The Piper Plant Tour!
Going to the Piper Plant at long last was certianly a thrill. We had wanted to take a tour of the facility for ages. The Vero Beach location is within walking distance of the airport, and once you get sequenced in amongst the student operations, flying in is even pretty easy. The FBO we stayed at, Sun Aviation, even had several Piper specialists on board, which helped when our AI went south. They fixed it at a reasonable price and with blinding speed.

Our tour guide was a retired Piper employee who was very enthusiastic about the place. We were most amazed that he could hold up this entire wing with just his finger! He told us many stories about the old days, and showed us the tooling recovered from the Lakeland and the Loch Haven , PA facilities. He said that all of the tooling for all of the machines was recovered, so if you have 2 1/2 million dollars to spend, they'll build you a new Comanche.

It was great to be able to see brand new engines, some not even out of the boxes yet. Although our tour gide gave us some of the rocks they use in the polishing machines as souveniers, we didn't think he'd appreciate it very much if we asked him for the brandy new IO 360 that would make our Arrow ever so happy. Even if we just accidentally wrote our names on the shipping label. Oh well.
Of course, there were things that tempted us a bit more than the engines. This lovely Malibu for example. Although we tried, the Piper marketing people weren't interested in giving us a pre-completion deal. Seems all of these airplanes are spoken for. I suppose that selling the aircraft before building them is a good idea. Sure helps with cash flow that way. Chuck Suma is indeed wise. Hear that, Chuck? You need to hire any lawyers? Here's my resume.

The new Seneca V was certainly quite impressive. If I wasn't already a happy Baron owner, I'd think about it. Now wait a minute! Just who am I kidding? I wouldn't spend 600,000 on a new airplane! But if someone gave me the airplane, that would be quite different, now wouldn't it? Those three bladed props. That lovely panel. Those controls.... Now would I be able to readjust to props coming after throttles?

I hereby accept this brand new Malibu, complete with cute raydome, on behalf of....I can't do this, it's too silly!

Now onto something I might be able to afford someday! Isn't this a cute little Taylorcraft? Cept this one might be a tad expensive. It's serial number 12

Well, William T. Piper, you did a pretty good job with the company. It's emerged from its bankruptcy much stronger, and looking to do well in this economy. Lots has changed since you were running the show. But take heart, one thing that hasn't yet changed is the method by which Piper tracks parts, orders, and shipments..... Yes, that's right! IBM PUNCHCARDS!