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Love your interior

It’s where you spend all your time

Aircraft interiors are often neglected; most get worn and faded over time. Since replacing a complete interior can take a lot of time, money, and effort, the return on the investment may seem questionable. Not necessarily.
A selection of leather swatches reveal possible seat, headliner, side panel, and trim accent choices. Lush, patterned carpeting will replace the Tiger’s thin black carpeting. Photography by Chris Rose
A selection of leather swatches reveal possible seat, headliner, side panel, and trim accent choices. Lush, patterned carpeting will replace the Tiger’s thin black carpeting. Photography by Chris Rose

You’ll find when selling your airplane most buyers prefer a clean, well-maintained interior rather than replacing it themselves. A musty, old interior will decrease the value of your airplane. If you think a replacement interior is in your future, anyway, considering having it installed now. You’ll get to enjoy the new interior while you still own and fly the airplane. And, it will make your airplane vastly more appealing to passengers and future buyers.

You may have noticed the AOPA Sweepstakes Grumman Tiger interior is not very appealing, although we’ve had fun displaying the beleaguered interior as a contrast to the brand-new Garmin glass cockpit. Now our time flying in the threadbare—no, threadless—seats is finally coming to an end. A new interior will be installed soon. We considered three options for replacement: DIY, factory original, and custom.

DIY options include pre-sewn, ready-to-install replacement seat covers, carpeting, and more. While premade interiors are a nice, economical option, material and color choices are often limited, and stitching patterns will be basic. Still, you’ll get a reasonable balance of affordability, customization, and ease of installation.

Finding a replacement factory original interior can be a challenge for an aircraft that hasn’t been produced in many years, and the seats and other components may still require recovering. On the plus side, if you can find a good used set, the installation will be straightforward.

A custom interior—the most expensive option—has the potential to produce a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. To coddle the eventual winner of the Tiger during long cross-country flights, we chose this option and the seemingly limitless choices it offers. Roberto’s Aircraft Interiors in Smoketown, Pennsylvania, will fabricate and install the sweepstakes’ interior. Roberto Abarca, his wife, and family have been crafting custom interiors for everything from Cessna 120s to Grumman Tigers and Beechcraft King Airs for more than 25 years in their one-hangar operation. The process starts with a quote, followed by material and color selections.

Roberto helped us choose materials and colors for the seats, side panels, trim, carpeting, headliner, seat belts, and glare shield cover. We also had a choice of custom stitching patterns, embroidered logos, and much more.

Six weeks after delivery to Roberto’s shop, the Tiger will have an interior that wows—instead of repels—pilots and passengers alike. Follow AOPA’s social media accounts for regular updates on the Tiger’s progress.

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Alyssa J. Miller

Kollin Stagnito

Vice President of Publications/Editor
Vice President of Publications/Editor Kollin Stagnito is a commercial pilot, advanced and instrument ground instructor and a certificated remote pilot. He owns a 1947 Cessna 140.

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