The History of the Piper 235 Aircraft
The Piper PA-28 Cherokee is a family of light aircraft that was first type certified in 1960. Designed by Karl Bergey, Fred Weick, and John Thorp all members of the PA-28 family are all-metal, unpressurized, four-seat, single-engine piston-powered airplanes with low-mounted wings and tricycle landing gear. They are further characterized by a single door on the co-pilot's side, which is entered by stepping on the wing.
Piper created variations within the Cherokee family that include horsepower variation from 140 to 300. However the 300 hp Cherokee Six was a PA-32. Other variations included turbocharging, offering fixed or retractable landing gear, and fixed-pitched or constant-speed propellers.
Our beloved 235 was first introduced in fall of 1963 as a model year 64 and almost immediately earned the reputation as a heavy hauler. Piper used the Lycoming O-540 engine de-rated to 235 horsepower. The initial 64 235 quickly mutated to the 235B of 1967. This aircraft was characterized with an interior redesign. The 235 C was the 1968 version and introduced the four tank 84 gallon fuel capacity as standard. The aircraft had its fuselage stretched in 1973 by seven inches and was renamed the Charger. This additional fuselage space showed up as additional rear leg room. The stabilator area was increased as well in 1973 to accommodate the increased fuselage. In 1974 the name was again changed to the Pathfinder. Its production continued thru 1977. There was no production year 1978 as Piper was retooling for a major change.
Comparing speed of the 235 line shows that the fastest was the first series and the B's topping out at 136 knots and then gradually slowing downed until the Pathfinder bottomed out at 126 knots.
Originally all Cherokees had a constant-chord rectangular planform wing, popularly called the Hershey Bar wing because of its resemblance to the flat candy bar. Piper introduced the tapered wing with the NACA 652-415 profile and a two foot longer wingspan to the 235 line in 1979 as a 236. The 236 was named the Dakota. Both wing variants have an angled wing root i.e. the wing leading edge is swept forward as it nears the fuselage body, rather than meeting the body at a perpendicular angle. The Dakota came with the O-540 but a variant that had a higher compression ratio. At this time the 236 has not been STC'd for auto fuel as a result
A variant of the PA 28-236 was the Turbo Dakota. It came with a Continental 200 horsepower TSIO-360 power plant. The airplane came with impressive book cruise figures of 154 knots but was only produced the first year of the Dakota that of 1979.
Discussion of the new wing design can certainly find people of different opinions. Karl Bergey at National Cherokee Fly-In in 2005 reminisced that the sexy new tapered wing was a marketing gimmick. John Thorp was quoted saying tapered wings tend to stall outboard reducing aileron effectiveness and increasing the likelihood of a rolloff into a spin. Peter Garrison an American Journalist and amateur aircraft builder further explains: To prevent tip stall, designers have resorted to providing the outboard portion of tapered wings with more cambered airfoil sections, drooped or enlarged leading edges, fixed or automatic leading edge slots or slats, and , most commonly, wing twist or washout. The trouble with these fixes is that they all increase the drag, cancelling whatever benefit the tapered wing was supposed to deliver in the first place. On the other side of the coin, the specifications show the Dakota to be significantly faster, however, did this increased speed come from the wing or other mods that were added? Also the service ceiling increased with the 236. Is that the result of the tapered wing? This debate continues to make for great hanger talk.
Piper introduced the 235 line to compete with the Cessna 182. It is hard to compare these two birds as over the years of 235/236 production Piper's performance specifications were remarkably stable. In comparison Cessna's 182 numbers were not leaving one to ask which 182 are you comparing too.
The 1990s presented lean years for Piper forcing a bankruptcy. It has now reopened as Piper Aircraft still producing several members of the PA 28 family however the 235/236 appears to have seen its last days of production.