Cessna 185 Package
By Glenn Davy (15 January 2002)
This was going to be tense! I had four people and their gear for a week. We were heavy, the winds were at 60 degrees off our bow, and the lake wasn't any too big. To add to that, the weather was bad, and getting worse in a hurry. For any of you who have flown in the bush for real, this scenario should all be quite familiar. I had the new 185 by Maliniemi, Grant, Small and Swindle (sounds like a law firm!). THIS was the acid test. After some 1500 hours in type in the real 185, mostly on floats, I knew what I SHOULD get in terms of flight characteristics, but as good as most designers are, the FS planes often don't quite live up to reality. This is mostly because of limitations within FS, not due to any lack of skill on the designers' part. Before climbing in, I stood for a moment gazing at "JWG" and thinking how nice she looked, and I sure didn't want to prang such a good looking machine. I decided against the extra 20 lbs of fuel in favor of making it out of the lake in the first place.
Enough of the gazing. I climbed in where my passengers were nervously waiting. The instrument panel by Grant didn't look like a 185 panel... it WAS a 185 panel! Even down to the odd wear mark here and there. Everything was where it should have been, and I didn't have to search for anything. If I could find a flaw anywhere, it was that in the real 185 there are 4 notches of flaps (10 degrees each) and they are manual, so the sounds and flap markings perhaps could have been modified for this particular package. I grabbed the V-brace that is present in all Cessna floatplanes (well, the REAL plane, AND this one as well - nice touch!) and hauled myself up into the seat and fired her up as the dock boy pushed us out. It took a fair bit of power to get her moving, but again this seems to be an FS limitation to do with water textures, not the modelling. When empty, it taxis quite readily with much less power. However, you don't fly a 185 empty that often because then you aren't generating revenue, and that is the name of the game with this workhorse of the north.
With the run up done, I pointed her down the lake, dropped the aileron and 20 degrees of flap and pushed the throttle home. While slow, she did respond, and amazingly close to what I expected from a real machine. It took a while, but we finally gained the step and started to pick up significant speed. After about 3000 feet or so, I rolled her up onto the upwind float, and shortly after that the upwind float left the water and we were airborne.
Immediately I got rid of 10 degrees of flap, with 10 to go (use 20 flap on takeoff when on floats with these machines - the engine will thank you later). The trees were dropping oh so slowly, but still fast enough that I got the power back to 25" and 2550 rpm and deep-sixed the remaining flaps. Man, I couldn't believe how real this felt! Clean she started upwards at about 450 to 600 fpm, depending on the wind gust at the time. Five hundred feet agl was about all I needed, or wanted on this trip, and even then it was a strain to see through the thickening snow to find the ground.
In cruise we were showing close to 135 kts. That was my other complaint in that there didn't seem to be any allowance made for the extra drag from the wheeled version to the float version. I would have expected more like 105 to 115 kts on floats at this weight. Now, I haven't flown the wheeled aircraft since the original release with the old (incorrect) .air files, so this issue may have been resolved. Having said all that, this plane not only looked like a 185, it FLEW like a 185! I felt right at home in her from the moment I poured the power to her, to the end of the upcoming landing. It was beautiful, and it is hard to believe so much realism was attained in this machine - both in terms of appearance and characteristics.
After 10 minutes of flight, with the big 300 hp engine sounds filling my headphones, I finally spotted our destination lake off in the distance. I wouldn't be bringing these guys out in one trip, that's for sure! The lake was probably no more than 2000 feet long with trees right up to the lakeshore. Seaplanes take noticeably longer to get off than landplanes, and to not allow for that is to court disaster. After a quick check of the lake for deadheads and rocks, I set up on final with 70 kts IAS and 30 degrees of flap. She sank fairly quickly, again like the real machine, so I kept some power on all the way down to the tree tops. As soon as I cleared the trees, I chopped the power, let the nose drop quickly, then came back as hard as I could on the stick without inducing a stall, and let her settle onto the lake. The landing was smooth, more a result of having an FS plane that handled much as it does in real life, than by anything else, and we rolled out in under 800 feet. I taxied her to the shore where the camp was set up and discharged my passengers with a promise to check in on them in a day or two. Much lighter in weight now (after modifying the load in the aircraft.cfg file to just a single person), the big 185 leaped out of the water like nobody's business and was back at 500 feet in no time. The trip back was uneventful, save for a little icing, but thank goodness the fuel injected engine isn't prone to carb icing like its younger brother, the 180.
Folks, this little story is presented to give you an idea as to just how close I feel this aircraft is to the real life 185. This is an absolute masterpiece, visually, sound-wise, handling-wise, and in the panel design. The quality is outstanding over the entire spectrum of the package. The bonus here is that it comes in three configurations - floats, wheels and wheel-skis. While the only other config I tested was the wheeled version, and I mentioned that one had the incorrect .air file in it (all this is corrected now in the present download), even then it handled very, very much like the real thing on wheels. I managed to do several landings in rapid succession at my destination, thanks to the spring-steel gear struts! I was pleased and embarrassed all at the same time.
If you are into bush flying, or have some heavy hauling to do in FS2002, then you want, no, let me rephrase that, you NEED this plane! My congrats all round for a really, really well done job!
Good Things: Everything, except for the Bad things...
Bad Things: Float air file needs to have higher gear drag to reduce the speed by about 15 to 20 kts, flaps need to be made "manual" and have them set to 10 degree intervals.
Overall Impression: WOOOOWWW!
Download the Cessna 185.