Towplane ZK-CIG: 1964 Piper PA-25-260 Pawnee D

The Piper PA-25 Pawnee was designed by Fred Weick, for the Piper Aircraft Company based in Vero Beach, Florida, USA, as a rugged, easy to maintain agricultural aircraft. The Pawnee is a single engined low-wing monoplane constructed of steel tubing and covered with fabric. It first flew in prototype form during 1957. The design was originally powered by a 110kW (150hp) Lycoming O-320 engine with a two blade fixed pitch McCauley propeller. The emphasis of this design was on pilot safety with the fuselage structure designed to collapse progressively during a low speed crash, typically experienced during crop spraying operations.

In 1964, this engine was replaced by the 175kW (235hp) powered PA-25-235, and from 1968 the 195kw (260hp) PA-25-260 was available. The Pawnee B (235hp) introduced an enlarged hopper, the Pawnee C (235 or 260hp) followed with oleo type shock absorbers, while the ultimate Pawnee model, the Pawnee D (235 or 260hp) had the fuel tank moved from the fuselage to the wings.

The introduction of the all metal 400 HP Fletcher in New Zealand in the early 1970’s, saw the Pawnee and it’s other competitors gradually replaced due to the higher maintenance costs of fabric wings and fuselage.

Nearly all the Piper Pawnee aircraft left in operation throughout the world are used for glider towing simply because they are perfectly suited to this operation – excellent power to weight ratio, extremely safe and very reliable. Those who fly them today, love them as much as those who flew them as topdressers many years ago.

Production of the Pawnee ended in 1982 with a total 5015 PA-25 Pawnees made.

General Characteristics

Pawnee Three-view
  • Crew: One
  • Capacity: 120 US gal (568 l) or 1,200 lb (545 kg) of chemicals
  • Length: 24 ft 9 in (7.55 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 2 in (11.02 m)
  • Height: 7 ft 2 in (2.19 m)
  • Wing area: 183 ft2 (17.0 m2)
  • Empty: 1,570 lb (712 kg)
  • Loaded: 2,900lb (1,317 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff: 2,900 lb (1,317 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 x Lycoming O-540-A2A5, 250 hp (186 kW)


  • Maximum speed (Vne) : 135 kts (250 km/h)
  • Range: 300 miles (500 km)
  • Service ceiling: 13,000 ft (3,963 m)
  • Rate of climb: 630 ft/min (192 m/min)(at MTOW)
  • Wing loading: 15.9 lb/ft2 (77.5 kg/m2)
  • Power/Mass: 0.08966 hp/lb (0.141 kW/kg)
Pawnee Three-view

The Pawnee tucked away in bed - photo by Daniel Farley

Pawnee wing and tailplane recovering project

Over the winter of 2008, when conditions were wet and unflyable, the club took the opportunity to recover the wings and tailplane of our trusty towplane, Pawnee ZK-CIG. Visit our Photo Gallery to view some of the images taken during this project.

The Pawnee was rolled out in near perfect timing as the airfield dried out and the weather improved in the spring of 2008. Our Pawnee was reborn just in time for another great summer soaring season.

Meticulous attention to detail is the order of the day.

Pawneecam: The DG-1000 on tow

The Pawnee lifts on another tow

View more pics of our Pawnee towplane in the Photo Gallery