Review of Accu-Sim’s Piper Cherokee 180 (06/16/2014)
Written by Vetter on June 27, 2014
Final Review Rating is 5 out of 5
As a long time MS Flight Simulator fan, I’ve always enjoyed the variation of the included default planes, but like most folks, eventually you find that there are plenty of freeware planes and liveries out there. I’ve seen my share. Only in the last couple of years have I been looking around at payware versions. I have a PMGD plane, some Carenado planes, a JustFlight plane and some CaptainSim planes. I’ve enjoyed all of them. When comparing payware to the simplified default planes, some are easier to learn than others, some are a bit more involved and lean more heavily towards real-life controls and procedures. That is exactly why I enjoy them so much. There is nothing better than feeling that you’re ready for any flight, any approach and any landing. In ANY aircraft.
This time I have the pleasure of reviewing the Accu-Sim Piper Cherokee 180 (A2A Cherokee 180), which was released last month. The PA-28-180 Piper Cherokee is a single-engine, low-wing monoplane of all metal construction. It has fourplace seating, two hundred pound baggage capacity, and a 180 horsepower engine. Installing the Cherokee was simple and flawless, however, you must adjust some FSX sliders to higher settings for a full Accu-Sim experience. Choosing one of the seven paint schemes and loading the Cherokee puts you in an incredibly high-res cockpit with a few windows pre-opened. One of these is the Payload and Fuel Manager, where you can load up to 3 additional passengers, cargo and fuel. As you add weight, the plane actually settles deeper into the gear. Oh, and you can add oil if needed.
Since, this aptly named Accu-Sim includes ‘Persistent Aircraft’ you may need to go to the hangar every now and then for maintenance and make repairs to the aircraft. (Note to self, don’t turn the fuel off during flight. I glided safely, landing on a road, but I ran down the battery trying to re-start with fuel off.)
Every time you load up your Accu-Sim Cherokee 180, you will be flying the continuation of the last aircraft which includes fuel, oil along with all of your system conditions. So be aware, no longer will your aircraft load with full fuel every time, it will load with the same amount of fuel you left off when you quit your last flight. You will learn the easy or the hard way to make, at the very least, some basic checks on your systems before jumping in and taking off, just like a real aircraft owner. Additionally, in each flight things will sometimes be different. The gauges and systems will never be exactly the same. There are just too many moving parts, variables, changes, etc., that continuously alter the condition of the airplane, its engine and its systems. (Pg.46)
The manual (RTFM!) is very well written and quite detailed. The first half is an overview of GA aircraft history, marketing and their design theories, including the specific designs used in the Piper Cherokee. I liked the line, “An Aeroplane for the Rest of Us”, explaining the market that this aircraft was designed to fulfill.
The Piper PA-28 Cherokee is a family of light aircraft designed for flight training, air taxi, and personal use. It is built by Piper Aircraft. All members of the PA-28 family are all-metal, unpressurized, single-engined, piston-powered airplanes with low-mounted wings and tricycle landing gear. They all have a single door on the copilot side, which is entered by stepping on the wing. The first PA-28 received its type certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration in 1960, and the series remains in production to this day. (wiki)
The second half of the manual is dedicated to this software simulation and how to ‘feel’ how this airplane works. Engine vibration, sound cues, stall effects, etc. can help you fly better and really helps immerse YOU into this plane’s cockpit!
The sound system is massive in this Accu-Sim Cherokee 180 and includes engine sputter/ spits, bumps and jolts, body creaks, engine detonation, runway thumps, and flaps, dynamic touchdowns, authentic simulation of air including buffeting, shaking, broken flaps, primer, and almost every single switch or lever in the cockpit is modeled. Most of these sounds were recorded from the actual aircraft and this sound environment just breaks open an entirely new world. (Pg.47)
The simple yet detailed Piper cockpit includes basic steam gauges and indicators. The air vents, pilot’s window, dome-light and red night-light are operational and tactile. Speaking of tactile, the elevator pitch control is a crank centered overhead, get used to cranking during ascents and descents. The navigation equipment includes a Davtron m903 Digital VOR, Honeywell BendixKing radio stack and the S-Tec Twenty-Thirty-Thirty Alt. autopilot system. Starting the engine requires a few steps, but Accu-Sim has included checklists and a walk-around inspection feature. Warm carb, fuel pump, prime, switch on magnetos, clear if fouled, throttle to high-idle until running temperature attained… then you can taxi, but remember to lean mixture while at low rpm’s so you don’t foul the plugs. WOW! Now that’s an Accu-Sim!
Stepping outside of the cockpit has it’s own rewards. The walk-around inspection shows details about the flap hinges, pins and other check points. If you’ve just arrived at the field, you may have to remove the pitot plug, stow tie-downs and wheel chocks. The high-res surface details are fantastic. Rivets, hinges, illumination, light refracting off the paint, reflections in the glass and even bug-splats on the wing’s leading edges are all parts of this beautiful model.
After about a dozen flights, I have come to appreciate the simplicity of this GA aircraft. The physics and aerodynamics are enough to keep you involved during your flight. Even the temperature of the air affects how the mixture will tune the engine at any given flight level. The Autopilot controls on the yoke are handy and can switch you through the 4 different modes. ST is straight and level, HD is heading bug, Track Lo (VOR) and Hi (LOC/VOR) can be used with the Altitude hold toggle to ease longer flights.
This software (I mean Airplane Simulator) is getting my full 5-Socks rating due to the professionally done package as a whole. The manual really caught my eye, you don’t usually see one this thorough (*see bonus content below). The model is beautifully rendered and I had NO reduction in frame rates! The physics modeled and sounds used are above and beyond what FSX had in place.
The A2A Piper Cherokee 180 really puts you ‘in-the-sim’. It’s available now! “An Aeroplane for the Rest of Us” go to https://a2asimulations.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9&products_id=68 to get yours for $49.99 USD. The A2A Forum has some nice screenies and manuals here http://www.a2asimulations.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=40120 and here http://a2asimulations.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=115&t=40159
DO NOT MISS the video that shows lots of features! A2A Piper Cherokee 180 Ten Minute Promo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWQRsPce7ss#t=646
Here’s a sample of the technical section of the manual:
Before you learn how different propellers work, first you must understand the basics of the common airfoil, which is the reason why a wing creates lift, and in this case, why a propeller creates thrust. It is interesting to note when discussing Bernoulli and Newton and how they relate to lift, that both theories on how lift is created were presented by each man not knowing their theory would eventually become an explanation for how lift is created. They both were dealing with other issues of their day. THE BERNOULLI THEORY- This has been the traditional theory of why an airfoil creates lift: Look at the image above which shows you how the shape of an airfoil splits the oncoming air. The air above is forced to travel further than the air at the bottom, essentially stretching the air and creating a lower pressure, or vacuum. The wing is basically sucked up, into this lower pressure. The faster the speed, the greater the lift. THE NEWTON THEORY- As the air travels across the airfoil’s upper and lower surfaces, lift is created by BENDING the air down with great force at its trailing edge, and thus, the Newtonian force of opposite and equal reaction apply. WHAT WE DO KNOW (AND WHAT THE PILOT NEEDS TO KNOW) – The airfoil is essentially an air diverter and the lift is the reaction to the diverted air. An airfoil’s lift is dependent upon its shape, the speed at which it is traveling through the air, and its angle to the oncoming air (angle of attack).” It is important that you note that we have deliberately not entered into the details and complete aerodynamics involved with either of the above explanations for lift as they go beyond the scope of this manual. Unfortunately over time, the Bernoulli theory specifically has been misrepresented in many textbooks causing some confusion in the pilot and flight training community. Misrepresentations of Bernoulli such as the “equal transit theory” and other incorrect variations on Bernoulli have caused this confusion. Rather than get into a highly technical review of all this we at A2A simply advise those interested in the correct explanation of Bernoulli to research that area with competent authority.
If you have any comments or questions about this review e-mail vetter (at) skyblueradio.com
My PC Specs: Intel i7 930 QuadCore 2.8GHz / 6GB Ram / Radeon HD5870 / 32″1080p Sony Aquos / Windows7 Pro(x64) / Logitech Extreme 3D Pro / GoFlight MCP Pro and GF166 Radio Panel