Piper-Stinson “Voyager” “P” Listings Pitcairn PA-6 “Mailwing”

Pitcairn PA-5 “Mailwing”
Single-engine single-seat biplane mailplane

Archive Photos 1,2

Pitcairn PA-5 Mailwing (N3835, c/n 9, 1927) on display at the Virginia Aviation Museum, Sandston, Virginia (John Shupek copyright © 2000 Skytamer Images)

Pitcairn PA-5 Mailwing (N2895, c/n 1, 1927) on display at the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC (Photo by Jim Hough 2/20/2004)

Overview ³

  • Pitcairn Mailwing PA-5
  • Role: Mail Carrier and Sport
  • National origin: United States of America
  • Manufacturer: Pitcairn Aircraft Company, Philadelphia and Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
  • Designer: Agnew E. Larson
  • First flight: 1927
  • Introduction: 1927
  • Primary user: U.S. Postal Service
  • Number built: 106
  • Developed from: Pitcairn PA-4 “Fleetwing II”

The Pitcairn Mailwing family was a series of Mail Carrier and Sport aircraft produced in the U.S.A. from 1927 to 1931.

Design and Development ³

The Pitcairn “Mailwings” were developed by Pitcairn to carry Air Mail for the U.S. Postal Service. Of simple and robust construction, they also had relatively benign flying characteristics.

They were constructed using Chrome-moly steel tube and square-section spruce spars with spruce and plywood built-up ribs. The fuselage was faired using wooden formers and covered with fabric. The tail sections were built up from steel tube and fabric-covered. The Pitcairn Mailwing had a ground-adjustable fin and in-flight adjustable tailplane, features not often seen in other aircraft.

The undercarriage was of outrigger type with oleo-spring shock absorbers and disc brakes on the main wheels. All models looked very similar; changes were minor, with several fuselage extensions being the most obvious.

The mail was carried in a fireproof metal-lined compartment forward of the pilots cockpit. The “Mailwings” were flown extensively by the U.S. Air Mail service from 1927 until the end of dedicated Air-Mail routes.

Pitcairn also built the same aircraft in sport versions for private use. These Sport aircraft had the mail compartment removed, and a side-by-side 2-seat cockpit was fitted.

Variants ³

  • PA-5: Original production version of 1927 with Wright J-5-9 engine; ATC 18 (32 built).
  • PA-5 Mailwing: Mail carrier version.
  • PA-5 Sport Mailwing: Sport version with seats for two passengers.
  • PA-6: 1928 production version with Wright J-5-9 engine; ATC 2-22 (early), 92 (late) (53 built).
  • PA-6 Super Mailwing: Mail carrier version.
  • PA-6B Super Mailwing: 1 converted from PA-6.
  • PA-6 Sport Mailwing: Sport version with seats for two passengers.
  • PA-7: 1929 production version with Wright J-6 engine; ATC 196.
  • PA-7A Sport Mailwing:
  • PA-7M Super Mailwing: Mail carrier version (12 built).
  • PA-7S Super Sport Mailwing: (15 built).
  • PA-8: 1930 production version with Wright J-6 engine; ATC 364.
  • PA-8M Super Mailwing: Mail carrier version (6 built).

Operators ³

  • United States U.S. Postal Service
  • Howard Hughes owned a PA-5 with a chrome plated engine.
  • Felix du Pont owned a PA-5 with gold plated rocker covers.

Specifications (PA-5 Mailwing) ³

General Characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: payload of 500 lb (230 kg)
  • Length: 21 ft 10½ in (6.9 m)
  • Wingspan: 33 ft 0 in (10.06 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m)
  • Wing area: 252 ft² (23.41 m²)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Wright J-5-9, 220 hp (164.05 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 131 mph (210 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 112 mph (179 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 45 mph (72 km/h)
  • Service ceiling: 18,000 ft (5,486 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,100 ft/min (5.6 m/s)


  1. Photos (NC3835), John Shupek, Copyright © 2004 Skytamer Images. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
  2. Photos (NC2895), 2/20/2004, Jim Hough
  3. Wikipedia, Pitcairn Mailwing

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