The Piper Cherokee 6 300 is one the longest production single variants of any aircraft ever built. This is the guide for those looking to acquire one.
Built by Piper Aircraft, a used Cherokee Six 300 costs between $93,000 and $400,000 depending on a variety of factors. It cruises at 132 knots and has a max speed of 151 knots. It burns 17 gallons of fuel per hour at its most fuel intensive part of the flight.
As a flight instructor and experienced pilot who has flown nearly every aircraft imaginable, I am intimately familiar with the Piper Cherokee family, including the Piper Cherokee Six 300. Although I don’t own one of these fine airplanes myself, most of my GA pilot friends do, and I have had the good fortune to fly theirs on several different occasions.
The Piper Cherokee Six 300, also known as PA-32, is a single-engine light aircraft that has been iconic and famous among pilots and owners to this date. Even after five decades, it is still used by literally thousands of general aviation (GA) pilots the world over
After Piper Aircraft Corporation received the FAA type certification for the aircraft on May 27, 1966, it was offered for sale to the public in 1967. It was built after its successful predecessor, the Piper PA -28 Cherokee, a four-seat aircraft with a lower power rating of 260 horsepower.
The company decided it was time to improve the aircraft, lengthening the fuselage to a 6-seater and adding more power, and so the Cherokee Six 300 was born.
One of the reasons for its popularity, the Cherokee Six 300 has a spacious cabin that can accommodate six (the PA-32 can even have a maximum of 7 seats) passengers and their luggage.
With a cabin of 3.5 feet wide and 4 feet tall, you can say that it is a small airliner aircraft that passengers can still stretch their feet out and relax. Some people even joke around and say that you can fit a grand piano inside the aircraft.
Powered by a Lycoming IO-540 engine, it produces 300 horsepower (hence the name Cherokee Six 300) so even with a significant amount of fuel, passengers, and cargo, it doesn’t sacrifice its performance. The aircraft also has a range of 700 nautical miles, making it great for long flights.
Different versions of the Cherokee Six 300 were made, the retractable and fixed landing gear. Regardless of which type, both were laid out in the tricycle landing gear configuration that most GA pilots are familiar with
You may be thinking that the retractable was definitely the go-to variant since the retractable gear will provide us with less drag and increase our speed but that was not the case for their sales.
According to a friend of mine who owns his own Cherokee Six 300, he once compared his Cherokee Six 300 to that owned by another one of our friends. What they found out was that the retractable gear variant was only 5 knots faster than the fixed gear variant. For a long flight, that's considerable but weighed in with the upgrade costs, I don’t think it’s worth it.
The Cherokee Six 300 is a versatile aircraft making it popular for different types of pilots. It can be used for private transportation, cargo (utility) transport, aerial photography, skydiving, and more. It is a workhorse for private pilots, charter operators, and small to medium sized corporations alike.
What Are The Specifications of Piper Cherokee Six 300?
How Fast Does Piper Cherokee Fly?
If there is one thing I have learned during my flight training, it is to pay attention to airspeeds. My flight instructor always said that if you have airspeed, you'll probably survive any unpredictable phases of your flight.
The Cherokee Six 300 is not really known for its high speed capabilities. The aircraft usually has a Cruising Speed (Vcruise) of 132 knots. Given its features (since a heavily loaded aircraft will have reduced performance) I think it’s more than enough considering that it’s a reciprocating engine.
Some factors can help increase its cruising speed such as weight, altitude, and weather conditions. The Never Exceed Speed (Vne) is 184 knots which refers to the maximum speed of the aircraft to operate safely in smooth conditions (non turbulent flights) and should not be exceeded, hence the name.
Added to its cruising speed, the Cherokee Six 300 has a Stall Speed (Vs0) of 55 knots in landing configuration. This is a very crucial speed wherein the aircraft will no longer be able to generate enough lift to remain airborne.
Pilots should be wary and avoid flying at or below the stall speed that’s why during our pre-solo even at the last phase of our training we practice stall recovery because doing so can result in loss of control or an unrecoverable stall will surely lead to a crash.
In an event of an emergency during a stall (or in general), the Cherokee Six 300 has the Best Gliding Speed (Vglide) of 87 knots. It is the speed at which an aircraft can attain its maximum distance in a glide for a given altitude.
Gliding Speed allows the pilots to cover the maximum distance with a minimum loss of altitude. Pilots are trained to know this in case of the inevitable for them to land the aircraft safely.
The crosswind component is an important speed in flight. The Cherokee Six 300 has a Crosswind Component (Xwind) of 17 knots. Take note of this as the aircraft’s handling and performance during takeoff or landing will be affected. We must be able to calculate and adjust to the crosswind component.
The Rotation Speed (Vr) of the aircraft is 58 knots, it’s the airspeed at which the pilot will rotate the aircraft’s nose up for it to take off the runway. The “rotate” comes from the physical motion of the aircraft as the pilot pulls back on the controls during take-off.
After rotation, you can choose either the Best Angle of Climb (Vx), which is 79 knots, or Best Rate of Climb (Vy), which is 89 knots. The difference between the two is that Vx refers to the airspeed at which the aircraft gains the most altitude per horizontal distance.
The Vy however, refers to the airspeed at which an aircraft can achieve the greatest altitude gain per unit of time but regardless of which climbing speed you choose, it is advisable that you maintain at least a 1050 feet per minute (FPM)
The Approach Speed (Vapp) is 85 knots which refer to the airspeed at which an aircraft should be flown during the final stages of an approach or landing.
The Design Maneuvering Speed (Va) of the Cherokee Six 300 is 129 knots. It is the maximum speed at which the aircraft can undergo its maximum design load factor. Va can affect the stalling speed depending on the load factor at a given moment.
Airspeed Instrument Markings are also important as it provides critical information about the speed in different phases during flight.
The Green Arc (normal operating range) is at 62 knots to 146 knots and within that arc is the White Arc (Flap Operating Range) or the range where you can deploy your flaps without it being damaged is at 55 knots to 109 knots.
Yellow Arc (Caution Range) at 146 knots to 184 knots and the Red Line (Never Exceed) is at 184 knots it is where the airframe will either bend or break. For more information about it, check the VG diagram.
(Note that V-speeds are subject to change depending on the aircraft’s modification, temperature, altitude, weather conditions, and more.)
How Much Fuel Does The Piper Cherokee 6 300 Burn?
The Cherokee Six 300 has 4 tanks, (which is a hassle during pre-flight because you have to empty 4 external drains) two main inboard tanks with 25 gallon capacity which is stated on the POH to be used first, and two 17 gallon capacity tip tanks which are stated on the POH to be filled first.
All 84 gallons are usable except for one pint in each tank. The Cherokee 6 300 also has a fuel selector valve located in the center of the instrument panel below. It also has a fuel injection system with an electric and engine-driven fuel pump for redundancy or emergencies.
After reading the aforementioned, you may begin to realize that one of the disadvantages of the Cherokee Six 300 is its fuel system. Normally, a pilot switches between tanks every 15 minutes to ensure a balanced flight, but that is not the case with the Cherokee Six 300's tank arrangement.
The only way for the pint of reserve to maintain between one or two tanks is to completely deplete your tank before switching, and that's scary enough because the propeller stops as soon as no fuel and air mixture enters the cylinder.
There’s also a factor of weight and balance when one of each tank is depleted. When one tank is depleted in flight, it will have less weight to it giving it more lift compared to the other wing that still has a full tank.
Remember, an imbalanced aircraft will require more correction in flight which can affect fuel consumption as well. At an average cruising speed of 132 knots to 140 knots, fuel consumption averages 14 to 17 gallons per hour. It can be optimized by following proper operating procedures.
Leaning the mixture at high altitudes and maintaining cruise power during cruising altitude. Since the Cherokee Six 300 can carry a maximum of 84 gallons of fuel (with the help of additional tanks), its flight can last up to 5 hours, with 30 minutes of fuel in its reserve.
The Cherokee Six 300 is also equipped with a fuel flow meter that allows pilots to monitor the aircraft’s fuel consumption and adjust the engine power accordingly.
How Much Does a Piper Cherokee Six 300 Cost?
Although production of the Cherokee Six 300 ceased after 42 years (from 1965-2007), the Cherokee Six 300 is still quite expensive. After its initial release, the original price in 1965 was only $27,500 USD.
The price started to vary depending on different configurations and optional equipment upgrades (avionics, engine, interior, wing tip upgrade, fuel system, landing gear, etc.). The price now has fluctuated over time due to many factors such as inflation, changes in production costs, and market demand.
Hunting a Cherokee Six 300 for myself, I scrolled at globalplanesearch.com and found out that the current average sales for the PA-32 is at $93,000 to $400,000 wherein they vary based on different reasons.
Comparing two pre-owned Cherokee Six 300 prices let us start with the cheapest one with great features. This 1979 PA-32 costs $135,000 with upgraded parts. We’re talking about Garmin instruments, Garmin transponders, Collins navigation systems, and audio panels. The interior was even refurbished for better comfort and aesthetics.
With a total flight time of 3,588 hours, it is not a bad deal. Since most of his upgrades cost $20,000 and below each. Meanwhile, the $375,000 PA-32 is pretty jam-packed compared to the first one.
This PA-32 has all the upgrades from the first one with S-TEC Autopilot System, electric trims, ground clearance recorder, air conditioning, and more. Now those instruments sure are fancy and would help us but it is not really a necessity.
Meanwhile, there are other Cherokee Six 300 that have little to no upgrades at all that cost $80,000. At that price expect a high time for both airframe and engine for these types of models.
Obviously, a well-maintained, low-time model will be more expensive than the average price while a higher-time aircraft with less or no maintenance will be cheaper so make sure to check the maintenance log book before purchasing. Test flights are great as well if the owner allows it.
Owning an aircraft doesn’t just stop after its purchase. We have to take into account different operating costs that can vary depending on the aircraft’s condition and usage.
Like any aircraft, it requires fuel. With the average fuel consumption of roughly 15.5 gallons per hour, multiplied by the usual cost of AVGas in the US which is $6.75. Assuming you are flying around 7,000 hours a year, that’s $47,000 alone.
We also have the maintenance; preventive maintenance which is necessary to keep the aircraft in top shape, the unscheduled maintenance for unpredicted faults on some components. You’re looking at a budget of at least $100,000 to $125,000 annually.
Insurance is a need for both aircraft and pilots. A range of $1,500 to $3,000 (depending on the insurance company) will be spent annually with coverage for bodily injury and property damage in case of an accident.
For your Cherokee Six 300, you have a garage for it; a hangar. Making one is not an option unless you have several aircraft so I suggest renting one. Renting a hangar can cost around $40 to $200 depending on the location.
Take into account the taxes and registration fees as well. There’s also sales tax, registration fees, and renewal of certificates for you to be able to fly the plane legally.
What Powers the Cherokee Six 300?
Powering the Cherokee Six 300 is a Lycoming IO-540-K1A5). It is a Horizontally Opposed type, six cylinders, with a displacement of 541.5 cu. It produces 300 horsepower with RPM rated speed of 2700. Having a degree in aircraft maintenance engineering prior to my flight training, I’m impressed.
The horizontally opposed reciprocating engine is an excellent engine that can be found in many aircraft. It provides great stability due to the outward movement of the piston, and great cooling (not as great as 4 cylinders, as the third row cylinders may have less air cooling).
Of course, some pre-owned Cherokee Six 300 have other modifications that made the engine better and airworthy. Upgrades like turbo can be added for it to produce more power.
Attached to the engine is a two-bladed constant speed propeller with a diameter of 80 inches (Minimum of 78.5). It converts the engine’s full power to the propeller. It can also help with efficient operation at different altitudes and airspeeds.
Is the Cherokee Six 300 for you?
An aircraft is an investment that you should think about before purchasing one. The Cherokee Six 300 may be a great aircraft but it is not suited for every pilot out there. There are factors you should think of before you make that purchase.
If you’re planning to transport different cargo sizes (assuming it is under the allowable weight of the aircraft) then yes. Since its main feature is its ability to transport loads up to 1,400 lbs and that’s a lot considering that this is a single-engine aircraft.
It can also be used for both personal and business travel in case you want to fly than travel via ground as it can fly more than 900 nautical miles depending on the different conditions. Again, more than enough for a private flight.
Yes, it is versatile and reliable but if you’re a trainee pilot wanting to get those precious hours on an aircraft then this is not for you. With its fuel consumption as high as 17 gallons per hour you’re burning a lot of money to build your hours.
You’re better off with a Cessna 172 or standard Piper PA-28 Cherokee which are both four-seater aircraft. Training with an aircraft this big is not practical as it is big compared to other training aircraft.
Since this aircraft is designed for its cargo capabilities, the Six 300 doesn’t go fast. It may have a reliable engine but going 132 knots on an aircraft that size is a bit slow. Pilots who are into faster aircraft aren’t leaning toward the PA-32.
From an operational standpoint, the Cherokee Six 300 is a favorite of air taxi services thanks to its versatility - probably the reason most of those such companies at my local airfields use scores of them!
Lastly, let’s be honest, this aircraft is pretty expensive. Yes, the features are great but you’re looking at spending $200,000 for a reliable aircraft plus the other ownership and operational costs to fly this airplane. Some don’t even have the modern avionics that is standard on different aircrafts on the market.
Whatever your choice may be, this airplane can get you to point A to B (slowly but surely and with a large payload) without any problems.
About THE AUTHOR
After spending years watching every video I could find about flying, I finally scratched the itch and got my pilots license. Now I fly every chance I get, and share the information I learn, here.Read More About Joe Haygood