Ready To Fly: 1960 Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer

This 1960 Piper PA-22 Tri-Pacer is currently airworthy and ready to fly home, offering a new take of the popular adage car sellers use to fly in, drive it home. Of course, flying home in a vintage aircraft that has some mild needs – but needs nonetheless – may test the fortitude of even the bravest among us. The seller describes the PA-22 as an aircraft that could use some light freshening up but is otherwise fit to fly. Find it here on eBay with an $18,500 asking price and the option to submit a best offer.

These Pipers are affectionately known as “short wings” and seem to offer an ideal blend of performance and upkeep costs. Many reports cite their ability to hustle along at 125 to 130 m.p.h., and its ability take off from shorter runways than its diminutive looks might otherwise convey. According to the AOPA, its biggest plus is the ability to land short, and you can see why with that tidy wheelbase (that’s assuming wheelbase has something to do with it.) Watch areas include rust in the longerons and budgeting for sealed struts.

Of course, rust issues can be addressed by keeping the plane hangared, which this one appears to have been. The even better news is that the owner has already addressed rust corrosion by replacing them with sealed units in May of this year. The interior is the biggest area of “needs,” according to the seller, who ranks it a 5 out of 10. I’m not sure if that’s due to cosmetics or the need for new radios, which the seller says the next owner will have to address. All glass is said to be good, and from here, the seating surfaces look usable as-is.

The engine is said to be in good order, with lots of recent maintenance items addressed. These include new cylinders assemblies, engine mounts, harness/plugs, alternator, starter, and new hoses and baffling. A compression test revealed healthy numbers as well, and it looks downright tidy in this photo. Buying a plane is a big purchase, but this report on the AOPA website indicates the cost of ownership can be quite low for a well-sorted example. Would you consider flying this Piper Tri-Pacer home?


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  1. JerryDeeWrench Member

    Yes I would if I knew how to fly. Cute plane.

    Like 9
  2. TimM

    Cool!!! Is that a flat head ford motor in there???
    Yeah I need a pilots license too!!!

    Like 1
    • Jim Bennett

      no, it’s a Lycoming opposing 4 cyl..

      Like 4
  3. Stangalang

    Hanger finds..lmao..

    Like 3
  4. Kevin

    I haven’t been keeping track to the market lately, but $18K for a Tri-Pacer isn’t a bad price.
    Its got the auto gas STC so no need to spend $$$ buying 100LL (at 8 gal/hour it’ll add up).
    You’ll drop $10K getting the panel updated, but you can get most of that back at resale.
    Bang for the buck wise, a well sorted Tri-Pacer is hard to beat. It’ll cruise nearly as fast as a modern Cessna 172 and cost a fraction to buy.

    Like 10
  5. geomechs geomechs Member

    The TriPacer was a good plane. I never had a chance to fly one but I knew a few guys who had them. No complaints. I knew one of them who didn’t like the nose gear so he converted it to a tail dragger. No, I don’t have a clue why he did that; he sure had his work cut out for him on the landing roll.

    Like 5
    • Howard A Member

      I’d have to think this was kind of the “Rambler American” or “Plymouth Valiant” of airplanes. Nothing fancy, did the job, and got to be “seat of the pants” flying. It’s funny how some motors just are better suited for the job. For snowmobiles, the 2 cycle twin, for bikes the in-line four, for trucks, the in-line 6 diesel, and for light planes, an upside down VW motor on steroids, kind of. All these planes that come up like this, are always 1958 or 1960, what no modern planes like this? Dang, probably could have traded the Diamond T for one today. Too bad that’s not how the cookie crumbled.

      Like 2
    • chrlsful

      yes, reason guessed.
      Many would rather drag’n ass & bring the frnt dwn than the opposite (threaten a nose dive).

      Like 1
    • Rex Cox

      i used to fly a colt (dads plane) personal taste id stay with nose wheel myself….this is great lookin tri pacer..

  6. Pookie Jamie

    Those of us(me) with a pilot license can appreciate these old planes. I almost jumped on the piper cub that was listed awhile back but someone beat me to it. The engine is a lycoming. They usually put these in pipers those of you who want to fly, it is a VERY expensive hobby. Good luck to the new owner.

    Like 10
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I concur, on the expensive part. I had it figured out that it cost me a hundred bucks every time the wheels left the ground…

      Like 5
      • Pookie Jamie

        $100 hamburger

        Like 4
    • chrlsful

      not what we’ve found…a syndicate (group: shared costs, shared hrs).

  7. Classic Steel

    Sure i figure i can work on the interior while i fly home.

    Okay kidding i have no license but if i did and it passed a thorough inspection then i would take mini hops to my hone from airport to airport as i built up confidence in the plane

    Like 2
  8. CallMeVintage Member

    Note the low time engine, 108 hours. That is a huge plus. Those 150hp Lycomings will easily go 2400 hours with proper maintenance. A rebuild can cost 10-15K. I’ve owned 3 of these over the years. They are fun to fly and have low maintenance costs and still attract a lot of attention on the ramp.

    Like 4
  9. Haig Haleblian

    Doesn’t appear to be a bad deal though missing an avionics stack which will double the cost of the plane. Fly it home with a handheld radio, vfr, and fingers crossed.

    Like 5
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      There’s a lot of airports you couldn’t fly into. You could hop from one small town, like Dutton and Cutbank but if you wanted to get into a place like Great Falls you would have to phone ahead so they would know you’re coming. Of course, it’s been a while since I last flew so they might have tightened up on all that. I was partners in a Cessna 172. A year after we got it we had to replace all our avionics to the tune of $12K. I decided that if I wanted to keep flying I would have to give up everything else I loved to do…

      Like 4
  10. Jay E.

    Sliced white bread of the aviation offerings. Nice honest airplanes with a little more maintenance than a Cessna but at a fraction of the price. Priced fairly, in annual, fresh engine, good paint. I’m surprised the interior is so ratty, usually it is the other way around. If it were a Super Cub instead of Tri-Pacer in ad (very similar airplanes) it would sell for 4 times the price. This is about the least expensive GA plane that you can fly two average people, gas and baggage cross country. There are quite a few of these for sale right now, not sure why, Perhaps the aging demographic is losing their medicals? Flipping planes is much harder than cars because of the cost of hangaring and annuals. I’m sure it will find a new home soon. A couple of years ago it might have been to me, but now the simplicity of ultralights is all I want to deal with.

    Like 3
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Back in the 60s, it seemed that half the farmers in the country belonged to the International Flying Farmers. You saw windsocks flying in a good quarter of the farms, and it seemed that every two or three weeks during the summer someone had a fly-in. By the 70s those numbers started to thin out, and by the time I got my license, I would have to say that there was one out of 25 if you were lucky. Maintenance costs plus the cost of a medical and the fun of flying a heavier than air machine faded away. TriPacers, Cubs and Scouts were the most popular airplanes when I was a kid. If you were a real progressive farmer you went to a Cessna 172, or got real daring and got a 182. The next level was the Commanche, or a Mooney, or a Beech Bonanza. My former boss had a Skymaster then went to a 310. Only a Super Cub and a Scout within 50 miles now. Oh there’s a farmer in the Shelby area working on a GeeBee. I think he’s actually got it flying now…

      Like 4
  11. David Rhodes

    I’m not going up in anything with less than 2 engines

    Like 3
    • Steve P

      Some twin engine aircraft are so anemic on one engine that if you lose one engine, the other one takes to the crash sight a little faster😂

      Like 11
  12. Danh

    The Tri-Pacer is a wonderful aircraft. My brother has a ‘59 he’s selling for around the same price but his has a brand new Lycoming engine. Fantastic entry level airplane that’s simple and great for puddle jumping!

    Like 5
  13. Haig Haleblian

    I owned a Piper Aztec F for 15 years. Could climb with one engine. Great bird, huge payload, docile, horrible fuel burn 24 gph leaned out. Had to dump it during the recession. Broke my heart after flying 40 years. Thinking about returning with something like this low and slow just to defy gravity again. Miss flying terribly.

    Like 6
    • Jay E.

      Haig “Miss flying terribly.” After a 45 year career I thought I could quit once retired. I also missed it terribly. Found a $500.00 Quicksilver MXll and rebuilt it over a couple of months. First flight I felt reborn. Low, slow, feet and face to the wind. No instruments, no radios. One of the most satisfying low cost purchases I have ever made. Join the Ultralight club, scratch the flying itch!

      • Haig Haleblian

        Jay, I was in an ultralight a few years ago with an experienced pilot. Loved it! Following year he and his wife were killed stalling at low altitude taking pictures for the local Chamber of Commerce. Heartbreaking.

  14. Jim mindy

    This plane is covered with a dacron fabric. It must be renewed every 10 to 20 years. Lycoming likes to see their engines overhauled every 10 years. Steel tube fuselage subject to corrosion in the lower lingering and tail post. I owned 2 of them, not a great performer on a hot day. Most Tripacers are parted out for the engine and not worth what anyone is asking.

    Like 1
  15. Joe Haska

    When I was flying, the stories about the Tri-Pacer scared me to death and I was fearless back then. The story is if you are in a Tri-Pacer and you cut the power or loose power, it is an immediate landing. They flew similar to a brick, no glide ratio. Can not verify that personaliy but when us old timers get together ,we all heard the sme story and never flew one!

    Like 1
    • geomechs geomechs Member

      Never heard that about the Tri-Pacer but I sure did about the Commanche. The local Binder dealer had one and his strip bordered one of our hay fields on the riverflat. He would take off on a hot summer day and I’m sure glad he didn’t have any obstructions at the end of the runway because he used it all. He eventually got a Beech Bonanza which almost floated away on its own. Seems to me that the Commanche had the laminar wings…

      Like 1
  16. Christopher

    I have a good bit of flying time in one of these sweet short wing Tri-pacers. Land short as there is little float, and take off short as soon as you get to 45 mph. Haul back and hang on. Lots of lift in those short wings. Not a great plane in turbulence. If you get one with a 150 hp, it really climbs great. Having the STC for car gas is a saver. The new panel will go a long way unless you are going for a vintage plane original. Just get a handheld radio and have a good VOR to get you around. Make sure the fabric will punch green before buying.

    Like 3
  17. Karl

    All this flying talk makes me miss it all the more! This trip Pacer would a reasonable way for someone interested in flying to get the door it’s a great way to start and in time learn how to spend real money on what was once a fun hobby? I started with a PA28140 then to another Piper Arrow, then to a Mooney (loved that plane) then made the move to a Beech Baron, that’s where you learn what spending a lot of real money!

    • Haig L Haleblian

      Karl, You nailed it on a Baron or any twin = Bushels of money. Plane ownership makes Ferrari or any exoctic maintenance look dirt cheap. I always hoped for a $10g annual on my Aztec F. Negative.

  18. Karl

    Haig I got my twin rating in an Aztec Good airplane and a very good trainer, for me anyway they seemed to be pretty forgiving and flew pretty nice although they did drink a bit of fuel for how fast you were going. I did enjoy flying it though! Good honest airplane!

    Like 1
  19. Thomas G

    I used to work at an FBO years ago and we called these planes a Tri-Pig. They would drop like a rock without power and maneuvered like a slug. They were always cheap and a good starter plane for many pilots.

  20. Karl

    Karl your flying was just about the same progression as mine PA 28 140 THEN AN arrow then a Moony then a Baron. There is really no such thing as a 100$ hamburger in a Baron add another zero and your getting close!

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