Friday, January 24, 2014

Alabeo Cessna Cutlass RG II First Look!

FSX/P3D. Commercial pilot wannabes, your trainer has arrived. Alabeo has rolled out another winner with their latest release of the Cessna 172 Cutlass RG II. If you are working on your virtual commercial license, or are looking to brush up on some basic IFR skills, this is your machine. Tag along with me as I explore the beautiful Orbx-enhanced land down under in Alabeo's floppy-footed professional pilot-maker.  

You may be into those go-fast tube-liners with their fancy T.V. screens and push button controls, but in the real world most of those guys driving that equipment spent many hours staining the seats of these planes with their sweaty backsides as they tried to make a chandelle or lazy eight look half-way acceptable for the stone-faced examiner in the right seat. Many aspiring airline pilots began and ended their careers at the controls of this trainer, and I was one of the "Gutless RG" instructors who tried to apply the laws of learning in an effective way, while making sure the wheels were always the first parts to touch the ground. Good times. Mostly.

The 172 Cutlass RG was Cessna's answer to the FAA's complex/high-performance requirement of the commercial pilot certificate that said one must have experience in an airplane with retractable gear and a constant-speed propeller to get the license. It was not very practical for private use as the speed gains with the retractable gear was somewhat modest and the added cost of maintaining the added systems was much more expensive than a fixed gear Cessna 172 or 177, so most of them lived the hard life of a trainer. And they served well, with many still in service at flight schools everywhere.  

For my test flights I'll be flying around Queensland, using Orbx's Australia. Along with their add-on airports, Orbx sceneries bring a fantastic level of realism to the sim experience that I find I can't do without. I also use Ant's Airplanes freeware airports and scenery for Australia which put some payware products to shame.  

Alabeo has been turning out some high-quality add-ons for awhile now, and they are top-notch. This Cessna is no exception. The exterior and interior is rendered and textured perfectly, and the switches and controls functioned as they should. As we know, switch function with add-ons often is awkward or simply non-functional. The only beef I could sniff out here was a bit of fiddly-ness with the ADF unit. It works fine, but the click-spots are on the face of the unit, not the knob. Not a big deal. I had to really look to find something to fuss about. One thing that makes me particularly happy is the avionics master. I hate having to turn on the avionics master of most add-ons and then turn all the radios on, too. Stupid. Not with the Cutlass though. Flick the avionics master on, and all the radios blink to life....thanks, Alabeo.    

There may be some disappointment with lack of GPS or autopilot, but for a trainer, I think it's how it should be. I've been flying it around all day and don't miss either, just have to use those trusty-but-rusty pilot skills. Plus this is a very stable plane.....just trim it up and give it a nudge now and then to keep it on course. No worries, mate. 

Enough jawboning, lets do a quick walk around, and go fly.

Cessna simplicity
 Not the prettiest plane, but she gets it done.

There's not much for 2D popup windows....didn't miss them much. This is a bare-bones trainer.

 It takes more power than it should to taxi.

 Checklist complete, time to aviate.

 Positive rate, gear up.
 Cessna gear is cool to watch, not cool to work on.

 Departing Orbx's Bundaberg, Queensland. 

 Lots of sweat and grime in those seats.
 This is a trainer, so time for some airwork. Steep turns are straight forward.
 The flight dynamics are spot-on.

 Stalls are close to realistic.....some buffet and rumble would be nice.
 Chandelle entry.

 Chandelle complete......I need some more practice.
 Downwind for landing at Hervey Bay.....improvements by Orbx.

 Love that gear

 Ant's Airplane's Lady Elliot Island.

 Night Instrument and panel lighting is excellent.

 Ants Airplane's Longreach.

The Alabeo Cutlass RG is a very well made plane. It looks and flies just like the real thing, which is more than can be said of some payware planes out there, that's for sure. It's rather basic, but I think that just adds to the realism and makes it a more immersive experience. If I was nit-picking, I would ask that the documentation was a little more complete and easier to find, and maybe a bit better sound set, but these are not big issues.  

This really is a groovy little plane. Every pilot needs some good basic IFR practice now and then and you can't get any more basic than the steam gauges in this thing. With an add-on plane as nearly-flawless as the Alabeo Cutlass is, why wouldn't you add it to your collection? My conclusion? Get it. Much fun and learning will ensue.

With Carenado moving into bigger, faster aircraft these days, Alabeo has picked up the General Aviation helm and has started filling the many gaps in the small piston plane line-up. This is a very good thing. Their Cutlass RG is a wonderful rendition of the real plane and shows that the virtual GA crowd has much to look forward to. And if I may be so bold as to make a few suggestions for future releases: we really need a Cessna 207 and Cherokee 6-300. And a good Beech D18S. Please?  

Get it here:


fork said...

Looks great! Speaking of future releases, I wish they'd update their 182RG textures so they're hi quality just like this.

Peter Suranyi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I made a video featuring this aircraft by Alabeo, I hope you enjoy and you support Alabeo and buy this plane, it's cheap and amazing

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