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    Lionheart Creations Piper Pacer


    Gaiiden

    Introduction

     

    The information for this section was gathered from the manual and the piperowner.org website. The Pacer and Tri-Pacer are the most popular of the “short wing” Piper aircraft that appeared after World War II. With thousands of military surplus and pre-war “long wing” Cubs (J-3 Cub and its variants) available, Piper Aircraft found itself facing bankruptcy in 1948.   

     

    Piper Aircraft Company decided in order to get a low-cost aircraft into production quickly; it cobbled together a new design making maximum use of existing parts. The result was the PA-15/17 Vagabond, a no frills two seat aircraft powered by a 65 horsepower engine and differed from the earlier Cubs by having a short (29.5 foot) wing. In 1949 the PA-16 Clipper was produced which was basically a four-seat version of the Vagabond, powered by a 125 horsepower engine and retained most of the Vagabond features including a Cub style control stick, no flaps and fabric covered aluminum & steel tube structure.   

     

    The Clipper was replaced in 1950 by the PA-20 Pacer, which replaced the stick with dual control yokes; it now had manual flaps, removable rear seat and had one door on each side of the aircraft, one on the right front and one on the left rear. Early versions of the Pacer were powered by 115 horsepower Lycoming O-235 engine while later models were installed with 125 or 135 horsepower O-290 engines. Many of these aircraft have been upgraded to 150 or 160 horsepower O-320 engines and a 180 horsepower engine is also available as an after-market conversion.   

     

    This package also includes some 180 horsepower models. This higher engine power along with a very light weight structure results in a useful load of about 900 pounds and a service ceiling of over 15,000 feet. The Piper Pacer had a huge following and Piper was hoping to make an aircraft even safer and economical to operate and created the Tri-Pacer, also known as the Flying Milk Stool.  

     

    The Tri-Pacer was easier to takeoff and taxi in but many enthusiasts still preferred the tail dragger, with some owners actually retro-fitting the tail dragger landing gear to the Tri-Pacer, reverting it back to the tail dragger configuration. Production of the Piper Pacer series of aircraft continued to 1964 with over 10,000 aircraft being built (over 1100 PA-20 Pacer & over 9400 PA-22 Tri-Pacer).   

     

    The Piper Pacer is still widely used today and is usually spotted at private airports and all over Alaska. They are used as bush flying aircraft and have been modified with modern panels with installed GPS units, new heavy duty landing gear with large tundra tires and other modern equipment installed to make them even more efficient to operate. With an airframe made of steel tubing, fabric & wood, the Piper Paper series of aircraft is an economical & durable aircraft to own and operate.

     

    Specification’s:

    Capacity: 1 pilot & 3 passengers

    Length: 20 feet, 6 inches

    Wingspan: 29 feet, 3 inches

    Height: 8 feet, 4 inches

    Empty Weight: 1110 pounds

    Gross Weight: 2000 pounds

    Fuel Capacity: 36 US gallons

    Powerplant: Lycoming O-320-B four cylinder 160 horsepower engine. (Super Pacer 180 horsepower)

    Propeller: 2-bladed metal, fixed pitch

    Max speed: 123 Knots (141 MPH), Super Pacer 140 Knots

    Cruise speed: 116 Knots (134 MPH), 75% power, 7000 foot altitude

    Stall speed: 43 Knots (49 MPH), flaps down

    Range: 434 nautical miles

    Service ceiling: 16,500 feet

    Rate of climb: 800 feet per minute

    Take-off run: 1120 feet

    Best rate of climb speed: 73 Knots (84 MPH)

    Landing roll with flaps down: 1480 feet

     

    Installation and Documentation

     

      

    The review copy was provided by Lionheart Creations and uses the PayLoadz purchasing and installation system. This website uses PayPal as the form of payment. After purchase you will be emailed a link to the setup file. Download and run this file to begin the installation process. Select FSX or Prepar3D, agree to the license agreement, verify the correct simulator location and click “Start” to install the package. Select “Yes” to agree to overwrite the copy protected files, I am not sure that I like this aspect of the install process, maybe all add-ons overwrite these files and Lionheart is kind enough to let the user know this is happening. I would rather have these files backed up so if you need to uninstall these files will return to the original file. After all of the files are installed, select “Exit” to finish and the detailed manual should open in your PDF viewer.   

     

    I like that a traditional manual has been included and love the old style look of it. I have a minor issue with the manual in that it has some errors that should have been spotted when it was proof read. The pages detailing the virtual cockpit and the interior features have the label “Exterior Features” at the top of these pages. The manual is also available from the Lionheart Creations website which is a nice customer service feature.    

     

    The package includes some Alaska scenery and the manual explains how to activate it in FSX. The first time that you load the aircraft in FSX, you will be asked by the Microsoft Security System to run the Lionheart Creations Sound Gauge file, select “Run” then “Yes” to designate this module as trusted.

     

    Interior Features

     

    The interior features of these aircraft are excellent. The first thing that grabbed my attention when I first loaded a Pacer was that the interior color textures match the exterior colors. Not all developers add this feature and when it is included, it really adds to the quality of the product. Several other interior alternate views are included and when you select these views you can see the other quality details that have been included with this package.

     

    Everything about the interior looks realistic, including the three dimensional screws, clear labeling, chrome handles, detailed arm rests and the classic looking upholstery which features piping in the various colors that were popular in the era that these aircraft were produced. Even the Airworthiness Certificate has some detail instead of being a blurry looking object or not included at all.

     

    One of the issues that I have with some historic flight simulator aircraft is the lack of dirty or “wear & tear” textures. Thankfully, Lionheart Creations has included some aircraft with dirty textures which appear as stains on the upholstery and other signs of use. To have stains on the window, simply click on the bottle of Plex All on the floor or click on the windshield itself.

     

    The three levels of window textures are Normal (some bug splats and is the default setting), Dirty (the most stains) and Clean. The selection I used depended on the aircraft that I was flying, Dirty with the aircraft with the oldest looking panels & the bush aircraft, Clean with aircraft with the most modern panel and Normal with all the various included models.

     

    The windshield on these aircraft is tinted and when you use the Normal & Dirty windshields the tinting seems darker. If you do not like the tinted look a clear texture file is provided on the products web page on the Lionheart Creations website. I did not install this file.

     

    Another nice feature is the ability to change the aircraft from passenger to cargo. This is accomplished by clicking on brown wallet on the front right seat. A minor issue that I have with the cargo loaded aircraft is that the weight and balance is the same as the passenger aircraft. Also, some of the boxes do not have level of quality textures as other interior features.

     

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    Exterior Features

     

    The exterior textures are just as outstanding as the interior textures. This package includes tail wheel models in both standard & bush configuration, tri-cycle landing gear and also the float plane model. Each of these models has several exterior paints each so a total of 33 aircraft are available to fly right after installation. An optional paint kit is also available for download.

    A realistic feature that I like about the Piper Pacer package is that the pilot is only visible in the cockpit when the engine is running. The exterior textures are produced in high resolution 2048 x 2048 texture and I only had a very minor decrease in performance over the default FSX Cessna 172 that I use for my starting flight. An excellent external feature is the ability to select the type of wheel fairing that is installed on the aircraft.

    The tail draggers have the choice between early, modern or no wheel fairings and with the tri-cycle landing gear aircraft the choices are either modern or none. These are selected with a switch on the instrument panel. A minor issue that I have with this is that the switch is also located on the float plane instrument panel which does not have wheels!

    Similar to the dirty window options, I would select the wheel fairing type based on the age of the instrument panel that I was flying. I would use old or none with the older panels and modern with the most modern panel.

    With the float plane you can raise and lower the water rudder with the lift ring and cable located in the cockpit. I am very happy that this is included because it adds to the realistic look and I sometimes forget what the keyboard shortcut is for this function.

    Some of the exterior paint jobs include chipped & faded paint and wet mud underneath the wing from landing at wet dirt landing areas. Also, metal fatigue around the fuel covers and on top of the wing is visible on all models. One thing is for sure, I cannot complain that Lionheart did not include some dirty and aged textures with this product.

    The bush models include the realistic lift enhancer tabs that make these aircraft capable of taking off at shorter airfields. Several alternate exterior views are included that allow you simulate walking around the aircraft to examine all of the quality features of the Piper Pacer. All of the external features are three dimensional and everything looks very realistic.

    I was sitting in one of the float aircraft and looked out the left window and notice the left fuel sump, it looked exactly like what a fuel sump is supposed to look like and I am glad that they are included with the exterior model. Other exterior features include detailed tail wheel & linkages, tail wheel lift handles, raised ribbing on the wings, fuselage & rudder surfaces, clear three dimensional labeling and more.

    I am very impressed with the amount of external details that are included with an aircraft that retails for only $24.95.   I have looked at other aircraft that are more expensive and they did not include this level of detail and variety.
     

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    Panel
     

    Just like the interior and exterior textures, the instrument panel also is great looking. Three different panels are included with this package. My favorite panel was the early era version with only the radios mounted on the panel.

    The radios are positioned where the glove box would be on these early aircraft and by clicking the glove box area that is visible, the radios are hidden inside the box and are replaced with glove box door to make this panel look truly like and early era Pacer. Two things that would have improved the experience & realism of this panel is would have been nice to have old style analog radios (instead of digital) and also when hiding the radios have the option to have an operable portable radio to simulate flying in modern day with the older aircraft. Even though the radios are hidden they are still turned on and you can hear traffic over the speakers.

    The other instruments on this panel look just like the early era instruments should look like and also these panels do not have a master battery switch and avionics switch. The second panel is one that you would see on a Piper Tri-Pacer era aircraft. This panel is also missing the battery & avionics switches but now has more instruments, a Garmin GNS-430 GPS and an ADF Radio & gauge.

    Before moving on the final panel I want to discuss the biggest issue that I have with these early era panels. According to the manual the engine can be started without a battery switch but on my system this did not work. Also, the avionics would not turn on without a proper switch. I sent in a support request about this issue, Lionheart does not have support forums, and have not received a response.

    I wanted to fly these aircraft, so for a workaround I created a keyboard shortcut for both the invisible master battery and avionics switch and then I could start the engine and operate the radios. Also, my Saitek Switch Panel would sometimes work or not work and radios would sometimes turn off for no apparent reason, I had to cycle the avionics switch shortcut a couple of times before they would stay on, weird! I do not know if this is an FSX issue or product bug but it is enough of a concern that I wanted to explain it here in the review.

    The last panel option is the high technology carbon fiber bush aircraft panel. This is my least favorite panel because it seems out of place on an older aircraft and because it has all of the modern switches was the only panel that I could start the engine without using keyboard shortcuts. This panel also has the most modern instruments and also has the GPS on the panel.

    If you would like to exchange one panel for another, the product web page provides instructions for doing so. To display “wear and tear” textures on the face on the instruments, the textures change when you select the various window texture options as explained earlier. When you select the “Dirty” option, these textures have the most scratches and I had a very hard time reading the instruments. After doing some flights I decided to just use the “Normal” textures because I get some wear textures on both the windshield & instruments and I still can read the instruments.

    If you miss the days of having a 2D panel then you will be very happy because a 2D panel is included for each panel type. I am strictly a virtual cockpit aviator now so I did not use the 2D panel other than for review screen grabs.

    The GPS is very basic and only accepts the default FSX flight plans and I do not have an issue with this because I treated this aircraft as a nice VFR aircraft and used the GPS for only moving map purposes. At a later date I may replace the GPS in the high technology panel with my Reality XP GNS-430 because that would be the aircraft I would probably use for longer flights.
     

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    Flight Model

    This is a fun aircraft to fly but does take some practice in order to operate it without incident. I already commented on the starting procedure but now would like to explain another issue that I have after the engine is running. When my throttle was at the idle setting the RPM would drop to zero and the engine would stop. This seemed to occur with any RPM below 600-700 RPM. The aircraft would have to be slightly above 1000 RPM to start the taxi but would start to taxi fast so I had to slow it down. I had to carefully reduce the throttle to 900 to 1000 RPM for a nice taxi speed.

    If this is how the real aircraft operates then I can certainly live with it. If you have not operated a tail wheeled aircraft it can be hard to see over the engine cowling. The realistic procedure is to perform “S” turns on the ramp or you can adjust your eye point view or use the wonderful alternate view of looking over the cowling.

    The Tri-Pacer does not have this visibility problem but for some reason I had the sensation that I was floating on the ramp instead of having the wheels firmly planted on the ground. This was minimized when I was able to taxi at a slower speed.

    Take off can be a challenge especially with the tail dragger models, I recommend using the alternate view with your eye point over the engine cowling in order to see the runway ahead of you. The torque effect from the engine & propeller and the rotational wind over the airframe will cause the aircraft to veer to the right then suddenly pull to the left sharply if you apply the throttle two quickly. The worst possible outcome here is over correcting and causing a ground loop.

    This has been modeled exactly. To minimize this issue is to slowly advance the throttle with slight left rudder as you accelerate then apply right rudder to compensate for the left pull as you accelerate. If you are new to this type of flight model I recommend saving the flight before take-off so if something happens you do not have to start over from your parking position.

    The Tri-Pacer does not have this issue so if you just want to start flying, I recommend starting with the Tri Pacer then start practicing in the tail dragger models. Also, one notch of flaps is recommended for short field take-offs.

    This is a wonderful aircraft for short to medium cross country flights. All of the performance information below was from the user manual. At a 75% throttle setting the Pacer can cruise at 120 to 140 knots. The aircraft in this package does not include an auto pilot but that is not an issue because it is a very nice aircraft to control in flight. It trims nicely and I had no issues hand flying each of the Pacer models included in this package.

    The Piper Pacer has a fixed pitch propeller so there is not a propeller control; you control the RPM with the throttle. The recommended cruise setting is 2500 RPM which equates to a 75% throttle setting or 85% for a fast cruise setting. Landing all of these aircraft despite what the manual says is a challenge. This is especially true with the tail dragger models.

    If you have crash detection turned on, I recommend saving the flight somewhere on approach in order to avoid starting your flight again at the starting location. I learned this the hard way on several cross country flights. Start your approach early, the Pacer is a heavy aircraft and the short wings cause the aircraft to drop fast and hold its speed when throttle is reduced.  When your airspeed is below 120 knots, you can apply your first notch of flaps. Even with all of the flaps extended the Pacer does not slow down as fast as other flight simulator aircraft. Elevator & trim adjustments are necessary for proper approach speed. It is possible to do a three point landing but I was never able to accomplish this.

    The most challenging part of the landing is slowing down once you are on the runway. I had a very hard time with the tail dragger model keeping the aircraft straight after touching down. It is very easy to over control the rudder during this time and the result is a spin out or worse. I finally decided to practice full stop landings after saving an approach and managed to not spin out but still had a hard time staying on the runway; I would usually end up on the grass or ramp beside the runway. Very small rudder control movements are required for successful landings.

    As the old saying goes, practice, practice and more practice. The Tri-Pacer also requires the small rudder control movements but for me the Tri-Pacer was much easier to land then the tail wheeled models.

     

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    Sounds, Animations & Custom Scenery

    The sound effects of the Pacers are pretty good. Although I have an issue with the engine sound effects. With premium aircraft I have come to expect realistic engine sounds, either recorded from the real aircraft or taken from another aircraft with a similar engine as the Pacer. Lionheart used the sound package from the FSX default Maule aircraft.

    The interior sounds are excellent with an audible sound effect for all of the operable switches, flaps and other interior sounds. I just wish they would have taken the time to get the engine sounds right. When browsing the Orbx forums I noticed that other people have an issue with this and somebody provided a wonderful suggestion, if you own the Flight Replica’s Super Cub, that aircraft has the same engine as the 150 horsepower Pacer. I own the Super Cub so I replaced the Maul sound folder location with my Super Cub sound folder location on the Pacer sound.cfg file and now I have acceptable engine sounds.

    There are other replacement aircraft sound products on the market and other users have reported that they have had success with these products. There are plenty of nice animations with this aircraft. My favorites are the old style trim crank and the sliding windows. One thing that I love about the Pacer is that I can open both doors from inside the aircraft using the door handle. I always had trouble opening doors with keyboard shortcuts that some developers make you use.

    To add even more value to this package, some custom Alaskan Scenery is included. The scenery is located around Hope, Alaska which is south of Anchorage. I have just installed the Orbx Southern Alaska regional scenery product so I did not activate this scenery. If you do not own the Orbx scenery, the scenery with this product includes upgraded airports, small lake landing areas, remote cabins in forests and on lakes, camp sites on glaciers and even a crashed UFO site high up on a glacier.
     

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    Summary / Closing Remarks

    Test System
    • Intel Core2 Duo 2.53GHz
    • 6GB DD2 RAM
    • 500 GB Serial ATA HD(5400RPM)
    • Nvidia GeForce 260M 1GB GDDR3
    • FSX with Acceleration

    Test Time: 40 hours


    Publisher: Lionheart Creations
    Platform: FSX/P3D
    Format: Download (266MB)
    Reviewed By: Mike Cameron
    Despite some issues that I have with this product, I am glad that I have it installed on my system. The Pacer is an incredibly fun aircraft to fly and if you have the realism settings turned up it can also be a challenging aircraft to operate. With three different panels and both the tail wheeled (including bush configuration), Tri-Pacer & float models there is a lot of variety for the reasonable purchase price.  I love that the Tri-Pacer model is provided because this is the first time that I have noticed that this model was available for FSX.

    A proper manual is included which always improves the quality of a product, at least for me. The included custom Alaskan scenery also adds to the value of the package. I did have a couple of issues with this package and these may cause some people to think twice before purchasing the Pacer package.

    The first and what I consider a major issue is that I could not start the early era and the Tri- Pacer era engine from a cold and dark state. These panels do not have a master battery and avionics switch installed for realism, so I was also not able to turn the avionics. According to the manual, the engine should start even without the battery switch but this did not work for me. I sent a support message to Lionheart and did not hear back from them and I also asked about this on another forum and did not get any responses so maybe it is an issue on my system. I created a keyboard shortcut for the master battery and avionics and was able to start the engine and turn on the avionics.

    The minor issue that I have with the Pacer is that I wish Lionheart would have included more realistic engine sound effects. I was able to resolve this issue by aliasing another aircraft sounds that I have installed on my system.

    Despite these two issues and the other minor issues that I commented on, the various Piper Pacer aircraft included in this package have become some of my favorite aircraft to fly in FSX.
     

    What I Like About the Piper Pacer

    • Three different panels
    • Early era tail dragger, Tri- Pacer era,  modern bush  and float aircraft models
    • Excellent looking interior & exterior textures including “aged” and “wear and tear”
    • Proper manual with plenty of information
    • Fantastic price
    • Some good animations
    • Includes custom Alaskan scenery

    What I Dislike About the Piper Pacer

    • I could not start the engine or turn on the avionics from a cold & dark configuration with the early era and Tri-Pacer era panel aircraft without creating keyboard shortcuts
    • Aircraft uses the default FSX Maule sounds
    • The manual has some typographical errors
    • Not really an issue with the aircraft but Lionheart Creations does not have a support forum for questions and concerns


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