By: Norm Goyer
Over the years I have learned that I prefer my Suburban over a sedan, station wagon or pick up truck. My late wife Tina did not. she preferred her Buick Le Sabre with its four doors and Sunday go to church looks. But when it was time for her to go shopping or out with her girl friends, “Dear, can I borrow your Suburban?” Our aircraft sitting in hangars or on the line at the FBO we owned followed our car routine. For everyday flying and working flights, I used either the Cherokee Six we owned or a Cessna 206 we had on leaseback. Depending on the job or airport facilities or lack of facilities it was the “Six” or the “206”. They both did the job every time. Our fleet of Warriors, Arrows, 152s and 172s were great in our rental and learn to fly programs but when a Part 135 (Charter) job came along, out came the heavy equipment. I am basically a low wing man (Navy training) so I preferred the Six but our charter pilots liked the 206, especially the new Turbo 206 when it finally came out.
The two aircraft were pretty well matched in power, both had 300 hp mills. The Piper had a Lycoming 300 while the 206 had a Continental 285, 300 and 310 with the turbo. They both had rear doors to facilitate passenger and freight handling. Visibility from the cockpit of the Cessna was better than the Six due to the long nose and positive angle of attack of the Piper on the ground. The rear seats of the Six could be turned around for club seating and real easy entrance from rear door which abutted the baggage door allowing a huge box to be shoved into the fuselage. The Six also made a great camera plane for air to air shooting due to this large opening in the rear. You could even mount a large motion picture camera on a Mitchell mount in the Piper. You could do the same in the Cessna 206 but it was easier in the Piper.
In the air, they flew like heavy utility aircraft are supposed to fly. Each will cruise along at a respectable speeds, 163mph for the 206 and 168 mph for the six. Their useful load is approximately the same. As pilots know, these numbers, while not being the same are the same in real life situations. Analyze the job then pick the airplane. Both aircraft handled cross winds very well with the Piper a bit easier due to the wide spaced landing gear and low to the runway wings which provided a better air cushion. (ground effects) Both are “trim” airplanes and once up on the plane will provide a very comfortable ride to your destination, whether an airport, grass field, dry lake or even a straight cow path. Each of these utility aircraft will perform as designed. In reality, it’s a toss-up, and the deciding factor is the low wing vs high wing and Lycoming vs Continental although in the last 206s made they too had a 300 Lycoming engine.
Keeping the Cherokee Six family of aircraft separated is difficult as there were so many changes of names. The Cherokee Six retractable was named the Lance. When Piper switched to the new wing the Lance was renamed the Saratoga. Previously the Lance was introduced with a “T” tail. At that time “T” tails were “hot” at Piper. There was also a turbo charged Lance. After a few years, Piper dropped the T tail. Piper did continue the Cherokee Six with non retractable landing gear into the 2000s but finally discontinued if for lack of sales. The original Cherokee Six concept lives on in the piston powered Malibu and the turbo prop powered Malibu/Meridian. The flagship of Piper’s single engine lineup. The Cessna 206 also lives on in the concept of the Cessna 208 Caravan, again a much revised 206 with a turbine in the nose.
Specifications Piper 1972 model PA-32-300
- Crew: One
- Capacity: five passengers (or six with optional seat)
- Length: 27.7 ft in (8.4 m)
- Wingspan: 32.8 ft in (10.0 m)
- Height: 7.9 ft in (2.4 m)
- Wing area: 174.5 ft2 (16.5 m2)
- Wing profile: NACA 65-415
- Empty weight: 1788 lb (811 kg)
- Gross weight: 3400 lb (1542 kg)
- Engine: Lycoming IO-540-K1A5, 300 hp (225 kW)
- Maximum speed: 174 mph (280 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 168 mph (272 km/h)
- Range: 840 miles (1361 km)
- Service ceiling: 16250 ft (4950 m)
- Rate of climb: 1050 ft/min (5.3 m/s)
Specifications for Cessna 206 H
- Crew: one
- Capacity: 5 passengers
- Length: 28 ft 3 in (8.61 m)
- Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in (10.97 m)
- Height: 9 ft 3½ in (2.83 m)
- Wing area: 175.5 ft² (16.30 m²)
- Airfoil: NACA 2412 (modified)
- Empty weight: 2,176 lb (987 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 3,600 lb (1,632 kg)
- Engine: Lycoming IO-540-AC1A air-cooled flat-six engine, 300 hp (224 kW)