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Pilot Briefing: Budget Buy

A great little airplane

The Piper 180 was the precursor to the Piper Archer and was made from 1962 to 1974.

Piper PA–28-180

August Briefing

The Piper 180 was the precursor to the Piper Archer and was made from 1962 to 1974. If you focus on the 180, you are getting something slower but similar to a faster $345,000 Piper Archer, but costs less than $50,000. In 1968 it got the neat airline-like lever power controls instead of push-pull controls.

The real world

Bob Stark of Twin Oaks Airpark in Hillsboro, Oregon, owns a 1963 180, but it had the right wing off when I called to interview him. Older Cherokee 180s have cracks along the wingwalk, and his was getting new metal. That can be expensive but is “not a big deal.” He keeps it powered back to 65 percent power and sees 115 mph (99 knots true airspeed) at that setting. He uses a lower power setting to save gas expenses. “It’s a great little airplane,” Stark said. “It can carry four people if you don’t have a lot of fuel.” He estimates operating costs—to include all usual expenses of oil, maintenance, gas, insurance, and an engine fund—to be $60 an hour. He does miss the high wing of the Cessna for one reason: “It rains a lot in Oregon,” he said. The high Cessna wing shelters passengers as they emerge. There have been minor problems with the door seals, and he noted a problem with the 1961 to 1963 models. “The stabilizer wasn’t big enough and you couldn’t get enough nose-up trim or nose-down trim.” That was corrected with the 1964 model. He noted his engine is nearly ready for an overhaul, dropping the value to less than $25,000.

Email [email protected]

Who to contact
Piper Owner Society, N7528 Aanstad Road, Iola, Wisconsin, 54945; 866-697-4737; e-mail [email protected].

Vref value
Vref, the AOPA partner offering aircraft value estimates, suggests a base price for the Piper PA–28-180 of $25,000 for the 1962 model to $41,000 for the 1974 model.

Recent advertised prices
Listed in Trade-A-Plane at the time this was written were 44 Piper Cherokee 180 aircraft ranging from $25,000 for a 1962 model to $79,500 for a 1968 model that had Aspen glass cockpit primary and multifunction displays with Garmin avionics and in-flight weather plus custom paint and LoPresti wing-tip BoomBeam lights.

Insurance cost
AOPA Insurance Services estimates an average-cost Piper Cherokee 180 flown by a low-time pilot will cost $700 to $850 per year to insure. 

How many in the fleet?
AIRPAC PlaneBase shows a registered fleet of 3,782 Piper Cherokee PA–28-180 aircraft.

AOPA Finance estimates $238 to $298 per month on a 6.25 percent loan with 15 percent down for Cherokee 180s ranging from $25,000 to $41,000. The lower number is for a 10-year loan while the higher number is for a 15-year loan. 

Airworthiness directives
Nothing serious. Most have been complied with given the age of the aircraft.

Biggest plus
Archer-like experience at a fraction of the cost.

Biggest minus
1961 to 1963 models had inadequate trim.

Things to watch out for
Early models had a stabilator that was too small. That was fixed with the 1964 model. Door seals leak. Older aircraft may have cracked metal along the wingwalk that has to be replaced.

What else to consider
Cessna 172

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