Carenado’s Piper Tomahawk

Carenado, I’m sure most of you know, are a small company providing quality flight simulation aircraft for the General Aviation market. Their slogan is “Using your imagination will no longer be necessary”, a very prominant and confident statement and one which demands a high-quality, realistic line of products. Can this declaration be justified? Well, I’m happy to say, it certainly can.

The Piper Tomahawk is one of (currently) two freeware aircraft released by Carenado. In an attempt to wet our appetite, they have let loose on this aircraft and spared no expense. I will go into depth about the aircraft model shortly, after I explain installation.

Installation is a breeze. The package is contained in a zip file of 3.3mb. Inside this zip is a readme file and a self-extracting executable. All one has to do is enter their FS2002 root folder and everything else is automatic. Upon installation, an informative .pdf file is extracted to the aircraft folder with interesting information about the Tomahawk. The plane is supplied with in-depth checklists and a reference page. One thing to NOTE here is that the supplied does not contain the interior views, one has to download these seperately (2.25mb). Also, at time of writing, there is a free update to the file to make the aircraft fully compatible with FS2002, and I strongly suggest you download it. Unfortuneately this does not include a Virtual cockpit, but the team say they are working on a full FS2002 version. The full V2.0 file can be downloaded as one from the Carenado website.

On loading FS2002, the aircraft is found under the Piper| directory. To say the least, the visual model is stunning. Every last detail, right down to the fuel tank cap is there. The paint quality is fantastic, the aircraft has a “used” look to it with oil/dirt on the fuselage and especially underneath. You can see the different panels which make up the exterior – they are bolted together. There is even a shadow on the vertical stabilizer, coming from the horizontal stabilizer. The cockpit contains two pilots and you can even see the panel in minute detail from the outside. A really neat effect is the reflections which can be seen on the glass around the cockpit. Needless to say, the exterior shape is near-perfect and the size is just right.

The Panel is next and the realism begins to step up another notch. It is comprised with a mixture of (I believe) custom and default gauges. There are the basic six instruments in the center aswell as a VOR, ADF (to the right), a RPM indicator near the bottom and fuel/oil gauges to the bottom right. I have never flown a real Piper Tomahawk, but the viewpoint from the cockpit shows the cowl (or bonnet if you like) of the engine which gives a realistic “feel” to flying. The aircraft has NO autopilot and only one VHF and one COMM reciever. The trim indicator and magnetic compass are located on seperate “call up” panels. There is also a yoke, but it cannot move and only cluters the panel so I find it best to remove it (by clicking on it). The interior views are crystal clear, obviously taken with a high-res camera, so pannng around is better than ever.

Unfortunately the sound is that of the default Cessna 182, so I will move straight to the handling. I know many of you judge an aircraft by its flight dynamics and a good aircraft must come with a good airfile. Carenado’s Tomahawk is no different. The handling of the aircraft is fantastic. A real Tommy pilot is supposed to have been helping Carenado to get the file right. You can definately feel it. She is a beauty to fly and responds to any control input with grace. However this is where my first critisism arises. I have found that with sensitivity set to default, the Tommy’s elevator is a bit too responsive. Perhaps this is how the real aeroplane flies, but in FS a slight push or pull can send her climbing/descending.

This can become annoying, expecially on approach, when slight profile adjustments have to be made and the aircraft responds too much. This is really a small matter though, which generally does not hinder enjoyment. Beware though, all of you autopilot junkies, this aircraft has no autopilot so hands on VFR is the theme here. I have also noticed that the airfile seems to include the ability to raise/lower the gear, although nothing is said about the gear in the description nor do the gear on the model move in any way. All in all, the aircraft is a real joy to fly.

The night lighting on the aircraft shows strobes, landing lights and navigation lights. From Spot view there is a very neat pink “glow” off the pilots, reflecting from the panel. The 2D panel has a lights switch which shows this pink light when switched on too.

Carenado have certanly spoilt us with this freeware Tommy. With the release of FS2002, its VFR overhaul and continuous quality aircraft from both freeware and payware developers, the future was said to be very bright indeed for GA pilots. With this aircraft…well, it seems the future is here. Download it now!

Thanks to Carenado for this outstanding freeware aircraft –

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