AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

The Knoxville Flyers: Cessna 177B/177RG Cardinal Review 

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Dreamfleet's Cessna 177B

Real Cessna 177B (photo courtesy of DreamFleet)

Publisher: Flight1 and DreamFleet
An outstanding aircraft package from this all-star development team
Download Size:
39.2 Mb
Executable Auto Install File
Package includes:
Aircraft, panel, sound set
Reviewed by: Jon Birdwell, AVSIM Staff Reviewer

Possible Commercial Rating Score: 1 to 5 stars with 5 stars being exceptional.
Please see details of our review rating policy here


Introduced in 1968, the sleek, roomy Cessna 177 Cardinal was intended as a replacement for the venerable Cessna 172, the most popular single-engine aircraft in the world. Indeed, compared to the 172, the Cardinal's styling was sleek and "strut-less" (no struts to hold up the wings). The 177 looked fast just sitting on the ground, and unlike other Cessnas, the Cardinal featured an effective all-flying horizontal stabilator, as introduced on the Piper Cherokee line of aircraft several years earlier. The stage was set for a modern replacement for the 172. Unfortunately, this would never come to fruition.

1971 saw the introduction of the Cardinal RG, which added retractable landing gear and a more powerful 200-hp Lycoming IO-360 engine.

Production of the Cardinal continued through the 1978 model year, when Cessna produced the last and most upscale version, the Cardinal Classic, which is the aircraft that has been simulated here. The Classic featured such luxury items as a leather interior and fold down rear writing table. Just sitting in the roomy rear seat of the Cardinal will show that the writing table was not a bad idea!

Today, 24 years after the last one rolled out of Wichita, Kansas, the Cardinal remains a very popular and affordable aircraft. While never a replacement for the 172, loyal Cardinal owners appreciate the attributes of this fine aircraft, ones that ultimately made her superior to the 172.

Installation, Setup, and Documentation

The Cardinal package is available in a single executable-file download that is packaged in Flight1's innovative wrapper technology. Just download the file, remain connected to the Internet, punch in your credit card information, and in a few short clicks, you're flying! Flight1 has really turned new aircraft installation into a "no-brainer," a welcome accomplishment for those of us who aren't especially technologically inclined.

Included with the package is Flight1's trademark Text-O-Matic system, which makes downloading new paint schemes and implementing them into FS a breeze. I find this program to be a welcome addition to Flight Simulator. Often times payware packages come with a severely limited set of liveries, and the companies charge extra for sometimes-lackluster additional texture sets. Flight1, on the other hand, has really opened the door to the community's very talented freeware graphic artists, a much welcome change.

Most of us know that Cessna's line of single engine airplanes aren't very large, and weight and balance makes a big difference in the handling of the aircraft. Thankfully, Flight1 and Dreamfleet have included their innovative "Config-O-Matic" load editing program as well. This handy tool allows you to add/delete passengers, change their weight, add baggage, change radio stacks, as well as a few other neat tricks. Very nicely done!

Documentation is not included in the main file download, but fortunately for us, they included them in two separately available ZIP files containing performance charts and an "owners' manual" in Adobe Acrobat format. DreamFleet put quite a bit of attention into these files, thankfully! Each file contains every bit of relevant information about flying the Cessna Cardinal in Flight Simulator, as well as a few interesting anecdotes. The performance charts are, for the most part, copied verbatim out of the actual Owner's Manual.

Test System

Self-built Athlon XP 1800+
Win XP Pro
512 Megs RAM
PNY GeForce 3 Ti 500 video
48x CD-RW
SB Live! Audio
CH Flight Sim Yoke
CH Pro Pedals
SYS 17" Flat Panel Monitor

Flying Time:
12 hours over 14 days

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Cruise flight in the 177B northeast-bound at 5,500 out of Knoxville, TN

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Cockpit of the RG. Notice the wonderful attention to detail and all the eye candy

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The 177RG overflying Knoxville's Downtown Island Airport

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C'mon, smile, Mikko! :)

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Cool night lighting!

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View from the top :)


After firing up Flight Sim 2002 and loading the fixed-gear version at Knoxville, Tennessee's Downtown Island Airport (KDKX), my first task was to examine the exterior. My immediate first observation: This airplane isn't a frame killer! I have an approximately "middle-of-the-road" system, so aircraft performance really depends on how well the model is optimized. Mikko Maliniemi, of Flight Simulator general-aviation fame, really did an excellent job with this model.

The airplane is shaped absolutely accurately. The attention to detail is amazing! Designed in Gmax, the airplane sports reflective textures, but they're not over-reflective (pet peeve of mine). Every bit of detail that makes the Cardinal unique is there… the cantilevered (strut-less) wing, the slots in the horizontal stabilizer for better low-speed handling, the oversize main doors… it's all there. The doors even make a noise when you open them! Impressive.

Peeking inside the windows, we can see a few extra bottles of Aeroshell 80 thrown carelessly (read: typically) in the back, along with the aircraft's tow bar. This adds an even bigger touch of realism to an already lifelike model!


In my opinion, the cockpit is what makes the airplane. Lou Betti and his team don't let me down here one bit. This panel completely changed my mind about photorealism! I used to be staunchly against it, but the Dreamfleet team put so much effort into this panel that it looks completely stunning. The background's great, but the gauges aren't to be believed! They're highly accurate for this type and model year, and include just the right amount of "wear and tear" to make them appear genuine. The package also includes several different choices of radio stacks (old or new), with the same amount of detail put into each. With their latest product update (available to download separately for users who purchased the product before December 2002), a realistically-programmed GPS (one that doesn't resemble the default GPS!) is also included in the panel. The 2-dimensional cabin views are also very tastefully put together in high-quality photorealistic splendor. There is also quite a bit of eye candy in here, as well. Click on the glovebox; it opens! Very well done!

I was also particularly impressed with the taste that they added such Flight Simulator-essential items that don't exist in the real airplane, such as the NAV/GPS mode switch and a "view-switching panel". Dreamfleet refers to this as the "Panelmatic" system, and modeled it after Cessna's famous Nav-O-Matic autopilot system. If you weren't a Cessna insider, you wouldn't be able to tell any difference between this gauge and the rest of the panel!

There's barely any indication that you're changing views when you switch from the Cockpit to the Virtual Cockpit; it's that good. You will not find a single low-quality texture in the cabin, either. It's all high-grade stuff in here as well! The refresh rate on the Virtual Cockpit gauges is beyond acceptable. There's quite a bit of eye candy in the cabin, as well! The sun visors are movable, there's a first aid kit in the back, and the passenger seat has a VFR sectional and Nokia cell phone sitting in it. All this, and no noticeable impact on frame rates! Kudos to the Dreamfleet team once again.

One complaint I have is the Quantum Eye Carbon Monoxide detector in the cabin. It's accurate down to a "t", but unfortunately, the indicator is black, indicating that we're all dead!! Oh well, I think I will be able to overlook this small detail!


Dreamfleet included a completely unique sound package with this aircraft as well. Gyro spool-up and spool-down noises are included; these are a must. Also, this engine uses a fuel pump for additional fuel pressure; it's distinct sounds are included as well. Real-life Cessna Cardinals use the Lycoming O-360-A1F6 engine (an engine I am very accustomed to using in real life), a powerful little 4-cylinder engine that puts out a pretty distinct noise. Dreamfleet got it just about as accurate as possible! The engine noise levels and sounds run right on the money through the entire throttle range. Of course, for my engine "run-up", I turned up my subwoofer and totally immersed myself in the sound. I even put on my trusty David Clark headphones to get in the mood, so to speak. I even got a complaint from the neighbors! Point for DreamFleet!

The Test Flight

After examining the airplane, it was finally time to jump in and try to fly this baby. DreamFleet's comprehensive manual put me through pre-start and the start checklist without any flaws at all. When you're turning the key to "Start", it stops at the "Both" position to allow the pilot to yell, "Clear Prop!!" Startling, but interesting nonetheless. The engine starts up smoothly, and now it's time to taxi.

The aircraft handles just fine on the ground—not too spongy, not too firm, just right. The airplane rotates right on the published speed, albeit with a little more back pressure on the yoke required than I anticipated, but this is easily fixed with a little bit of nose-up trim (error on my part). Climbout is remarkably stable. The control forces are very accurate for this type of plane. Although I don't have any experience in a Cardinal, I do have scores of hours flying a Cessna 172 and 172RG as well as a 182 so I have a good feel for where the control forces should be. Fuel burn, also, is dead-on by the numbers (although, since it's an older airplane, I do run it a little rich). The airplane will actually stall (a welcome improvement over lots of add-on aircraft) as well as do high-performance maneuvers pretty accurately. It's also equally at home on long cross-country flights.

Low-speed handling is, for the most part, pretty accurate. Traffic pattern operations as well as the approach went very well, with the aircraft displaying true-to-life positive stability and little call for power management.

I taxied back to the terminal to take the included retractable-gear version up for a quick test flight. The engine in this model is turbocharged and fuel-injected, so it's a bit different, but not totally. It handles almost the same, albeit a bit faster, thanks to a "cleaner" profile with the retractable landing gear. Speaking of the retractable gear, that's very well done; the retraction sequence is about 90% accurate. The only thing I could ask for in this area would be a little more delay in between actually moving the gear selector valve and gear motion; in real life, there is a slight delay as the hydraulic power pack pressurizes the lines to move the gear. Other than that, well done!


Dreamfleet's members, Louis Betti, Elmar Calbo, Ron Friemuth, Nick Jacobs, Tom Main, Mikko Maliniemi, Aaron Swindle, and Fraser Turner, have done it again! This package is in my opinion the best general-aviation aircraft add-on that Flight Simulator has ever seen. While not making any substantial leaps in technology, the Dreamfleet team has brought us an example of what can be achieved through the use of current technology. The attention to detail is absolutely amazing. The care that was put into the design and testing of this package is evident every single second that it's loaded into my Flight Simulator. This package should appeal to everyone! It's great for IFR as well as VFR cross countries, as it is also good for just flying around. It's as good for the serious enthusiast as it is for the most care-free hobbyist. All in all, it's well worth the $22.95USD price! I'd even pay more than their asking price for it.

For more screenshots and better, more in-depth descriptions as well as product downloads, AVSIM clears you direct to the Flight1 website.


What I Like About Flight1's Cessna Cardinal Package
  • "Wrapper" install package
  • Completely accurate visual model with tons of eye candy
  • Very close attention paid to the intricacies of the visual model, flight model, and panel
  • Interchangeable radio stacks are a nice touch
  • Both aircraft provided handle accurately
  • Simple-to-use interfaces to change aircraft parameters and downloaded paint schemes
  • All gauges are clear, easy-to-read, and dead-on accurate

What I Don't Like About Flight1's Cessna Cardinal Package
  • No gear configuration warning horn on the RG model

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The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment. This disclaimer is posted here in order provide you with background information on the reviewer and connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

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