Piper PA-24 Comanche

1956

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Piper PA-24 Comanche

On 24 May 1956 Piper flew the prototype of a new single-engine four-seat cabin monoplane that it designated initially Piper PA-24 Comanche, but which later became known as the PA-24-180 Comanche. A cantilever low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, this very clean looking aircraft had such features as retractable tricycle landing gear, an all-moving tailplane and a 134kW Avco Lycoming O-360-A1A engine. The first production aircraft was flown on 21 October 1957, and from the outset it was available in four versions, the Standard with basic essential equipment, the Custom, Super Custom and AutoFlite having progressively more sophisticated equipment, the last of them introducing a two-axis autopilot.

The very convincing capability of the PA-24-180 Comanche was demonstrated at an early date by American pilot Max Conrad in establishing FAI-accredited world class distance records of 11211.83km in a straight line and 11138.72km in a closed circuit during 1959 and 1960 respectively, and in flying a PA-24-250 Comanche in 1959 over a straight-line distance of 12341.26km; these records remained unbroken in 1983. Mentioned in these records is the PA-24-250 Comanche which soon supplemented the PA-24-180 (1,143 built) and while basically similar differed by having the 186kW O-540-A1A engine; this variant was built to a total of 2,537. This was followed in 1964 by the PA-24-260 Comanche with a 194kW version of the O-540 engine, and this model was used by the UK's Sheila Scott between 18 May and 20 June 1966 to establish a new round-the-world class speed record, covering a distance of 46759km.

Last of the single-engine Comanches was the PA-24T-260 Turbo Comanche which introduced an IO-540 engine with a Rayjay turbo-charger to give considerably improved performance, and when production of the PA-24-260s ended in 1973 a total of 1,028 had been built, giving a Comanche grand total of 4,708.

Specification 
 MODELPA-24T-260
 ENGINE1 x Avco Lycoming IO-540 flat-six turbocharged piston engine, 194kW
 WEIGHTS
  Take-off weight1451 kg3199 lb
  Empty weight859 kg1894 lb
 DIMENSIONS
  Wingspan10.97 m36 ft 0 in
  Length7.62 m25 ft 0 in
  Height2.29 m8 ft 6 in
  Wing area16.54 m2178.03 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
  Max. speed389 km/h242 mph
  Ceiling7620 m25000 ft
  Range2398 km1490 miles

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
Martin Coddington, e-mail, 09.04.2021 23:52

The first paragraph of this page says it all: "this very clean looking aircraft". For me, in either cars or airplanes, appearance means a lot. We may love these machines for a lot of reasons but their appearance is what we always remember. In the early 70s I was working on my Commercial at Lloyd's Flying Service, Schaumburg IL. They owned Commanche 5737P and it was my 1st choice as a time builder, in large part for the #2 favorite thing we remember about planes of our past: the sound of that 250 horse six cylinder Lycoming. About 20 years after saying good-bye to 37P, I saw her on the ramp at DBQ. She had been ridden hard and put away wet but seeing her increased my pulse again. I still have great memories when I see one of these planes, despite 10,000 hours of flying since I touched one.

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JAMES H. JONES, e-mail, 03.01.2017 03:13

I have a 1966 PA-24-180 that is located in NY, and the owner wants us to trailer it back to NC. Does anyone know how to take the wings off for trailering? I have a wing rack on my truck and a nice trailer.

Thanks,

James Jones

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Colin, 14.09.2016 16:33

I fly a 260B I am in love with it what an aircraft ok there are fancier new planes around but value for money - TAS, payload, comfort, flying pleasure - I leave them in my wake in my venerable 1966 girl!

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Bill Eburn, e-mail, 23.01.2015 15:32

I had my PA-24-250 "Chief 1" for a few years in the early 80's. I always thought of it as a "baby airliner" because of it's graceful wings. It beat the Bonanza and Mooney in performance and comfort. A pity that the Connecticut flood put it out of business.

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Alan Vale, e-mail, 22.01.2015 19:59

I ferried a 250 Commanche HB-OTW from Ft. Lauderdale to Geneva in 1962. It's still flying with a 3-bladed prop and a sweet new paint job. It had tip tanks so I had 120 gallons of fuel in the wing, as I remember. I only needed a 55 gal. drum in the back.

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David Ellett, e-mail, 21.07.2014 15:34

I was introduced to the Comanche by a friend and hire a 260B.
I have been flying it for a couple of years now, I use it for work some inter-state holidays.
The Comanche is such a fantastic plane, I just love it. Its really hard to find a plane which is such a good all rounder.
Speed, climb, handling, roomy , fuel capacity, fantastic load carrying and great classical looks. ! what more could you want.

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Miyoko Suzuki, e-mail, 28.05.2014 10:58

Didn't the Comanche have an autopilot during the 1960s?

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Marvin Stern, e-mail, 18.11.2013 16:40

I bought N7694P, a 250 model, in 1971 and flew it for 33 years. It was a great IFR platform and cross-country machine. If old age hadn't caught up to me I'd still be flying it!

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Allen Stutheit, e-mail, 24.11.2012 04:42

I owned a PA-250 for many years. It was a great airplane. I noticed you left out the info for the 300hp version with the eight cylinder Lycoming IO-720 of which only a handful were made.

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Marshall Welch, e-mail, 03.11.2012 21:56

I have owned a PA-180 since 1962. Still have it. Made 25 western trips from Pa.
Always felt that I was putting on a glove when I got in the airplane.
Have put 3 new engines in it. and had it painted with urethane once.
Beautiful, beautiful airplane. Still love that airplane.

Bill Piper told me it was the best airplane Piper ever built.
I am 83 now and just gave the plane to my 3 sons. all pilots.

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Paul Harrington, e-mail, 18.09.2012 05:10

From about 1959 to 1963 The Army leased a PA-24-250 for me to get in my nessesary flight time for the Reserves This plane had dual instruments, auto pilot, tip tanks which gave it a cruising speed of about 210. Of all the planes I flew both on active duty and Reserve duty of 22+ years, it was the plane I loved the most both flying VFR and IFR.

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Paul Bramkamp, e-mail, 10.07.2012 05:24

Fell in love with a '63 PA-24-250 we used in Search & Rescue in the Olympic Peninsula (CAC). Best plane for sudden turns and drops; found two kids in separate incidents and guided helo SAR to pick them up each time. Superb in bad weather, too!

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Bill Johnson, e-mail, 09.07.2012 06:18

I owned 7212P, a 1964 250. Wife, a pilot, and I made many cross countries usually truing near 200. It was a real gentle hot rod. Long legs with 96 gal tanks, made it a dream. Sold it (mistake) because I was building a house. New owner took off on the wrong tank and drove it into a fence, totaling it.

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dennis poore, e-mail, 15.12.2011 06:15

Piper did it's self proud withPA24. I owned 5671P in the late
80's An old fighter piolet told me she was the closet thing
to a P51 mustang in the civilan world. I loved that bird!!
she is flying yet, many hours to her.

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Jim O'Brien, e-mail, 12.12.2011 02:34

I owned 9138p a1967 260b comanche for 13 years and put over 1500hrs in her. Bought it in 1978 in Mnandsold it in1990 in Arizona. A great airplane!

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Gary Dayton, e-mail, 20.03.2011 22:39

I bought a 1960 250 Comanche in about 1968 and put 1,000 hours on it, great plane, toe brakes would have made it better. I got used to not having them. I flew in AZ, UT, WY, ID, NV. Most of my flying was Elko to Carson City NV. 6532P, it never let me down.

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Peter Webb, e-mail, 04.02.2011 05:36

I still own a 1958, 250 Comanche VH-GED &after 26 years & 1700 hrs in the "old girl" have finally put it up for sale.It has been the most reliable,comfortable single ever built & has taken me, my wife & family all over (& around) Australia.153 knots @ 52ltrs /hr, Loved it.

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Bob Frybarger, e-mail, 03.01.2011 19:16

Was a Piper dealer in l964-66 in San Jose, Cal. Had a 63 250 comanche and got my retractable time in it. Could put it in a power on stall, let go of the wheel and take my feet off the rudders and it would make 2 and one half up and down manuvers and level off by itself, it was so stable. Just recently bought a 63 with turbos and love it. I am now 84 years old and just recently got a two year medical, 3rd class.

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Gordon Frodsham, e-mail, 30.12.2010 22:10

I also had the pleasure of owning a 1962 PA 24-250. I flew G-ARXG out of Blackpool UK in 1982 and had many happy experiences in her. What a wonderful airplane. She has apparently had a refit and colour change and is based in the south of England

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Robert Easterling, e-mail, 27.12.2010 19:18

I had a 1962 PA-24-250 back in the 1990's. It was wonderful. Anything you could shove in the door it would lift and flying 1,000 plus miles at 140-145 kts was no problem. Had a "D" Model Bonanza before this. No comparison. My business "model" changed and having 3 kids in college at the time I sold it. Still think about it often.

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