Here at Red Rock, we do most of our flight training in the PA 28-180, more commonly known as the Piper Cherokee. We currently have 9 Cherokees in our fleet of 15 training aircrafts. Our Cherokees are all four-seat, all-metal, unpressurized airplanes that are single-engine, piston-powered, with low-mounted wings and tricycle landing gear. They have a single door on the right side, which is entered by stepping up onto the wing.
The first PA-28 received its type certificate from the FAA in 1960 and the Cherokees in our fleet all come from that era ranging from 1962 - 1966. Piper created several models of the PA-28 in this time by installing a range of engines capable of 150, 160, and 180hp. All of ours have at least the more powerful 180hp Lycoming O-360 engine, in order to make flight training faster and easier for more people. The extra power makes it practical to fly with more seats filled for scenic flights!
All our Cherokees have the rectangular planform wing, popularly called the "Hershey Bar" wing (because of its resemblance to the rectangular chocolate bar), which helps keep the plane safer in stalls and avoids unwanted spins. They also use control yokes rather than sticks, together with rudder pedals for steering, flaps which can extend for maneuvers and landing into 3 places or angles from 10° up to 40°, dash-mounted control knobs for the throttle, and mixture, and an overhead crank for stabilator trim. These things make the Cherokee a trainer aircraft comparable to the Cessna 172 in ease of use and handling.
As we have been expanding our fleet, we have been upgrading instruments and avionics to standardize the training experience from one plane to another. Our Cherokee trainers utilize the traditional 'Six-Pack' configuration of instruments, most of which are the normal round dial style with a few digital exceptions. All have dual 2-way radios and a radio managing panel to make communication and navigation simpler. We have several with Garmin transponders, and a few with Stratus transponders that can supply traffic info to an iPhone/iPad Foreflight display. Finally, the GPS technology our Cherokees have installed is the Garmin 400, and 400W series. We have also been upgrading our radio, transponder, and GPS equipment one aircraft at a time. One of the newest additions to our updating process is redoing the interior with some nice, customized leather seats.
Most of our Cherokees are specifically for VFR only (Visual Flight Rules), while several are equipped for IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) as well. Because of this we are able to do a wide range of flight training activities, as well as some nice scenic flights in all kinds of conditions. Even with all the work we have put in to standardize the features of our Cherokees, each one is distinctly its own aircraft with its own personality and nickname. We have also gotten each of them an official call-sign, rather than using the standard tail number on radio calls. For example, N9366J, or "Little Blue" is Red Rock 66. We have found that in training, or just flying for fun, each plane having a call-sign like Red Rock 71, or Red Rock 83 makes the experience easier and more comfortable.
Overall, the Piper Cherokee makes a fantastic trainer, and we have worked hard to make flying in ours the best experience possible! We love the additional options that are open to us with our aircraft. Aside from the standard flight training, and the fun discovery flight opportunities, we get to fly in formation, and attend events all over the States like camping in Payson or going to the AirVenture Oshkosh fly-in convention. We look forward to all the places we will get to take you, and all the views our airplanes can help you reach!