The Cessna 177B Cardinal II is a lightweight, high-wing General Aviation aircraft that was intended to replace the Cessna 172 Skyhawk. First announced in 1967, The Cardinal was produced from 1968 through 1978.
When Cessna engineers began designing the Cardinal, not only did they want a replacement for the Skyhawk, they wanted to implement new technologies into the design. The resulting design included a cantilever wing with a laminar flow airfoil – the only production high-wing single-engined Cessna since the 190 and 195 series to have both fixed landing gear and a cantilever wing without strut bracing. To improve visibility and situational awareness, the pilot was moved forward, ahead of the wing leading edge. In addition, a powerful yet lightweight engine was used to improve performance.
The Cessna 177B Cardinal II modeled in this software package features a Lycoming 4-cylinder, air-cooled engine with a constant speed propeller. It can safely and efficiently fly up to four people approximately 600 nautical miles at a cruise speed of approximately 130 knots. (quoted from the Flight1 documentation).
Flight1 has by now released a number of well built GA aircraft for FSX, with the Citation Mustang and Pilatus PC12 two of my personal favorites. Lets see how they did with this one!
Installation & Documentation
Installation is straight forward, you download the installer from the Flight1 site, run the program and you are ready to fly. The Cardinal looks more elegant than the C172 Skyhawk and the cockpit panel has been updated to include an HSI, dual Garmin GNS 430s, and an STEC 55X autopilot, for a well equipped IFR capable configuration. You end up with three different paint jobs, all quite attractive. Additionally, you can download other paint schemes, including the well known Knoxville Flyer design from FS9.
The documentation consists of two documents: a well written 58 page Pilot’s Guide with lots of information and checklists, and a 71 page POH for the supplied Garmin GNS units. I wish all FS add-ons came equipped with such professional documentation.
Flying the C177 Cardinal
I was looking forward to this aircraft, because one my favorite stand-by aircraft in FS9 was the C177 Cardinal, produced by Dreamfleet and Flight One Software. It came in both fixed gear and retractable gear versions and was a real pleasure to fly!
Since moving to FSX, I have accepted the virtual cockpit as the preferred environment for flying GA aircraft, and although the 2D cockpit in the FS9 Cardinal is IMHO one of the best ever made, the FS9 virtual cockpit badly shows it’s age.
So, I was hoping that the recently released Cardinal for FSX, by Flight1 would fit the bill, in looking and handling a lot like the Cardinal I knew, while providing the quality cockpit interior that Flight1 is justly known for.
First then, how does the cockpit environment compare? Here are two screenshots: the FS9 Cardinal 2d and the FSX Cardinal VC.
FS9 Cardinal 2D cockpit
FSX Cardinal VC
As you can see, the panel has had quite a make-over! The faux-wood is gone, and the avionics have been upgraded considerably. But, the sectional map that was tucked into the left corner of the windshield is still there. A little reminder of the heritage of this airplane design.
So, we’ve lost the ADF, but gained an HSI and twin 430 GPS units. That should allow us to do some serious IFR training!
While we are talking about the GPS, Flight1 has provided the option of installing twin Reality XP GNS430 units in place of the Flight1 units (which are based on the default FSX GPS500). To me, this is a great feature – and even if you only have one RXP GNS430, it is well worth installing it in the cockpit. This gives you full WAAS capability, including GPS guided LPV landings and a high detail moving map. All the pictures that accompany this review show the RXP units installed in the panel.
The yoke can be removed with a mouse click, and if you have your own flightsim yoke, it all looks more natural without it showing. It also provides better visibility on the lower instruments.
Right hand panel
Cockpit in flight
Looking around the cockpit, every angle shows nice attention to detail, with high resolution 3D gauges and smooth textures to either side. This cockpit would likely not win a “best looking” GA cockpit award, but it is truly functional with exceptionally legible instruments and gauges. After settling in, and taking this aircraft for spin, it became clear to me that I was going to like sitting here and doing some serious flying!
Altogether, it seems to me that Flight1 has put the emphasis on utility, and downplayed the eye-candy aspect. Don’t get me wrong, the doors open, and everything that needs to move, moves, but that does not seem to be the main focus. Rather, legible instruments and an accurate flight model seem to have been at the top of the requirements list. That makes this airplane an ideal trainer aircraft for FSX! You do not have to search for stuff on the panel; everything is close at hand, so you can instead concentrate on flying the airplane!
Gauge detail up close
So, how does the airplane behave? In one word: great! Each airplane has it’s own personality in FSX, sometimes stable, sometimes twitchy – but few airplanes feel just exactly right. Well to me, this is one of them. I felt right at home from the first take-off and I still enjoy taking this airplane up for a flight, every time I get in the cockpit. This one is staying in my hangar.
One of the reasons the airplane handles so well is that it is very “fps-friendly”. I got a solid 30 fps throughout (which is my frame-rate lock in FSX) and the flights are really smooth from take-off to landing. A real confidence builder!
Here are some pictures from a little sightseeing flight, starting at my nearest airport, CYCD Nanaimo (on Vancouver Island), with destination CYYJ, Victoria International. Cruising altitude of 2000 feet, ideal for admiring the Orbx PNW scenery, VFR until past Cowichan Bay, and from there descending to 1500 feet and intercepting the ILS for Runway 09.
Final approach into CYYJ
At CYYJ Flying school
| Publisher: Flight1 |
Format: Download (41MB)
Reviewed By: Bert Pieké
Avsim Senior Staff Reviewer
This is one of those airplanes, where I actually bother to get the manual professionally printed and spiral bound, and I really try to fly it by the book.
One of the prettiest FSX aircraft? Maybe not, but all the important things are there – and I’ve found no problems, which is not exactly the norm in today’s add-on market!
Knoxville flyer paint job
So, if you want maximum eye-candy, this is not the plane for you. If you want a reliable trainer that will help you improve your flying skills, this is a good choice!
What I Like About the Cardinal II package
- Excellent handling – a great training aircraft!
- Very functional cockpit with legible gauges
- Nice looking airplane, fun to take for a ride!
- Truly professional documentation
What I Don't Like About the Cardinal II package
- The cockpit – although functional, does not have the degree of visual sophistication that other recent GA aircraft provide