The Piper Cherokee 180F is just one in the series of Piper aircraft to have dominated the general aviation. In this version it is powered by a Lycoming O-360-A4A 4 cylinder opposed configuration producing 180 horse power at a maximum 2,700 RPM, propelled through a direct drive fixed pitch propeller, which is a one piece alloy unit. The flying controls feature an all moving tail plane for stability, and are otherwise all control cable connected in a conventional manner. The Flaps are manually operated and have three settings.
Installation and Documentation:
The Installation, just 26Mb of it, is so easy to download, and once on the Hard drive, is easily accessible and quick to load into the simulator for flight. It is so nice to see that Carenado have include a lot of paperwork for the Cherokee, including its history, check list from pre-start thru to shutdown, performance tables and emergency procedures, Weight and Balance and some key functions too. All the documents are printable, either through word, or more favorably, Adobe Acrobat reader.
Once loaded, a very nice Piper Cherokee is revealed, only in four color designs, but with or without wheel spats, and can include a passenger as required. The exterior model is pleasing to the eye. It has all the bits in the right places, and although does not include any fancy or unusual polished schemes, is still easily recognizable as a Piper Cherokee 180F. If you want an American registration, you’re in luck. They all are! An Interesting combination, leaving off the main gear spats but having the nose gear spat fitted. Look at (“raining again”) Not impossible, but unusual. I don’t like them personally; they are mud collectors and can add a lot of weight unwittingly, if not attended to frequently. On the other hand they do reduce drag when fitted. They look neat too.
Cockpit & Panels:
The cockpit layout is typically Piper, and is very accurate, and once I had climbed in and settled myself into my left hand seat, could almost smell the newness of the leather and trim finish which is a familiar smell. Glancing round the panels before doing the pre-flight showed that everything was in the right place, and ready at hand. Starting the Lycoming is easy, and with safety in mind, cleared the area before the start, visually, and only when I was happy, turned the key.
Magneto checks are as per the book, fuel quantity, oil temp. And battery readout are all visible and accurate, and the flight instrument panel is picture perfect and works as required. The Control column and rudder pedals with toe brakes that function correctly and in the right sense, so all in all the panels are just how I would like them to be and was pleased to see them so crystal clear.
The seating is well laid out, as per the real Cherokee 180F, and the ability to sit in any of the seats is an added bonus, and a nice touch.
The passenger door opens; the stowage compartment opens, and they look very good when they are. The fixed entry step on the starboard side of the airplane is in position and it all looks very inviting when parked on the ramp.
Only one gripe in all this neatness, the stall warning horn is not installed, or is faulty, because I could not get it to warn me of an approaching stall, ever!
The 2D cockpit is very nice to use and can be seen above, whilst the Virtual cockpit pilot will thoroughly enjoy the whole cabin and nice touches like raising and lowering the sun visors is neat, and the map and calculator parked on the passenger seat are right where I left them. The gauges can be enhanced and will appear as larger gauges when clicked.
The single Lycoming 4 cylinder piston engine starts accurately, sounds good during the process and idles nicely too. Applying power is smooth, and makes the right sounds. All the engine instruments respond well. There is very little else to say, the engine is what it says it is, and a very good job has been done of re-producing the correct engine signature at all levels of power setting.
Flight & Air File:
So what does a common or garden Piper Cherokee 180F feel like in the air? In my opinion it feels pretty good actually, and having flown both the Piper Cherokee 140 and 180 in the UK, the sense of satisfaction I got from flying the Cherokee 180F from Goodwood in Sussex to Popham in Hampshire was very good. My VFR flight plan was filed and my intention was to fly at 4000 ft. MSL at an IAS of 123 knots, expecting to burn about 3.0 USG with a straight out departure and turning onto a course of 322 magnetic for a distance of 29.7 nautical miles approximately. Overfly Popham before settling into a circuit and approach avoiding the local housing population by extending said approach in accordance with local requirements. I am very pleased to say that my flight went exactly to plan, and pretty well on time too! As per the fairly stable real Cherokee it required hand flying with a steady scan of the instruments including the standby compass just to make sure, a little tendency to drift and wander off track if not watched, but plenty of time to take in the countryside and scan for other aircraft. I only saw three anywhere in my vicinity, and they were never a threat to me, only one approaching Popham ahead of me by a couple of miles. So it was a pleasant afternoon flight in good weather.
What does all that mean then? It means that the Flight/Air file is pretty accurate, which is not only refreshing but shows attention to detail. Flying this aircraft over the French coast and out into the Atlantic gave me plenty of time to try stall turns, tight power turns and a spin or two, and every maneuver was satisfying and what’s more it was just as I expected. Flying inverted is not recommended, but I wanted to see if the engine coughed when I did, and guess what? It died quite spectacularly and I had to nose down and roll the right way up to get it to run again. Not only was it what was expected but actually achieved too. On a model as cheap as this one that alone is a plus point. This aircraft does fly well, and is a very good all-rounder; in fact I have flown it a lot and have never got fed up with it. I think this model will be one of those that I fly frequently just for fun, and to bring me back down to basics after a high speed flight in something exotic and powerful.
Summary & Closing Remarks:
To round it all off then, here we have a good looking, but not gleaming honest Piper Cherokee 180F that does exactly what is expected of it. With enough excitement for the beginner, enough skill requirement to satisfy the needs of a practicing pilot, and without the vices of some sophisticated designs of aircraft that need handling with white knuckles most of the time. This will give immense pleasure to one and all, and to cap it all it is a cheap but well appointed model. I like it a lot, and Carenado should be pleased with the result.
The observant amongst you will have spotted two or three shots of more than one aircraft in the sky at the same time. This is courtesy of a little programme called “formation flight” which is available from two or three simulator internet sites for free. This allows one to place up to 4 favorite aircraft on the runway, either in line astern in front of your aircraft in box formation or even in V formation. Once airborne, allows one to fly amongst them, in line with them or any combination of the latter, for a racetrack pattern at a selected altitude or in a straight line course. It is simple, free and what’s more it works. Another small modification is a new propeller, courtesy of Bob Rivera, another freebee found on the Avsim site, and it makes a neat difference.
What I Like About The Carenado Cherokee 180
What I Don't Like About The Carenado Cherokee 180
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