yoke but then horizontally to provide aileron input.
Bottom Left: Cessna chose the Continental O-200D engine to power the C-162. Cessna
displayed the original prototype with a Rotax 912S engine, but consumers preferred
the more traditional O-200 instead.
The most noticeable piece of high sophistication is the Garmin G300 twin-screen
electronic panel, with a 6.4-inch primary
flight display on the left and a matching multi-function display (MFD) just right of center
panel. Options include XM satellite weather,
terrain and obstacle collision warnings,
graphic terrain alerting, even a Tru Trak autopilot—not, I must note, installed for our trip.
The G300 sets up students to move
right into G1000-equipped Skyhawks
should they opt to move on to a private
pilot certificate from sport pilot. An SL40
VHF comm and a GTX 327 transponder
round out the all-Garmin panel. The
SkyCatcher carries no VHF nav system, a
departure from the tradition of past trainers
but common in VFR-only LSA.
Other smart, modern touches include
an all light-emitting diode (LED) exterior
lighting package—recognition, anti-colli-sion, even the landing light in the left
wingtip. Generous windows, top-hinged
doors, lower strut ends mounted behind
the cabin doors, adjustable rudder pedals,
and a cabin 6 inches wider than the ubiquitous Cessna 150/152 round out the
Then there’s that control stick. A single-
grip device, the stick extends from the
bottom of the instrument panel, with a right
angle tube mounted vertically for the hand
grip. It moves forward and aft on a horizontal
plane like a yoke, but instead of rotating your
wrist left and right to input roll control, you
move the grip horizontally to provide aileron
input. Cessna also gave the 162 differential
ailerons to help counter adverse yaw and ease
the effort to center the skid ball.
The aerodynamic efficiency of the
SkyCatcher design evidenced itself in its strong
climbs—700 to 800 fpm was common—and
solid cruise performance. The plane always
delivered above 110 knots true airspeed and
typically showed 115 to 118 knots.
Handling proved nimble with good feedback and harmony. With proper use of the
electric trim everything felt proportional and
in balance. For landings, though, the little
airplane’s hesitation to come down while
slowing down remained a work in progress
for me, though my touchdowns did improve
after the first five or six (of 11).
My conclusion: The SkyCatcher should well-
serve both its flight-school operators and the
pilots who opt to buy what they learned to fly.
SEEING THE USA FROM AN LSA
We knew before leaving MYF that our plans
faced likely challenges from Mother Nature.
With a little time to spare, we made it by air.
Along the way we saw a long stretch of the
United States—most of it over, near, or paral-
lel to Interstate 10.
The preflight inspection process proved
simple and straightforward, with good
access to hinges, controls, the engine-oil
dipstick, and the SkyCatcher’s six fuel
drains: two for each wing tank, one under
the cowl, one below the belly. With two-thirds fuel to stay within the SkyCatcher’s
1,320-pound weight limit, it was time for me
to turn the key; the O-200D fired up eagerly.
A brief warm-up, a short taxi, and my first
takeoff took us westbound: We were the
9: 10 to Yuma.
Turning to our eastbound course, the 162
climbed nicely at about 600 to 700 fpm at 70
The aircraft drew repeated
questions about its “type”; it
seemed to vex controllers and
briefers at every contact. “Not
in our database,” we heard
repeatedly. In an atmosphere
thick with business-turbine
machines, the little airplane
represented a different sort
of aviation: flying solely for
the desire to fly.