My Cessna 177 RG (Constant-Speed Propeller) Experience

Updated: Sep 16, 2019

Moving onto my next flying challenge, moving from a fixed landing gear and a fixed pitch propeller to a complex airplane, equipped with a retractable landing gear and constant-speed pitch propeller (aka. variable pitch propeller). The propeller automatically changes its blade pitch (fine/coarse) to maintain a chosen rotational speed.

It varies the pitch to accommodate the different flight phases. A finer propeller pitch for take off and coarser for cruise. The aim is to maximize efficiency and performance through all phases of flight, more on this later.

For the complex endorsement, I have started with a 1975 Cessna Cardinal 177RG (C177RG), apart from being considered a complex airplane, it also has additional horsepower and some extra weight. I am writing the following as the highlights from fight instructor classes I have undertaken, and especially a lot of pattern circuit work (touch & goes) to perfect landing the Cardinal, including many crosswind landings.

Constant-speed pitch propeller (aka. variable pitch propeller)

The first thing you notice is that the there are three knobs, usually : throttle (black lever), propeller (blue knob) or mixture (red knob), the blue knob is sometime is black, but positioned in the centre between the throttle lever and mixture knobs. Both the propeller and mixture knobs are turning knobs for precision.


  • Throttle (black lever) - for manifold pressure (MP)

  • Propeller (blue knob) - for RPM

  • Mixture (red knob) - for fuel mixture

For take off the throttle and propeller knobs should be in the full forward position, and the mixture should also be in full forward position or set for best power (consult POH).