Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stepping Up to a C182

Somebody just asked me in an E-mail how much harder was flying a C182 vs a C172. So I thought I would try to answer it here. In general, I think any private pilot should be able to handle a Cessna 182 with a little instruction from a instructor who flies a C182 regularly. Not all rental places have C182s, and they are not usually flown for general training, so make sure you get an instructor with some experience in them. One other fun thing... After getting your checkout in the C182, you will also get a high performance endorsement to add to your logbook; the C182 has a 230hp engine which qualifies as high performance for the FAA.

Looking around, I found one other blog talking about getting a C182 checkout. And if you get the Cessna Pilot's Association 182 Buyer's Guide, it also has a description of getting a good checkout. This is an excellent booklet, and I highly recommend it if you are thinking about buying a C182.


The Cessna 182 is a great plane that can haul 4 people and baggage well. Depending on the weight of the people and baggage, you might not be able to carry full fuel, but the fuel tanks are often large (80+ gallons). In order to carry the extra weight, the C182 is a heavier plane to begin with and has a larger engine, a constant speed prop, and cowl flaps.

The way the C182 was designed, it is very hard if not impossible to get the Weight and Balance out of the CG envelope. The downside to this is that the plane is nose heavy. You will notice during flaring.

The C182 is roomier inside than a C172 also. That will make your wife and family happy. You aren't squeezed in and touching shoulders like you do in a C172. The back seat is amazing roomy. I fit my friend comfortably in the back who is 6' 8".

The C182 has a higher avionics panel and dash; this is due to fitting more avionics and a larger engine up front. Make sure you crank the seat up high and use a cushion if you need to. Your sight picture during landing will likely be a little different due to this.

Constant Speed Propeller and Cowl Flaps

One of the big questions for some is how hard is it to deal with constant speed propeller and cowl flaps. These really are not that big a deal. I haven't seen it described well for some reason though. There are lots of possible power setting combinations, but you don't use them all.

For each phase of flight, MP and RPM belong in different positions. But once you know it, it is easy. You do not change them that often. The throttle is the main thing you move.

The RPM will just be set at your personal phase of flight setting. On my 1974 C182P, I use full high RPM of 2600RPM at takeoff, 2450 RPM most other times which is top of the green RPM arc, sometimes 2200 RPM for descending fast which is bottom of the green RPM arc.

When you adjust the throttle during normal flight, you will be looking at manifold pressure (MP) usually. For takeoff, full throttle. On my 1974 C182P, I usually cruise at 20" MP and 2450 RPM which is 67% power; you will need to pick your own cruise settings. I descend at 15" which is the bottom of the green MP arc. On downwind or approaching the pattern, I usually go to 15" in level flight as well to slow down.

When you descend on base/final for landing, and you pull power below the green MP arc, the constant speed prop can no longer keep the RPMs so the RPM will drop as the MP drops. At this point, you can look at either the MP or the RPM for your power setting. I tend to look for around 1800 RPM, but my wife tends to look for around 10" MP. They will occur around the same time. The other thing is to just listen to the engine and look outside and feel what it should be.

If you are flying IFR, you will want to determine your power settings for different phases there too. I use 17" approach, 12" ILS precision descent, 10" non-precision descent. I like to do this with 10 degrees flaps too.

For cowl flap usage, just open them when you are climbing with high power, or close them during cruise and descents.

I do a LCGUMPS (Lights, Carb heat, Cowl flaps, Gas, Undercarriage, Mixture, Prop, Safety) check at different phases of flight (takeoff, climb, cruise, descent, landing), not just at landing . That way I check prop and cowl flaps and other times occasionally.

That is some of the main points, but there is more... When ever you change your RPM, do it slowly at the lower power setting when possible, and other items... Your instructor will give you all the extra details and specifics for your plane. Different C182 models and years will also have slightly different MP and RPM settings that are mentioned in the POH.


It is good to practice all the different take off types with different flap settings. My personal preference for general takeoffs is 10 degrees of flaps.

When you takeoff, you will notice that more right rudder is required. That is of course due to the larger engine.

Speed and Slowing Down

When you change from a C172 to a C182, the C182 feels fast and does not seem to want to slow down. But it actually slows down pretty easily, you just have to take measures to do this. If you leave full power and level out, it will keep going fast. If you change to 15", 2200RPM, and level out, it will slow down quickly. You can fly it almost as slow as a C172 if you want.

It is important to slow the plane down before flaring. The easiest way to do this when you are new to a C182 is approaching the pattern before you even enter the downwind.

Landing and Flares

There are a few important things with landings. They are important for C172s too, but you can be sloppy with a C172, and it is not too bad.

  • It is very important to slow the plane down to the speeds mentioned in the POH. Extra speed will cause the plane to float and make the flare harder to do correctly. It will require more back pressure on the yoke during flare too.

  • It is important to trim the plane correctly. Since this is a heavier plane, it will be much easier to trim than to fight the yoke pressure.

  • When you do flare, make sure you hold the nose high. Keep steadily pulling more and more back on the yoke. Remember a good landing is the stall horn bleeping right before the main wheels touch. Also do not relax on the back pressure until taxiing.
You will find that you probably want some power during the base and final leg especially if you have flaps in. You can, of course, do landings without power such as for emergency practice, but the C182 will drop fast especially with flaps in. This potential, fast descent rate can be nice if you are high on final. Of course, if you had power applied during final, you will need to reduce power to idle slowly before or while you are flaring.

I think it is key to practice landings a bunch and consistently. They get easier and easier over time. My personal preference is for 20 degree flap landings, although I practice all types.


Power off stalls are pretty much the same as C172.

The power on stalls are a little different due to the larger engine. Remember to use lots of right rudder. If you are not fully loaded and it is a cool day, it requires an extremely steep pitch up attitude to cause a stall with full power. For this reason, I wonder if it is good to practice with slightly less than full power. If you ended up in a true power on stall condition, it would probably be when loaded heavy or on a hot day which would probably closer attitude with lower power. Maybe practice both ways? Ask your instructor.


Since the C182 is a heavier plane to begin with, you will notice it is more stable and smooth on bumpy, turbulent days. It is nice and stable for IFR flying. If you trim it well, it will maintain altitude very nicely. I think crosswind landings are much easier in the C182 as well.

Carb Heat Usage

The carburated C182s tend to carb icing easier than other planes. Most C182s have a carburator temperature gauge that helps with this. When in cruise flight, I usually pull the carb heat partially so that the gauge indicates 10 degrees C. This keeps the carburator out of icing conditions, and it also helps to keep the intake temperatures best for fuel atomization. Full carb heat is not as good for atomization, and it lets in more unfiltered air. This partial carb heat usage should only be done in a plane with the gauge.


1st thing is to go find a good C182 instructor and get some instruction. Get a C182 POH for the plane you will rent or buy, and read it through thoroughly. Look through the POH and determine your own procedures or the differences from what you are used to.

I think most people become comfortable to practice on their own after only a few hours of instruction. The insurance may require a few more hours though.

These are some of my thoughts. Please, go ask your instructor for their thoughts. Then you need to form your own thoughts after you have flown the plane for a while.



Brian said...

One quick correction. My friend who fit comfortably in the back of my C182 is actually 6'10". Plenty of leg room and head room in the back.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for such useful information.
A follow-up question. When you advance or retard throttle, do you have to change the prop control setting first, then throttle or does the order in which you change these controls matter? During taxi, where should these two controls be at?


Brian said...

I found two interesting articles on Constant Speed props here on and here on another site. They say when increasing power, increase RPM, then MP. When decreasing power, decrease MP, then RPM. The way I remember is make your RPM adjustments at the lowest power setting. At higher power settings, the prop has a little harder time adjusting the pitch for RPM changes; with higher power it is probably a larger pitch change to make. It can still do it, but you are putting more stress on the components and there is potential for overspeeding the prop.

As for taxiing. You just leave the prop all the way in even during run up and takeoff. You don't change it until you get off the ground and in a steady climb or cruise phase. On short final, you pusht eprop all the way in, for highest power in case of a go-around. If you stop, it is in the right place for taxiing.


Brian said...

Here is the link to the other constant speed prop info.

denverpilot said...

Brian, have been enjoying your blog for a while now... also flying a C-182 (KAPA-based) these days. Great bird.

One note for "lowlanders"... remember Brian is flying at an airport with 5673' MSL elevation as his home base.

Pulling back to 10" MP for an approach at sea level is a bigger pull than it is for us "highlanders" if you've been hammering around at high power settings... be nice to your engine and don't pull that much right away... planning the decent is a bit more important when you're "down there" at sea level if you've been hammering along at high power settings... it's harder for us "up here" to get max power out of a normally aspirated O-470!

Another comment is... push throttle up smoothly. I've heard a C-182s and others mildly over-speeding as the prop tries to respond to the massive power change when people do go-arounds, etc...

Sure, if you need the power *right now* shove it forward, but a smooth power change is easier on all components involved.

Deakin's articles are a great reference on MP and , but they're "geared" (no pun intended) toward prep for the APS Seminar, which teaches folks about LOP operation.

[Side-note: Most folks (including APS) say LOP operation just isn't all that workable when flying behind on O-470... cylinder fuel/air mixture distribution just isn't consistent enough, and without an engine monitor is a REALLY bad idea to even attempt...]

So keep the "bias" in mind when reading them, but if you want to see how MP/RPM really work... they're still great reference articles.

Great blog Brian, keep up the good work!

Brian said...

One thing to mention on my side.

Before pulling back to 10" on a final descent on a non-precision IFR approach, I would pull back to 17" somewhere around the initial approach fix (IAF). I like to slow down during the approach if possible. Also as Denver Pilot mentions, it would be best to not go from 23" down to 10". At each of the power reductions, make sure the cowl flaps are closed to reduce any concern for shock cooling; some people pull the power slowly such as 2" every 30 seconds or so. I have heard that as long as the cowl flaps are closed, it is hard to cause a shock cooling problem on a non-turbocharged C182. If it is your plane, make your own decision; if it is a rental, do what they want.

Good comments on the slow power changes for touch and goes. It does not need to be too slow. Just take 1-2 seconds from idle to full power instead of 1/10 second like you might in a C172.

I have not tried the APS Seminar, but I have certainly be thinking about it.


JRB said...

Great blog Brian,

You're right on with your advice, I just moved up last summer. You only move the prop and cowl flaps twice during a flight so they aren't anything to worry about. The airplane is nose heavy so you need to be ready for it. Sometimes I trim a little extra nose up on final, it really helps with making a smooth flare. Just make sure to only trim up a little so you don't slow down too much of you relax your forward pressure.


Brian said...

I just found this additional detailed information on how constant speed props work.

Anonymous said...

Nice article. I am going to give the C-182 a try. To date, I have only flown a Skipper and a C-152. This article made me even more excited! Greetings from KVEL!


Mark said...

Brain: Thanks for the email reply last week with the link to this. I'm a 730hr+ C172M guy, and with some 172XP time (it had a heavy nose too). I'm looking to a new challenge in finding the 182 is a logical next step. The requirements at this equity club I am looking to join is 5 hrs (for insurance) and they (members) want me to use their CFI they always use for their BFR's. Your right, not many rental places with 182's so I'd want one with a lot of time flying 182's.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering what your thoughts are on using 10 degrees flaps for takeoff (as recommended). It seems to require a great deal of forward pressure to maintain 80 if trimmed for a normal take off. If you trim for 10 degrees of flaps then you'll have to change trim a lot when you raise flaps clear of obstacles. Which do you prefer or do you have another technique?