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Great Planes RealFlight G3.5 Flight Training System Review

Great Planes combines RealFlight's G3.5 simulator with Flyzone's Cessna 182 and is a great way to learn to fly! Join Dr. Dave in making the transition from a simulator to actual flight.

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Introduction

 Fly Zone's Cessna 182 Skylane
Fly Zone's Cessna 182 Skylane
Wingspan:35” / 890mm
Wing Area:165 sq. in. / 106 dm sq
Weight:21 oz / 600 g
Length:27.5” / 700mm
Wing Loading:18.33 oz/ sq ft / 55.9 g/dm sq
Servos:Tactic
Transmitter:Tactic 4-channel with trainer switch
Receiver:Tactic 6-channel
Battery:7N-J 7-cell 8.4 volt NiMH 1100 mAh
Motor:Brushed 380
ESC:Brushed 15 amp
Available From:Great Planes
Price:$259.98

 RealFlight G3.5 Flight Training System
RealFlight G3.5 Flight Training System
Equipment:Minimum Requirements
Operating System:Windows XP, 2000, ME, 98
Processor:Intel Pentium 1.0 GHz or equivalent
DirectX rev:Direct X 9 or above
Video Card:3D accelerated, 32+ MB Dedicated RAM
RAM:256 MB RAM
Hard drive space:1.3 GB hard drive space
Manufacturer:RealFlight
Available From: Great Planes

It makes sense to pair a plane with a simulator, and Great Planes has done exactly that: they have incorporated the RealFlight G3.5 simulator and a Cessna 182 Skylane into one product that I could not wait to explore.

Kit Contents

Included with the Cessna:

  • 4-channel Tactic FM Radio with Futaba compatible trainer switch, charge jack for NiCd pack
  • 6-Channel receiver
  • Flyzone Cessna 182 RTF Airplane
  • 8.4 volt NiMH 1100 mAh Battery pack
  • Charger – 12v
  • Extra Propeller 7x3
  • Phillips head screwdriver

Cessna requires:

  • Eight AA batteries for transmitter

The RealFight G3.5 trainer system includes all the necessary ground and air components.

I was disappointed to find that there is not a singular instruction manual that combines both the simulator and the plane into a “system.” I even contacted Hobbico asking if I was missing something, but I was not. I had a beautiful Cessna 182 and a G3.5 simulator to work with, but it was up to me to make the connection between the two.

Using the System

To make the most of your RealFlight Cessna System you’ll need to know:

how to takeoff into the wind and land into the wind

  • the pattern - right hand or left hand. In a left hand pattern take off, on climb out past the end of the runway make a gradual 90 degree turn left (crosswind), go a few hundred feet, and turn left again so that you are parallel to the runway (downwind). When you get a few hundred feet past the end of the runway, turn left again (base leg), and make one last turn left so you are lined up with the runway (final approach).
  • how to take off and land on the runway
  • how to keep your plane straight on the runway during takeoff
  • how to throttle back once you have reached altitude - you do not need to cruise at full throttle
  • how to recognize a stall - the nose will drop and likely your left wing will drop too. To recover you must increase the throttle and point the nose toward the ground to gain airspeed. Obviously you need altitude to accomplish a stall recovery.
  • how to be gentle on the sticks; You only need slight movements
  • how to concentrate
  • how to work to reduce the number of times you hit the Reset button

You’ll also need to practice, practice, practice.

RealFlight G3.5

While a newer version exists, the G3.5 system is a state-of-the-art simulator with so many features it will take you months just to explore them all. When an individual is learning to fly, I cannot stress enough the importance of a simulator, and the G3.5 is the perfect tool for getting from the desktop to the flying field.

RealFlight 3.5 has airport options and a hangar full of really excellent planes.

You have some really great help at your fingertips, like Jason Schulman teaching you to land and takeoff. The plane in view, and you can also see the sticks and listen to him guide you through the process.

I installed pylons on my field (you can do this and several other things) so I could see the pattern and know I was parallel and perpendicular. If you can do this in RealFlight 3.5 you can easily do this on the airfield.

Your final approach will make the plane seem closer to you, so you will need to take some time to center the plane on the runway. (I have been flying for 40 years, and it’s still hard.) You can see in the video below, I wander close to the near edge of the runway and then correct myself.

Downloads

RealFlight allows you to capture screen shots and video. The screen shots are *.jpg while the video is proprietary using *.G3X. You can share the video with others using RealFlight G3.5.

Final Assembly

The Flyzone Cessna 182 Skylane is very well built. It is constructed of foam with a hardened wing and tail components. The interior is roomy, and the battery compartment is located under the fuselage.

Wing

The wing is complete and has one servo. It requires you to install the wing, and then place the wing struts under the wings. Make all of your adjustments and trim settings before you button up the wing, otherwise, you have to undo the struts to get the wing off.

Tail

The tail does require a couple of screws to secure the vertical stabilizer. The horizontal stabilizer is already attached.

The finished plane is very colorful and impressive with nice details. Wheel pants, shiny decals, good fitting cowling, struts and On-Off switch make this a really great plane.

Brushed motor

The motor is installed and attached with rubber bands allowing for some flexibility in the case of a nose strike. The cowling is plastic with a matching paint.

Pre-flight

I spent some time making sure the control surfaces were centered. The CG was between the 36mm and 44mm range. I checked the control throws as well to make sure they were moving in the right direction and set to the correct throw.

Control Throws

  • Ailerons - 3/16 up and down (5mm)
  • Elevator - 5/16 up and down (8mm)
  • Rudder - 3/8 right and left (10mm)

RealFlight and Real Flight

With both the RealFlight and the FlyZone Cessna, make gentle turns and learn to coordinate that turn with the rudder. The flat high wing plane had a tendency to drop a wing during a turn and spin around that stalled wing.

I was very impressed with how realistic the ground handling was for both the simulator and the actual plane. Neither has a steerable nose wheel, and therefore neither can be turned on the runway for a back taxi.

The takeoff roll can be long in calm conditions and needs to be on a hard surface. Sixty to 80 foot rolls are the norm with the latter being present in calm conditions with little head wind. Be very careful on takeoff to be light on the elevator and build speed before climbing to steeply.

Flight times are good and can exceed ten minutes with throttle management. The Cessna flies great at half throttle with big sweeping turns. At full throttle you get six to eight minute times.

Basics

This is a trainer and generally behaves as a trainer. My hat is off to the designers of the software that have done such a great job of making the RealFlight version so much like the Flyzone Cessna 182 because there are few differences. If a person takes the time to learn to fly on the G3.5 simulator they should be able to make the transition to the real plane.

As I speak of the flight characteristics, keep in mind that I am talking about both RealFlight and the Flyzone Cessna 182 as they are equals.

Take Offs and Landings

Nothing about either that caused me much concern. The takeoff roll is longer than you might expect, but into a head wind it shortens. The ground handling, while not capable of a full turnaround, tracks straight down the runway, and there was little if any correction necessary. After the take off roll the plane lifts off just like the real plane with a slow gentle climb to altitude. It is not a rocket that will take off in a few feet and do a Viking departure, but it is not supposed to. It is gentle and deliberate.

Landings are no problem. I found it no more difficult to land virtually than in real-time. There is a gentle glide slope with no stall tendencies on the approach. At touch down the trajectory remains the same as without a steerable nose wheel. It will go in the direction you point it with little variation.

Is This System for a beginner?

Without a doubt, yes. This is an excellent system in theory and in practice. The idea that one can learn to fly and then transition to the air through a proven trainer is sound, though lots of practice is essential.

Is the Flyzone Cessna 182 for a beginner?

I first realized in flying the Cessna 182 that it was not as forgiving as I would have liked in the OEM setup. It will work for a beginner, but with thorough practice on the simulator.

Photo Gallery and Video

Downloads

Conclusion

I believe this is a great idea and a product worth investing in!

Pluses

  • All-in-one package
  • The G3.5 is tested and versatile
  • Great quality in all the components
  • Wonderful paint scheme
  • The Cessna 182 is as durable as they come

Minuses

  • The lack of a basic flying manual
Last edited by Angela H; Oct 06, 2008 at 03:46 PM..

Discussion

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Old Oct 06, 2008, 06:59 PM
Registered User
Negaunee, Michigan
Joined Sep 2008
192 Posts
Looks like the nose of the plane points downward as it sits on the runway. That might have something to with how long it takes to rotate on take-off.

Nice review and nice looking airplane.
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Old Oct 06, 2008, 07:39 PM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,319 Posts
Yea, it does have plenty of down thrust, but the headwind video shows plenty of lift. I think it is a little light on power. No big deal for a trainer, you just need to be soft on the sticks as you build some airspeed.
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Old Oct 06, 2008, 08:20 PM
KK6MQJ
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Joined Sep 2004
13,781 Posts
That Cessna sure looks REAL in flight. Pretty cool Dave! Nice in-flight photos.

I for one would be really curious to know how well this package would work when it comes to helping a newbie earn his wings. If the sim model is accurate and the learner spends ample time on the sim first, all he has to worry about are the subtle things that a simulator cannot prepare him/her for ...

All in all, a nice concept though, IMHO, and a nice review of it too.
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Old Oct 07, 2008, 06:44 AM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,319 Posts
Thanks Jon, really this is all about practice on the sim and being able to define when to go real-time. The system has trainer cord capabilities but I do understand having done so myself learning to fly the hard way. Finding a large field and a calm day will be a great start to a first flight.
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Old Oct 07, 2008, 10:20 AM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,595 Posts
Nice review Dave! I fully agree that a large field without obstructions and a calm day go far in making that first day a success after the approbriate time on the simulator. Mike
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Last edited by Michael Heer; Oct 09, 2008 at 07:54 PM.
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Old Oct 07, 2008, 10:37 AM
Canucklehead
orenda635's Avatar
GTA, Ontario, Canada
Joined Apr 2004
827 Posts
The plane has the same awful motor mount setup that the Flyzone Piper Cub has. I'm surprised it even flies because my Cub didn't. Sorry.

This model does look solid but I'm done with Flyzone and foamies in general.
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Old Oct 07, 2008, 02:53 PM
Planes, Guitars and Cigars
Steve_A_Reno's Avatar
Joined May 2002
3,171 Posts
I am also curious about the rubber band motor mount. My wing hold down rubber bands break down pretty quickly and I replace them all the time. I'm guessing a hot motor may speed up that break down. This is definately an area that would require weekly inspection. I would be more concerned of the motor comming loose mid flight.

Otherwise I found this to be a very informative review. Thanks
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Old Oct 07, 2008, 06:43 PM
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Bombay's Avatar
Richmond, TX
Joined Apr 2008
3,236 Posts
Very nice looking plane. RCGroups reviews are second to none.
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Old Oct 08, 2008, 03:09 PM
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flieslikeabeagle's Avatar
Los Angeles
Joined May 2004
10,940 Posts
I'd say this is a nice idea (bundling an RTF model with a flight sim) but extremely poorly executed. The sim is great - it's the model that's the problem. This little Cessna is cute, but it is a pig! The wing loading is 18 oz/sq foot! This high a wing loading would be fine in a big .40 size glow trainer with 700 square inches of wing. But 18 oz/sq foot on a little model with only 165 square inches of wing area is way, way too high - half that number would be better.

In a nutshell, this Cessna weighs twice what it should weigh. So what we have here is a very poor choice of a first model for a beginner - a Cessna that flies like a warbird, hot and heavy, and underpowered to make things even worse.

Earlier this year I participated on an RCG thread where a newcomer to the hobby made the mistake of buying this same Cessna. He was one of those very talented "naturals" - he actually managed to fly this underpowered pig of a Cessna, which is more than most new pilots could do without immediately stalling and crashing it. But he could not land it without it either ground looping or flipping end over end - no surprise, with the high landing speed and tiny wheels.

Nice review, though I feel you were very "kind" to a terrible product. Perhaps with your long years of experience you no longer remember how hard it is for a first-time pilot to cope with a heavy and underpowered model.

-Flieslikeabeagle
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Old Oct 08, 2008, 05:19 PM
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RC Groups is rife with countless polls rating the best all time beginner planes. The FlyZone Cessna 182, to the best of my knowledge has never been recommended as a beginner's first plane.

A search of RCG will also reveal that there are very few threads (if any at all) devoted to singing the praises of this plane. The last few threads I've participated in relative to the FlyZone Cessna 182 have been more a litany of why this plane should not be considered as a beginner plane, rather than owners who are happy they bought it.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize certain patterns on RC Groups. The better a plane is, the more threads are generated about the plane itself. Conversely, the worse a plane is, the less threads are started about it.

In line with the above then, the FlyZone Cessna 182 ranks amongst the absolute worst planes a beginner could ever tackle, shy of a full blown war bird. In fact, there are plenty of war birds with LESS wing loading than the Cessna 182!

For all the reasons FLiesLikeABeagle gave above, this plane is truly nothing more than a brick with wings. And with an average mean chord of 4", it's only by a stretch of the imagination that it can be referred to as a 'wing' in the traditional sense of planes suitable for beginners.

In my opinion only... recommending the FlyZone Cessna 182 to beginners amounts to a terrible disservice to anyone seeking to break into this wonderful hobby of ours.

Sorry for being so blunt, but there are many newcomers whom rely on the expertise of reviewers to carefully steer them to a plane that will give them the best chances of success.

Again, in my opinion, the reviewer really missed the mark on this one.... big time.

Chuck
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Old Oct 08, 2008, 05:51 PM
Dr. Dave
USA
Joined Nov 2005
1,319 Posts
Thanks Chuck and others for the comments. In many way I agree with you except that I could fly the Cessna. I do mention the need to be easy on the sticks. I also think you are missing the point that the SIM is a precursor. Can you say those that bought the Cessna were also well trained and deligent with the RealFlight 3.5? Unless you can be sure, the process is not tainted. I do agree this may not be the best choice of trainers, but it can be flown and has been flown likely by many with success. Take off rolls are long and I mention that, into the wind they are not out of the norm. Landings I thought were no problem and I never experienced any stall tendencies on approach. The power off stall is quick and the power on stall is dramatic. But with practice as I mention on the SIM these should be negated.

Hey I don't care what plane you give to a novice that does no know how to fly: They will wreck it! Big, small high or low wing loading it's not the plane it's the pilot.
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Old Oct 09, 2008, 09:33 AM
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United Kingdom, Bracknell
Joined Nov 2000
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Quote:
Neither has a steerable nose wheel, and therefore neither can be turned on the runway for a back taxi.
Just as an aside, in calm conditions it's usually possible to turn a non-steerable trike by using full up elevator with full rudder. The up elevator lifts the nosewheel when power is applied, helping the rudder to get the nose round.

In a breeze it will just weathercock into wind though.
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Old Oct 10, 2008, 02:22 PM
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Joined Sep 2008
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[QUOTE=NoFlyZone]RC Groups is rife with countless polls rating the best all time beginner planes. The FlyZone Cessna 182, to the best of my knowledge has never been recommended as a beginner's first plane.

A search of RCG will also reveal that there are very few threads (if any at all) devoted to singing the praises of this plane. The last few threads I've participated in relative to the FlyZone Cessna 182 have been more a litany of why this plane should not be considered as a beginner plane, rather than owners who are happy they bought it.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to recognize certain patterns on RC Groups. The better a plane is, the more threads are generated about the plane itself. Conversely, the worse a plane is, the less threads are started about it.

In line with the above then, the FlyZone Cessna 182 ranks amongst the absolute worst planes a beginner could ever tackle, shy of a full blown war bird. In fact, there are plenty of war birds with LESS wing loading than the Cessna 182!

For all the reasons FLiesLikeABeagle gave above, this plane is truly nothing more than a brick with wings. And with an average mean chord of 4", it's only by a stretch of the imagination that it can be referred to as a 'wing' in the traditional sense of planes suitable for beginners.

In my opinion only... recommending the FlyZone Cessna 182 to beginners amounts to a terrible disservice to anyone seeking to break into this wonderful hobby of ours.

Sorry for being so blunt, but there are many newcomers whom rely on the expertise of reviewers to carefully steer them to a plane that will give them the best chances of success.

Again, in my opinion, the reviewer really missed the mark on this one.... big time.

Chuck[/QUOT I agree I went the route of flying with a sim for 4 months before I even got a plane I tried my hand at a FZ 182 and it failed the plane is ok just way under powered for any first time pilot because when you learn to fly slow and steady is the way to go but the 182 stalls so quick that it will fall out of the sky. If anyone wants to learn to fly I suggest an Easystar or HZ Supercub. And if you have a FZ 182 already or it's on the way shelf it and get and easystar reciever ready and put your tactic in and learn to fly that way.
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Old Oct 10, 2008, 08:33 PM
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Los Angeles
Joined May 2004
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonb81
If anyone wants to learn to fly I suggest an Easystar or HZ Supercub.
I agree, both are great choices. The Easy Star is more durable, the Cub is prettier and has more power. Take your pick.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonb81
And if you have a FZ 182 already or it's on the way shelf it
I really try not to be too critical of any product on the market, but this overweight little FZ 182 is, in my opinion, such a bad product that it's hard for me to muzzle myself. So I'll throw restraint to the winds and suggest that if you got an FZ 182 already, you either treat it as a static display model for your desk and never try to fly it, or perhaps stake it through the heart and pour holy water on the carcass...

IMHO, this Flyzone Cessna as well as the Parkzone FW 190 "Butcher Bird", are just awful models that are best avoided - far too heavy, far too underpowered, and very far from being good beginner models. There are much better alternatives out there.

Edit: Earlier I said that Horizon Hobby is responsible for this awful little Cessna. I was wrong, it's a Hobbico product, not a Horizon one. I apologize for the mistake.

-Flieslikeabeagle
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Last edited by flieslikeabeagle; Oct 30, 2008 at 09:42 AM. Reason: Hobbico makes the Cessna, not Horizon.
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