Flying the Skycatcher: A Review of the Cessna 162

Review of the Cessna Skycatcher

While the rest of the world was fixated on the Paris Air Show, I was schmoozing with the folks at the Cessna Aircraft Factory in Wichita Kansas. I met up with Cessna’s piston-engine chief pilot, Kirby Ortega, for a flight in Cessna’s LSA: the Skycatcher.

Read my review of the Cessna 162.

The Cessna 162 Skycatcher flying

The Skycatcher is a sharp looking high-wing

The Cessna 162 Skycatcher is a fun plane to fly. It’s easy on the controls, exudes stability and is very docile. Think of it as a snappier and faster version of the 152 fitted with a fancy glass cockpit by Garmin.

In cruise, the Skycatcher handles just like you would expect any high-wing Cessna to fly: predictable and stable. But be warned, the elevator is particularly sensitive at low speed. This is actually pretty common with LSA’s due to their lightweight control surfaces and Cessna came up with a pretty clever fix.

They installed a gurney strip – a small drag-inducing fence on the elevator to increase pilot control forces. It gets the job done, but I can’t help but wonder whether some sort of spring or bungee system might have felt better.

I flew the Skycatcher through a series of manuevers and the airplane performed well. Steep turns were a breeze and slow flight was very forgiving. I get the impression that the 162 doesn’t want to stall. The airplane insists on dipping the nose and recovering itself from power-off stalls.

The unique stick yoke on the Skycatcher

The C-162 flight stick's full range of motion

Power-on stalls on are a blast! The airplane wants to power out of the stall and it becomes a bit of a wrestling match to keep the angle of attack in the critical range. But mind those rudders! My sloppy footwork snapped the airplane into a quarter-turn incipient spin in no time. The good news is that the airplane recovered itself as the rudder traveled through neutral with the power back to idle. Easy.

Skycatcher’s new stick deserves a mention. If you’re not familiar with it, Cessna came up with an outside-the-box stick concept. It looks a bit like what would happen if a flight stick and control yoke had a baby. The 162′s stick pushes in and out for elevator control, which seem pretty natural.

But the stick’s aileron control is where it gets inventive. The stick moves left to right with a slight twist which felt really awkward during the flight control check on the ground. But the stick feels quite natural in the air as it simulates the motions of a normal floor-mounted stick without taking up the pilot’s leg room.

Interior of the Cessna Skycatcher

Fixed seats, adjustable rudder pedals and an out-of-the-way stick make for a roomy LSA cockpit.

Speaking of leg room, the Cessna Skycatcher is remarkably spacious for an LSA. The seats are spaced apart a little wider than they were in the 152 and the adjustable rudder pedals and floor-level seats provide a sports car-like feel.

Don’t let that last sentence trick you. The Cessna Skycatcher is no hot-rod, nor does it claim to be. Stable and predictable, this airplane is a basic trainer through and through. As more flight schools look to capitalize on the growing sport pilot trend, Skycatcher just might be the perfect replacement to the beloved C-150.

You can find out more about the Cessna Skycatcher by visiting Cessna’s product site.

Skycatcher Photos

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About the author
Pat Flannigan is a professional pilot and aviation blogger. He has been flying for fifteen years and is currently working as an airline pilot in the United States.

19 Replies to Flying the Skycatcher: A Review of the Cessna 162

  1. David Trost says:

    I have had mine(#5) for 1 year. I got my private pilot in it over the winter. I just put the 300th hour on it today.
    It is a great plane.

  2. Windtee says:

    I’ve not flown the 162 but, I planning a checkout in the Renegade Falcon mid July. I’ll report about the process and flight-characteristics.

    Bubble-canopy is looking really sweet in the Falcon!

    • Cool! I’d encourage you to do a guest post on the Renegade. Maybe snap some pictures.

      Speaking of light sports, I’ll be going back home to Tennessee after July to visit Jabiru and fly the J230!

  3. Windtee says:

    Will do. Should be fun making an editorial-contribution.

    Have an awesome time at Jabiru.

  4. madtrader says:

    A local flight school has one they got in September 2010. It must be popular because it already has almost 450 hours on it. There was an article in AOPA magazine about it (and I mean this one specifically) earlier this year. I just got back into flying this year after being away for 10 years. I only had about 60 hours when I stopped (but I did have my PPL). All my primary training was in 152s. Your comment about it being a snappier 152 is spot-on. After getting current and comfortable with a 172 I had to get checked-out in the 162. I’ve got almost 8 hours in it now and I love it. From now on it’ll probably be my primary rental choice unless I need more capacity or speed. The useful load is really tight unless I’m solo.

  5. Todd says:

    I am an experienced pilot 2000+ hours military helicopter time. I have been training on the 172 primarily, just this past month I had the opportunity to fly the Skycatcher or what I refer to as the “Kite” because of its flight characteristics during crosswinds. The aircraft flys fine climes like a rocket after a short roll out, on the down side young pilots you need to really watch the winds. There are operating restrictions in medium wind conditions for a reason. The limited aleron travel can make an approach with a crosswind a life changing experience. Not to rain anyone’s parade, but the more experienced you get the more you will realize this can be a dangerous aircraft without the write experience level flying it.

  6. Dave says:

    I have had a 162 for a year and half. I have about 130 hours in the plane. It is light and must be flown as such. It is more like flying a J3 Cub than a 172. It is very affected by wind and the pilot must use his/her hands and feet on the controls and the throttle. I disagree with Todd in that the aileron travel is the limiting factor in a crosswind. The aileron response is very good I have found that you can run out of rudder travel. I love the plane but there have been several days that I taxied out to the runway accessed the wind and taxied it back to the tiedown.

  7. Charles says:

    When you say the 162 righted itself from a spin as the rudder passed back through neutral, do you mean that you let go of the rudder? Is the rudder spring loaded to neutral? Did you have to move the alierons to neutral?
    Thanks
    Charles

  8. madtrader says:

    I’m back. The local SkyCatcher has around 700 hours on it now. I’ve got 36 hours in it myself. It’s still my favorite. Useful load still feels tight, but they did update the prop to the new composite model that adds about 15 pounds of useful load (a blessing). To me, it feels like there’s a little less acceleration with the new prop, but otherwise performance feels the same. I’ve taken it on a long (for me) cross-country to St. Louis for a fly-by of the Arch, and it handled that trip well (5.3 hours). I did kind yearn for an auto-pilot on that one. I’ve gotten about as much more time in 172s since my last comment and the 172 feels like truck in comparison. The 172 is a lot more stable and smooth for cross-country flying, but I dunno, I just like the SkyCatcher better. I feel more connected and alive with it. To achieve perfection, I’d like a little more useful load (although I really should just lose weight, it’d be better for me), an auto-pilot, and the XM radio option.

  9. Jerry says:

    The Tecnam Eaglet is a far better airplane. It’s faster, and its useful load is atleast 100 pounds higher. Cessna missed out also by not using the Rotax engine. The Rotax 912 is a wonderful engine. Our Eaglet has 800+ hours on it now and has been fautless in service. It also has dual throttles, one on each side, si ti can be flown as a stick control should be – stick in the right hand and throttle in the left. Also safer, as the insrtuctor has a throttle to use when needed without getting the student’s hand out of the way first.
    On my latest 3 hour cross country, I burned than 4 gph.

  10. Yeah – I’m a big fan of those Rotax engines – Jabiru and Arion used the same thing as I recall.

    I’ve been meaning to take a look at the Tecnam – the spec sheet looks pretty nice.

    Thanks for commenting Jerry!

  11. Bob Bissiri says:

    I am an older student pilot with 39 hrs. dual instruction in an Evektor Sportstar until the flight school went bankrupt. I then went to another school and started over in a Flight Design CTLA,
    all different, put in 7.5 hrs.but this plane was too slippery for me, especially in landing, so I switched to another instructor and a Skycatcher 162. Boy what a difference. So far, 3hrs, and my landings
    are great. I hope the rest of my flying in the 162 is just as good plus you don’t have to burp the engine during preflight.

  12. Thanks for commenting Bob. A lot of these LSA’s are squirrelly – particularly on takeoff and landing. I found the same to be true of the Skycatcher, but it feels a little more solid than most.

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