Shenandoah EAA Chapter 1031

Winchester, VA

Evolution of the Pacer


1960 PA22/20-150 Serial No. 22-7282 Piper Pacer N3342Z

By: Juergen Nies

N3342Z started its life on January 18, 1960 in Lock Haven Pennsylvania as a PA22-150 (Tri-Pacer). J. W. McNury (Assistant Chief Engineer Piper Aircraft Corporation) signed the log bock.

Until November 1975 the airplane labored as a trainer as well as being privately owned and accumulated 2,340 hours. In 2018 the son of a former owner contacted me and provided this picture of the (Tri-) Pacer sitting in their front lawn showing his older sister holding his younger sister and a (boy) friend.


In August 1975 the following changes were made:

  • Conversion to a PA22/20-150 (Piper Pacer Taildragger) with 800x6 tires and Scott Model 3200 Tail wheel
  • Installed Cleveland brakes.
  • The whole airplane was recovered and painted in Sacramento green and Daytona white.
  • Installed landing and Taxi light into left wing.
  • Installed airborne dry vacuum pump.
  • Installed new Narco radios.
  • After all these changes the empty weight was 1,092 lbs.

One and a half year later, in April 1977 (after only 6 additional hours on the tach) the last entry was made for almost eight years. Eight years later, on February 1, 1985 N3342Z was signed off again after an extensive restoration process (which filled six pages in the log bock). Some of the additional changes are:

  • The whole airplane was stripped of its cover, inspected, recovered and painted in its current colors (Sun Valley ivory, Tennessee red and Bahama blue).
  • Installed drooped wing tips.
  • Added wing strut fairings.
  • Installed wing strobes.
  • Added two out-board long range fuel tanks (11 Gallon capacity each to a total capacity of 58 Gallon).
  • Installed all new Windows.
  • New Headliner.
  • New Carpet.
  • Overhauled Propeller.
  • Engine was opened and inspected (the engine had a major overhaul in 1965 at 1308 hours).

There is no indication of why N3342Z was sitting around for almost 8 years. Until now (December 2000) the total time of the airplane is 2,888 hours. Since the taildragger conversion in November 1975 only 548 hours were flown onto the airplane.

I purchased N3342Z in July 1999 and have added 130 hours of those 548 hours in the last one and a half years. I transitioned from an Aeronca Champ (N3126E) to the Pacer. It took me a while to get used to the bungee cord type landing gear vs. the nice Oleo-strut gear of the Champ. I also found the Pacer to be much more sensitive during take off and landing roll than the Champ. The first 10 hours I had a problem with "fish-tailing" down the runway, until I checked the set up of the tail-wheel springs and found them to be too loose. I shorten the length of the chains attaching the springs to the rudder and the problem completely went away.


Near York, PA - Winter, 2000

The reason for me to change from the beautiful Champ to the (also beautiful) Pacer was that I needed four seats to haul my family. I am in the fortunate situation that my wife, as well as our two daughters (three and five years old), loves to go flying with me. We have spent many weekends to fly to different places for lunch or sight seeing. All of us went to the Virginia State fly inn at Petersburg, VA in June 2000 and camped under the wing of the Pacer over night.

The longest cross-country I have done in the Pacer was last year's trip to Sun and Fun. This was also the trip were I set my personal endurance record piloting an aircraft none stop. I flew from Winchester, VA to St. Simon Island, GA (with a slight head wind) in five hours and 19 minutes using 49 Gallon of fuel. Since then I had a new carburetor installed to reduce the fuel burn down to 8 to 8.5 Gallon per hour vs. the almost 10 Gallon per hour it used to burn.


Sun-N-Fun Antique/Classic Campground - April, 2000

The Piper Pacer fills my flying requirements just perfect. It is large enough for my family, it's a taildragger (this was important for my selection of an aircraft) and the cost of ownership fits the budget. It will cruise at 105 to 108 knots indicated airspeed and gets me where I need to go. Yes, there are faster and bigger airplanes out there to give me four seats, but they come with a price.


Enroute to Hummel, VA - Spring, 2000

Fast forward to January 2016. By now I have flown the Pacer for over 1,500 hours and had the engine rebuild and upgraded to 160 HP in 2007 and also updated the instrument panel to IFR to get my instrument rating in the Pacer. My kids grew up in the Pacer and are now in College.


December 2003 en route to New York to watch a Broadway Show

The Pacer is now used to shuttle them back and forth, deliver supplies or just to visit. I have been at Sun & Fun and Oshkosh in it, have flown the Hudson River (New York) many times and anywhere else up and down the East coast of the US.


Hudson River flight November 2017


2018 Panel upgrade to GARMIN 430w GPS and ADS-B out Stratus transponder

The big plan is now to spread out after retirement to explore the West coast in the Pacer and of course to fly to Alaska. I will definately report about these trips on this site.


Camping at OSH 2015

I am organizing a monthly fly out for our EAA Chapter, but the participation does not depend on being a Chapter member. Each month we fly to different destinations for lunch or sight seeing. Let me know if you would like to be added to my E-mail list for schedule updates and the fly out reports or monitor the "Upcoming Events" on this Web-Site.

I have flown the Pacer all over the United States and into Canada. 

Watch some of my flights at Pacer42Z YouTube .

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