Part II – Workhorse Thranda DHC-2 “Beaver”
As promised to myself, and too You, our readers, I need to figure out how to start this part II of the Thranda DHC-2 Beaver review. The idea of this impression is to cover the DHC-2 Beaver with amphibious floats. Yes, I write on purpose amphibious floats since the Beaver can also be equipped with “straight” floats. I hope you’re not lost, but the difference is simple; with straight floats you can’t depart from paved areas. You need to depart/arrive from/at water while with amphibious floats you have small wheels under the floats that allows you to depart from land or water and therefore, you’re much more flexible. Hold on, there’s a bit more then just saying that it has amphibious floats since you can modify a bit more then only having amphibious floats. I’ll go a bit deeper into this in a moment.
Back to the review. This review is therefore, just to clarify this, a continuation of our Part I – Thranda Beaver impression. This means that the thorough description for example of the Thranda Popup window can be found in Part I of the Thranda Beaver story.
So what’s the plan?
As you can read in Part I, I made a Beaver test flight with tundra wheels from Orcas Island (KORS) to Swanson (2W3) using the airfields from Orbx as well as the Orbx TrueEarth US Washington HD scenery. I can tell you that it was an awesome experience, but how to continue since the Thranda seaplane is mend to depart and arrive from water or isn’t that correct? Right and wrong! Yeah, you can depart/arrive from water, but also from land since it has wheels and thus the modeled seaplane is one with amphibious floats as I mentioned before.
Ok, here’s the plan. I depart with my Beaver with registration N2400F from Swanson airfield (2W3) and fly under VFR conditions to Anacortes Airport (74S), which is, as seen with the other Orbx airfields, also an impressive region modeled by Orbx. I land with the Beaver at Allan Island airstrip, and rent at 21H Skyline a seaplane Beaver, registered N67684. Since this Beaver is equipped with amphibious floats, I’m able to land afterwards everywhere, so either on water or on paved ground.
Flight Preparations 2W3 – 74S (Anacortes Airport)
Setting Up a Flight Plan
As I mentioned before, I fly this stretch under VFR conditions, so this time I won’t use the Garmin equipment, but that doesn’t mean I need nothing. I need a kind of flight plan how to fly, use landmarks or specific reference points. The advantage is, same as I did many years ago during my PPL flight lessons in Florida, that I use Orbx TrueEarth US Washington.
Not sure if you’re familiar with Orbx TrueEarth products, but in the case of the Washington HD (or SD) package, it offers you realistic ground textures, so navigating is possible as you do in real during VFR flights. Hold on, that doesn’t mean I’m not able to use, if I can find them, NDB or VOR beacons. Especially in the area of Seattle, I find many navigation aids. And although I will fly visual, I can still tune for one or more NDB or VOR beacons.
As you can see on the following screenshot, the overall flight is 100NM which will take roughly 1 hour. It can be a bit less, or a bit longer. It all depends if I a fly slightly different then planned. Although I added a TACAN (Tactical VOR beacon) beacon, there’s not really a need for. I can tune for this beacon, but I first need to be high enough to receive it and besides that, I can also say “I try to fly at a heading of around 315. When I reach the water front, I can fly in a more or less straight line up to 74S which means on a heading of 350-360.
But I can also use roads or a river to guide me to the direction I want. Remember, it’s a VFR flight so I can use landmarks too. For that I used an OpenStreet Maps charts and the official VFR aviation chart. Have a close look to the OpenStreet Map chart and one from SkyVector. As you can see on the charts (screenshots) below, the red dot is Swanson Airfield. From Swanson Airfield I fly in a Western direction till I see the WA7 National Park Hwy. Then I follow this road up till I fly over Tacoma (that’s the straight black line) or instead of following WA7, I fly a bit further to the West till I see Nisqually River.
Then I follow the river up till Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge and then, following the coast up, passing Ketron Island, then east of Fox Island and in-between Mary- and Vashon Islands up north. This is represented by the black dotted line on the screenshot.
Now that you and I have an idea what we want, it’s time to check our Beaver if everything is still OK and ready to fly out.
I’ve parked the Beaver somewhere half way along the runway and decided to remove all the seats except then of course for the pilot seats. As written already in Part I, when you click the backrest, it falls down so you can control the backrest position, but I want to remove the whole seat(s). In that case, just click somewhere on the seat frame and the seat disappears. After several clicks, the whole area is empty and via the opened Alaska doors I’m able to load my virtual containers or whatever I want to carry.
For my return flight to 74S, I’ve decided to use the clist and XChecklist instead of the checklist in the Thranda Acrobat file. Normally the clist contents is different then the one provided by the developer, but in this case the clist from X-Plane.Org user royaloak is the same as the one in the Thranda document. And because of that, I decided to install this electronic checklist.
When you’re new to the Thranda Beaver, you need to print the Thranda Beaver Documentation v7 document else you’re lost when you follow the electronic checklist. Because it’s my second flight, I’ve decided to change the instrument panel to one with no Garmin equipment installed and I also replaced the throttle panel for the new “flat” design.
I’ve removed all the ground equipment as you can see on the following screenshot, and checked the “cockpit” interior for loose items. Then it’s time to follow the electronic checklist, start the engine, and take all the precautions and taxi to the end of the runway. I mentioned this already in Part I that taxiing a tail dragger isn’t easy and again, I don’t find this easy at all or is it perhaps me?
For myself I’ve learned that I can better taxi at slow speeds which feels the best for me since it allows me to control the Beaver a bit better, but slow speeds or not, when I start the takeoff, there’s no longer a slow speed, no, the speed is increasing – hopefully – and besides that, I hardly see anything and the moment the tail lifts, I need to watch out that the propellor doesn’t hit the ground. This is not new for you, right?
Anyway, I do my best, but I’m happy when, after I’ve landed at 74S, I can rent the seaplane model which is a lot easier since it has no longer a tail wheel. Good, I luckily could control the Beaver on the small runway at Swanson airfield and far before the end of it, I pulled the elevator and there she goes, into the air with a slight left-hand turn. It makes sense that I use for flying the Beaver with the Honeycomb Aeronautical Alpha and Bravo equipment. Using a joystick to control pitch, roll and yaw isn’t realistic unless you have no other hardware. While the Beaver is climbing out, I’ve decided to fly in a Western direction till I see the Nisqually River. In combination with the Orbx TrueEarth US Washington HD package that won’t be difficult and believe me, it isn’t.
I forgot to mention that when I selected a different panel lay-out without Garmin GNS equipment, it also had no Auto pilot, but instead it has the ADF (using NDB beacons) panel. Not that I will use on this flight a NDB beacon, the panel configuration offers at least an ADF panel just in case of. And, because there’s no Auto Pilot, I need to fly the Beaver by hand. I mentioned this before in Part I, flying the modeled Beaver by hand is easy unless it’s stormy weather, but I’m out in the sky with perfect VFR conditions.
Being at an altitude of roughly 3000 feet, I’ve got a good overview what’s ahead of me and of course, there’s not really a need to follow the river completely. I do see in front of me Anderson island and I think I spot also highway 5. Before I know I’m flying above Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge with the clearly visible delta that ends into the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve.
From here it’s not really a spectacular flight to the North. As you can see on the first LittleNavMap screenshot, I fly in a northern direction passing Ketron Island, Fox Island, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, in-between Vashon- and Maury Islands and then all the way north. Ok, I should try to fly on a heading of 350, but even when I’m slightly off track, there are lots of landmarks to know where I am. But I can always tune for VOR WHIDBEY ISLAND (113.80 NUW) which would be a good guide flying to Antacortes (74S).
It helps a lot – assuming you would like to fly this stretch too at your sim – when you tune for this VOR beacon. It helps you in your direction although flying along the islands on this trip isn’t difficult and don’t tell me that there are too many clouds since you and I need to follow VFR rules 152, right?
Oops, lost what 152 rule means?
The 152 rule means your clearance in relation to clouds and that is 1000 ft above, 500 ft below, 2000 ft horizontal and this is the most common requirement.
Under these conditions I could fly for hours with the Beaver, but our intention for today is something else. Our intention is to pick up after landing a seaplane. Before we can do that, we first need to finish this flight and although it’s going well, there’s always something that can go wrong. For example; I forgot to switch the fuel selector to another tank. Yeah, that can happen, even me! No panic at all. Relax and switch the fuel selector on the left-hand side of the instrument panel to another tank.
Before you know, the engine will pick up quickly and continue. That’s a bit the problem isn’t it, but there was no reason for since it does have fuel quantity gauges in the mid console and it has a red light telling you that the FUEL PRESS is low. And it’s even a red light, so it’s urgent! In case you’re lost; check out the Thranda Beaver Documentation v7 document page 31 and 32.
Whatever, I managed to switch in time and lucky for me, I see already the final destination. I fly first over the airport and then over the harbour where I should pick up my seaplane Beaver or can I pick up the seaplane version also at 74S? Yes, that’s also a possibility since the rented N67684 comes with amphibious floats.
After making a nice turn, using the electronic checklist I start my approach and aim for landing at runway 18. As long as the Beaver is in the air it’s all OK although the forward view from the cockpit is not super, but I can manage it. However, the story becomes different when I land the Beaver, and by reduced speed, the tail start dropping. Then the view is limited and besides that, I find controlling and thus following the center line of the runway with a tail dragger not easy at all.
I’m a lucky person although the trip to the harbour wasn’t that far, but it turned out that my rented Thranda Bever with aircraft registration N67684 is parked near one of the many hangars at Antacortes Airport. That saves me a trip to the harbor and, compared to the previous Beaver, this Beaver “sits and levels” normally although now mounted on amphibious floats with wheels.
It turns out that it is a very modern Beaver with lots of modern equipment like both the Garmin GNS 530 and 430. And instead of the old-fashioned flight instruments, it is equipped with the Aspen EFD 1000 (Electronic Flight Display consisting of a PFD and EHSI). To get this panel and instrument layout as well as a clean and hardly having any scratches Beaver, I needed to make a couple of changes or modifications.
As you can see on the previous screenshots I selected the real N67684 livery or painting. But what I needed to do first was washing the Beaver and that resulted in a dirt level from 255 to 018. As you can see, I placed the mouse just left of the figure 018 (2nd screenshot) and with the middle mouse wheel turning UP/DOWN you change the level of dirt. And I reduced the amount of scratches too. Although I mentioned this in Part I, it’s so easy and an awesome feature. And …. don’t forget to click the red Apply else at the startup it’s not saved and you can start all over again. When you’re new to Thranda models, then be happy, the above discussion is a feature that’s added to the previous Thranda models too.
And finally, the last screenshot shows the instrument panel I’ve chosen as well as the panel background. As previously written, if I need it for my flight I don’t know yet, but the panel comes with the Garmin GNS 530 and 430 and the Aspen EFD 1000 and the old -fashioned engine panel.
Unwrapping the amphibious Beaver
Via the Thranda popup window General you’re able to remove all the stuff that hold the Beaver to the ground as well as removing the green nose wrap. The nose wrap is just a wrap I know, but it’s so beautiful to see it.
Anyway, the floats. Wow, these floats are huge, and they just look the same as seen on many Youtube movies and photos. Besides that, remember, these are amphibious floats. Each float is equipped with at the front a small wheel with construction that can halfway retract and midway the float at the bottom a large wheel which is fully retractable. Related to the large wheel you’ll find on the top of each float a mechanical indication if the wheel is retracted correctly before landing on water.
Besides this tiny detail, the whole floats are well modeled and although I haven’t checked their size versus real floats, I may assume it’s modeled in accordance with the real dimensions. The overall floats are modeled with eye for all these tiny details of which one was the yellow “on water landing versus the main wheel” decal, but there are more tiny details that are included like the construction of each float, panels, the pedals with their construction at the back of each float to steer and the wooden pedals on the inside of each float. My favourite is the small wheel construction at the front of each float.
That small wheel construction at the front of each float is so detailed, no more words needed. And finally, the stairs to climb into the Beaver. In other words, adding these amphibious floats to the Beaver is not just something of “oops, we need to add this too, so not needed to go in detail”. No no, on the contrarily; it is modeled with great precision and therefore, worth to try it out.
And next, our third test flight, are you ready?
No no, perhaps you’re ready, but Angelique isn’t yet since she wants to inform you about the modifications you can make to the seaplane Beaver with the Thranda Popup Window “Misc(ellaneous)”, so lets first check this out.
Thranda Popup Window Seaplane Misc
It’s the same popup window when you select the “land” Beaver, however, this time dedicated to the seaplane Beaver. Some of the changes you can make in this popup window (see screenshots below) are self-explanatory while others are new and need some additional explanation. That said, changing the throttle quadrant and install bubbled windows is something we’ve seen in Part I of the Beaver review, so what’s then new. Lets check it out.
You can switch between amphibious floats or regular floats. I think I mentioned already the difference between these two type of floats. When you equip the Thranda Beaver with amphibious floats you can depart or arrive from a paved runway while with regular floats you need water to start and end your flight.
Although it should be clear what it does, let me quickly highlight the water rudder option. On one of the screenshots below you see that you can extend or retract them. The moment you’re in the water and moving the Beaver with slow speeds, you can extend the water rudder and control the YAW within the water. For higher speeds like takeoff, landing and other manoeuvres, you retract the water rudders.
Next, the ventral fin.
You can install / remove a ventral fin at the bottom end of the fuselage. According to the Thranda document “It was originally incorporated on the Beaver to add vertical stabiliser area to account for the additional area of the floats in front of the center of gravity. However, due to its location it is vulnerable to damage, especially during undocking operations. Many operators opted to remove or not install this part, so we have added it here as an option as well.” Curious as I am, I wanted to check this and find out how many real DHC-2 Beavers have this ventral fin. After I’d seen at least 70 Youtube movies and studied a couple of flight manuals, I found out that the majority of land and seaplane Beavers have no ventral fin. That said, it’s up to you if you install the ventral fin on Your Beaver.
And last but not least, the docking hold.
When you’re not near water, this option isn’t active. Not active means you can’t slide the DOCKING HOLD slider (OFF – ON) as log as you’re on paved ground. So, first you install the regular floats, select the harbour you want to depart from, and then select the DOCKING HOLD slider to ON. Immediately this Thranda popup window closes and it is replaced by the Audio/Slew window. The reason that this happens is because you’re now able with the SLEW mode to slew your Beaver to a docking location whatever you have in mind. But important to emphasise, the DOCKING HOLD is not a docking place or whatsoever. With the slew FWD-AFT-HDG you move your Beaver to the docking of your choice.
And then, that’s it or ….?
Actually, that’s it when your Beaver is at the docking place, but there’s a bit more what you perhaps forgot or didn’t think of. When your Beaver is along a docking as you can see on the last screenshot, you need to leave the DOCKING HOLD slider in the ON position. This prevents the Beaver from drifting away from the docking. When you select the slider to OFF, you’ll see that after a while the Beaver is drifting away from your docking and that’s not what you want, right?
Having Fun with the amphibious Beaver
The plan is to taxi from my spot to the runway, take off, retract the wheels as far as we can talk about retracting, fly over water, and land near the harbour and then mover to the inner harbour. Taxiing with an amphibious Beaver is OK, but making turns or just steering is not as easy as I expected. Either it’s my hardware or it’s the model that this doesn’t go so easy, but the good thing is that during the takeoff it’s easy to keep the Beaver on the center line. That’s most likely also due to the rudder (YAW) effect that becomes more and more effective when the speed increases.
For those who love to try the amphibious Beaver too, Daniel (Thranda Design) had some tips for you and me ; “Taxiing the amphibious version on land SHOULD be easier than taxiing the plane in its tail dragger configuration. The technique is quite a bit different, though. There is no direct linkage between the rudder pedals and the castoring nose wheels on the amphib. You steer exclusively with differential braking.”
Once in the air I retract the gear. Ok, don’t expect too much of retracting the gear, but it does do the job. That said, the nose wheel construction at the front of the floats moves up or retracts partly in so it’s not fully retracted into the float, but it’s in a safe position when the Beaver will land on water. The large wheels underneath the floats are fully retracted but they are not closed off with doors. When they are fully retracted, you can still see them, but they are “in”.
The performance of the amphibious Beaver is not the same as without the floats like the flights I had from Orcas to Swanson and back to Anacortes. With the floats installed the Beaver performance is less, but not bad at all. A note from Daniel (Thranda Design) ; “Be aware of the differences in performance you get from flying the straight floats versus flying the amphibious floats. The amphib floats are so much heavier, you really sacrifice some serious cargo capability.”
Once flying and trimmed, it’s the same easy model as with wheels. I expect that with the real Beaver with floats the overall model produces a lot of noise due to the floats which can’t be heard in the simulated model. During this short trip the plan is to fly around the island and before reaching the bay, I slowly descent and at the end I hit the water and yes, that all goes well although a water landing isn’t in my humble opinion not well simulated in X-Plane 11 which has, just to be clear, nothing to do with the modeled Thranda Beaver.
During this short flight I didn’t use the Garmin equipment since there was no need for. The Aspen EFD 1000 was also not needed, but it’s fun to check out this electronic flight device versus old-fashioned instruments. As is applicable for the Garmin GNS units, is also applicable for the Aspen EFD 1000; a 2D popup version and scalable. To scale the popup Aspen EFD 1000 you can drag the popup panel with the mouse from one of the lower corners while at the upper left and right-hand corners you can undock it and make it floatable. This means that you can drag it to another display or in case you’ve got an iMac with modern iPad, you can use the Apple Sidecar option.
Aiming for a landing spot isn’t difficult in my humble opinion. Ok, I’ve be honest, I’ve never flown a seaplane so I’ve got no idea how pilots do that in real, but what I do remember is when on holiday in Canada, Vancouver Island in the harbour of Victoria, the Beavers over there “water taxi” from the wharf to a spot that seems to be the designated water runway. The runway they need is long enough as well is it for landing. Ok, in the Victoria harbour it’s a bit busy, but besides that, no issue to takeoff or land.
The same as on my island hop and the landing in the bay. Enough space to land so while following the checklist I slowly reduce speed and descent. I leave the water rudder up till I’m in the water and my speed has been reduced. Once the Beaver hits the water, it’s not a difficult job to keep it like that. Then the water rudder selected DOWN and of I go to the harbour and via the previous explained “docking hold I find my place. This was fun and no, I discussed the complete 3D cockpit since I did that already in Part I.
By the way, have you also asked yourself why there are hanging ropes under the wing – each wing has two ropes – or didn’t you see them? It has nothing to do with mooring, it’s not to tighten something to it. No, the ropes are there that when the Beaver arrives at the landing stage or wharf, people can grasp a rope to hold the Beaver and keep it in position to the wharf. I added the above Youtube movie just to give you an idea how it is to fly the amphibious Beaver, to approach, to aim for your landing spot and let the rest do by the Beaver.
Having Fun Skimming A Tundra Beaver
Oops, that wasn’t planned, but after a chat with Daniel (Thranda Design) I found it worth to give it a try and to inform you about what skimming means with Tundra wheels installed.
According to Daniel from Thranda Design ; “One thing you should try is the Beavers capability of skimming over the water with Tundra tires. If you have the Tundra tires selected, you can fly very low over calm water, and let the tires skim across the water surface. This is a fully custom (plugin-based) effect, including visuals (Spray), sound (using FMOD), and aerodynamic/ground physics overrides. It is very difficult to do, but available for the adventurer.”
That said, and although it shouldn’t a part of this review, I would love to give it a try, but what when you don’t have any idea what it means, or how it looks like. Let me show then this …..
Awesome isn’t it? Yes, it’s awesome, but I can tell you that I tried it many times and I wasn’t able to skim the water with my Beaver or was I. At the end, after many attempts, I was able to skim over the bay, but how did I do it … a secret or not?
Not really a secret, but before a made of successful skim, I tried different things like one with flaps extended, a slower speed and at high speeds. And that did the trick … high speed or just full throttle and then slowly slowly descending and at a certain moment you see your own shadow, right? When you see your shadow – and I did this by looking from behind the Beaver – then slowly descent further till you reach the water. It’s so easy, but it isn’t. When you drop too fast, the Beaver crashes. What said, slowly slowly and take your time and then, you can skim over the water. Don’t believe me, check out the following movie. That was FUN!
Yes, I know, another in-depth review of the amphibious floats Beaver, but actually it’s our Part II of our Beaver experience. That the real DHC-2 Beaver was and still is a famous aircraft and in particular a magnificent seaplane is known, and now with the Thranda DHC-2 Beaver You and I can enjoy this X-Plane 11 add-on.
Did I cover in Part I and Part II all the ins and outs of this great aircraft? I think I covered a lot, but for sure I missed also a couple of things, but the overall should be enough to give you a good idea what to expect when you’ve decided to buy it. I sincerely hope you liked this Part II review too and that these two reviews offer you a thorough inside of the modeled Thranda Beaver.
Is it worth it, the answer is straight on …… yes! Therefore, check it out at the dedicated Thranda Beaver X-Plane.Org sales page (https://store.x-plane.org/DHC-2-Beaver–DGS-Series-_p_1333.html) and hopefully you decide to buy this multifunction GA aircraft. As of this writing – January/February 2021 – the Beaver has a retail price of 39.95 USD and as I mentioned in Part I, updates are free via the Skunkcrafts updater.
Just in case you missed our Part I – Workhorse Thranda DHC-2 “Beaver” review. Here’s the URL to Part I
Feel free to contact me if you’ve got additional questions related to this impression. You can reach me via email Angelique.van.Campen@gmail.com or to Angelique@X-Plained.com.
Angelique van Campen
|Add-on:||Payware Thranda Design DHC-2 Beaver|
|Publisher | Developer:||X-Plane.Org | Thranda Design|
|Description:||Ultra Realistic rendition of the DHC-2 Beaver|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 1.67GB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Angelique van Campen|
|Published:||February 2nd 2021|
|Hardware specifications:||- iMac Pro|
|- Intel 3GHz Intel Xeon W / 4.5Ghz|
|- Radeon Pro Vega 64 16368 MB|
|- 64 GB 2666 MHz DDR4|
|- 1 internal shared 1TB SSD (Big Sur 11.x)|
|- 1 internal shared 1TB SSD (Bootcamp Windows 10)|
|- 1 external 2TB LaCie Rugged Pro SSD (Big Sur 11.x)|
|- Saitek Pro Flight System X-52 Pro and X-56 Rhino|
|- Honeycomb Alpha Flight Controls and Bravo Throttle Quadrant|
|Software specifications:||- Big Sur (10.15.x)|
|- X-Plane 11.5x|