Cessna 150 vs 172 | Which One is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing the right small aircraft, the Cessna 150 vs 172 these are two of the most popular options out there. Both planes are praised for their reliability and performance, making them favorites among pilots of all levels. But what sets them apart? Let’s dive into a comparison to help you understand which might be the best fit for your flying needs.

Cessna 150 vs 172

Cessna 150 vs Cessna 172
Cessna 150 vs 172

When comparing the Cessna 150 vs 172, there are several key differences and similarities to consider. The Cessna 150, no longer in production, is a smaller, two-seater aircraft that’s been a favorite for flight training due to its simplicity and lower cost. On the other hand, the Cessna 172 is larger, offering space for four people and boasting more power, which translates to better performance, especially for longer flights or in varying weather conditions. This makes the 172 a preferred choice for pilots looking for more versatility and capacity. While the 172 is generally considered safer due to its size and performance capabilities, both aircraft share similarities in terms of the flying experience, with many pilots appreciating their reliable handling and ease of maintenance.

Based on the detailed specifications provided for both the Cessna 150 vs 172, here is an updated comparison table that encapsulates the key differences and similarities:

Cessna 150 vs 172 Table Comparison

The choice between them often comes down to the pilot’s needs, with the 172 being a better option for larger pilots or those planning on carrying more passengers or cargo. Despite the age of many Cessna 150s, their durability means they can still be a good investment, though newer pilots or those looking for more room and power might prefer the modern comforts and capabilities of the Cessna 172.

For a detailed comparison between the Cessna 275 and Cessna 172, check out our comprehensive guide https://skycomparison.com/cessna-275-vs-172/.

Cessna 150

Cessna 150
Cessna 150

The Cessna 150 is a hallmark of light aviation, serving as a foundational basic trainer and light utility aircraft since its introduction in 1956. With its first flight taking to the skies on September 12, 1957, the Cessna 150 quickly became a favorite among pilots for its simplicity, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. Produced between 1958 and 1977, a total of 23,839 units were built, each powered by a robust Continental O-200-A air-cooled, horizontally-opposed engine, delivering 100 horsepower.

Designed to accommodate a crew of one plus one passenger—with an optional bench for two children in the baggage space—the Cessna 150 boasts a modest size, with a length of 23 feet 11 inches, a wingspan of 33 feet 2 inches, and a height of 8 feet 6 inches.

Despite its compact frame, it offers impressive performance, capable of reaching a maximum speed of 109 knots, a cruise speed of 82 knots at 10,000 feet, and a range of 420 nautical miles. Its service ceiling reaches up to 14,000 feet, with a rate of climb of 670 feet per minute, showcasing the aircraft’s versatility and capability in various flight conditions. The Cessna 150’s enduring legacy is marked not only by its widespread use in pilot training but also by its variants, including the 150A-M and the FRA150L Aerobat, each contributing to the rich history of this iconic aircraft.

The Cessna 172: The World’s Favorite

Cessna 172
Cessna 172

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk stands out for its upgrade from the two-seater Cessna 150/152, offering more power and space. Its reliable Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine with 180 horsepower and a two-blade metal propeller make it a favorite for a wide range of pilots, from instructors (CFIs) to those flying for leisure or practical tasks. The aircraft’s dimensions, including a 27 feet 2 inches length and a 36 feet 1 inch wingspan, coupled with a spacious cabin, ensure comfortable flights.

With a maximum gross weight of 2,558 pounds and a useful load of 878 pounds, the Skyhawk is versatile for both training and travel, boasting a fuel capacity of 56 gallons which supports efficient longer flights with a range of 640 nautical miles. Performance is robust, with a takeoff distance of 960 feet and a climb rate of 730 feet per minute, reaching a cruise speed of 124 knots. Nicknamed affectionately in the flying community, the Cessna 172’s reliability and utility make it an enduring choice for pilots worldwide.

Cessna 150 vs 172 Safety

The Cessna 172 is renowned for its exceptional safety, with a robust design and stable flight characteristics contributing to the lowest fatality rate in general aviation at 0.56 per 100,000 flying hours. Its safety is enhanced by reliable restraint systems and slow landing speeds, thanks to its effective flaps. In contrast, the Cessna 150, commonly used for training new pilots, has a slightly higher incident rate due to challenges like loss of control during takeoff and low-altitude maneuvering. Despite this, both aircraft maintain solid safety reputations, with the 172 especially noted for its superior safety features and the 150 valued for its dependability in training scenarios.

Cessna 150 vs 172 Engines & Fuel Capacity

Cessna 150 Engine

When comparing the engines and fuel aspects of the Cessna 150 vs 172, it’s clear that both planes cater to different needs and preferences. The Cessna 150 is equipped with a Continental O-200-A engine, producing 100 horsepower, which suits its role as a basic trainer and light aircraft perfectly. It has a modest fuel capacity of 22.5 US gallons, which aligns with its intended use for shorter flights and flight training sessions, emphasizing efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Cessna 172 Engine

On the other hand, the Cessna 172 comes with a more powerful Lycoming IO-360-L2A engine, offering 180 horsepower, making it suitable for longer flights and higher performance requirements. Its fuel capacity is significantly larger at 56 gallons, supporting its extended range and capability to undertake longer journeys without frequent refueling stops. This difference in engine power and fuel capacity between the two models highlights the Cessna 172’s suitability for more demanding flying tasks, while the Cessna 150 remains a favorite for those seeking a reliable and economical option for learning to fly and short local flights.

Cessna 150 vs 172 Fuel Average & Cost

The fuel consumption rates of the Cessna 150 vs 172 highlight the operational cost differences between these two popular aircraft. The Cessna 150 is known for its fuel efficiency, burning approximately 5.6 gallons per hour (gph). This makes it an economical choice for students and recreational pilots, especially considering the average cost of Avgas at around $6 per gallon, leading to an hourly fuel cost of about $33.60.

In comparison, the Cessna 172, with its larger engine and greater capabilities, consumes more fuel, ranging between 7 to 9 gallons per hour. This increased fuel burn translates to higher operational costs, with hourly fuel expenses falling between $42 and $54, assuming the same Avgas price of $6 per gallon. This variance in fuel consumption and cost underscores the Cessna 172’s enhanced performance and utility over the 150 but also highlights the 150’s advantage in fuel economy and lower operating costs, making it an appealing option for those prioritizing budget-friendly flying hours.

Cessna 150 vs 172 Prices

The cost of learning to fly varies significantly between the Cessna 150 and the Cessna 172, with the former being the more economical option. Given the minimum requirement of 40 hours to obtain a private pilot license, the price difference between training in a Cessna 150 vs 172 can quickly become substantial.

When looking to purchase, the Cessna 150 presents a more affordable investment, with prices ranging from $25,000 to $50,000. In contrast, acquiring a Cessna 172 in a similar condition demands a heftier financial commitment, with prices typically falling between $100,000 and $200,000. This significant disparity in acquisition and operational costs makes the Cessna 150 a favored choice for those on a tighter budget or newcomers to aviation, while the 172 caters to individuals or flight schools seeking more advanced capabilities and space.

Cessna 150 vs 172 Choosing the Right Aircraft

The decision between the Cessna 150 vs 172 ultimately comes down to your specific flying needs, budget, and preferences:

  • Opt for the Cessna 150 if you’re a beginner pilot looking for an affordable, straightforward aircraft for training and short solo flights.
  • Choose the Cessna 172 if you require a more versatile aircraft capable of accommodating more passengers, longer range flights, and a wider range of flying conditions.

Both aircraft have made significant marks in the world of aviation, each with its own set of strengths. Whether you’re taking your first steps into flying or looking for a reliable family aircraft, the Cessna 150 and 172 offer compelling options to explore the skies.


The comparison between the Cessna 150 vs 172 sheds light on two of the most iconic aircraft in the realm of general aviation. Both airplanes hold significant places in the hearts of pilots and aviation enthusiasts, each serving its purpose with distinction. The Cessna 150, with its affordability and simplicity, stands out as an ideal choice for beginner pilots or those on a budget, providing a solid foundation in flight training and casual flying. The Cessna 172 offers enhanced capabilities, space, and comfort, making it suitable for more advanced training, longer journeys, and those requiring a larger passenger capacity. Ultimately, the choice between the two boils down to individual needs, preferences, and financial considerations. Whether opting for the cost-effective and straightforward 150 or the more spacious and powerful 172, pilots are assured a reliable and rewarding flying experience.


Is the Cessna 150 or 172 easier to fly?

Both aircraft are designed with ease of use in mind, making them excellent choices for beginners. The Cessna 150 is often lauded for its straightforward handling, making it an ideal trainer, while the 172 provides a bit more stability and room, which might be preferable as pilots gain experience.

Can I use a Cessna 150 for cross-country flights?

Yes, the Cessna 150 can be used for cross-country flights, although its range and payload capacity are more limited compared to the Cessna 172. Planning and weight management become crucial for longer trips.

What is the main reason to choose a Cessna 172 over a 150?

The main reasons to choose a Cessna 172 over a 150 include the need for more space (to accommodate up to four people), higher performance for longer or more demanding flights, and the desire for a more advanced training platform.

How significant is the cost difference between training in a Cessna 150 and 172?

The cost difference can be significant, especially given the cumulative hours required for obtaining a pilot license. The Cessna 150 is generally cheaper to operate due to its lower fuel consumption and maintenance costs, making it a more budget-friendly option for students.

Are there modern equivalents to the Cessna 150 vs 172?

While the Cessna 172 continues to be produced with modern updates and features, the Cessna 150 is no longer in production. However, there are modern light sport aircraft and entry-level airplanes that serve a similar market niche as the Cessna 150 did, offering new technology and efficiencies.

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