Piper PA-23 Apache

Display Status:

This object is on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

In 1954 Piper Aircraft Corporation introduced the four-place, retractable gear Apache, developed from the Twin Stinson and the first of the Piper "Indian" executive and business lines that continue to this day. Over 2,000 all-metal Apaches, a departure from the classic tube and fabric Cub and, at $32,000, the least expensive light twin, were built before being upgraded in 1960 to the popular Aztec series.

William Davenport bought serial number 14 (unlucky #13 off the line) for Davenport Airlines service between Richmond and Hampton Roads, Virginia. As Aviation Specialists, Inc., Davenport and his Apache offered charter flights and multi-engine instruction, logging more than one million miles. It was believed to be the oldest flying Apache when Davenport flew it to Dulles Airport in 1990.

Collection Item Long Description:

In 1954 Piper Aircraft Corporation introduced the twin-engine, four-place Apache, developed from the Twin Stinson and the first of the Piper "Indian" executive and business lines that continue to this day. The all-metal, retractable-gear Apache signaled a major departure from the company's classic tube and fabric Cub and soon evolved into the popular Aztec series. This particular Apache flew one million miles in commuter and charter service around the eastern United States.

When Piper purchased the assets of the Stinson Division of Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation in 1948, one of the proposed designs was the Twin Stinson that was to be a modification of the popular Stinson 108 Voyager/Station-Wagon. In 1952 Piper decided to build the Twin Stinson as a light twin-engine executive airplane. The experimental prototype, the Model 23-1, was a four-place, steel tube-and-fabric, low-wing airplane with a fixed tricycle landing gear and a twin tail. It was powered by two 125 hp Lycoming O-290D engines. Flight tests in 1952 indicated that the airplane was under-powered and had some control response and vibration problems. Correction of these difficulties resulted in the complete redesign of the airplane, including all-metal construction, a single vertical fin, retractable landing gear, and 150 hp Lycoming 0-320-A engines with constant speed propellers. Completed in July 1953, it was renamed the PA-23 Apache and was the first of the Piper "Indians," when Piper began naming its various aircraft after Native American tribes.

The first production PA-23-4 Apache was delivered early in 1954. Initially the airplane was to have been sold for $25,000 but the actual price at the time of first production was $32,500. This was still the least expensive twin of that class. Much to the surprise of many skeptics, sales began to climb and Piper production capacity had difficulty keeping up with the orders. Apaches came in three versions, Standard, Custom, and Super Custom and ultimately 2,204 Apaches were produced through 1958. Piper upgraded the Apache in 1960 with 250 hp Lycoming engines, new flight instrumentation, a swept vertical fin that increased performance, and a new name, the Aztec. Over 4,800 Aztecs were built. The Apache and Aztec price and size allowed smaller companies and executives to own or operate business aircraft.

The PA-23 Apache N114DA was produced in 1954 as the 13th production unit but superstition intervened and it was given serial number 14. Piedmont Aviation, the Piper Regional Dealer located in Winston Salem, North Carolina, initially used it as a demonstrator until William Davenport purchased it in 1956. Davenport planned commuter airline service out of Byrd Field in Richmond, Virginia. Davenport changed the original registration number N1011P to N114DA to reflect the serial number and his Davenport Airlines and painted the aircraft in Davenport colors. Commuter service between Richmond and Hampton Roads was not as profitable as anticipated, so Davenport reorganized as Aviation Specialists Inc. for charter service from Maine to Florida and all points in between and multi-engine flight training. Davenport carried such notable passengers as Virginia Senator Harry F. Byrd, Jr. and movie star Marion Davies. In addition to the charter work, this Apache was a popular twin-engine flight trainer for aspiring corporate and airline pilots.

During its 32-year flight career in Davenport's flight service, the Apache logged over one million miles. It had three complete engine and propeller changes and was upgraded periodically. However, the original instrumentation was reinstalled before its donation to the National Air and Space Museum. With over 25,000 hours of flight time, William Davenport is a notable name in the development of general aviation in the Richmond region and is a member of the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame. Davenport believed that this was the oldest Apache still flying when he flew it to Dulles Airport on June 20, 1990.