The Piper PA-28 series of aircraft was launched in early 1960 as the Piper Cherokee. On 19 June 1967 Piper announced the first retractable undercarriage variant of the Cherokee, namely the PA-28R Arrow. It was powered by a fuel-injected Lycoming IO-360-A2A engine driving a constant speed propeller. The undercarriage was electro-hydraulically operated, and the Arrow was certified on 8 June 1967. The Arrow II was powered by the Lycoming IO-360-CC engine.
In 1979, Piper made a design decision, opting to equip many of its airplanes with trendy, fashionable T-tails. The Arrow was no exception, and the resulting machine was the PA-28RT201 Arrow IV, with its distinctive "T" tail. More than 30,000 PA-28’s have been built to date.
The Arrow is used extensively as a trainer at flying schools around the world.
Carenado has by now released a number of well built GA aircraft for FSX, with the Mooney M20J and Cessna 152 two of my personal favorites. Let’s see how they did with this one!
Installation & Documentation:
Installation is straight forward, you download the installer from the Carenado site, run the program and you are ready to fly. The Arrow somehow looks like “more airplane” than the Archer... it has a GPS in the panel, retractable gear, and 20 hp more under the hood. You end up with four different paint jobs, all quite attractive.
The documentation consists of two documents: a pilot’s reference card with lots of checklists and a user’s guide to the virtual cockpit.
Flying the PA-28 Arrow:
I was looking forward to this aircraft, because my favorite stand-by aircraft in FS9 was the Dreamfleet Archer which is basically an Arrow with fixed gear.
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 Archer is IMHO one of the best ever made, the virtual cockpit badly shows it’s age.
So, I was hoping that the recently released Arrow by Carenado would fit the bill, in looking and handling a lot like the Archer, while providing the well known quality cockpit interior that Carenado is justly known for.
First then, how does the cockpit environment compare? Here are two screenshots: the Archer 2D and the Arrow VC.
Pretty amazing, this looks just like my old friend! We’re off to a good start.
First time I took off, I was surprised by the effort it took to get the Arrow to rotate and lift off the runway. I’ve read that the T-tail has less elevator authority at low speeds and that may have something to do with it, but after risking running off the far end of the runway the first time, I now give the yoke a good pull at 90 kts to get the plane in the air. In all fairness, the documentation does specifically state: “Back pressure to rotate to climb attitude”, so I guess that is part of the learning experience. Other than that, the plane flies smoothly and the full function autopilot is a great help.
One of the things I noticed and reported back to Carenado is that the click spots for the HSI are small and not found on the knobs, but next to them. I consider this a major nuisance, since I use these knobs often and other vendors manage to build cockpits where you can just click on the knob and/or use the mouse wheel to adjust it.
While we are on things I do not like, I really do not care for the default FS GPS. Luckily, you can substitute a third party GPS without running into problems with 3D knobs, (although the light mask does not line up perfectly at night time).
Having got that out of the way, I must say that the plane flies and handles nicely and looks great both inside and out. I’ve added a few screenshots below to illustrate the point.
Animations and special effects:
The cockpit is nicely done, with rounded corners and nice textures wherever you look. A click removes the yoke which I appreciate. The outside is lovely, with smooth skin and lots of detail. This really is a very pretty airplane and the T-tail adds a touch of distinctiveness, even if it does not add to the flying characteristics.
The night lighting is quite pleasing. With both the dome light and the instrument lighting on, it creates a nice subdued lighting effect which does not take away from the ambient lighting in the scenery.
Like other newer releases, the Arrow does not have a 2D cockpit. I did not miss it, but I know some users are used to seeing one included. For that, the viewing angle is good in the VC and pretty much everything is within reach. An exception is the elevator trim indicator which is located between the seats. Changing the viewpoint with the “A” key helps to be able to pan down and check it before take-off. Shift-A then returns to the original position.
As is now expected, all the moving surfaces are animated, including the elevator trim tab. It is fun just looking around the aircraft and admire the level of detail. The landing gear, in particular has every detail modeled. Another nice detail is the little antenna towards the back that moves in the breeze.
I did not quite discover my favorite airplane for FSX as I had with the Archer in FS9, but the Carenado Arrow is enjoyable to fly and poses an additional challenge, with the retractable gear and the desire to cling to the runway at take-off.
has a distinctive style that captures the era of these airplanes.
They look like well loved aircraft that
have seen some
real use and no longer have that “straight from the factory” appearance.
If you are looking for a Piper PA28, you can have a lot of fun
with this T-tail, retractable gear version.
What I Like About The Piper Arrow
What I Don't Like About The Piper Arrow
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