Bush plane fun! Reviewing the Asobo Studios Aviat Husky A-1C

Flying into and out of austere airfields, river banks, and snow covered glaciers are just some of the kinds of flying that you can do with Asobo’s new Aviat Husky A-1C. This is every inch a robust and capable bush plane in purpose and in use. Now that it has been recreated for our enjoyment in Microsoft Flight Simulator, it’s time to review and look into this aircraft. What’s it like? Is it fun to fly? How is it different from the other bush planes available in the sim already. Let’s have a look!

The Husky’s history

Flying near the Meteor Crater in Arizona

Before the announcement of this aircraft by Asobo Studios, I didn’t know anything about the Aviat Husky. The Piper Cub I knew well but this type was a relative unknown for me. Turns out, it’s actually quite a popular aircraft in the segment so consider my eyes opened.

The type started life as a fresh design by Christen Industries in 1985. The same company that designed the aerobatic Christen Eagle bi-plane. They designed the aircraft using CAD software which makes it one of the few bush planes to start life as a digital drawing coming decades after the first Piper Cub was envisioned.

Christen Industries had a lawsuit filed against them after an aircraft was alleged to have killed its pilot and the whole company was bought by Aviat Aircraft in 1991. Production of the Husky has continued with over 650 of them in active service.

A braced, high wing, dual seat and dual control aircraft, it’s very clear that the Husky shares a lot in common with the Piper. That’s not a knock against it seeing as the high wing bush plane design has been successful for several decades already. It takes a bit of time to appreciate the simplicity of the design and how the basic overall shape seems to work.

According to some of the pilots comments that I’ve heard, the Husky is a bit more tail heavy than the Piper and that can actually help with short takeoff and stabilization when doing short landings. The gear is also further forward helping still with that stability.

Four versions

Viewing Arizona’s meteor crater

The Husky A-1C comes in four versions in Microsoft Flight Simulator. There’s a standard model with standard wheels and configuration. Then there’s a bush-tire version with larger tires which are intended to be used in rough landing strips, sandbars, and other rugged locations.

Next, we have the ski-equipped version. This has a unique cockpit setup with a control that raises and lowers the tires. Landing at a conventional airport? No problem, raise the skis and let the tires handle the task. Landing on a glacier, snowy field or frozen lake? Drop the skis and land without too much trouble that way.

Finally, the float plane version is also available. Again, it has a unique cockpit with controls for the deployable rudder as well as controls to let you raise and lower the landing gear. The tiny wheels aren’t the best to land on but they will suffice when you need to land at an airport. Then you can turn around and go land on your favourite lake. Awesome!

I do want to mention that the water handling on this aircraft is not any different from the other floatplanes added to the sim recently. It’s not the best water handling that I’ve experienced but it’s sufficiently fun that it hasn’t bothered me too much. A little more fidelity here would be nice but that doesn’t apply strictly to the Husky. The wake effects, however, are superb so the visual element is definitely captured well.

Visual appeal

Flying over the Bahamas in a smart orange, grey and black marked Husky.

Asobo’s 3D modeler and texture team have already proven themselves with the numerous default aircraft in the sim and they did not let us down here either. Although a little cleaner looking than a bush plane should be, the actual 3D and texture work is superbly good and it holds up even under close inspection.

One of the impressive thing that I’ve noticed with Asobo’s modelers that some other teams have missed are details on the small thinks like aerials, nav lights and landing lights. For example, check out the details on the nav lights and landing/taxi lights. The details on display here are superb even when up close and personal like this. It shows a great deal of care.

On close inspection, these details are impressive (if a little clean).

The aircraft comes with over a dozen different liveries as well which means that you can, out of the box, find a scheme that suits you best. I’m sure plenty more liveries will be on the way from the community but in the meantime these should more than satisfy.

The only issue I have with the liveries is that they only apply to the standard version of the aircraft. The version with bush tires, the float version and the ski variant do not have any skins aside from the default. I really hope they fix that at some point.

Inside the cockpit, the high details continue with lots of details everywhere around the cockpit from the floor to the interior structure. I do find the analogue gauges less readable and less sharp than the others which seems like a notable exception to a really great cockpit.

Also worth noting, the door is interactive and, in an Asobo first, you can open it up! I love that.

A first for an Asobo aircraft – the door opens!

Systems at your command

I would call the Husky A-1C a medium fidelity aircraft. It doesn’t go so far as modeling the full electrical system (and the breakers are not interactive) but nearly everything else in the cockpit works and is clickable.

The A-1C we have is configured with an IFR flight kit which gives it a tablet interface on the centre screen, digital engine readouts on the right, and a couple of analogue backups for everything else. The result is a flexible aircraft that can easily use GPS to navigate around, locate bush strips, and land on them with relative ease. The 3D visualization display also means that things like mountains, hills, and valleys are navigable even in low visibility.

The IFR cockpit gives you a variety of traditional analogue and digital glass cockpit style displays.

The systems are well done and that includes the aural warnings from the engine management panel warning you about low oil pressure or engine over speed situations. The stall horn also sounds authentic when I compared it to a video of a real A-1C that I watched on YouTube. These are all areas where the aircraft feel very much authentic to the real thing.

I was also impressed that the fuel/air mixture is a real issue with this aircraft and flying into and out of airports at higher altitudes really do require a change in thinking.

Asobo have done an excellent job with the interactive checklist too. I love this feature in the sim and I really wish more aircraft would make use of the feature. It makes learning start-up and shut down procedures easy and it really helps you learn the aircraft.

The interactive checklist is full featured and will help you get started if you like to click the buttons yourself.

From what I can tell, this is close to or is the real checklist and it has multiple stages and steps to get the aircraft up and running. On the other side of the coin, this is a simple aircraft so newbies out there shouldn’t feel at all intimidated as there isn’t a ton to do before you are up and flying.

Systems don’t necessarily make the aircraft but I think these kind of do. They facilitate the kind of off the grid exploration and remote airport locating, a task that’s already challenging enough, and makes them achievable for most virtual pilots.

Flying the Husky

Doing what bush planes do best, flying in the back country areas (Alaska in this case) where other aircraft dare not go.

With 180 horsepower, a high wing design, and a top speed of just 145 mph, this isn’t a fast aircraft or one with a quick climb rate. It is, however, maneuverable and able to work within a tight airspace between mountains and in small valleys. It’s stall speed is just 43 mph with power on and when it does stall it tends to do so extremely gently.

I watched a real world video with the aircraft featured and the pilot performed a stall to show just how steady and stable the aircraft was. The Husky A-1C in Microsoft Flight Simulator behaves almost identically… or at least as near as I can tell from a video.

It is a tail dragger and like all Flight Simulator tail draggers, it tends to be well behaved up until the tail lifts off the ground. Unlike some of the others, this feels a bit more natural and well mannered and a bit of appropriate stick and counter rudder make takeoff in this a breeze. Landings require some care and attention but with that low power on stall speed, you can get yourself out of nearly any difficult spot with just a little more power and a calm hand on the controls.

It’s simple and easy to fly and there’s not much else to be said.

Great sounds

The sounds on this aircraft are great

Asobo have always done good sound work with their aircraft and this is yet another example. Start-up sounds raw and punchy, landings with different wheels, floats and skis have different sounds, the aural warnings sound like they pulled from the real thing. The same can be said for the stall horn.

Exterior and interior engine sounds are also excellent and there’s no noticeable looping or audio artifacts that I can hear.

All in all, the Husky is very well done from an audio perspective which just helps with the experience.

Where does it fit in?

Flying out of the severe thunderstorms over Toronto Island airport.

With Asobo’s first aircraft release, they made an archetypal addition to the series in the form of the Top Rudder Solo 103 ultralight. That has laid groundwork for more ultralights into the core of the sim which is always good to see. The Husky A-1C by contrast doesn’t appear to be doing a similar thing right now and instead adds a new option to the small but slowly growing collection of available bush planes.

And Microsoft Flight Simulator already comes with three (if you have the Premium) bushplanes. So, where does the Husky fit in and is it worth your money if you’re already enjoying the others? That, is a tough question to answer because I don’t feel like the Aviat Husky A-1C adds anything specific to the mix that we don’t already have. The XCub is the modern, glass cockpit bushplane while the Savage Cub and Shock Cub are a bit more traditionally outfitted. The XCub comes with the same ski and float options now as well with Update 5.

That all said, if you want a little variety in your bushplane flying and this is the way that you enjoy Flight Simulator, having another type in your hangar isn’t a bad thing either. This aircraft has been excellently modeled and I’m loving the time I’ve spent in it. I will be flying it more and so if variety is what you’re looking for, this does add a cherry on top of an already solid collection of aircraft.

Final thoughts

An all around solid aircraft addition to the Microsoft Flight Simulation collection. Asobo know how to make an aircraft look good, sound good, and functions well with a medium level of fidelity and an eye towards accessibility to a wide variety of sim pilots.

It could absolutely be more in-depth but that would also cost more and offer more complexity to a smaller audience so I think this is a pragmatic choice in modeling this aircraft. It’s fun to fly, it encourages you to go and fly in places that you might not bother with in other aircraft, and my time with this aircraft has been phenomenally fun.

When the type was announced, Jorg Neumann mentioned the following:

There are going to be some things associated with this plane that we can’t talk about…

Jorg Neumann, Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator at Microsoft

It’s a bit cryptic and it has stuck in my mind since that announcement. So far, I haven’t seen anything suggesting something new that would warrant such secrecy. Aviat Husky’s are used to pull sailplanes to altitude so I wonder if this aircraft will have a future update that gives it more capabilities. The type also has an animated intercom system so perhaps that might end up being part of some future multiplayer experience.

This is all speculation and I advise buying the aircraft because of what it offers you today rather than being hopeful for something that may not be true.

I have mostly good things to say about this aircraft because it’s really well done, its fun, and I like the flying experience with it. My biggest and really only knock against this aircraft is that it doesn’t offer a dramatically different experience from other bush-planes already in the sim. For that reason, the $14.99 USD price tag may put off some people. On the other side of the coin, if bush planes are your thing and you love flying them, the Husky is another excellent addition to the line-up that may entice you just by its virtue of offering another airframe to fly. I do like that we didn’t get just another cub but a slightly different and competing aircraft in the bushplane space.

If you are looking for another bushplane, this one is just as good as or perhaps subtly better than the others. Sometimes, you just want a little diversity of airframes and if that’s the case, this does offer just enough to warrant it. If the Aviat Husky A-1C sounds like the kind of thing you want, check it out for $14.99 USD exclusively on the Microsoft Flight Simulator marketplace.

Screenshots

One Comment Add yours

  1. sunrrrise says:

    Indeed, very nice plane! I was little skeptical at the begining cause I thouht it is another variant of Cub, but I ended up designing and printing another grip, this time specifally for Husky 🙂

    While I found it inferior to X-Cub in terms of performance, iis simplicity is very tempting and flying Husky is a pure joy.

    Liked by 1 person

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