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Carenado C 172N Skyhawk II
For FS2004 or FSX Published by Just Flight
Reviewed by Rob Scott
March 2009

One of the latest add-ons to be published by Just Flight is the Carenado C172N Skyhawk II. Caernado have been recognised for a long time as a high quality developer of GA aircraft, and this release is no different! If you love GA and VFR flying then read on, if you don’t, please read on and let me try to change your mind!

The Cessna 172 Skyhawk is a four seat, single engine, high-wing fixed-wing aircraft, and more of these have been built than any other in the world (43,000+), and is probably the most popular training aircraft. It has excellent all round visibility, apart from during steep turns when the wings will obscure the view from the side. The 172N variant was first produced in 1977 and is powered by a Lycoming 0-320-H2AD 160hp engine (later replaced in 1982 by a new engine).

The C172 is available as a 44mb download from Just Flight for the very reasonable price of 16.99. For this you will get 7 aircraft to fly in 4 different liveries with 2 model types; with and without gear fairings. Personally I think the models with the gear fairings look a lot nicer, but that is just personal opinion.

After the download the installation is quick and painless, you need to enter the codes which will be emailed to you to confirm proof of purchase and then let the installer do its work. If you are familiar with flying the default C172 or any other GA aircraft, there isn’t really any need to consult the manual as this is a very easy aircraft to fly. I do recommend looking at the manual though at some point just to make sure that you are flying the aircraft in the correct way. I think that calling it a manual is a little misleading, as what you are given is a couple of small documents that detail the correct operating procedures and reference speeds. This is not a criticism in any way because this method allows you to get into the air with the minimum of fuss.

Now that everything is installed, load up FSX and select which model/livery combination you like best. They all look great, but you might prefer one over another. When you have loaded up at the ramp you will be greeted by one of the best looking virtual cockpits I have seen in a general aviation aircraft. The VC is extremely high quality and is fully useable for flight, I have not flown any portion of any flight from the 2D panel, in fact, I don’t even know why a 2D panel is needed. If you find that some of the gauges are difficult to read you can open the gauge as a pop-up panel to get a better view. The only problem in the VC is that the flight yoke obscures some of the light buttons low down on the panel, but this is easily remedied by clicking the yoke to make it disappear. If you want to have it back for flight, just click in the space again and it will magically reappear. Moving around the VC you are able to click buttons to open the doors, move the sun visors and even more the co-pilots seat back and forth. There are even fresh air vents which can be moved should you wish. I’m not quite sure if they have any effect in the sim, but they are still there for you to play with and pretend that they do have some effect.

Switching to the external view the pilots head and arms will move around as you pan around the aircraft and the exterior model is superb. Even when zoomed really close up, there are no jagged edges at all, just crisp and smooth lines. Panning around the aircraft the attention to detail, even for a simple aircraft, is superb from the landing gear right down to the dirty marks on the wings. All these small details add up to make one fantastic looking aircraft.

All this however is pointless if the aircraft doesn’t fly well, but fortunately it does. With exacting flight dynamics based on real information and pilot observations, this aircraft is one of the best GA aircraft in my hangar. It’s easy to see why this aircraft is such a favourite amongst flight schools for training new pilots as it is so easy and stable to fly. Setting the trim for climbing, descending and cruising is very easy; I found it a lot easier than in the default C172. Even during bad weather the Skyhawk stays relatively stable all the time. Even during approach if you get a little low adding a little power is sufficient to get you back on track. I always found this method a little hit and miss using the default aircraft, but with this one it works flawlessly; you don’t even need to touch the trim wheel. When you get to the runway just lift the nose up 3 degrees and let her settle down with a nice gentle thud. The hardest part about this aircraft is taxing her around the airport. Because it has a slight rearward decline, the nose is not level but slightly raised which can obscure the view a little bit. Once you have got used to this taxing around becomes a lot easier, I just found it a little tricky at first.

Would I recommend this add-on to you? Without a shadow of doubt the answer is yes. At first I thought that the price may have been a little high, but knowing what I do now the price is very reasonable. The enjoyment value of this add-on is worth the price alone, and that’s why we use flight simulator in the first place; for enjoyment. The soundest is fantastic and completes the experience nicely, many add-ons have been let down by a poor soundest. If the sounds you are hearing do not match with what you are flying, then the experience is ruined, but not in this case. The external model and virtual cockpit are both fantastic, and when the sound set and exterior model combine with the brilliant flight dynamics the whole package comes together perfectly, all you need now is a flight plan and some spare time!

Rob Scott

  System Requirements

  • FS2004 or FSX (SP2 and DX10 preview compatible) 2.5GHz PC

  • 512Mb RAM

  • 128Mb 3D graphics card

  • Windows XP/Vista

  • 150Mb hard drive space

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