Piper PA-16 Clipper

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PA-16 Clipper
Piper PA-16 Clipper at the Short Wing Piper Convention in Kingston, Ontario on 6 July 2006
Role PA-16 Clipper
Manufacturer Piper Aircraft
First flight 1947
Introduction 1949
Produced only in 1949
Number built 736
Unit cost
USD$2995 (in 1949)
Variants Piper PA-20 Pacer
Piper PA-16 Clipper in flight

The Piper PA-16 Clipper is an extended fuselage model of the PA-15 Vagabond.[1] Both models were designed in 1947 for the same reason – Piper Aircraft found itself in dire financial straits and needed to create new, competitive models using existing parts and tooling; the result was the Vagabond, essentially a side-by-side version of the tandem J-3 Cub credited with saving the company.[2]

Design and development[edit]

The PA-16 Clipper is a stretched and refined version of the Vagabond intended to seat four people[1] (or "two-and-a-half to three" as often told by Clipper pilots), it is equipped with an extra wing tank, added doors to accommodate the new seating, and a Lycoming O-235, the same engine that would later power the Cessna 152. The PA-16 Clipper retained the control sticks that had up to that point been common in aircraft derived from the "Cub" family.

In 1949, the Clipper sold for $2995; the average four-place airplane on the market at that time cost over $5000. Only 736 Clippers were built in the one year of production before Piper changed to the Piper PA-20 Pacer.[3]

Pan Am Airlines, who traditionally called its famous luxury airliners "Clippers", took offense at Piper using the name for their light aircraft; as a result of this pressure Piper further refined the model, adding wing flaps, further fuel tanks and replaced the control sticks with yokes. A more powerful Lycoming O-290 125 hp engine was installed and this model became the Piper PA-20 Pacer.[1][2]

Operational history[edit]

Despite the low number of aircraft built, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, in April 2018 there were still 303 examples in service in the United States.[4]

Specifications (PA-16)[edit]

A Piper PA-16 Clipper at Sun 'n Fun 2006

Data from Plane and Pilot: 1978 Aircraft Directory[1] & Fonden Danmarks Flymuseum[2]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Capacity: three passengers
  • Length: 20 ft 1 in (6.12 m)
  • Wingspan: 29 ft 3 in (8.92 m)
  • Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
  • Empty weight: 850 lb (385 kg)
  • Useful load: 800 lb (362 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 1,650 lb (750 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 1,650 lb (748 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming O-235 with cruise pitch propeller, 115 hp (86 kW)


Originally none were fitted. Many now have VHF Nav-com radios, GPS and transponders installed.

See also[edit]

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


  1. ^ a b c d Plane and Pilot: 1978 Aircraft Directory, page 59. Werner & Werner Corp Publishing, 1978. ISBN 0-918312-00-0
  2. ^ a b c Fonden Danmarks Flymuseum (n.d.). "Piper PA-16 Clipper". Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2007.
  3. ^ Peperell 1987, p. 65
  4. ^ "FAA Registry - Piper PA-16". Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved 21 April 2018.
  • Piper's Golden Age by Alan Abel, Drina Welch Abel, and Paul Matt
  • The Pilot's Guide to Affordable Classics by Bill Clarke
  • Peperell, Roger W; Smith, Colin M (1987). Piper Aircraft and their forerunners. Tonbridge, Kent, England: Air-Britain. ISBN 0-85130-149-5.

External links[edit]