The first flush of sales success which followed the end of World War II was followed by a period of near disaster when the US government unloaded its accumulation of war surplus-aircraft on to an active market. This sudden influx of some 31,000 aircraft at highly attractive prices almost paralysed the activities of companies like Beech, Cessna and Piper that were building general-aviation aircraft for the popular market.
One of the steps taken to offset this situation being the design and development of a low-cost utility aircraft as a crash programme. Of the same general configuration as the Piper Cub, it reintroduced a shorter-span wing and a low-powered Avco Lycoming O-145-B2 engine, and there were no 'frills' as standard. Which meant, of course, that the basic practical flying machine could be obtained at low cost, and the more de luxe accessories could be added later, as and when they could be afforded. Designed around raw material at hand, the blueprints were completed in a little more than six weeks. Designated Piper PA-15, the prototype was flown for the first time on 29 October 1947 and this new machine was soon winning orders.
Powered by a 65 hp Lycoming and with rigid landing gear, production began in early January 1948 and priced at $1990.
By the autumn of 1948, when the market was showing signs of recovery, Piper introduced the PA-17 Vagabond which was powered by a 48kW Continental A65-8 engine and again equipped with the 'frills' as standard. When production ended, Piper had built a combined total of 585 of these PA-15 / PA-17 versions, 387 PA-15s.
Wag Aero Wag-a-Bond / Traveller
Rag Wing RW 11 Rag-a-Bond
Engine: Lycoming O-145-B2, 48kW
Max take-off weight: 499 kg / 1100 lb
Empty weight: 281 kg / 620 lb
Wingspan: 8.92 m / 29 ft 3 in
Length: 5.69 m / 18 ft 8 in
Height: 1.83 m / 6 ft 0 in
Wing area: 13.7 sq.m / 147.47 sq ft
Max. speed: 164 km/h / 102 mph
Ceiling: 3810 m / 12500 ft
Range: 410 km / 255 miles