Flight Journal and mini-review of the Beaver in a flight from Tofino

Microsoft Flight Simulator’s 40th Anniversary update came packed with new airplanes and one of them was one that I just had to check out. I did that by doing a little flight from Tofino to Courtenay both located on Vancouver Island in the Canadian Province of British Columbia. This is a mini-review of the airplane and a flight journal piece all in one so let’s go!

Tofino starting point

Not too long ago I picked up the CYAZ Tofino/Long Beach Airport available from Orbx Direct. It’s a nice bit of scenery and a really cool place to fly. It seemed like just the sort of hop that DeHaviland Beaver would fit into and so that’s what I set out to do.

The DHC-2 Beaver is a legendary bushplane established as a do-everything utility and passenger aircraft flying in rugged conditions all across Canada and in other countries around the world. It first flew in 1947 and by 1948 was in serial production. 1,657 of these were produced until 1967, however, the utility of the type and its ruggedness has meant that a large number still fly. Some of the floatplane variant have been recently modified by Vancouver’s Harbour Air to a fully electric airplane with potentially many years of service ahead.

A single Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Jr. 9 cylinder radial engine with 450 horsepower gives the small and relatively light Beaver its ability to fly into and out of a lot of different roughly prepared airports with its STOL capability. Beavers have been modified to perform a huge variety of roles and the large cockpit and passenger doors on both sides of the aircraft have proven to be useful when loading people and cargo no matter which side of the dock the aircraft has been pulled up to.

Before I set out from Tofino, I wanted to check out the work done on this airplane. Blackbird Simulations, previously known as Milviz, have been working on this project for quite some time and then went quiet on it. I feared its cancellation for a while but it turned out that it was instead slated for this 40th Anniversary release.

The aircraft as simulated as some pretty impressive simulation details going on behind the scenes with even the small things like shaking needles and fuel tank needles that react to g-forces in the tanks. Incredible! A tablet lets you choose options such as a passenger or cargo variation, different propeller nosecone, co-pilot visibility, tie-downs, doors, and more.

Once taxied out the runway it was time to run up the engines and listen to the sounds. Really good sound work here and I appreciated that even more when we started trundling down the runway. It didn’t take long for the DHC-2 to lift off and start climbing.

No problem getting into the air with this STOL airplane!

Mountains and storms

After takeoff I did a bit of just flying with the type to get a feel for it. The Beaver isn’t exceptionally aerobatic or high performing but it feels relatively straightforward to handle. Still, a bit of rudder coordination is good for smooth flying and the type fills you with confidence. I’m sure it’d handle making some tight turns on some difficult to approach runways in the mountains if it needed to.

Climbing out of the Tofino area, located on the western coast of Vancouver island, I turned and headed east towards my destination. Ahead of me was Clayoquot Arm Provincial Park which is undoubtedly, from the photos I’ve seen, one of the most incredible places in the world. The stark contrast between mountains, rivers, conifers and and Pacific coast inlets is just incredible. Microsoft Flight Simulator gives us a taste of it and in this case we have a dose of winter weather as the mountains are now snow covered.

Climbing slowly, I finally reached my cruise altitude and set the Beaver’s autopilot on a heading hold along the planned flight path.

Ahead of me were some dark clouds and low visibility. Uncertain on what the icing and wind situation were like, and already feeling a bit of instability from winds coming off of the mountains, I decided to make a turn to the south east plotting a course around the edge of the storm.

Dark clouds passed me along the side relatively uneventfully but still beautifully.

Final approach to Courtenay

The storm began to recede into the distance behind me and ahead I could begin to see the Strait of Georgia and my destination at Courtenay.

The airport choose was the small Courtenay Airpark (CAH3). Located near the downtown core, this little airpark seemed like just the kind of place that a Beaver might fly into. It’s small paved runway easily handled by a rugged plane like this one.

It took me some time to get downwind of runway 13 and then a bit longer to actually see the airport. Eventually I was able to spot it in the gloom and make a safe, three point landing. The Beaver handles well right down to the limits with its flaps out giving it incredible stability and engine power enabling you to keep a well controlled descent rate.

The ground handling on this aircraft also seems to be a cut above some of the other tail draggers that I’ve flown in MSFS so this was great.

Of everything that I’ve checked out so far with the 40th Anniversary update, the Beaver is the real standout for me. Visually impressive, packed with some really great features both big and small, and possessing good flight dynamics and the appearance of some deeper sim modeling, this is a great aircraft and another contender for best GA airplane in Microsoft Flight Simulator. I might be overselling it but right now I feel psyched about flying this airplane on some future adventures. More of those to come!

If Blackbird Simulations decide to release more versions of the Beaver, I’d buy them in a heartbeat.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Kelly Hrdina says:

    I’ve been flying the MilViz C310R almost exclusively since it was released, so I’m looking forward to giving this (free!) Beaver a checkout ride. It sounds and looks terrific.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      From what I gather, the C310R is a step above with wear and tear but the Beaver is otherwise a top notch effort. And free!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. HyperTextHero says:

    Nice mini-review!

    The Beaver is my favorite of the 40th Anniversary update, too. It flies well and handles nicely on the ground, too!

    Excellent sound, especially from engine and wind, though there seems to be a screw that was left loose which keeps clacking about somewhere behind the front-right panel!

    I especially love the “canoe” graphical touch that can be toggled from the iPad thing.

    One wish: Please let us click somewhere nearby it to turn off the iPad itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I love the canoe! It’s going to be in a future journal.

      Like

    2. Horstunger says:

      You need to tighten the lid at oil filing stud at the bottom of the panel. Also tighten the knobs below the throttle etc. lever to stop them from rattling.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. HyperTextHero says:

        At first I thought this was a joke, but then I remembered hovering over some controls below the throttle, RPM, and mixture that said something about tightening the controls…!

        I can’t believe this is a feature and cannot wait to try it!

        Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeffrey Chrisope says:

    The noise is from the oil fill cap … apparently you can tighten it and the sound goes away!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      I love that this is a feature!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Urgent Siesta says:

    MilViz/BB addons are definitely a cut above – and their addons are “good enough” that they can count both the USAF and USN as customers (on the Prepar3D platform).

    I’m a turboprop guy, so I prefer their PC-6, which is quite nice as well.

    I do hope they transition into the CFD-Lite flight modeling as they have previously shown willingness to go to great lengths for accurate flight models in P3D (using external flight models in their Advanced series).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HyperTextHero says:

      That’s good to hear! And great handle, by the way. The world would be a better place if everyone took daily siestas!

      Liked by 1 person

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