Nowadays, $761 doesn’t go very far. But in 1930 it was enough to buy all of the assets owned by what would later become Piper Aircraft Manufacturing Company.
Back then, in the late 1920s, the Piper Aircraft Manufacturing Co. was a small operation owned by two brothers, Clarence and Gordon Taylor. The company was known as the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Corporation and was located in Rochester, New York.
But the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Corp. didn’t last long. Gordon passed away unexpectedly in 1928. Soon after the company relocated to Pennsylvania where there was a larger facility and even some local investors, and Clarence thought the move would bolster the company’s sales. But by 1929 the company wasn’t faring well and filed for bankruptcy a year later.
That’s when Pennsylvania oil tycoon William T. Piper swooped in and purchased its assets for $761. Under Piper’s control, the business was reorganized and renamed Taylor Aircraft Company. Piper kept Clarence Taylor on board as president.
During this time, the nation was in the grips of the Great Depression. Nobody had much of anything, let alone money to spare for private planes, but William Piper had a plan.
He thought that easy-to-operate low-cost private planes could find a market even in the bleak economic situation – and he was right. The company began to flourish, but the good times didn’t last long. In 1935, William Piper bought out Clarence Taylor after the two clashed on what they thought was best for the company. Two years later, the factory was destroyed by a fire and it was forced to relocate.
As it had in the past when faced with adversity, the company – which was now called the Piper Aircraft Company – bounced back quickly after the fire. It relocated operations to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania where it thrived into the 1940s.
After World War II, the Lock Haven facility was no longer sufficient for operations, and the company acquired more property at Vero Beach Municipal Airport in Florida.
The company experienced more success and tribulations over the next few decades. The Lock Haven facility was nearly unsalvageable after massive flooding in the area in 1972. The company lost parts, frames, and production equipment that was crucial to several designs. This flood caused executives at Piper to rethink their operations. It was decided that production of the Piper PA-24 Comanche and Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche would end and the rest of the production on various models would move to Florida so that the Pennsylvania plant could be closed.
While the Pennsylvania chapter of the Piper story was coming to a close, the company began a new one with the opening of the manufacturing plant in Lakeland, Florida.
This move started off small, with just 20 people working at the Lakeland location in 1981. By the end of the year, more than 2,000 jobs were created at the plant. More and more aircraft was produced for private use and commuter airlines, and service centers continued to maintain Piper’s growing fleet.
By the time the new millennium rolled in, Piper Aircraft was a booming aviation company and recognized the world over as a premier producer of aircraft.
But like the rest of the world, Piper Aircraft wasn’t immune to the global economic downfall. Production ceased on many jets and layoffs were necessary to keep the company from falling into insurmountable debt.
However, if the history of the Piper Aircraft Company has taught the world anything, it’s that the company always triumphs in the face of adversity.
Of the 144,000 aircraft produced by the company, more than 85,000 still fly to this day. These quality jets are all manufactured under Piper’s strict quality assurance guidelines that ensures each aircraft is compliant with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Certification System Evaluation Program audit.
Although the company employs less now than just a couple of years ago, more than 600 men and women still work for Piper Aircraft Company. These are the people who do everything from maintain the existing fleet owned by customers all over the world, carry out the day to day operations, and engineer the planes of tomorrow.
Piper on JetCharters.com…
It might seem strange to think this Piper Seneca III was among the first charter aircraft on this “jet” featured site, but it certainly wasn’t the last since our focus is to always locate the perfect aircraft for any trip. Retail charter consumers will notice various Piper models when searching jetcharters.com for certain trips.