Another aircraft that arrived with the recent with the Game of the Year edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator is the Pilatus PC-6 Porter. This STOL aircraft is suitable for both passenger and utility purposes and you can fly this aircraft out of just about anywhere. It’s also free so if you already have any version of the sim, you can fly it today. Let’s have a look at it!
Inside and out
I have some friends who love the X-Plane 11 Thranda PC-6 Turbo Porter and I have to say that this aircraft is an acquired taste.
Sitting in the G1000 version of the cockpit for the first time, I found myself needing to really look around and understand where everything was. In some aircraft, things seem to be logically placed, in other aircraft they are crammed into whatever nook or cranny that you can put something. The lighting controls, off to the left of the dashboard, the engine starter and boost pump controls, same place perched awkwardly. The avionics controls? Over on the far right side of the dash on the lower side beneath the other controls. That’s also where you’ll find the prop and windshield deicer.
There are two cockpit arrangements for the PC-6 with the G1000 version being the default and the one that is used in the ski and float plane versions. There’s another PC-6 on the list (the third one over) that has a more conventional gauge display plus an assortment of other avionics like a Garmin GNS530 setup, a GMA350, etc. My understanding of the history of the PC-6 is that there is no one conventional cockpit and most PC-6s have a very wide array of avionics bolted into them. Really nice bonus that Asobo gave us at least two to play with.
Another bonus is that the circuit breakers are also all clickable and functional (at least the few that I tried).
Almost everything in the cockpit in both versions looks fantastic although it does look mostly factory fresh. The sounds are great too from the engine to the individual switches to the new sounds that play when the flaps are extended. The only thing that sticks out is the GMA350 which has a weird grey wash over it that makes it look like it wasn’t done properly in the materials editor for the sim. Everything else takes on darker tones except for the GMA350. It’s a weird oversight.
Externally, this aircraft is looking great. There’s a lot of liveries that I saw (I haven’t flown them all yet), most of them very colourful, and there’s a ski and float plane option as well bringing the total number of aircraft to 4!
Flying the Porter
This is really fun aircraft to fly. The STOL nature of its design means that it can takeoff and land on just a couple hundred feet of runway (or grass) and the stall speed of 52 knots is extremely forgiving. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-27 turboprop engine with its derated 680 hp gives this aircraft plenty of performance too and climbing out into a steep zoom climb is nothing for the PC-6.
Takeoff is fairly straightforward so long as you keep the tailwheel on the ground for as long as possible with a slight backpressure on the stick. If you don’t and the tail comes up too soon, you will slide around on the ground. The rudder can save you but you don’t want to do that kind of takeoff.
Landing is insanely fun too with the ability to kick the prop over into beta on the approach and bleed off speed while diving into a runway gives this tremendous flexibility when coming into some more rugged airfields. It’s not your usual aircraft in that way and that, in the context of MSFS, just makes it feel like fun.
Elevator is sufficiently effective while the ailerons feel a bit stiff and slow to react. The long wingspan is likely the reason for that. The rudder feels weighty and even a bit stiff, however, it does seem extremely effective and the return to center is direct. The long fuselage probably contributes to this stability.
My only complaint is that the interactive checklist doesn’t seem to be interactive. I tried to click on the ‘eye’ icon to locate some of the controls in the cockpit and it doesn’t work. To be clear, the checklist is extensive, but the interactive component is currently broken. I hope they fix it.
In this first impressions piece I wanted to give just a bit of the flavour of the aircraft and I hope I have done this. It is a visually and aurally well put together aircraft for MSFS with everything in the cockpit functional and clickable (that I could see). It’s also yet another very fun to fly aircraft for the series that does so well at letting us fly in and out of some unique and spectacular places around the world. The PC-6 fits in together well with the bushplane set and it is crying out for a bush plane tour to make full use of the PC-6 in an objective based experience.
Asobo charged us what I thought was a fair $14.99 USD for the Aviat Husky A1C and I would have happily paid the same for the PC-6. That they gave it to us for free is a nice touch and, unlike the F/A-18E Super Hornet that I did a first impressions on the other day, this feels like a fully realized aircraft for the sim.
I said at the beginning that the PC-6 is a bit of an acquired taste and while it did take me a bit of time. I have now acquired the taste. This is a really cool aircraft to fly and I highly recommend checking it out. If you already have any version of MSFS, the PC-6 in all four variants is free.