Jan 15, 2010
Though there have been many thousands of airplane designs through the years, only a very few have ever been so good, so timeless as to still be flying in normal service as opposed to being a vintage-classic relic when they're a half-century old. The Douglas DC-3, Boeing B-52 and KC-135, and the Lockheed U-2 come to mind. Even rarer are those types that manage to actually remain in production for 50 years (with, of course, some relatively minor modifications along the way): The Beechcraft Bonanza, the Cessna 172 and 182, and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. (I'll leave it to others to argue over whether the Mooney M20 series or the Piper Cub/Super Cub and their descendants should be included.)
Today, another aircraft joins this list of vaunted aircraft designs: The Piper PA-28 Cherokee, which first took to the skies on January 14th, 1960 from Vero Beach, Florida and which has resulted in over 32,000 airplanes being built in several variants, continuing today. Congratulations to Piper Aircraft and designers Karl Bergey, Fred Weick and John Thorp on their excellent achievement.