PA-15 Vagabond
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1948 PIPER PA-15

Designation Seats Speed Years Number Horsepower Useful Load
PA15/17 2 90 MPH 1948-49 586 65 480 lbs.

The "Piper Cub Vagabond" was designed and produced in an effort to get the company moving again after the war. Many of the J3 "Piper Cub" components were included in an effort to use existing inventory. The engine, wheels/tires, instruments and wings were components of the J3. The fuselage was shortened and made wider with the seating being side by side instead of tandem. The wings where each shortened by three feet at the root. Hence the PA-15 became known as a short wing piper (the first of several models to follow). With less wing area came less drag and increased cruise performance. The shorter wings maintained the long ailerons which gives the Vagabond an excellent roll rate. The airplane has no flaps. The Vag has conventional landing gear (tail dragger) and uses control sticks instead of the control wheels (yokes) which are used in most current aircraft. Tail draggers require an additional endorsement in your log book by a CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) due to the unique handling characteristics when landing, taking off and taxing.

There were two models built. First came the PA-15 which was bare bones. Again in an effort to sell planes the PA-15 had only one set of controls, no landing gear bungee (shocks), a Lycoming 65hp engine and only came in Cub yellow with no stripe. The PA-17 came shortly after and was called the "Vagabond Trainer". It had dual sticks and rudder pedals, bungee shocks, and a Continental 65hp. Many of the PA-15's, including mine, were later converted to dual controls and bungee gear.

This airplane is one of the most affordable certified planes you can fly. The 65 hp sips 4.5 gallons per hour and most are STC'd (Supplemental Type Certificate) to burn auto fuel. That means you can cruise at 90 mph for around $6.00 and hour! It also doesn't hurt that it's a blast to fly. My bird was to turn 50 years old in `98 and I decided it was time to restore her so she'd be looking good on her birthday (missed that). The fabric has to be replaced every 15 years or so and this one was getting close. I'm using the Air-Tech covering process and painting her Cub yellow with a blue stripe.

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 Updated:  Friday January 31, 2003

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