Welcome to the new year and the new decade. The year 2020 makes the 70th anniversary of the Pacer that went into production in 1950. With the new year we want to do a couple of things that we have not done before. As with anything in life we have some good years and we have some lean years and with technology things have changed making it harder for us to merge our old technology airplanes with the fast-paced world of today.
Think about this, when the short wing Pipers were designed the engineers used slide rules and drafting boards. To make a phone call, it was most likely a party line and you had to wait until the others were finished with their phone call. To take a photograph, you had to get out the camera and set the aperture, get the lighting right, and focus just to take the picture then get the film developed just to see if your photograph came out like you wanted. Everything took time and most everyone was patient, fast forward 72 years and everyone wants everything right now and no one has any patience. Today I can take out my iPhone and make a call, take a photo and see it right away, text anyone, and open the engineering app and run calculations all in the palm of my hand! So how can we slow things down a little and bring the people back together?
Our strength is in our numbers so the higher our numbers the more we can accomplish. Look back to 1948 when Piper built the Vagabond, they built 387 PA-15’s and another 214 PA-17’s for a total of 601 aircraft built. Then in 1949 they introduced the Clipper, but it was only built for one year, yet they built 736 of them. 70 years ago, Piper introduced a modified Clipper and called it the Pacer or PA-20. A total of 1120 Pacer were built before ending production of the taildragger. The following year 1951 the PA-22 was introduced, or the tricycle gear version of the Pacer called the Tri-pacer. By the time production ended a total of 9490 PA-22’s were built. So, is there any question why we see more Clippers than Vagabonds, and more Pacers than Clippers, and more Tri-pacers than Pacers? But when we put them all together as Short Wing Pipers there were a total of 11,947 built making the numbers pretty strong. So, my goal is to try to bring all of the Short Wing Piper owners together under one umbrella to increase our strength.
So, you may ask just how do we plan to do this. Well Adolph and Kent have been working on a membership drive sending printed flyers to registered owners of Short Wing Pipers. I am currently working with the VAA to try to arrange for group parking for the 70th anniversary of the Pacer at Oshkosh this year. I also want to try to organize a mass arrival of Pacer’s into Oshkosh for 2020. Additionally, one of our club members Steve Benish lives in Oshkosh and has his plane based there, and we are planning an informal social get together one evening at his hangar. In addition to that I want to encourage every active chapter to organize an event/ meeting with their neighboring chapter.
The one thing you notice that I did not mention here is the 2020 SWPC convention. Cliff is busy working on the plans for the 2020 Wichita convention and I encourage everyone of you to attend. Because of this being the 70th year of the Pacer it would be nice to see a field full of Pacers and yes I include PA-22/20’s. This is your club and your convention and I am honored that I get to coordinate activities for you, the club members. With strength being in the numbers let’s make 2020 one of the best years for the convention then we can break that new record in 2021 because even more Tr-pacer’s and Colts were built.
In the end, this is the Short Wing Piper Club, but it is about much more than just airplanes. This club is made up of our members and we are about the people. When you are going to fly to breakfast or lunch or maybe just a local flight, I want to ask each and every one of you to invite someone to go with you if you happen to have an empty seat. If you are an EAA member I encourage you to give Young Eagle (YE) flights in your short wing Piper. Over the years I have had the pleasure of giving many YE rides and it is amazing how many people tell me they got their first airplane ride in a Tri-pacer. This is a tradition that we want to continue so kids that get rides today can say they got their first airplane ride in a Short Wing Piper in another 20 or 30 years. The next time you meet one of those people that got their first ride in a Short Wing Piper, take a good look at the twinkle in their eyes and the smile on their face, and that is how we want to leave everyone that we meet.
If you live in an area without a chapter of the SWPC or the chapter in your area isn’t active, please step up and encourage participation. We are promoting all of the fun fabric covered short wing Pipers that were built and even replicas built from plans. But the most important thing we promote is camaraderie and the love of everything that flies. So next time you are at the airport and have an empty seat, try to put someone in that seat and most important is if you know of a short wing owner or pilot that can’t fly anymore, please get them back in the air. If you see a short wing Piper at an event, take the time to walk over and meet the pilot/ owner and if they aren’t a member, invite them to join the club. As our membership increases the more we will be able to do as a club.