Many of you may think this aircraft is boring as dirt but the 172 does have a very significant part in New Zealand aviation and most of the western world. Over 40,000 Cessna 172s have been produced to date and it has become the most successful light aircraft of all time. Many pilots have had their first taste of flying, soloed and gained their private pilot's licence in the 172.
An Ardmore Flying School 172R waiting for its next student pilotA short history of the Cessna 172 Skyhawk
The 172 was developed from the Cessna 170B by adding a nose wheel and squaring off the fin and making other small changes. The 172 first flew in 1955 with the first production model delivered in 1956. It immediately became a best seller and as a result the Cessna 170 was phased out of production.
The 172 became well known for its easy and benign handling, low maintenance and running costs. As a result it went on to become a private pilots, flying school and club favourite.
Over the years the Cessna 172 has evolved into many iterations. The 172A of 1960 introduced a swept back fin, whilst later in 1960 the 172b introduced a shorter undercarriage and the Skyhawk name for the deluxe versions. The 172D of 1963 introduced the basic shape of today's 172 which included the cut down rear fuselage or "Omnivison"Â. The 172F of 1971 introduced electric flaps and from that date Reims of France started producing licence built versions of the 172. This model also formed the basis of the USAF's T-41 primary trainer. A 4 cylinder Lycoming replaced the Continental in the 172 in the late 1960's, which offered superior maintenance costs.
The 177 Cardinal was also introduced in the late 1960's as a 172 replacement but this failed in the market place for various reasons and the 172 long out lived it.
To summarise the models up to when production stopped in 1986 are as follows:
Model 172 - 1956 - 1959 145HP engine
Model 172A - 1960 145HP engine
Model 172B - 1961 145HP engine
Model 172C - 1962 145HP engine
Model 172D - 1963 145HP engine
Model 172E - 1964 145HP engine
Model 172F - 1965 145HP engine
Model 172G - 1966 145HP engine
Model 172H - 1967 145HP engine
Model 172I - 1968 150HP engine
Model 172K - 1969 - 1970 150HP engine
Model 172L - 1971 - 1972 150HP engine
Model 172M - 1973 - 1976 150HP engine
Model 172N - 1977 - 1980 160HP engine
Model 172P - 1981 - 1986 160HP engine
Over Auckland City
In the late 1970's a retractable undercarriage, contract speed prop version of the 172 was introduced; the 172RG Cutlass. Also introduced in the late 1970's was the fixed gear 195hp constant speed prop 172 HawkXP. Reims of France also produced a more powerful 172; the Reims Rocket with a 210hp engine.
In 1986 production ceased (along with many other light planes) because of the product liability laws that existed in the United Sates at the time.
Approaching North Shore airfield
In 1996 production was restarted with the 160hp fuel injected 172R. The 172S (or SP) was introduced in 1998 with 180hp Lycoming. In 2005 a Garmin G1000 glass cockpit was introduced as an option for all 172 models.
The 172 continues to be cranked out of the factories in Wichita Kansa and is likely to for the foreseeable future, although Cessna is now flying a proof of concept prototype that may replace the 172 in the future so maybe the end is in sight.
A couple of 172's at North ShoreThe 172 in New Zealand
The 172 first arrived in New Zealand in 1956 the first year of production with one of the first examples going to the North Otago Aero Club. This was registered ZK-BQG and still flying in New Zealand and is now based at Omaka.
Over the years many hundreds were imported by the various distributors (Rural Aviation, Rex, Dalhoff & King, Motor Holdings and now Flightline) that represented Cessna over the years and many more imported second hand. Currently there are 244 172s on the register and is the most popular aircraft in New Zealand. Its closest competitor is the Piper PA-28 series with currently 149 registered in New Zealand. The most popular variant of the 172 in New Zealand is currently the 172M with 62 registered.
ZK-CCI at North Shore. This is a 172D model that usually domiciles at Ardmore
Just about every Aero Club and Flying Schools in New Zealand has at least one 172 in their fleet and in some cases this is the only aircraft they have.
When production restarted in 1996, one of the first customers in New Zealand was the Ardmore Flying School, which ordered an initial batch to start replacing their fleet of Piper Tomahawks. The Ardmore Flying School went on to became one of the largest users in the Southern Hemisphere of the 172R model and has the largest fleet of 172s in the country with 15 aircraft. Some of the newer ones in the fleet are equipped with a "glass cockpit"Â.
A line up of Ardmore Flying School and oher 172s at Ardmore
New Zealand Aviation News, September 2006www.wikipedia.comwww.caa.govt.nzThe Flight One 172R (FS2004 model)
The Flight 1 172R is available for download from the Flight 1 site (www.flight1.com
) for $25 US and is also available in CD form from Flight 1 and other popular flight sim. market sites.
The Virtual Cockpit
The virtual cockpit (VC) instruments have a good refresh rate and they are very clear and are easy to read. The instruments are some of the clearest I have seen in a flight sim model. It is very difficult to tell the difference between the 2d panel and the VC. The pedestal and other areas of the VC aren't as clear and a little disappointing compared to the rest of the VC but this is an area you don't look at too often. The other minor irk is that view from the VC to each side seems a little high and your head seems buried in the roof.
The VC (or is it the 2d?)
The 2d Panel
The 2d panel is very clear and is top notch. There are "photo" views to each side and the rear. The 2d sub-panels are also very crisp and clears and includes the usuals such as the GPS (default), throttle/flaps, fuel selector, switch panel, trim and avionics. You can also pull up a mini panel so you can easily access these sub panel items and the checklist in the VC.
The 2d panel
Special features of the model includes a configuration panel that is accessed used the flight sim where you can change the payload, resolution of the VC, the flight dynamics (non spinnable or spinnable), take off the wheel pants and add different colour schemes. There is also a very good tutorial flight that is similar to the tutorial flights that cone with FS2004.
The sound package is excellent and it sounds like your normal run of the mill 172 to me, although there are no "extra"Â sounds that you find on some flight sim models like the Aerosoft/Digital Dornier.
The exterior of the model is modelled to a good standard but I wouldn't say it is in the same league as the latest Carenado models but is far superior to the default 172. The doors open as you would expect but there are no special eye candy features such as taking off the engine cowling.
The flight dynamics are some the best around and it feels very real (although I have never flown a 172). It can be spun which is very rare for an FS model.
In summary this is the best 172 model out there for FS 2004 so if you are desperate for a 172 for FS2004 this is the one to get. I find the price a little hard to swallow compared to the nice Cessna 182 and 206 models from Carenado which can be obtained below $20 US but I do feel that the VC and 2d panel is generally superior in the Flight 1 model and the flight dynamics are outstanding.
I have not tried the default FSX (the Flight1 172 is patched for FSX) 172 so I am not sure how they compare but this model is vastly superior to the default 172 in FS2004 in all areas.
It has to be remembered that this model has been available for about three years now and that I have compared it to the latest add ons out there so it still stacks up very well. In summary, a good solid model.
There are a couple of very nice kiwi repaints available on Avsim. Search zk-cci_texture.zip & zk-tap_texture.zip