Piper did a lot of things right when they invented the Arrow. If you want an all around amazing complex trainer that is gentle, has predictable flight characteristics, you want an arrow. While the PA-28R is not the fastest barnstormer of the fleet, it a truly economical, consistent 130-140kt aircraft. Owning the Arrow you will find that once any catch up maintenance has been performed you will enjoy low yearly costs to maintain and fly this wonderful aircraft.
The early arrows had what is most often called the Hershey Bar wing. That is because it looked like a Hershey Bar when looking down it from the end. Not an ultimate performing wing but a good flying wing all the same. In 1976 Piper introduced the 201 series arrow. Many people confused this with 201 HP engine but it had nothing to do with the engine and instead simply designated the newly designed tapered wing. The early year hershey bar wing arrows are a tad slower and the glide characteristics were about like a brick, but there is something magical when you learn to grease on the landings. The tapered wing on the other hand is slightly faster and the glide is very predictable.
The early Arrows came with an IO-360 that was rated at 180HP and the later models Late 69’s and post 69 had the same IO-360 but rated at 200HP. I can’t say enough about this wonderful engine from Lycoming. The IO-360 is a wonderfully reliable, economical and honest power producing power plane was 100% predictability. The NA arrow sips fuel and most of my trips can be planned at 10Gph or less, I normally saw about 9.5 with the IO-360.
For high altitude and mountain flying like in the rockies it is worth looking into a Turbo Arrow III. The turbo arrow has fantastic performance for the money and with it’s Continental TSIO-360 teamed with a Merlin Black Magic Auto Gate, this plane can fly well into the low 20,000s. You will see about 13.5gph and an honest 150-170kts depending on speed mods and altitudes.
If you are going to be flying in high density altitudes or mountainous areas you may want to strongly consider the Turbo version of the arrow.. Because it was an Arrow III, it also has larger tanks and is strong well into the flight levels.
With most of the Arrows running about 950-1,100 usable and with the early models holding 50Gal and the later models 72Gal you can see how quick it would cut into your payload. They do make an honest 4 person, light luggage and 3.5-4hr traveler. I took a trip from Boise Idaho to Denver Colorado with a family of 4 and enough luggage for a 3 days weekend. We had one stop at Rock Springs for bathroom break, food and fuel.
If I were looking to buy a NA arrow I would for sure go with an Arrow III. The Arrow III was introduced in 1976 and changes include a five inch fuselage extension, wing span increase, larger horizontal tail, gross weight increase to 2,750 lb
While the Arrow is not a good aircraft in dealing with extreme weather, it does make a very good IFR plane. Updated with state of the art GPS, good instruments and flying IFR on the coast is a breeze. Stable on an approach, predictable air speeds and setup make running down to minimums a simple task.. Throw in a good auto pilot and your set to run the coast line with success.
The Arrow is light on the controls, fairly sporty for it’s size and will fly commercial maneuvers with grace. It is a blast to go out in the practice area and perform chandelles, lazy eights and steep spirals and emergency descents.
I think when old man Piper was designing this airplane he had commercial students in mind. You eventually get where you can grease a landing with the older Hersey Bar wing after many hours of practice, but one thing remains true. Take this plane into the power off 180 precision landing and it’s often not a silk smooth landing. The other great thing about the ruggedness of this plane is being able to land on a dirt strip, grass strip and rough areas knowing you have a sturdy gear. Don’t try doing that in a mooney, you may not like the results.
There is a lot to know about buying an arrow but the plane is a very straight forward mechanical machine. Many scare off due to expected costs with the gear on these planes.. Don’t be afraid of this setup, it is tried and true, parts are easy to come by and the systems are very straight forward. Some things to watch for when looking at arrows.
Gear: Look at the logs and evaluate the last time the gear systems were worked on or rebuilt. Then swing the gear with a good mechanic and time and watch how the gear cycles.. if it’s slow or latent you will most likely have some work to do. But don’t be run off by this area. The gear system on the arrow is a simple system and parts are readily available
SB1006: – This is the one you hear everyone say is the spar corrosion SB. To my knowledge and my interviews with a number of mechanics over the years, there seems to be few in the field with spar corrosion but it is something to be certain you check. This service bulletin has as more to do with the gas vents and hoses on the fuel tanks than the spar. You should always validate corrosion and SB997 below for the Spar inspection. If this SB has not been done in 10 years you will want to validate and do the work.
Trim jack: This is a simple device in the tail of the plane; have your pre-buy validate that this small but semi expensive part has been replaced and is not worn out. It’s fairly simple fix but has some labor around it.
Trim cables and trim wheel: There is a AD on the cables and the wheel on some of the serial numbers, validate it’s covered.
Auto Extender: Many pipers have had these removed, if they are not, simply validate they are calibrated and working correctly.
Fuel Selector: Just pull the cover and side panel and validate it’s not leaking.
Electric Fuel Pump Check: If you smell fuel after running the fuel pump check the following. There is a short flex line just a bout 8 inches
long on the left rear engine area. they crystalize with age and leak/break but seeps fuel when the pump is turned on. When the engine is on the fuel evaporates and blows out the bottom so you might not notice it as much unless your on the ground and that is when you’ll smell some raw fuel. With the engine off, turn on the fuel pump and check just in front of the fuel strainer are for fuel. that should find it.
Shimmy Damper: Just check this one when you go flying.. make a few high speed landings being gentle but firm on the brakes to slow down.. if she shimmy’s then it needs rebuilt. (Note the Turbo version are difficult to find)
Alternator / Regulator noise: You will hear this in the headset.. If you hear a wind up or whirring sound you may want to validate the voltage regulator has been serviced.. This is a very simple swap out but it’s good to validate. *** It is also good to note that this can also be caused by an old and corroded master switch.
Rigging: One thing found on some arrows is a lowered flap to counter act a heavy wing.. This is usually because of an in properly rigged system. When flying validate flaps are retracted the same and with normal fuel it does not have a heavy wing.
Corrosion: This is something that is just part of any good pre-buy, be 100% sure it’s corrosion free!!!!!
SB977 : This SB goes along well with SB1006 and it needs to be validated it has been done. The SB guides drain holes to allow water out of the rear area of the spar.
Oil Screen: During pre-buy be sure the oil screen is checked and cleaned. Oil analysis is a good thing here also if it’s not done, get it done.
AD’s : It should be obvious but you want to validate all AD’s and compliance.. The arrow like other planes does have ongoing AD’s but they are fairly minimal and many can be rectified long term with updates.
Panel Light Dimmers not working: This can drive you crazy and for whatever reason, piper made this one way more complex than it needed to be. There are transistors that burn out causing this system to fail. The parts are costly through Avial but you can simply find an electronics shop online and buy and install the NTE105 (final) and NTE121 (driver). I have to disclaim that you may need a 337 to do this but I will also give you the piper part numbers.
Driver: Piper# 489-385 Original Part # 2N669 NTE replacement # NTE121 Final: Piper# 489-384 Origial Part # 2N443 NTE replacement # NTE105
Door Seal: I have yet to see any of these older planes NOT need this door seal replaced. There are a couple good places to get them and they are simple to install.. They make the cockpit much nicer for both wind and sound once replaced.. It does take a bit of elbow grease to replace them but they are very trivial to do.
In summary, if your looking for a good, reliable aircraft that has a wide range of versatility and low cost of operations, it’s going to be hard to beat an arrow. If a mooney fits your needs it may be the next contender on your list. While the arrow is not as fast as something like a 210, it also does not come with added fuel burn or costs.