The PA-32 line includes the fixed-gear Cherokee Six, the retractable-gear Lance and current Saratoga retractables. The PA-32-260 Cherokee Six was first delivered in 1965. The retractable Lance/Saratoga was actually a byproduct of a devastating flood that destroyed much of the Piper assembly plant in Lock Haven, PA, during the early 1970s. Rather than rebuild the destroyed tooling for the six-seat Comanche, Piper decided to make a new, six-seat retractable, the Lance. Piper already had the Seneca light twin, based on the Cherokee Six, so all it had to do was adapt the retractable-gear to the 300 hp version of the Cherokee Six. The Lance was introduced in 1976.
A 300 hp Lycoming engine powers the Lance/Saratoga. A turbocharged 300 hp Lycoming powers the Turbo Lance/Saratoga. In the mid-1970s, Piper tried the T-tail on many of its models. It proved to be unpopular and, in 1980, the T-tailed Lance went back to the original configuration. Also, a semi-tapered wing replaced the original “Hershey Bar” shaped wing in 1980. From 1980 on, the line was referred to as the Saratoga.
As with many aircraft, you cannot have full fuel and a full passenger load; however, the Lance/Saratoga is a good four-person full-fuel plane. Removing all the seats and operating the aircraft as a freighter can expand the carrying capacity of the airplane. While it cannot compete on speed with the A36 Bonanza, it made up for that in load capacity. The cabin is quite comfortable for four and adequate for six. While the turbocharged Lance/Saratoga outperforms the normally aspirated version, you lose some payload with the turbo.