Originally founded as the Taylor Brothers Aircraft Manufacturing Company in September 1927 by Clarence Gilbert Taylor and Gordon A. Taylor in Rochester, New York. The company was renamed to Taylor Brothers Aircraft Corporation in April 1928, shortly before Gordon Taylor died in a plane crash on April 24, 1928. The company was enticed to move to Bradford, Pennsylvania with the promise of larger facility and investment capital from local businessmen, including an initial investment of $400 from local oilman William T. Piper. The move was completed in September, 1929.
In late 1930 the company filed for bankruptcy and William T. Piper purchased the assets of the company for $761. Reorganized as the Taylor Aircraft Company, Piper effectively took control of the firm when he assumed the position of corporate secretary-treasurer, although he retained C. G. Taylor in the role of president. Piper, often called the "Henry Ford of Aviation", firmly believed that a simple-to-operate low-cost private airplane would flourish, even in the darkest depths of the Great Depression.
In December 1935, after a series of clashes, William Piper bought out C. G. Taylor, who left the company and went on to form the Taylorcraft Aircraft Company. On March 16, 1937 a fire destroyed the Bradford factory and Piper relocated to an abandoned silk mill in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. By November, 1937, all traces of Taylors' involvement with the company were erased when it was renamed to Piper Aircraft Corporation.
Manufacture ceased in the mid 1980's when, together with other sellers of light aircraft in the USA, increasing insurance premiums made continued operation financially impossible. Upon limitation of liability provided by new legislation in the early 90's, manufacturing re-commenced in 1995. The firm was re-branded New Piper Aircraft at that time.
As of July 2003, American Capital Strategies, Ltd. owns 94% of Piper's voting equity.
Piper produced the Piper J-3 Cub, a two seat, 65 horsepower (48 kW) high-wing, single-engine aircraft. The Cub was the first inexpensive training aircraft produced in large numbers. Many former military examples were sold to civilian owners over the 1950-1995 period and seem certain to see many more years in recreational use. The more powerful Piper PA-18 Super Cub is popular for use as a glider tug.
The PA-28 Cherokee has been one of the company's most successful products with variants being manufactured almost every other year. Both this design and the twin-engined PA-34 Seneca are used for pilot training around the world. The PA-23 Apache was one of the first aircraft associated with the term "air taxi" although it has largely been superseded in that role by faster and more spacious designs from the competitive Beechcraft Corporation.
Beginning production in 1965, the Piper PA-32 Series raised the bar for versatility in 6 or 7 seat single-engine airplanes. Variously named the "Cherokee Six", "Lance", and "Saratoga", with both fixed and retractable gear models, and with normally aspirated, injected, and turbo-charged engines, the PA-32s are very capable and successful airplanes. They have been widely deployed in a variety of missions (small air-taxies, heavy load-haulers, personal business, etc.) all over the United States. The Saratoga-II HPs and Saratoga TCs are still manufactured and sold today.
With the streamlined and powerful single-engined PA-46 Malibu, the Piper company maintains a presence in the lighter-end of the corporate aircraft market.