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6 Answers

Buying an Airplane: C152 vs C172 Cabin Width (and comfort)

Asked by: 8863 views General Aviation, Private Pilot

I've done most of my private training in a Piper Warrior, however about the first 1/3 of my training was in a C172. I'm now in the market to purchase an airplane, but have been doing a moderate amount of homework and research on this for the last 2-3 years. I know my mission and needs, etc. After all this time of research and trying to take a path less traveled when it comes to first airplane purchase, everything has inevitably boiled down to the trusty C152 or C172. Of course, I need to rent and fly both many times before stepping into a final purchase - but before I do that, there is one thing that is boggling my mind and I hope someone can show me the light on this... The vibe out there is almost unanimous, the C152 is a small, crammed cockpit. Some people even say the C152 is more like a single seater than anything, and that you need to take off your coat before moving around is even possible. "Unless you want your passenger to be sitting on your lap, buy a 172 instead..." This is extremely confusing to me, and here's why. I've looked at the POH for both the C152 and C172: C152 Cabin Width: 39 1/4" C172 Cabin Width: 39 1/2" The cabin widths are basically the exact same! Why are so many people complaining about the cockpit of the 152 and praising the "roomy" cockpit of the 172?  

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6 Answers



  1. Bob Watson on Oct 17, 2013

    Forget the POH, on this (I’m not sure where those numbers come from). Try them on like a pair of pants (which is about what you do when you get in, or rather, put on a C-152). I like and fly both, and I can tell you without any hesitation that a C172 has more elbow room (and head room and luggage room and instrument panel room and…) than a C152. Which is “better,” just depends on what you’re looking for in an airplane.

    But, my opinion and POH stats all pale in comparison to trying it out for yourself.

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  2. Brian on Oct 17, 2013

    If you are looking to go places, buy a 172. I fly a friends 152 for fun and although it sips gas, it takes a while to get to your destination with a headwind. The 172 will allow you to take more baggage and passengers. Hope this helps

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  3. Jonathan Seitz on Oct 17, 2013

    I’ve never found them to be all that different in terms of size and comfort. I think it’s all in people’s heads when they say the 152 is so much smaller than the 172. It just feels smaller because you expect it to.

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  4. Bob Watson on Oct 17, 2013

    I suppose whether the 172 feels different from a 152 depends a lot on how big you are. 6′ and 200+, the 152 will seem pretty tight. (I’m only 5’6″ and it seems pretty snug…)

    But some key differences:

    C-152: seat is bolted to the floor. C-172: it’s about a foot off the floor
    C-152: the seats rub against each other. C-172: there’s about 6″ between the front seats.
    C-152: The instrument panel holds 2 rows of instruments. C-172, it holds at least three.
    C-152: I duck under the “high” wing. C-172: I walk under it.
    C-152: Holds about 320-340 pounds of people. C-172: 5-600 pounds. (lots of variables in those #’s)

    So, “big” difference? You be the judge. Both are good planes.

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  5. Jim on May 10, 2015

    I have flown two different 152 and found the room they had different. One I had to have the seat all the way back and the other I had to move it forward and I’m 6″. Also I way 191′ and my instructor is around 180′ so in the previous comment saying the 152 only holds a max of 340 doesn’t add up. With full tanks we still meet weight and balance. But as said before you need to check it out for your needs. It’s like a pair of jeans not all 152’s fit the same some are more cramped than others. Hope this helps

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  6. Darren on Aug 11, 2015

    im is the same situation now . Just about to buy my first ever plane . Wanting a 150 for now just to build time rather fast and cheap. has said above , the 150/152-and 172 are pretty much all the same weighs .
    I am 220lbs and wide shoulders .
    It’s either stop eating for a few months to lighten the load or dress down and stop the whining .
    I always smile soon as air borne anyway . Not gonna be doing a lot of cross country in this so it should be great for time building and having fun in . I’ll take my chance and live and learn 😜

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