In the mid and late 1950s, Piper was rapidly transforming itself. Up until then, it had built airplanes like the PA-22 Tri-Pacer, the woefully underpowered Apache, the Super Cub and the like.
General aviation was progressing fast, and tube-and-fabric airplanes were giving way to shiny new all-metal monocoque creations. For Piper, it meant moving to more capable airplanes like the Comanche.
The Comanche, being a thoroughly modern design, was a real departure for the company. With the exception of the Apache, everything Piper had produced up until that time was fabric covered, and all save the Tri-Pacer were taildraggers. The Comanche boasted a roomy oval-section fuselage, tapered laminar-flow wing and sharp-edged good looks, a far cry from the rest of the line.
With the Comanche, Piper was aiming high, setting its sights squarely on the original modern business single, the Bonanza. And the company did a creditable job, producing an elegant design with good performance, albeit not quite up there with the Beechcraft. The good news was that the cost was quite a bit lower: average delivered cost of an original Comanche 250 was $7500 less than that of the J35 Bonanza, or about 15 percent.
The first year of production was 1958, and two models were offered, a 180-HP and a 250-HP version. The 180 had a carbureted Lycoming O-360, while the 250 sported a carbureted Lycoming O-540. Flaps were manual, and the gear was a fairly simple electromechanical design. The airframe was essentially the same (and, in fact, its possible to upgrade the 180 to the larger engine), though the 250 boasted a significantly higher gross weight: 2800 pounds versus 2550.
The airplane was reasonably successful. Piper didnt distinguish between the 180 and 250 in its serial number records, but total production for 1958 was 336, compared to a little under 200 for the J35 Bonanza.
The basic airplane wasnt changed very much during its production run. Still, there were some notable improvements over the years.
In 1950s the general aviation industry still had some quaint ideas about equipment, and the airplanes were equipped with hand brakes. This persisted for a couple of years; after 1960, almost all of the airplanes were delivered with optional toe brakes.
The original airplane had a 60-gallon fuel system. In 1961, Piper offered an optional 90-gallon system, which gave the Comanche 180 some seriously long legs: nine hours, provided the load consisted of only the pilot, one passenger, and a little luggage.
In 1961 the gross weight of the 250 was boosted by 100 pounds. Electric flaps replaced the manual ones with the 1962 model year, but many view this as a step backward.
Production of both the 180 and 250 ended after the 1964 model year. The 180, which did not have a great reputation for load carrying and which was not selling as well as the 250, was dropped altogether.
The 1965 Comanches are unusual airplanes, in that they have the earlier fuselage mated to the later, 260-HP engine, albeit with a carburetor. The big engine and smaller airframe gives these airplanes excellent climb performance, as much as 1500 FPM.
1966 saw the introduction of the Comanche B, with a fuel-injected 260-HP Lycoming IO-540, a boosted gross weight (now 3100 pounds) and a fuselage stretch of about six inches, which permitted the installation of two more seats. These and later Comanches can be spotted by the extra cabin window. Earlier 250-HP airplanes can be upgraded with fuel injection.
The Comanche C was rolled out in 1969, with further refinements, including another gross weight increase and a distinctive shark nose cowl. The 100-pound rise in gross gave the airplane a hefty 1427-pound useful load. The airplane also gained cowl flaps and an aileron-rudder interconnect. By the time these airplanes were introduced, the popularity of the Comanche was waning, and theyre relatively rare now.
A turbocharged version of the Comanche C was offered alongside the normally aspirated bird in 1970. The turbo was a manual Rajay system, which had a second throttle waste gate with which the pilot would manually set boost at altitude. The drawback to this system, aside from the obvious one of increased workload, was a potential for engine damage should the pilot forget to reduce boost before descending.
A side benefit of the turbo is that its quieter than the normally aspirated Comanche C. The engine, beefed up to handle the boost pressure, is evidently just as robust as the normally aspirated engine. Also, as with the fuel injection system, earlier airplanes can have a turbo added.
For the ultimate in wretched excess, though, the trophy has to go to the Comanche 400. Now something of a collectors item, it was introduced in 1964 and discontinued only a year and 145 airplanes later, this beast had a normally aspirated, fuel injected, eight-cylinder IO-720 Lycoming hanging off the nose (the engine is basically two IO-360s mated end-to-end), fitted with a three-bladed prop. The airframe was the smaller, four-seat version.
The engine gulps huge amounts of fuel (20-22 GPH at 75 percent cruise, held in optional 130-gallon tanks), has a TBO of 1800 hours and costs a breathtaking $26,000 to overhaul. Then theres the problem of finding parts and service… its a pretty rare item.
The 400 does offer good performance, with max cruise in the 185-195 knot range. Reducing power to 65 percent results in lower fuel burn (around 18 GPH), along with somewhat slower speeds. However, the performance isnt that much better than other Comanches, considering the extra cost.
For example, when compared to a Comanche B, the 400 has a gross weight 500 pounds higher. However, the empty weight is also higher, by 337 pounds. That extra payload has to go for fuel to feed the IO-720, meaning that for flights of more than 300 miles, the 400 actually has less payload available than the 260.
The Comanche 400 has a reputation for being hard to start when hot, though there was a so-called purge kit available from Piper that reportedly lessened the problem.
End of the line
By 1972, the two Comanches still in production – the 260 and turbo 260 – were losing popularity. When the Susquehanna river flooded and wiped out the Piper factory in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania that year, Piper decided to pull the plug on the airplane, choosing to concentrate on the more popular, less expensive and higher-profit PA-28 line, including the Arrow.
In a way, its a shame. The Comanche has many fine qualities, and could probably have survived right up until the GA slump hit in the 1980s with some clever marketing.
Several years ago there was some thought given to resurrecting the design at the hands of the legendary Roy LoPresti, but like the SwiftFury it came to nothing. LoPresti did create some interesting aerodynamic mods for the airplane, however.
The Comanche is notoriously difficult to land smoothly because of a tendency to float during the flare, then settle sharply. The remedy, according to pilots, is to keep a lid on the approach speed and not let it come in too hot, with perhaps a touch of throttle during the flare.
In flight, the handling is quite responsive, and pilots report that the Comanche is a delight to fly. Some say that its sensitive in pitch; the long-fuselage versions are somewhat less so.
Theres also a bit of a tendency to wheelbarrow during crosswind takeoffs, caused by pilots holding the nose down to prevent a premature departure. This, in turn, is due to the airplanes tail-low stance when sitting on its gear. Some pilots pump up the main gear oleos to reduce the tendency.
The Comanche 180 has less than stellar performance. Burning 8 to 10 GPH, it will cruise at about 140 knots. An American General Tiger, with the same horsepower and fixed gear, goes just as fast. Compared to a more contemporary and similar aircraft, the Mooney M20, the Comanche is quite slow: down about 20 knots. The 180 can climb at 700 to 900 FPM after requiring more than 2200 feet to clear a 50-foot obstacle. Still, if the mission falls within these parameters, the 180 is a pleasant enough airplane… and dont forget the awesome range provided by the optional fuel system.
The 250 and 260 are much better. Speeds are up around 155-160 knots at cruise, burning about 12 GPH. Again, compared to its contemporaries, its down: about 10 to 15 knots slower than a Bonanza of comparable age and power. Climb is around 1300 FPM.
The extra 10 GPH the Comanche 400 will cost the pilot yields only about 10-15 extra knots. The 400 will, however, climb like nobodys business: 1600 FPM.
The 180s load carrying capacity is not that great. With a gross weight significantly lower than that of later Comanches, cabin payload with full standard fuel (60 gallons) is about 660 pounds, making it a three-person airplane. The 250 can haul 750 pounds with full standard fuel, while the 260s and 400 can lift over 1000 in the cabin.
The straight roofline that give the Comanche its distinctive crew-cut look unfortunately diminishes visibility quite a bit, though its not as bad as some. The cabin itself is quite roomy, though it can be drafty and noisy. Legroom is very good for both pilots and passengers, and the cabin is definitely more spacious than the Arrow that superseded the Comanche. The fifth and sixth seats, however, are suitable only for children – not at all unusual in airplanes like this. Comanche 260s have thicker windows, which cuts down on the noise a bit, and as mentioned above the turbo is even less noisy.
The panel is about what one would expect from a 1950s airplane: different. The Comanche was one of the first airplanes to use a radio stack, however.
Owners give the maintenance burden mixed reviews. While the airplane intrinsically is no bear to keep up, the age of the equipment introduces a factor that skews the situation some. Said an owner, One should be aware that all Comanches are old, complex airplanes, and they are not cheap to maintain. With care, costs can be kept manageable. Said another, One of the main problems with many Comanches is that they are inexpensive to buy, but not inexpensive for care and feeding. A Comanche is sort of like a helicopter. You can afford to buy it, but the cost of keeping it is out of proportion when compared to four-cylinder fixed-gear planes in the same price range. As a result, many are not well maintained.
As owners observed, recurring ADs on Comanches can run up the cost of an annual. One on the landing gear (77-13-21) mandates replacement of landing gear bungees every 500 hours or three years to prevent landing gear collapse after a manual extension. (The accident reports show this happens a lot.) Theres also one on the vertical fin attachment. And the Hartzell propeller may fall prey to the need for blade clamp replacement. The prop inspection AD (95-11-08) is the most oft-complained about, costing over $650 every 500 hours or five years. Also, the new prop AD (97-18-02) can prove very costly for 250/260 owners.
All in all, the Comanche has had a rather checkered past with regard to ADs, with more than 30 applying to some models. Most, of course, are of the one-time fix variety and should have been complied with decades ago. One particularly nasty one (82-19-01) came about as the result of an in-flight airframe failure in which the wings came off a Comanche over Canada. The directive called for recurrent inspections of the spar caps and attachment plates every 100 hours on airplanes with more than 1500 hours total time.
Some 12,000 inspections were conducted, with no cracks found. Finally, the FAA rescinded the order after an owner pointed out that the airplane that crashed had been subjected to unusual abuse with excessive G loading and aerobatics.
The landing gear is not nearly as complex as that of, say, a Cessna 210, but it is the cause of many problems nonetheless. Reviews of service difficulty reports indicate that its the number-one trouble spot.
The gear also has a bit of a quirk. When the gear is raised, the emergency extension handle between the seats moves from a vertical position to horizontal on the floor. If something gets in the way, it can jam the gear and blow the circuit breaker, and possibly even cause more problems down the road.
Gear-up accidents and incidents have also been a problem, at a rate that seems a bit higher than for other retracts. One extra pre-landing check by pilots might help alleviate some of the accidental gear-up landings: make certain the landing gear circuit breaker hasnt popped after the gear switch is put in the up or down position when the motor encounters difficulty. Time and again the accident reports noted that the pilot activated the gear switch, the circuit breaker apparently popped, indicating a problem with the motor, but the pilot landed without noticing the breaker was out but the gear was still in. There have also been instances of pilots improperly using the emergency lowering system. So the lesson is to make your mechanic pay scrupulous attention to the gear system, and then brush up on your emergency techniques.
As mentioned above, its possible to retrofit the Lycoming 540 engine onto a Comanche 180 of 1960 or later vintage; theres at least one published report of this being done on a Form 337, though we dont know of any shops that offer the mod. Aside from the engine and prop, it involves the motor mount, some baffling, controls and the exhaust system. The result is essentially a Comanche 250.
Also, the carbureted 540 found in the Comanche 250 may be upgraded to fuel injection.
Roy LoPresti (LoPresti Speed Merchants) offers, among other mods, the Wholey Cowl originally dreamed up for the Comanches resurrection, along with a three-bladed SynchroPulse prop Both are for the 260.
Cowlings are also offered by Aviation Performance, which claims that its Eagle XP cowling increases speed, economy and improves maintenance access. The company also offers a stainless steel dual exhaust system. These mods are available for all Comanches except the 400.
Knots 2U also offers aerodynamic mods including a wing fillet that one of our readers reports helps with the airplanes landing characteristics.
Other aerodynamic mods include wingtips from Met-Co-Aire, speed brakes from Precise Flight and Sierra Industries R/STOL kit. All are applicable to all Comanches.
Finally, Rajay can turn any normally aspirated Comanche into a turbo.
Comanche owners are fortunate to have their own owners club, the International Comanche Society, which comes highly recommended by our readers. Offering a magazine as well as books and video tapes, its a must-join. ICS can be reached at (405) 491-0321.
Deciding whether the Comanche is a good value is a personal decision. Its cheaper to own and operate than a comparable-horsepower Bonanza, but it gives up some performance. Also, dont forget that the newest Comanche is 26 years old, and parts are going to become increasingly difficult to come by.
In 1997, I bought a 1971 260C turbo with 2300 TT, 450 SMOH and a fresh annual for $85,000. The Comanche is truly one of the great bargains of general aviation, affording Bonanza performance at Skylane prices. I file for 166 knots at 8,000 feet running 24.5 squared, and get a knot more for each thousand feet higher. Book cruise is 193 knots TAS, although Ive been unable to coax it over 185. Fuel burn at cruise averages 15 GPH. The 90 gallon fuel capacity of most newer Comanches make long range flights feasible. The manual Rajay turbos add complexity but also flexibility to power management, and are not difficult to get used to: we lifted off once from Leadville on a hot day at gross weight in less than 1500 feet. The planes factory oxygen makes the flight levels available when tailwinds howl, although I havent flown it over FL 200.
The bird is a terrific load hauler, with a 1300 pound useful load, about 100 less than a non-turbo. Its tough to overload, and the W&B envelope is generous. With the 260Cs fifth and sixth seats removed theres ample space for baggage. These jump seats are useful for small children only, but I have squeezed a fifth adult in sideways. The rear baggage door can be opened from inside for use as an emergency exit.
The Comanche is a joy to fly. Handling is brisk and responsive, with excellent control, feel. Stalls are preceded by vigorous buffeting, with rapid and predictable recoveries. The 260Cs aileron-rudder interconnect doesnt seem to make the plane fly any differently from earlier models Ive flown, even though some believe otherwise. Its a stable IFR platform, an important plus here in Michigans snowy Upper Peninsula. It handles ice better than the Arrow and Cardinal RG.
The very low wing and almost taildragger stance of the aircraft make good landings challenging due to pronounced ground effect. Every Comanche jockey has his own theory on landings, so heres mine: keep the speed below 70 knots at touchdown and try for a low flare. Trying to set it down too quickly results in a bounce, especially with an aft CG. Flaring too high yields a clunker when the thin wing quits flying. (This aint no Hershey Bar, after all.) The unusually low wing does make crosswinds more manageable, however, provided little or no flaps are used. Landing a Comanche well takes practice, and Ive found a monthly session of takeoffs and landings helpful.
Dont expect a lot of support from New Piper, which seems to regard the Comanche as the black sheep of the family. Parts can be difficult to get, or require long waits. Wanting to replace a bent gear door, my mechanic contacted them and was told there would be a two or three month wait before they could fabricate one; he made it himself at greatly reduced cost. Other ancillary items, such as a rheostat for the instrument lights, are not available at all. Unless New Piper or other aftermarket suppliers get their act together, the situation will only continue to worsen.
One unexpected benefit of my purchase has been the rapid appreciation of the model, which has gone up sharply in value this past year. Im also impressed by how highly my plane is regarded by other pilots. After transporting a patient recently to Detroit, I ambled over to a new Mooney TLS Bravo to ask the owner how he liked his toy. Before, I could open my mouth he pointed at the Comanche and related how it was always his favorite but that his business partner didnt want to buy an older plane. Like many other pilots Ive met on the ramp, he asked me if it was for sale. Its a crying shame New Piper doesnt resurrect the Comanche. The plane was clearly ahead of its time, and is still a terrific performer. With LoPresti speed mods (next, years project), a Saratoga panel, and a sophisticated turbo system, the plane would sell like hotcakes. Why would anyone want a Bonanza or a Commander then? Are you listening, Vero Beach?
-Dennis C Whitehead
Iron Mountain, Mich.
I purchased a 1958 Comanche 180 in July 1996 for $30,000. The aircraft had 4765 TT with 456 SMOH on the engine and prop and had always been hangared. The paint was an 8 and the interior was a 7.
The previous owner had converted to the ADLOG system for keeping the log books. I have continued this and find that this service is excellent. I am notified of any ADs before they are published and the books really help keep everything up to date and neat. He also recommended that I join the International Comanche Society. This group has an outstanding magazine and the TIPS book is the bible for Comanche owners. The society provides many outstanding tips, procedures, modifications and solutions to problems. Membership in the organization is a must for all Comanche owners.
The plane is a delight to own and fly. The plane takes turbulence very well. With full tanks and two adults on board, I consistently see 1000 fpm climb rates at near sea level and 25 squared. With two adults you can carry all the baggage you need, however with four adults you are very limited on what extra you can carry. With the laminar flow wing, landings can be interesting. It will stop flying and stall quickly (slam dunk landings). I am disappointed with cruise speed. I was told that I should get about 140 knots cruise, however, I only get about 125 knots at 5500 feet with the engine at 23 squared and leaned to about 8 gph. On a recent trip to take a friends Cherokee 180 to be painted, he was able to keep up with me for the total 2 hour flight. In order to see why I was not cruising any faster, I had the FBO do a compression check and he found a cracked cylinder. Upon removal it was discovered that the cylinder had been previously repaired by welding but no entries had been made in the log books. The cylinder was replaced with a reconditioned unit which cost $900. The cruise speed did not improve.
Our carbureted 1962 Comanche 250 has been in the family since 1976, when it replaced a nicely restored, much loved Cessna 195. It has been trouble free, fast and user-friendly.
Maintenance: The aircraft is managed, maintained, and flown to the specifications of our Chief Pilot, whose word (as in most family flight departments) is law.
The aircraft was gear-upped by a non-family member in 1977 with appropriate tear-down, prop replacement and cosmetic cleanup. Exit the non-family partner.
Since then, the only major costs have been one replaced cylinder (excessive leaning), a burned out gear actuator (manual extension works easily, just like we practiced!), periodic replacement of vacuum pumps, hoses, etc., and avoidance of the dreaded Hartzell prop AD with a new STCed McCauley three-blade with hub, backing plate, and spinner.
The new prop is great: Takeoff roll is perceptibly (10 percent) shorter and climb performance noticeably (15 percent) improved through our normal ops altitudes of 7000 – 10000 feet. Given the number of Comanche purists in California, the comments from line personnel and other owners have been surprisingly favorable toward our modified PA-24.
Performance: We get an initial climb rate of 1500 FPM with no wind, standard day, full fuel, and two FAA standard front-seaters. Climb rates taper to 500 to 800 FPM near the upper end of our usual mission profile. The engine is leaned on an EI Engine Monitor to 175 degrees rich of peak below 7500 MSL and 75 degrees rich of peak over 7500 feet. Normal ops are at 24 inches/full throttle and 2400 RPM with fuel burns in the 12.5 to 13.5 GPH range. Block to block fuel is planned at 15 GPH with airspeeds of 150 to 160 knots depending on altitude.
Comanche approaches are easily flown at 150 knots. With gear operation/extension speed of 128 knots, speed brakes would be nice, but arent necessary. Reduce power to 10 inches at the middle marker, drop the gear between the middle marker and the threshold, add full flaps as speed permits, and hold it off until the beautiful wing stops flying. Your smooth landing and respectably short rollout will make even the grouchiest tower happy.
The brakes have been moved to the inside of the mains under an STC. This removes brake parts from the airstream and cleans up the aircraft to the tune of 2+ knots. If my son, cousin, and I ever talk the Chief Pilot into a few LoPresti or Knots-2U mods, a more Bonanza-like approach technique may be needed. Our EI Engine Monitor helps us keep CHT changes to the slow-but-steady pace mandated by the Chief Pilot even with a relatively steep approach.
Safety: Comanche fuel systems have been blamed for a good share of off- airport adventures, according to the Air Safety Foundations Comanche Safety Report. The Chief Pilot introduced me to the issue over the Lake Hughes VOR nearly twenty years ago. The right aux had contributed its last fuel to our flight. When the engine became aware of that fact, things became disconcertingly quiet. Immediate application of fuel pump and fullest tank brought prompt relief. The Chief Pilot later found an old-fashioned mechanical kitchen timer which slides conveniently between front and top of the panel. Set at 45 minutes for each aux and then alternating between mains at 30 minute intervals, the old timer helps us keep fuel loads balanced, leaves about half an hour usable in the auxes, and avoids frightening wives and passengers. The egg timer may look funny, but it works and (per Chief Pilots orders) we use it. A good way to learn about the fuel system is to carefully read both ASFs Comanche Safety Report and the International Comanche Societys Comanche Tips. These are must-read parts of any good check-out.
Also on the must read list: the Comanche Societys updated Pilot Operating Handbook. Most Comanches were delivered when POHs were pretty slim. ICS decided to do something about that and now markets a modern format POH befitting the birds high performance character. Read, understand, and apply that the new POH says about your Comanche and youll enjoy a significantly greater return on your aircraft investment.
My only reservation with the Comanche as in instrument ship is her panel. Our Comanche has a scatter panel which made transitioning from my 210, a partnership 340, and friends V-35B interesting. Could it be that all those high-timers are losing it on instruments because of an inappropriate scan? Several STCs are available to replace the Comanches scatter panel with a T- panel arrangement. I train diligently in the Comanche. Nevertheless, I recommend that any pilot who plans to really fly a PA-24 convert his or her aircraft to a T-panel. The Chief Pilot (who has more actual IMC time in 7860P than I have logged in total) comments: Quit whining and fly the airplane.
My 1961 Comanche has the 180 HP Lycoming. I bought it in Alaska in 1990, and now operate from an airpark community located in southwest Florida.
Even in this hot climate, 180 horses can legally and safely haul almost a half ton of useful load. I have departed my strip (2640 ft.) with four persons, 60 gallons of fuel, and light baggage with a ground temperature of 91 F. without worry. I credit the excellent takeoff performance to a McCauley Black Mac three-blade prop, which I installed in 1991. It is far smoother and perceived to be quieter than the Mac 2-blade it replaced. It cost $5,900 then and included a dynamic balancing.
Maintenance items since purchase: Bushings and other wear items in the landing gear: $600, landing gear transmission $275, left side fuel cell $700 (when we pulled it out for inspection, the manufacture date of 1961 was stenciled on it.)
With self-annuals, and avgas nearby at $1.69 a gallon, my costs are lower than most. I use the operating savings to improve the airplane at each inspection. I have upgraded to digital radios, added a gear warning system that sounds when the flaps are lowered and the gear is up, now sold by Knots 2-U. (a simple and well engineered device, this should be standard fare for every retractable.) Other improvements include Metco wingtips, Flight Life stainless steel brake discs, a Concorde recombinant gas battery (never needs water) all new fire-shielded fuel hoses, and Pulselites, which work very well with the wingtip-placed landing lights. Other worthwhile upgrades on the wish list are gear fairings from Knots 2-U or LoPresti, a 1-piece windshield and 1/4 inch glass all around, fairings for ailerons, flaps and wing root, and Whelen wingtip strobes.
I use the Comanche for business and pleasure, routinely flying to Miami (55 minutes) or Dallas-Ft.Worth, (8 hrs). I cruise at 2200 and 25, true airspeed 150 MPH at 7,000 ft. burning about 9 GPH. If I remember to lean while taxiing, lead fouling with 100LL is not a problem. With no filter, I change oil at 25 hour intervals, using straight 80 weight Aeroshell W; I never find more than a few grains of carbon in the screens. With almost 1100 hours since overhaul, compression is from 72 to 75, and oil consumption of 1 quart every 8-10 hours. While I usually fly VFR, I try to keep current just in case and the Comanche is a stable instrument flyer. Many Comanche owners fly hard IFR almost daily, and think nothing of crossing the Gulf of Mexico from Texas to Florida. Its a solidly built bird. Look in the belly and aft of the baggage bulkhead and all of the metal that you see is zinc-chromated; mine still has Reynolds Aluminum stamped on the inside of the skin panels. Later Pipers and almost all Cessnas are a nightmare for corrosion if stored outdoors or near the sea. A Comanche owner does not lie awake at night worrying about corrosion.
The International Comanche Society is not only an owners group but the local chapters hold fly-ins and special events all over the country. There are a fair number of Comanches in Europe, Australia and even South Africa. Its not unusual to find overseas members flying their Comanches to the U.S. to attend an annual meeting.
The Technical Director of ICS, Maurice Taylor, was the manager of Comanche production through its life, and nobody knows more about this breed than Maurice. The Society has published books and videotapes with tips on maintenance and operation., and an excellent full color monthly magazine comes with membership. Many Comanche owners are retired airline pilots and mechanics, and more than a few have started a second career making PMAd and STCs parts for the line. I have never been down for a lack of parts; there are more than 4,000 Comanches still around, and there is a brisk business in replacement parts made of newer materials.
All in all, the Comanche outperforms most more expensive airplanes and is rugged and simple. All of them have virtually bulletproof Lycomings up front and robust, corrosion-resistant construction. The cabin is wider and taller than Mooneys of the same vintage (Im 65″). I think it the most economical four place single you can get, and while the prices of other airplanes have steadily risen, the Comanche remains an excellent buy. Mine was minimally maintained by its previous owner, and although it wasnt pretty, it has been reliable and solid.