AVSIM Commercial FS9 Aircraft Review

C185F Skywagon Bush

Product Information

Publishers: Carenado

Description: High-fidelity aircraft add-on.

Download Size:
80 MB

Simulation Type:
Reviewed by: Benjamin van Soldt AVSIM Staff Reviewer - August 9, 2010


When you think about companies, having a first glance at them, one thing will be clear. Not the general quality of their products. Not even so much the quality of their support. At first glance you will get an impression of the type of product they develop: what aircraft or scenery they generally develop.

Thus, when you look at Ariane, you can see it’s all Boeing 737. When you look at Vertical Reality Simulations, you see they want to specialize in fighter aircraft. Also PMDG, while less clear, seems to specialize in civilian passenger aircraft of which jetliners are most prominent. And, Carenado of course, specializes GA in aircraft.

Carenado is widely known for their prop aircraft. Specializing in Cessna and Piper GA aircraft, they have a wide range of aircraft that can appeal to many people. They have the small C152 for those that want a quiet, familiar ride. They have the bigger C206 for those that want to haul more stuff than the C152 can. They even have the twin-engined Piper Seneca for those that want a bigger challenge. Finally, they also have aircraft that should appeal to those that like bush flying. One of those planes is the C185F Skywagon Bush.

The C185F Skywagon Bush is a package of variants on the C185F Skywagon that can be purchased separately from Carenado and was reviewed at Avsim some time ago.

The Bush package adds a ski, float, tundra and amphibian version, with the float and ski version each having a separate variant that contains an extra lower window in the door. Because the two models (non bush and bush) have so much in common, you may see me saying the same stuff that Philip Wilson says in the review linked to earlier. I’ll also refer to that review here and there, but it is not necessary to have read that review to understand this one.

Installation and Documentation

Installation couldn’t be simpler. You receive keys and such and a download link via email. You click the download link and the download starts immediately. No complications here and everything was smooth. Opening the installer, I was asked to fill in my email address and the serial key, after which the fully automatic installer installed all files necessary.

I didn’t find any folders in the start menu, however. Instead you can find all the relevant information in the aircraft’s folder. In there you’ll find various documents, including a Quick Operation Guide and full documentation for each of the models. Here is also where Carenado has been ingenious: by pressing Shift + F4 in-sim, you get the operation manual in-sim!

That way you always have the manual with you without needing to print anything out. A truly remarkable and very useful thing and I wish more aircraft would have it. Here are some shots of the manual:

Owner’s manual cover.
Owner’s manual supplement.
Emergency procedures.
Operational data.

The documentation is extremely comprehensive and a joy to look at. Not only does it hold much useful information, it also looks extremely good. It looks authentic, and that’s something not many aircraft manuals look like. That said, printing this manual will be a nightmare; a very expensive endeavor indeed. But printing it will not be truly necessary. Why would you print it when you can simply call it up during flight?

Exterior model

In this chapter I wish to look at all the different models we get in this package. I will only briefly look at the fuselage, for this has been covered in the “regular” C185 Skywagon review. Instead, I’ll give the landing equipment a more thorough look. First an overview of the different models:

These are the models included. As you can see, for every terrain there is something available.

The above shot gives a general overview of the different models included. We will now first look at a glance at the fuselage and such.

Overview of the exterior model.

At first glance, the exterior model looks very good. You can see lots of detail, but what makes it such a nice model to look at, is the great texture quality. Tiny details are textured with crispness that is great to behold. We’ll take a closer look now.

Close-up of the tail.
Close-up of the nose.
Close-up of the fuselage.
Close-up of the fuselage: opened door.

The above screenshots show close-ups of various parts of the fuselage. The modeling is very good and the great texturing is even more obvious now. All the screws are in place, textured with a crispness and brilliance that I’d wish to see on every add-on aircraft. If you look closely at the tail, you’ll also notice some slight dents and dirt, which really adds to the character of the plane.

The exterior model of this plane truly shines, and with textures that are among the best out-of-the-box that I have encountered, Carenado has made a truly great exterior model. I say out-of-the-box because one can think of texture add-ons that also give you such great texturing. I am now referring to McPhat, but these are not out-of-the-box since their add-ons have to be purchased separately (by the way, in order not to cause confusion: McPhat did not make repaints for the C185F reviewed here!).

Pilot’s head movement.
No extra objects.
Wheel chokes added.
Pitot cover added.
Plane Sights Prop added.
Cargo pod added.
Load and Packages added (inside aircraft, notice the chair suddenly disappearing at the back)

Finally, the above shots show the nice animations and additions the exterior model offers. The head movement of the pilot is something I have seen on other Carenado planes, which is something I like for it makes it seem that the pilot is not simply a “piece of dead meat”. I also like the customizations you can make to the model by adding or taking away stuff, such as the cargo pod and load and packages. The other stuff can obviously only be added when the plane is parked and/or shut down. Now let’s take a look at the various landing equipment.

Floats, seen from two angles. Again the floats, from underneath.

First things first: the model with floats. I must say I love the paint of this plane: the deep blue and yellow, together with the metal floats are a winning combination of colors that look truly stunning, even more so in the lush and rich environments that Tongass Fjords could supply. Concerning the floats, one must appreciate the level of detail of both the modeling and texturing. All the cables have been modeled with great precision, and it is finished off with a very good layer of textures, that make the floats seem like they have been heavily used. Slightly dented here and there, with dirt – obviously from the foul water the plane has been floating on – coming down from the bottommost series of screws, these floats look great.

Ski overview.
Ski from below: nice texturing!
Look at the details!

So next is the Skywagon with skis. The big, clunky floats have been replaced, and we now face a Skywagon with normal wheels, to which skis have been attached. Of note are the intricate details of the wiring holding the skis at the right angle for operation. What I think is very good here, is the texturing of these wires: they are so detailed, so crisp and so good, even though these are some truly tiny parts. The white wires you see are covered with what looks like rusty patches. It’s this attention to detail that makes these, yes all these models, great. The skis have also past the test: they are very well-modeled, and with texturing that is every bit as good.

The tundra model’s big wheels: close-up.
Now from below.
The normal wheel at the back.

The tundra model is the least exciting variation of all. The only difference is that this model has far bigger wheels, so that the plane does not end up stuck on the bumpy tundra terrain. The wheels have been modeled well: there is hardly any blockiness, and the texturing looks as good as always. The hind wheel is the same as on the non-bush plane, which probably makes it somewhat of a rare view in this particular package. Alas, it looks as good as the rest of the plane.

The amphibian is featured in all other screenshots, so there is plenty of opportunity to give the amphibian floats a look. It’s basically the same as the “float” model, with the addition of wheels at the tip of the floats and someway to the end. Using the gear lever you can extend the wheels. Also on this model the detail is very good and the texturing is top notch. I personally like the amphibian the best, for it gives the best deal: you can land on water and land, although you might as well forget grass strips. I’d not recommend landing with the amphibian’s fragile wheels on a bumpy grass strip.

This concludes the exterior model. On with the interior model.

Interior model

With such a good exterior model, we can expect an interior model that is as beautiful. My previous experience with Carenado does tell me that the interior is bound to be good. How good exactly it is we shall soon. Take a look:

Some great texture quality here!
Main instrument panel is looking great.
To the right we have a stunningly modeled and textured seat.
In the back there are some boxes and crates which can be taken out by unchecking the corresponding box on the animation panel, featured in screenshots in the exterior model chapter.

A first overview shows us a vividly and brilliantly textured cockpit, with some of the best and sharpest texturing that I have seen for a FS9 product. Not only the texturing, though, the modeling is also very good. Take a look at that seat, for example. It looks soft, something you really would like to sit in. This has been achieved by the great texturing, no doubt, but also due to what seems like some very good modeling.

All above screenshots show the good texturing. The close-up on the main instrument panel gives the best idea: that it’s still so sharp even from this close-up should give an impression of the quality of the texturing. What also adds to the atmosphere, are the small damages you see, such as that white scratch mark. For the rest, all metallic parts are truly well done. They look metallic, and you’re almost aware of their cold feel, compared to the soft, brown seat you sit on.

The virtual cockpit is very functional, too. Not all switches work, but everything you need to operate the plane and more is there, to give you the feeling of being the pilot in command. The animations of the various switches are good, but note that the various radio and navigation instruments are 2D, however 3D they look. That’s a bit of a pity, but since you probably won’t leave the PF’s seat, it’s no big deal. Plus, the knobs on those panels do look very good…

Close-up on the compass.
Now with GPS!
The window is close now…
…but it is opened with a single click.
Close-up on the yoke…
…but if you want it to go, you can click on its base and off it goes!

Speaking of animations, the above shots show some final tidbits in this VC. Of note is the great animation accompanying the opening of the window (also note the great texturing of the window’s closing mechanism). What I find truly great is that you can take out the GPS and yoke, so that you can access switches that are otherwise obscured by the yoke.

The GPS is a truly handy tool to have in the VC, by the way. I have been using it rather intensively on my flights with this plane, for it gives you a very good overview of the area you are in. True, this is in fact the standard FS2004 GPS unit, but that’s not necessarily bad. In this particular plane, I have found the GPS to be of very great value. Doing bush flying is made significantly easier with such direct access to the GPS unit, especially because it has been made part of the VC in such a clever way.

By the way, if you wish to look at some of the gauges closer up, you can simply click on them. A 2D pop-up gauge will then display. You can close it by clicking on it.

The float and ski models have a slightly differently colored VC.
Now the right seat can be seen.

One last thing that deserves mention is the different color of the ski and float versions. It’s not that different, but basically, the brown is now an almost olive/grey/blue color that I find impossible to define, and a leathery seat instead of the wooly/cloth of the other models. It looks as good as the other models’ VCs and I think these colors fit the model very well. I think this olive/grey/blue interior color fits a ski-fitted model a lot better than a brownish interior.

I, for one, am very pleased with the way the VC looks, feels and handles. It seems to me thought has been given to it to make it more than the standard VC and enrich it with some nifty things that truly add to the function of the VC. I find myself in complete agreement with Philip Wilson, who wrote the review about the non-bush Carenado C185F Skywagon.


Surprisingly, this aircraft does not have a full 2D panel. When I first started up the plane at Kenmore Air Harbor, Seattle, I was staring at an almost empty screen:

No 2D panel?

All I saw was a small panel that told me what to press for specific sub panels, but a full-blown 2D panel is not available. Here is what is available:

2D panels available.

As you can see, available are all basic systems, the GPS, the auto pilot panel, the animations window and the “Owner’s manual”. For me this is more than enough. All gauges look good. They are big enough so that you can read them easily. Operating the plane using these small pop-up gauges should be no issue, but it’s without a doubt that I fully recommend simply using the VC. The sense of bush flying with this plane will be far better if you use the VC than the 2D pop-up gauges.

This already pretty much covers what can be said about the 2D panel. Therefore we’ll continue, without further ado, with the sounds.


Sounds are terribly important on any aircraft add-on. I don’t think one can distinguish between airplane types here. So, the sounds on an Airbus add-on are as important as on a fighter jet add-on, and thus are as important on a GA aircraft add-on.

Carenado seems to have gone to some extent to deliver a very believable sound pack. I must honestly say that I have never heard this specific aircraft in real life. Using Youtube videos, I have tried to get a feel for the sounds and based on that, I must say Carenado has done a truly remarkable job on their C185F sounds! I believe these sounds are indeed “as real as it gets”. Mother Cessna should be very pleased. If you are curious and want to know how the sounds are prior to purchasing, I recommend looking up some Youtube videos:

A real C185F

Carenado’s C185F

NOTE: The YouTube movie of Carenado’s C185F is NOT the Bush package reviewed here, and it is NOT FS9, but FSX. I made this video for you to see (and hear) what the engine sounds are like, not as a showcase of the entire plane, although you’ll see much of it during this little demo.

Test System

Macbook Pro with:
Intel Cure Duo2 @ 2,4 gHz
Geforce 8600GT
Windows XP Professional SP3 32bit

Flying Time:
11 hours

Taking it for a flight

For this part, I simply took the plane for a ride around Seattle. Taking off from land and water and landing on both, gave me a good impression of the capabilities of this GA plane, and the flying itself was easy yet great fun. There is nothing difficult about this plane. All is rather straight forward, and if you were to be confused about something, you simply press shift + 4 to call up the aircraft’s manual.

Also taking off and landing was easy, although landing on water needs some getting used to. However, flying around using harbors as your bases is something new and fun, something that I’d like to do more often using this plane.

It seems to me this plane handles much the same way the real plane should. If I can trust the opinion of my colleague Philip Wilson, then I can safely say that Carenado has done a good job on the FDE. I’ll add though, that I have never flown this plane and base my opinion on Philip Wilson’s opinion (which, trust me, is a reliable source for all I know); what I have seen in Youtube videos; and what I know from other GA aircraft that I own for FS.

I have found one error though: the airplanes that could land on land all behaved extremely weird upon touchdown. No matter how soft it was, they kept bouncing up and down like mad (often bounding up to five or six feet) and they only stopped when coming to a complete stop. I e-mailed Carenado about this issue, asking if there was a fix. They promptly mailed back, with a fixed airfile for all models in the package.

Apparently, about 10% of the customers have this problem.  The downside to this seems to be that now the airplane “sinks” a bit into the ground, as can be seen in the YouTube video I linked to. Still, it’s better than bouncing around.

If you have the same issue as I did, simply e-mail Carenado and they will send you a fixed airfile. Talk about great service!

Summary / Closing Remarks

Carenado’s C185F Skywagon Bush offers a pack of six different bush variants on the regular C185F Skywagon GA aircraft. Included in the package are an amphibian, float, ski and tundra version, with the ski and float version having extra models with extra windows in the door. This gives us a very comprehensive package of bush planes with which you can operate pretty much everywhere you like.

Though so different in landing equipment, they all have the good modeling and stunning texturing in common. With lots of details, great paint jobs, crispness and high accuracy, these are textures that I dare say everybody will enjoy and I wish all current add-ons sport such high-quality textures.

That’s not all however, because this package also sports a very good sound package with some very convincing engine sounds that bring this aircraft truly to life. Besides that, the flight dynamics are as good as it can get, and if you do have an issue, Carenado responds quickly with an answer you’ll probably find useful.

The C185F Skywagon Bush by Carenado is a true gem. It is fun, it is easy, it performs well, looks outstanding and sounds just as good. GA/Bush plane lovers: you will want this one!


What I Like About The Skywagon Bush

  • This is some really clever and subtle work which has a lot more to it than is at first apparentA vast array of choices are on offer
  • Despite FSX compatibility, FS9 is not abandoned, with RSP still receiving updates for the older version of FS


What I Don't Like About The Skywagon Bush

  • The help screen needs improving and a ‘Read Me’ should point out possible pitfalls
  • The GUI could do with some tidying



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