warrior

The Piper Warrior is a popular airplane, so you have a lot of choices here when it comes to what you pay for one. But a new Piper Warrior III costs about $300,000, depending on specifications, extras, and so on.

However, there are plenty of second-hand ones, if this seems like rather a lot to spend. As you would expect, the price you would pay for a second-hand Piper Warrior depends on its condition, specs, and particular model. Depending on various factors, the average price for a pre-owned Warrior III is around $190,000, so you can save quite a bit on the new price, while still getting the latest model.

By contrast, the likely price of a 1974 Warrior would be between $34,000 and $43.000. And of course, you can find Warriors of various ages and in various states at any price point between those two extremes.

So what you pay really comes down to what you can afford, and what aircraft you want. The decision is up to you.

Performance and Handling

The Warrior attempted to improve on its predecessor, the Cherokee, in terms of its performance and handling. The Warrior first came along in 1974, with a 150-HP Lycoming engine as its source of power. It was fairly similar to the Cherokee, the main difference being a new type of wing.

This new wing was longer than the Cherokee wing, and it was semi-tapered, which gave it a higher aspect ratio. This new wing made the handling better. It made roll control easier, and it also improved the climb rate. It was well-liked and so successful that eventually, Piper incorporated the new design onto all its PA-28 series of airplanes.

Performance naturally depends to some extent on which model you are considering. Owners of the original Warrior I complained about the lack of power and rather inadequate climb rate. A 10 HP increase on the Warrior II made a substantial difference, and the Warrior III is said to be even better in this respect.

Taking off and landing on short runways was also a problem in earlier models, particularly on grass, especially on hot days or at altitude. But Warrior II and III are said to be much better in this respect.

From its inception, the PA-28 was meant to be an inexpensive aircraft that offered safe flight characteristics and reasonable performance. The ‘stabilator’, sometimes described as a flying tail, was one of the Warrior’s distinguishing features. It works by enabling the entire horizontal tail to pivot, and to act as one with the elevator.

Runway handling is generally rated as good, despite the number of accidents on both takeoff and landing which are reported. But further investigation of all of these revealed that many were student training accidents.

Personally, I found it difficult to land a Warrior when I was a student, due to the fact that the aircraft tends to float on landing if you have a speed even slightly too high! But other pilots like the way the Warrior handles in a crosswind landing, and say the airplane is easier to taxi in windy conditions than, for example, the high-wing Cessnas.

When considering comfort, the situation is much the same really – ie later models are said to be much more comfortable than the earlier ones. But entry and exit is awkward on all models, as it is for all low wing aircraft where you have to climb onto the wing to get in and out. In fact, for a short person like me, I would say it is extremely awkward! I have always struggled with a number of Piper aircraft for that reason.

Overall, the Warrior, in common with other airplanes in the PA-28 series, is pleasant to fly and feels very safe. Indeed, it is so reluctant to stall that some instructors say it is not a good aircraft for students to learn on, as it gives them an unrealistic sense of security. So to summarise, pilots tend to like the Warrior on the whole. But as I have explained, it is not perfect, and there are some aspects of it which could be improved.

Maintenance Issues

Piper Warrior Maintance

This is an area where the Warrior should be popular with the average pilot since it is unsophisticated and quite basic. It has a large cowling for good engine access, so it is not necessary to remove innumerable screws and remove large parts of a heavy cowling, as is the case with some of the Warrior’s competitors.

However, that cowling is very necessary, as the engine compartment is where pilots find most major issues. There are also some problems reported with carburetors and magnetos. Despite this, maintenance costs tend to be low on the whole.

Modifications and Upgrades

As stated above, the Piper Warrior has been through a number of changes, with three different main models. In addition, there have been a number of smaller modifications during its long life. For example, later models of the Warrior II, manufactured after July 1982, incorporated a gross weight increase to 2,440 pounds, giving a useful load over 900 pounds.

From 1988 to 1990, some Warriors were dubbed ‘Cadets’, and were aimed at the trainer market. These featured an austere trim package and could be ordered with either VFR or IFR avionics. Finally, the Warrior III is available with a glass cockpit, for those who want something more modern.

Where to Find Replacement Parts

Being such a common and popular aircraft, finding replacement parts for the Warrior is not difficult. Various companies advertise on the internet as being able to supply all the parts you might require. It is also possible to order parts directly from Boeing. And of course, there is always eBay, where you can find a large selection of Warrior parts of all types.

Common Problems

There are few handling problems when it comes to the Warrior. Those that occur tend to be due to mishandling by students or low-hours pilots; others turn out to have been caused by pilot error.

But there have been a number of fuel-related accidents, owing mainly to the fact that it is necessary to keep track of how much fuel is in the two tanks, switching between them when necessary. This sometimes causes problems for those who are not accustomed to it, having flown other aircraft where this is not an issue.

When it comes to other issues, problems are fairly commonly reported with carburetors and magneto failures, as mentioned above. But overall the aircraft is easy to fly, reliable, and has no common problems.

Insurance Options

Piper Warrior Inside

Aviation insurance, in general, is a very specialized industry and premiums vary depending on the make and model of the aircraft, hull value, use of the aircraft, plus pilot history and qualifications. Aircraft insurance rates even take into account the loss history of each specific make and model and the loss history of the industry as a whole.

Piper Warrior insurance, like all airplane insurance, is broken down into two specific parts. The first is Liability Coverage, which is standard on every aircraft insurance policy, and the second is optional hull coverage, which covers damage to the aircraft itself.

Liability coverage is of course essential, but some owners choose to save money by not having hull coverage. This is of course a personal decision. Insurance adds significantly to the cost of aircraft ownership, but not having it can also prove very expensive.

When it comes to the actual price, quotes vary significantly, depending on Warrior’s age and model, pilot experience, and some other factors. Here is one fairly typical example – but it is only one example from one insurance company..

For an annual policy with $1,000,000 in liability-only coverage.
The premium range for qualified pilots: $620-$818 per year.
The premium range for less than qualified pilots (low-time/etc): $780-$1,250 per year.

For an annual policy with $1,000,000 in liability coverage and $75,000 in hull coverage
Premium range for qualified pilots: $1,260-$1,549
Premium range for less than qualified pilots (low-time/etc): $2,750-4,300 per year.

Resale Value

In general, Warriors hold their prices well when it comes to resale. This is because they are popular aircraft, and there are a limited number of them, particularly the early models. And if you are in the market for a second-hand Warrior, they are still a relative bargain. Indeed, the 1984 Cessna 172P II averages $10,000 more than a 1984 Piper Warrior.

Owner Reviews

On the whole, owners love their Warriors. While some complain about the lack of power of the early models, Warrior II and Warrior III generally receive nothing but praise. Here are some typical owners comments:

“I have owned my 1980 Warrior II since the year 2000 and I have found it to be a great airplane. The Warrior is not a stretched Cherokee 140. It is a different aircraft and flies much differently.”

“My aircraft flies beautifully, trims out perfectly, and easily makes book numbers. My plane has a new paint job, plus all the wheel pants and fairings (including the nose strut fairing) that came with the plane from the factory, so the plane is aerodynamically clean.

Flight school Warriors are typically missing all the pants and fairings for quick maintenance, and the airframes are often in poorer aerodynamic condition so their performance is different. If a thin layer of winter frost can reportedly reduce lift by as much as 30 percent and increase drag by as much as 40 percent then a sandpaper paint finish might do the same thing.”

“The Warrior has no prohibition on slips with or without flaps. I typically slip and land with two notches of flaps. Forward slips, turning slips, and side slips for crosswind landings all work very well.

This plane has a pretty high 17-knot demonstrated direct crosswind capability. With the dihedral low wings, crosswind landings are routine and easy. This plane works with you, not against you. I don’t believe that planes get any easier to fly than this one. However, I believe many accident stats for this aircraft are more often reflective of low-time student mishaps than any fault with the plane.”

My personal opinion is that the Warrior is pleasant and easy to fly, apart from its tendency to use up a lot of runway on landing unless you nail the landing speed absolutely perfectly. But then, I did last fly a Warrior – and a fairly early one at that – while I was still a rather inexperienced low-hours pilot. I might well find it easier now, particularly if I flew a later model.

Similar Aircrafts

Cessna Skyhawk

Of course, any other aircraft in the PA-28 series, such as the earlier Cherokee, will be very similar. The Cessna Skyhawk and the AGAC Traveler/Cheetah are also both competitors to the Warrior. Then there are also the high-wing Cessna 172, the low-winged Grumman AA-5 series, and the Beechcraft Musketeer.

Clubs You Can Join

Warrior owners are fortunate in that they have an excellent organization, the Piper Owner Society (www.piperowner.org), which merged with the Cherokee Pilot’s Association. There is also a Piper Forum (>www.piperforum.com) where Piper pilots exchange thoughts and ideas on a number of Aircraft related issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What are the differences between a Cherokee and a Warrior?

Answer: There is not much difference overall. The Warrior is simply a later development of the Cherokee. The later Warriors have more power than either the Cherokee or the earliest Warrior model. And originally the Warrior had a newly designed wing, but this modification eventually found its way onto all the PA-28 models, including more modern versions of the Cherokee

Question: As a fairly new private pilot, would I be better off with a Warrior or a Cessna 172?

Answer: It is entirely your choice. Both are pleasant airplanes to fly, and neither are too difficult for a relatively inexperienced pilot to convert on to. Of course, if you have learned on a low wing aircraft you might find it easier to fly the low wing Warrior, and conversely, if you learned on a high wing Cessna 152 for instance, you are likely to find the Cessna 172 easier to fly. But your best bet is simply to pick the one you yourself prefer.

Question: I’ve heard that the Warrior is difficult to land. Is this true?

Answer: Experienced pilots seem to have a little problem with landings. But some students and low-hours pilots find that the Warrior tends to float a long way on landing, particularly if you land a little bit fast. I found this when I first flew a Warrior as a low-hours pilot, and it was a bit of a problem on a short runway. It is a good idea to have some instruction before you first fly a Warrior on your own, to overcome this potential issue, particularly if you operate from a short runway.

Conclusion

The Piper Warrior is a popular aircraft, well-liked by owners, pilots, and students. It is fairly easy to fly and inexpensive to own and operate. It has few vices or problems, and a number of different models to suit all price ranges. If you are looking for a new aircraft, you could do far worse than choose one of these aircraft.

Research Citations

Aviation Consumer https://www.aviationconsumer.com/used-aircraft-guide/piper-warrior/

AvWeb https://www.avweb.com/features/piper-warrior/

BWI Aviation Insurance https://bwifly.com/cubcrafters-aircraft-insurance-cost/

AOPA https://www.aopa.org/go-fly/aircraft-and-ownership/aircraft-fact-sheets/ piper-warrior

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