Getting in and out of a Piper Cherokee

27 Replies

Getting in and out of a Piper Cherokee

Posted by David Exe on Dec 10, 2018 3:07 pm

It has been over 25 years since I have been in a GA plane except for starting my flight review (after 25 year lapse) in a Cessna.  I am considering purchasing a plane and am trying to do a little front end research. My question is what is it like to get into and out of a Piper Cherokee type.  I flew both 172's and Piper 180's 25 years ago but was a lot more nimble then. Right now, at 76 I am out of shape and stiff. My wife has physical difficulties and finds it difficult to get up out of a recliner.  None of the flight services around have any low wings, all Cessna's.  So, it isn't practical for me to just go to one and climb in.
To those who might be more "experienced", how difficult do you find it to get in and out of a low wing?

Also, on a plane such as the Cherokee 6 that has space between the pilot and passenger seat, it is practical to move from the passenger seat to the rear of the plane through that space?  Doesn't seem to me like an option.

Any thoughts and insight?

Thanks

 

Re: Getting in and out of a Piper Cherokee

Posted by Michael Walpole on Dec 10, 2018 6:42 pm

Can't answer you about the Cherokee 6, but I do fly a Warrior (a 172 and a 182).  You slide down into the Warrior, that is the easy part.  Getting out, that is another matter.  When I fly Young Eagles in it all the kids get out so gracefully.  Then I have to haul my old butt out - not so graceful.  LOL  I would say it probably not the easiest airplane to get out of if your flexibility is gone.  I suggest you try to get in and out of one sometime.

That said, I took my wife flying for the first and hopefully not the last time Saturday.  I took the 182 because it's a lot easier to get in and out of.  Maybe sometime if she'll go flying with me again we'll take the Warrior.  It just would not have been the right airplane for her for a first flight in a GA airplane.
Mike W

Re: Getting in and out of a Piper Cherokee

Posted by Robert Gardner on Dec 11, 2018 10:12 am

I trained several paraplegics in Cherokees. They would boost themselves from their wheelchairs onto the wing, derriere first, reach down and grab the wheelchair, fold it up, and muscle it into the back seat. Then they would ooch (medical term) themselves onto the passenger seat and then over to the pilot seat. It goes without saying that they had good upper body strength. They flew with hand controls, obviously.

It will not be pretty, but if your wife can back up to the trailing edge and ooch her fanny onto the wing she should be able to do the same thing.

Bob Gardner

Re: Getting in and out of a Piper Cherokee

Posted by Ronald Levy on Dec 11, 2018 11:20 am

There are good reasons why the strutless, large-doored Cessna 177 Cardinal is the most popular aircraft among the "wheelchair pilot" community.  That said, as Bob noted, the Cherokee family isn't an impossibility.  However, since everyone's physical issues are different, your best bet would be to find a PA28-series airplane and try getting in and out.  While your local FBO's may not have them, they are sufficiently popular that almost every airport has at least one based there.  You should try asking around the airport and seeing if someone will let you try getting in and out.

As for the PA32-series (Cherokee Six, et alia), it takes someone small and nimble to move from the cockpit to the cabin area or vice versa, and that doesn't sound like either you or your wife.  OTOH, that big rear door for the cabin area might make your wife's entry/exit much easier if she's willing to ride back there while you're up front flying.

Re: Getting in and out of a Piper Cherokee

Posted by David Exe on Dec 11, 2018 11:48 am

Appreciate the answers.  Isn't it GREAT getting old?  Of course, the alternative isn't very attractive.  I think it is pretty obvious now that the 182, or P210, will be the way to go.  I think we can give up the non-stop long haul too.  If you can't get to the back and you can't hold it, then the obvious is either something very much larger, or stop often. Fortunately time won't be a major factor so making a couple extra stops won't be a bad thing.

At my age (76) and with a couple heart stents in 2005-2006 I don't want her in the back seat. In fact, before we do any real flying she is going to have to be "able" to solo. I can't think of anything more terrifying than to be up in a single engine plane with an incapacitated pilot and not be able to land the thing. I think it would be very disconcerting even when the pilot is in control. While I have passed the treadmill test to 100% and all, I still have the concerns. What I tell my wife is that at least I know that the issue is there. If I had never had an issue the problem would very likely be there, I just wouldn't have any idea about it. Now the medicines have the blood pressure and cholesterol in excellent condition. Now if I could just lose some weight. Dang that is hard.  Of course, that would help me in getting around the plane too.

So, I think a 182 or older P210 is likely in the future.  I need to keep it fixed gear due to my limited hours and short time back in. Insurance is crippling if I don't. High altitude of Albuquerque and Santa Fe limit me on the low HP side also. Also my main objective is to be able to fly to Minnesota from Albuquerque. Not a short flight for building time. 

So, what I tell these young punks in the 30-40 year old range is that THEY are in their golden years and I am in my "lead" years and we know where that settled.

Thanks much for the responses. 

 

Re: Getting in and out of a Piper Cherokee

Posted by Ronald Levy on Dec 12, 2018 3:16 pm

David Exe:
So, I think a 182 or older P210 is likely in the future.  I need to keep it fixed gear due to my limited hours and short time back in. Insurance is crippling if I don't.

A Cessna 210 (pressurized or otherwise) is retractable, so that wouldn't fit your stated needs.  However, the fixed-gear Cessna 206 is about the same cabin size and number of seats, so you might want to think about one of those instead.  Also, as long as you're not going up into the Rockies, a Cessna 177B Cardinal (the B-model has 180HP and constant speed prop) would still be a good plane even going into ABQ as long as it's only two people and moderate baggage, and the strutless design and much larger cabin doors would make it easier to get in and out.

Re: Getting in and out of a Piper Cherokee

Posted by Christopher Roberts on Dec 17, 2018 10:11 am

A 3-step folding aluminium ladder helps with either configuration, but I am always a little more nervous of someone slipping off the wing in the low-wing aircraft. The PA32 is great for rear-loading less able passengers, but all the ones I've seen aren't designed to move from front to rear of the aircraft.

Re: Getting in and out of a Piper Cherokee

Posted by Lauren Mcgavran on Dec 17, 2018 12:36 pm

With regards to your health concerns and your wife being able to land the plane - that is a wonderful idea. You might also consider getting an airframe parachute. I occasionally look at planes to buy, and found that you can get a parachute for a 182. I fly a Remos light sport and a parachute is a must have for me. It gives me extra options in mountain flying, or should something bad, but not totally incapacitating, happen to me, as I am usually solo. I am currently based out of KLAM; the Jemez are beautiful mountains to fly over, as are the Sangres.

Re: Getting in and out of a Piper Cherokee

Posted by Edward Poole on Dec 17, 2018 2:17 pm

I fly both 172's and PA28R's.  Both have good and bad qualities, The Cessna is easy to get into with double doors, but fueling it is a pain (stepping up on the strut which can be slick).  The Piper's make fueling an easy job, but sumping requires crawling under the wing and getting in and out can be a challenge even for my 38 year old body some days.  I tend to find rolling into the pilot seat is a good way to go.  I might add an option that you might not have ever thought of before, but that is available:  Beechcraft Musketeer or Sundowner, if you want a complex the Sierra.  They have optional two door configurations which make getting in and out easier, the cockpit is also roomier.  They may not be the fastest or sexiest aircraft in their class, but they have economical up front purchase costs, are pretty solid from my limited experience flying around in a friends.        

Re: Getting in and out of a Piper Cherokee

Posted by Ronald Levy on Dec 17, 2018 7:36 pm

Edward Poole:
The Cessna is easy to get into with double doors, but fueling it is a pain (stepping up on the strut which can be slick). 

If you're flying an earlier Cessna high-wing without the built-in steps on the struts, you should not be stepping on the strut to check the fuel.  The strut isn't designed for that, and as Edward said, it's slick enough that you risk a serious slip-and-fall.  Far safer (and better for your airplane) to carry along in the baggage compartment some sort of step device for fueling and checking the fuel level/cap security..