Home / Blog / Piper Museum expands exhibits to allow for more plane donations

Piper Museum expands exhibits to allow for more plane donations

Jun 25, 2023Jun 25, 2023

Aug 5, 2023

PHOTO PROVIDEDA view of the part of the newly created exhibit space at the Piper Aviation Museum. The new space allows for the display of several new airplanes recently donated to the museum.

LOCK HAVEN — The Piper Aviation Museum recently received two new aircraft donations and returned them to their birthplace in Lock Haven.

The first is a 1949 Piper PA-16 Clipper. It was donated by Daniel Cathey of Cottage Grove, Ore. The Clipper was Piper’s first four-place airplane. Only 736 Clippers were built in the one year of production. It had a 115 hp Lycoming engine and a cruise speed of 117 mph. Because of the distance, the Clipper was disassembled and trucked across the country.

The second airplane is a 1962 PA-25 Pawnee, donated by Leonard “LP” Patterson of New Castle, Pa. The Pawnee is an agricultural aircraft produced by Piper Aircraft from 1959 until 1981.

Piper built 5167 Pawnees in Lock Haven and they are still widely used today in agricultural spraying. They are also used as tow planes for launching gliders or towing banners. The Pawnee was the first purpose-built agricultural airplane. Before the Pawnee most agricultural aircraft were converted military planes.

The two critical objectives in the design were that the aircraft not break during constant operation and that it would give the pilot the best possible chance for survival in a crash. Safety features included the rearward location of the pilot for maximum safety and unobstructed visibility forward and to all sides. You will see sharp leading edges on the landing gear struts and in the center of the windshield to help the aircraft break through wires or tree branches while spraying. You will also see a cable that is strung from the top of the cockpit to the top of the tail. This was to prevent the vertical tail from being snagged. The forward fuselage was designed to absorb energy by collapsing in the event of a crash and a sheet metal half cylinder was fixed to the top of the panel to protect the pilot’s head. Today almost all “crop dusters” look like a Piper Pawnee.

PHOTO PROVIDEDPiper Aviation Museum President Ron Dremel thanks Leonard “LP” Patterson for the generous donation of his Piper PA-25 Pawnee. The plane is now on display at the museum

Last month Piper Museum board members Craig Kehrer, Clyde Smith, Museum President Ron Dremel and volunteer Curt Smith traveled to New Castle, Pa., to disassemble the Pawnee, load it onto a truck and bring it back to Lock Haven. Both airplanes are now on display on the first floor of the museum.

In order to accommodate the new airplanes, as well as others that will be arriving at the museum soon, additional exhibit space had to be created. To that end, almost 4,000 square feet of new exhibit space was opened up.

Volunteers removed walls from a conference room and cleaned up a maintenance area to create the space. Walls and floors were painted to brighten up the area, and now several planes are on display there.

Piper Museum President Ron Dremel stated, “I am thrilled with our new exhibit area. By opening up what was previously mostly unused space, our volunteers created a beautiful area to display the recently donated airplanes. And we anticipate a few more plane donations in the coming months. With this new area, and the ‘John Bryerton Room’ that we opened last year on our second floor, we offer a lot for museum visitors to see and enjoy.”

The Piper Aviation Museum was opened in 1997 in the original Piper Engineering Building and housed only one aircraft. Today the museum proudly displays over 18 airplanes. One, a Tri-Pacer, was donated with the stipulation that it remain airworthy.

PHOTO PROVIDEDDaniel Cathey, of Cottage Grove, Oregon, with his 1949 Piper PA-16 Clipper before sending it home to Lock Haven where it is now on display at the Piper Aviation Museum.

Some children have never had an opportunity to ride in an airplane so this airplane is used to provide rides for the Young Eagles Program. In addition to viewing the airplanes, the tour includes a video featuring early flight and the role Piper Aircraft played. There are many interesting displays and even a simulator where you can test your flying skills.

The Piper Aviation Museum is located at One Piper Way in Lock Haven. The museum is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. With an emphasis on education, the museum can arrange group tours for field trips and schools. For more information, contact the Piper Aviation Museum at 570-748-8283.

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