Mudspike Air Cargo


#1

So last year I started to get into Air Hauler for X-Plane - which is a great utility for adding some purpose to your X-Plane flying. If Air Hauler (AH) existed in a vacuum, I would probably still be plying away on that career. Unfortunately, I was let in on the Early Access of Air Hauler 2 (AH2), which is being developed exclusively for FSX/P3D. The developer has made it clear under no uncertain terms, that he will not be developing AH2 for X-Plane because sales of AH for X-Plane were not very good, and he doesn’t particularly seem to care for X-Plane as a platform. It is devastating news for an X-Plane fan who would prefer to fly all things X-Plane, made even worse after poking around with a very full featured AH2 (despite being termed “early access”) and wishing we could eventually see these things in an X-Plane version. Based on the developer’s comments, it is not looking very bright for an X-Plane version.

Having no other choice (well, a lesser choice I feel with AH for X-Plane), I’ve elected to go forward with an AH2 career using P3D v3. When I initially expressed an interest, I had been hoping to base my AH2 company out of Papua New Guinea (PNG) with ORBX’s awesome bush scenery package. Unfortunately, there are some obstacles to this, mostly owing to the fact that much of the PNG scenery is very customized and “painted” onto the mesh, which means the airfields aren’t recognized by AH2 as actually being airfields (thus, you’d never get tasked to fly to them). There are some workarounds such as injecting custom airfield definitions into your sim database, but the hassle factor seemed greater than what it was worth. As well, the PNG area would be 95% VFR flying, whereas I’d like to do some hard IFR flying as well.

After batting around some possible areas to open my AH2 company - I settled on an area that is totally foreign to me, but which has excellent supplemental scenery to add to the immersion - Norway! Using the ORBX Norway package, featuring over 135 airports and tons of custom scenery, I hope to build up my company, see some interesting places around Norway and Sweden, and try not to damage any airplanes while flying some of the notoriously challenging approaches to some of the regions tight airfields. I’ll be writing up a feature article on AH2 in the near future, so I might gloss over some of the finer details of AH2 operations, but we will circle back to them in the near future.

First things first - I go through the multitude of AH2 setup pages to create my company and make selections on starting capital, airfield location, and a few other items. Since I’m in it for the long haul, I go with the most restrictive setting - “CAREER” - which gives me the least amount of cash on hand, the lowest reputation, and a basic aircraft. The premise of AH2 is, of course, to earn money, invest that money in larger aircraft that can haul more goods and passengers, upgrade facilities, lease larger airports, and even hire pilots and play the stock market. The options and functionality of AH2 are dizzying and it is much more than a random mission assignment program.

My starting base location will be Stord (ENSO) due to the fact that it is a relatively cheap opening cost and a manageable monthly lease ($5055). Larger, more capable airports with multiple runways and navigation facilities can cost upward of $100,000 of your cash to open, so it is best to start small and accept the limited facilities.

I immediately sell my A36 Bonanza, netting a shade over $138,000 for it - which I’m then able to use to purchase my first aircraft - the default Maule M7 260C, which costs me around $168,000, but I really like that airplane. An entire new and used aircraft market exists where you can buy and sell aircraft, lease aircraft, and buy aircraft that other AH2 pilots have listed in various states of repair. AH2 tracks your fleet airworthiness and you have to do inspections, make repairs, and of course buy fuel and other consumables.

Once you buy an aircraft, you need to prove your proficiency by buying a type rating - a simple test flight that makes you prove you can get the beast airborne, follow some simple vectors and altitude changes, and return to a safe landing…

Despite being one of the older aircraft, and being default with just a bit of sprucing up with a slightly higher res panel mod being applied, the Maule is a really cool aircraft…

The type rating test is kind of odd in that it doesn’t pick “cardinal” altitudes or headings, but it is mostly a formality anyway…

After a short period of air work, it is back to the airport for the landing, which must meet a certain criteria - no prangers here!

On the downwind - trying to remember how best to fly a piston aircraft…

My “home” strip of Stord is a beautiful airport with a choice of RNAV, LOC, and VOR approaches for when the weather gets uncooperative. I’ll be running real weather via Active Sky Next for all of my flying…

The landing goes well and I taxi back to the ramp to shut down…

All went well and now I have my type rating and am ready to start finding jobs…!

In the next AAR - we’ll take a look at my first revenue flight…


#2

jelly. That looks so good.


#3

Shame this doesn’t exist for X-plane!


#4

It really is. My only hope is that maybe the sales for XP11 will make it more attractive for someone to build something similar. I know FS Economy works…but the AH2 interface and all the functions really do make it a pretty slick offering…


#5

My first cargo mission is a short, 56nm hop from ENSO to ENZV carrying 456 lbs. of “Household Supplies”…I’m not familiar enough with Norway stereotypes to make a joke, so you can fill in the blank. Most of my trips will be fairly short since I’m flying a relatively slow aircraft, and you can set some sliders in AH2 to bias your jobs to shorter distances and smaller airfields. You can sort the jobs board by whatever column criteria you want - distance, fee, cargo weight, or airport departure/destination. Obviously, to maximize your profitability, you want to try to start jobs from whatever airport you are currently at. Looking ahead to other jobs is a good way to plan out your route for several days ahead, but also be aware that you need to complete the job by the deadline (tracked in real time).

A nice summary of the flight appears in the Job Details pane, including fuel prices, fees, and some runway information. As well, there are nice charts that give an overview of the airfields.

Once you’ve accepted the job, you proceed to the Cargo Loading screen, where you can load your cargo and fuel. If the contract contains more weight than your airplane can carry, or if fuel load required bumps cargo, you’ll have to make the trip twice - so pay attention to the contract weights and fuel requirements or you could find yourself making less money (or losing money) on a flight that might require multiple flights.

Since the weather is good currently, I elect to just go VFR, although an IFR route planner is available as well…

Once you accept the route and hit FLY, the sim launches and places you at the airport of departure. To my surprise, the proper fuel and cargo is loaded in the aircraft (something I think you had to manually do in AH for X-Plane?). So weight of the cargo is equal to total weight minus the crew.

I get the engine of my Maule up and running, check my fuel load, and dial in an outbound radial on my VOR to track on the short flight to Stavanger (please excuse my misspellings and not using the proper alphabet…it is just faster this way!)…

Since we are coming into Spring, I might need to ditch my skis soon…

Off we go - using Active Sky Next real weather, it looks like the ceiling might be starting to come down a bit…

The ORBX Norway scenery is quite stunning…with custom bridges, towns, and all kinds of custom objects. It will be fun exploring the country…

My home airport behind me…

I get up to a VFR cruising altitude of 3,500’, bring the manifold pressure and prop back, and only have to slightly lean out the engine at such a low altitude. After about ten minutes of flying, I’m already able to pick up the Stavanger ATIS with runway 18 in use.

The ceiling continues to drop a bit, but it looks good all the way to the destination. The one thing I really, really (really) like about the Maule is that it has an autopilot. Thank goodness!

Nice sprawls of villages and towns with that typical ORBX attention to detail. Even though their stuff is pricey, it does look pretty darn good…

AH2 runs in the background, tracking the flight progress and (I’m guessing) looking for deviations, crashes, excessive Gs, damage…and all that fun stuff…

Arriving at Stavanger - which looks a wee bit odd because I added some freeware Norway custom airport scenery, and apparently I put it in the wrong order. I’ve since fixed it…hopefully squaring away the sunken taxiways…

Once on the ground at Stavanger, you flip back to AH2 and unload the cargo to get the job completed message! We are on our way to being billionaires (surely!)…

AH2 is a statisticians dream, with tables, graphs, plots, and all kinds of details about your company. Here is my finance ledger showing all my transactions from the company inception. I wonder what we are paying me for per diem food…

We’ll overnight the plane in Stavanger and see if we can pick up another flight out of that airport to another destination…


#6

Fiinger’s crossed we’ll get something like that for X-plane soon.
That would motivate me to fly more I think.


#7

I like it! But then I’m vain like that. I like anything Norway!


#8

Our next contract is going to be a “double haul” since I have enough room in the cargo hold to carry two contracts. This time we’ll be ferrying 345 lbs. of beef and 131 lbs. of DVDs (don’t ask) from ENZV (Stavanger) to ENLI (Farsund). Again, since I have my AH2 set for short legs, this will only be a 60 mile or so leg.

Loading up the cargo and checking the fuel to make sure we have enough for the short hop…

Loaded up and ready to depart…

The weather looks good enough for a GPS direct route this morning…

A short taxi and we are off and turning toward the southeast…

Not my kind of place…a lot of big iron here!

ORBX Norway is looking very good…

A very tall communications tower along the route…going to have to add that to my VFR route book if I’m ever scud running…

Some of the fjords are still frozen over…(I can “thaw” them out with the ORBX scenery setup)…

Some sea cliffs approaching Farsund…

Even though it isn’t as full featured as some high detail payware - the default Maule is really a cool little plane that I love flying…

Farsund coming into view across the water…

It looks like I need to get my AI traffic working in Norway since things are a little barren…

Didn’t even spill my coffee…!

Time to unload the beef and DVDs - filet and porn educational movies for everyone in southern Norway tonight…!


#9

I wonder if buying a helicopter would work for AH2? Cargo capacity would be decent and speed comparible to the Maule.


#10

Probably, but if the prices match real life in any form then it’s a lot more expensive in initial and ownership costs!


#11

Yeah, what @TheAlmightySnark said - because the acquisition costs would be pretty high compared to a fixed wing aircraft. Once you get to around 40% rating, I think you are then able to “lease” aircraft instead of buying them outright - then it might be more attractive. The other thing to consider is that I’m pretty sure AH2 uses a sampling of aircraft performance as you fly to judge damage, wear and tear, and cargo damage…and I’m not sure how helicopter flight dynamics (flight model output) works with AH2…but I’m sure someone has tried it…!


#12

The porn must get through!


#13

Maybe they are cooking instructional DVDs on how to prepare Beef Wellington…?


#14

Well the title reads something about “long sausages” and “round buns”- go figure…


#15

Bootleg copies of Star Wars Christmas Special?


#16

AARGH! AAAAAARGH! ARGH.
The d
Forum gods hate me.


#17

Time for another leg to try to keep this company afloat…!

Time to move some Household Supplies from ENLI back to our home base at ENSO for a cool $3,924…

A short 109nm flight…

Getting ready to fire up at ENLI…

Off we go…

Some wind turbines on the way…

Nice day to fly in southern Norway…

Weather at our destination sounds promising…

…but as we get closer, the broken layer has some lower layers that are obscuring some areas. Time to pick up an IFR clearance!

Crossing some of the picturesque towns along the coast…

The IFR flight plan was a good idea…

Over the airport there are plenty of holes and we are able to descend under the clouds and shoot a visual approach…

Mission accomplished!

Putting a little money in the bank…I have to make at least $5,055 a month to cover my airport base costs…(we must be giving away a lot of popcorn and coffee…grrr…freight pilots!)

I’m excited to get some cash and buy a bigger airplane now that I’ve purchased ORBX England, Northern Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales…!


#18

You need to beat that up in your Tornado :grin:

Edit: sorry, wrong sim. OK, beat it up in your Phantom.


#19

Is that where the Mach Loop is?

I also bought the North America Landclass…gonna take a look at that tonight. I have all the NA regions…which are mostly west coast stuff…but the rest of America is covered by a slightly lower quality landclass I guess. I’m curious…


#20

Siri says that this is a good link:

http://www.migflug.com/jetflights/the-mach-loop.html