The vFlyteAir C150 Commuter
Information from Wikipedia states that the Cessna 150 is a two-seat, tricycle gear, general aviation aircraft that was designed for flight training, touring and personal use. The Cessna 150 is the fifth most produced civilian plane ever, with 23,839 aircraft produced. The Cessna 150 was offered for sale in the 150 basic model, Commuter, Commuter II, Patroller and the aerobatic Aerobat models. Development of the Model 150 began in the mid-1950s with the decision by Cessna Aircraft to produce a successor to the popular Cessna 140 which finished production in 1951.
The main changes in the 150 design were the use of tricycle landing gear, which is easier to learn to use than the tailwheel landing gear of the Cessna 140, and replacing the rounded wingtips and horizontal and vertical stabilisers with more modern, squared-off profiles. In addition, the narrow, hinged wing flaps of the 140 were replaced by larger, far more effective Fowler flaps.
The Cessna 150 prototype first flew on September 12, 1957, with production commencing in September 1958 at Cessna’s Wichita, Kansas plant. 1,764 aircraft were also produced by Reims Aviation under license in France. These French manufactured 150s were designated Reims F-150, the “F” indicating they were built in France. American-made 150s were all produced with the Continental O-200-A 100hp (75kW) engine, but the Reims-built aircraft are powered by a Rolls Royce built Continental O-200-As. Some versions have Continental O-240-A engines. All Cessna 150s have very effective flaps that extend 40 degrees.
It is thought that a total of 22,138 Cessna 150s were built in the United States, including 21,404 Commuters and 734 Aerobats. Reims Aviation completed 1,764 F-150s, of which 1,428 were Commuters and 336 were Aerobats. A Reims affiliate in Argentina also assembled 47 F-150s, including 38 Commuters and 9 Aerobats. Of all the Cessna 150-152 models, the 1966 model year was the most plentiful with 3,067 1966 Cessna 150s produced.
The development of the C150 happened incrementally year on year as new design and technology influenced the aircraft and the models went from C150 to C150M missing out the C150I. The dedicated page has more detail but developments included the main landing gear being moved aft by two inches to eliminate the problem of the aircraft ending up on its tail while loading people and baggage and also to improve nose-wheel steering authority.
The introduction of a rear window under the marketing name Omni-Vision and the doors being “bowed” out to give three more inches of shoulder and hip room which was needed in the small cabin. Panels for the model are based on a real C150L and the sounds on a real C150M and these were the last two models with the M built between 1975 and 1977 and will therefore include all the updates.
The aircraft is popular with flying schools as well as private individuals. In terms of military production the C150 has been used by the following:
- Burundi Air Force
- Air Force of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Ecuadorian Air Force
- Haiti Air Corps
- Ivory Coast Air Force
- Liberian Army
- Mexican Naval Aviation
- Paraguayan Naval Aviation
- Somali Air Force
- Sri Lanka Air Force
- United States Air Force
Note from the reviewer: Just to clarify for this review that I have no real life flight experience. As reviewer I try to produce a review that addresses the questions I would ask myself when interested in this model and makes comments that I hope someone will find this useful.
Installation and Documentation
Download speeds vary with internet connection but I found the model file downloaded quickly and smoothly from the store. The downloaded file contains a documents folder and the manual within this gives advice on installation. The aircraft file can then be moved in to the users aircraft file within X-Plane. Once the process has been followed the model appears in the aircraft directory on launching X-Plane. The model is supplied with a default livery, a blank white scheme and twelve other designs. The model launches well when set up for a flight.
The documents folder contains three items:
The first is a text note on exterior textures as the model has two versions of these. The first is the normal level, which the developers feel is appropriate for an older aircraft and the second is a more high spec glossier finish which some users may prefer. The note gives advice as to how to interchange the two.
The second is a seventy six page PDF Cessna Model 150 Owners Manual from 1972, the year of the L variant, which is an informative and interesting document. It illustrates how well created the model is. As with other owners manuals it is a thorough document and provides an insight into the aircraft’s systems. It also covers normal and emergency procedures.
The third item is the developer’s User Manual. This is another thorough and well presented thirty page PDF. The document covers an aircraft overview, specifications and features of the model. It goes on to detail technical information, installation and configuration, kneeboard, cockpit overview, preflight, flight, radios, autopilot and reference charts. The document is well written with clear screen shots and illustrations which I am sure would be useful for users of all levels. It is certainly helpful for those of us who have not flown this aircraft or are not qualified pilots and therefore makes the full use of the model more accessible.
I approached the aircraft from the front port side. I initially used the default exterior textures which the developers describe as being a higher resolution than the alternatives. The model is great to look at with clear outlines and vivid, realistic colours. Signage is very clear and views in to the cockpit show the glass effect. Moving closer the surface detail on the model becomes evident and riveting and panels are well modelled, with shadow and colour variation adding to the effect.
The view at the front of the aircraft further illustrates the level of detail provided with the engine clearly visible and the propellor carrying a legible makers mark. I had elected to have the undercarriage covers fitted and they complimented the strut and tyre modelling. The lights were very realistic with well modelled glass carrying convincing reflections. The pilot model looks very good and moves in a natural fashion. The menu on the knee board allows for a co-pilot to be modelled and the gender of the crew can also be selected, in addition ground elements can also be added or removed.
Looking at the front right of the aircraft the cockpit and glass detail can be seen. The front wheel struts look very good as does the panel and fixings detail. Light, shadow and reflections work very well with the colour schemes and the overall detail is to a high standard. Moving down the right hand side of the aircraft the wing and control surface detail can be appreciated with light and shadow working well with the movement of the surfaces and adding quality to the textures.
Lights and aerials are well modelled and again the interior can be viewed through the glass effect. The model looks very good and has a high quality feel however it is viewed. The detail continues from the right rear and rear, with control surface mechanisms well modelled and a view of the main undercarriage and struts.
The rear left view shows how the model works with the natural lighting in X-Plane and the reflection of the sun looks very impressive on the surface of the aircraft whilst the colours and signage continue to look good. The lighting highlights the detail of the panels, rivets and external equipment and the view in to the cockpit is clear through the glass effects. Both the pilot and copilot doors can be opened via the use of the internal door handles. Doing so allows clear views in to the cockpit and a first sight of the internal colours and textures. All of this works smoothly and integrates well.
In the air the colours and external detail remain of high quality. The aircraft looks great in the X-Plane scenery and works well with shadow, light and reflection effects.
The documents folder contains the instructions to change the exterior textures. It is a little confusing as the instructions state that one set is in the folder called “default_normals” and the other set is in the folder called “high_spec_normals” whereas actually the two sets are in folders called “default-spec” and “more-spec”.
I suspect the names have changed as the model actually ships with the high spec resolutions as default and the plainer resolution is the alternative and therefore the original folder names do not make sense. It would be useful if the name changes were reflected in the instruction document. Once I worked this out I followed the instructions to replace one set of external resolutions with another.
I reloaded the aircraft and it appeared with the less high specification textures and colours. The developers believe the lower spec colours are better for this age of aircraft and I would tend to agree they give the model an older appearance. The colours and detail are still of a high standard but the aircraft does not look quite so glossy and polished. Both specifications are good and I suggest the decision is down to personal choice.
The model looks good in low light and the aircraft lights shine bright and clear. The X-Plane lighting works well with the aircraft exterior creating very convincing effects.
The aircraft has its own tow bar which is usually stowed in the luggage area. Following the user manual instructions, and with the engine off, I left the cockpit, after opening the pilots door, and used the keyboard controls to take the view to face the front of the aircraft. Moving the cursor over the front wheel strut creates the option to to toggle the tow bar and once attached this can be used to push, pull and steer the aircraft.
Whichever specification is used for the exterior of this model the result is a detailed aircraft with crisp colours and textures that reacts well with all effects provided by X-Plane. Signage is easy to read and the glass and reflections effects are good. A high quality model viewed from the outside.
Sitting in the cockpit with the engine running the aircraft shake, which is part of the model, is immediately evident. This is not so strong that dials and equipment become blurred but it certainly creates the feel of sitting in any small aircraft. Dials are clear and legible with realistic design and colours. The textures are convincing and are appropriate for the type and age of the aircraft.
Airspeed and air pressure units of measurement can be toggled by clicking on the appropriate dial. The top of the dashboard has toggle switches which allow the Avitab tablet to be toggled from its yoke mount, when the plug in is loaded, and also for the instrument lay out to be changed from a trainer to the Commuter. This mainly changes the avionics and radios. A further switch allows a radio to be swapped for an ADF unit.
These buttons are modelled to look like small metal panels on the dashboard and are not obtrusive and nor do they look out of place. A pair of sunglasses sits on top of the panel and clicking on these toggles the X-Plane sunglasses effect on and off. Most switches and dials are helpfully annotated when hovering the mouse over them.
The mesh pocket on the pilots door holds the kneeboard and when this is clicked it pops out to create a settings page which allows changes in fuel and luggage weights, crew settings, effect settings and engine start settings. Moving through the kneeboard pages allows the user to use the automated walk around feature, which I will cover later, and has several pages of checklists for engine start and flight. These settings and checklists can also be viewed through the X-Checklist App which is compatible with the model.
Moving around the cockpit several features are interactive as well as the fully automated switches and dials. The sun visors can be moved up and down and the pilots and co-pilots air vents can be opened and closed. Moving the cursor over the co-pilot’s seat base allows for the seat to be moved forwards and backwards and clicking on the rear of the seat causes it to fold and unfold. All these operations occur easily and smoothly.
Behind the seats the detail continues in to the luggage area which is airy and bright due to the “omni-vision” window. With the luggage settings set too low only the tow bar is visible, stowed on the floor, but as the values are increased further luggage is presented in a clear and convincing way.
In low light the interior continues to impress with lighting commensurate with the age and type of aircraft. Light and reflection works well and all of this creates a realistic effect.
The interior modelling of the aircraft is created to a high standard. Switches, dials, levers and controls are animated and and are smooth and realistic in operation. Instruments are easy to read at any level of zoom. Interactive elements within the cockpit also add to the realism along with the shadow, light and glass effects. The ability to toggle cockpit layout and instrument values all adds up to an immersive and enjoyable experience.
I did find that there was an occasional lag between when I expected the sound to start and stop when starting and pausing the simulator. This did not detract from any enjoyment but sometimes made me wonder if I had carried out the correct operation. The aircraft has system sounds in the background even with the engine off and the engine noise and tone is very convincing at any throttle setting.
Switches and levers have their own distinct sounds which confirm their use in operation. Engine sounds change with the aircraft doors open and exterior inspection allows the control surfaces to be heard. The doors have their own noises when opening and closing. Flaps extend a long way on this aircraft and are supported by realistic sounds. Flight is accompanied by numerous sounds that create a realistic environment. Animated parts of the aircraft also have bespoke noises. The sound system compliments the high quality of visual modelling and adds considerably to the user experience.
The aircraft panels, Trainer and Commuter, allow for different avionics fits and in addition there is an ADF option in exchange for a radio in the Commuter display. The Trainer option provides a radio and a transponder whereas the Commuter is equipped with an audio panel, two radios, a transponder and a DME receiver and a single axis autopilot, along with the aforementioned ADF variant.
The manual explains how to use the various avionics equipment with helpful and clear instructions. The autopilot is modelled on the Novamatic 300A model and the guidelines are taken from the real manual and an annotated diagram. Being single axis the system involves aileron control and comprises a computer-amplifier, a turn co-ordinator, aileron control and a course deviation indicator.
The manual explains how the autopilot works: “Roll and yaw motions of the airplane are sensed by the turn coordinator gyro. Deviations from the selected heading are sensed by the directional gyro. The computer-amplifier electronically computes the necessary correction and signals the actuator to move the ailerons to maintain the airplane in the commanded lateral attitude or heading.”
The autopilot will also intercept a VOR or localiser course via VHF. The system uses the heading bug on the directional gyro for track and engage so this has to be set to the desired Nav course. If the autopilot is is in NAV mode it will automatically detect a localiser and will then go in to approach mode. The use of the autopilot is explained in detail in the manual.
Basic Flight Experience
I carried out my first flight without reference to systems or checklists. I lined the aircraft up at the end of the runway added some flaps and took off. The aircraft responded well to control inputs and climbed steadily and smoothly. The view from the aircraft was clear with realistic markings on the windscreen, and the fact that this is not a fast aircraft really helped the first flight as I could take my time to decide on control input and manoeuvres.
I was interested to discover how this particular autopilot worked so I trimmed the aircraft, set the heading bug to the desired heading and switched on the autopilot. The model responded immediately, and better than some models with more complex autopilots, and turned smoothly to acquire the track. This proved to be easy to use and straight forward.
I turned back to my original airport, using the navigation equipment and the Distance Measuring Equipment, completed a circuit and then landed. Again the fact that the aircraft was relatively slow to fly made the landing process quite easy to achieve. The aircraft was a pleasure to fly and looked good in the air.
I also carried out a more detailed flight using the preflight checks and checklists. The flight was to be from Exeter UK to Bristol UK, crossing the Bristol Channel in to Wales to allow correct alignment to Bristol International’s runway. I started by using the walk around prior to flight, provided and created within the model.
This is initiated by using the kneeboard which is stowed in the mesh pocket on the pilots door. The user manual contains guidance on how to use this. I moved from point to point around the aircraft by pressing the next arrow on the kneeboard page. Each point corresponded with items on the checklist and allowed a degree of interaction with the aircraft such as moving control surfaces and checking fuel and oil levels.
Once each part of the checklist had been completed I ended up back in the cockpit ready for the internal checklists. This is an interesting way to carry out the checks and the interaction adds further enjoyment to the use of the model. X-Checklist also works but does not create the same interactive elements.
I worked through the engine start checklist and turned the ignition key. I found the engine did not start so I used the primer switch again and achieved success. The aircraft started to vibrate and the propellor gave visual confirmation. I checked all instruments were reading correctly and then taxied to the runway and waited at the threshold. The aircraft was easy to control on the ground and was responsive to steering inputs. It stopped quickly with the brakes applied.
I set up the instrument panel for the Commuter option and then used the tabs on the front of the panel to choose the ADF display. This replaces one of the radios with an ADF unit. I checked my route and the bearing I wanted to take for the first leg. I set up the instrumentation to be able to use the autopilot and ADF once airborne.
The model is compatible with the Librain plug in for rain effects and so before the flight I changed the weather conditions to see how this worked. The rain effect worked well with the model with rain appearing on the windscreen. I then moved to the end of the runway, continued with the checklists and changed the weather conditions back to dry.
I followed the checklist for take off, applying no flaps, setting the power to full and taking off at just about 55 MPH. The aircraft responded well and had a good rate of climb. I achieved the desired altitude and then, set the autopilot, adjusted the mixture and throttle and trimmed the aircraft. Again this was a relatively calm procedure as nothing happens too quickly. I ensured that the aircraft was set for cruising and as the autopilot took me along my first leg of my route the ADF picked up a signal and the indicator confirmed that I was heading on the correct track. All round visibility from the aircraft is good and I had time to enjoy the view.
The aircraft was good fun to fly although I had to be careful with my pitch inputs as I found that I would cause the aircraft to adopt the roller coaster effect if I was not gentle with the joystick. I used airfields as my waypoints as they were easy to spot and allowed me to concentrate on the aircraft. On reaching Cardiff, the airport I was navigating to as a waypoint, I used the autopilot to change course towards Bristol, moving the heading bug to the new desired track.
I set the Nav radio to the Bristol ILS frequency and then set the autopilot to to Nav Int. This means the aircraft follows the bearing on the heading bug until it intercepts the VOR/Localiser frequency set to the navigation radio. If it is a localiser frequency the autopilot then will automatically enter approach mode. I had never used an autopilot in quiet this way before and was interested to see how it worked.
The aircraft steadily flew the bearing set on the heading bug. I began to gradually descend as the distance between Cardiff and Bristol is relatively short. As the aircraft continued the course the CDI sprang into life and the aircraft began to respond to the Nav signal. The CDI gradually centred and as it did so I moved the heading bug to match the course.
The manual requests that the pilot moves the heading bug in this way and explains that this is the only way in which the model differs from the real autopilot. This slight adjustment does not detract from the use of the equipment. I continued watching the CDI and the aircraft moved so it was centred and the altitude was correct.
Once I was lined up with the runway, which I could see in the distance, I switched off the autopilot and flew the aircraft manually, following the CDI. I followed the checklist, ensuring the mixture and carburettor heat were correct and I achieved a successful landing at Bristol.
The aircraft was easy to taxi and moved through the airport to one of the stands. I referred to the kneeboard to secure and shut down the aircraft and the model behaved exactly as expected, with the propellor becoming more and more visible as it slowed down. It was a successful and very enjoyable flight. There is enough about the model to occupy any pilot and with basic avionics the user does have tasks to complete but at the same time the style, speed and response of the aircraft makes it a very good learning platform.
The modelling and sound package of this aircraft is to a high standard and the documentation supplied is interesting, relevant and useful, needing perhaps a couple of small updates. The model is easy to load and is very interactive even though it is a relatively basic aircraft. It is easy to simply load and fly. I am sure most X-Plane pilots will have experienced the Cessna C172 as it is a default aircraft and, as could be expected, there are similarities between the two models but some differences too.
The C150 was designed as a trainer aircraft and in my view this model makes a great platform for X-Plane users to learn how to use X-Plane itself, basic navigation equipment and skills and to gain flight experience. It is rare for events to happen too quickly for a less experienced pilot to cope and there are enough equipment fits to develop experience. The aircraft is forgiving in flight, it feels like a light aircraft and visibility is good.
The checklists supplied are very helpful and where these are followed the model does as promised. These comments should not imply this is a simple model as the developers have worked hard to build realism in to it, such as aircraft judder, and I feel it will provide enjoyment for users of all skill levels. The model creates an immersive and interesting experience whatever variant is flown and is a pleasure to fly.
|Add-on:||Payware vFlyteAir C150|
|Publisher | Developer:||X-Plane.Org | vFlyteAir|
|Description:||Realistic rendition of Cessna C150 Commuter|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 803MB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Andy Clarke|
|Published:||February 2nd 2020|
|Hardware specifications:||- iMac Intel i5 27"
- 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5
- AMD Radeon R9 M290X 2048 MB
- 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM
- Logitech Force 3D Pro
|Software specifications:||- macOS Big Sur 11.x
- X-Plane 11.5x (64 Bit) Private Use
- A variety of freeware and payware airports