Mudspike Air Cargo


Well, it’s never too early to start planning for upgrades! Our awesome C-185F has been serving us faithfully for a few months after upgrading from the M7 Maule. While we still have a few more hours to put on her before we reach a reputation level where we can perhaps consider upgrading, it is never too soon to start planning ahead…! So the search is on for the next MAC hauler…!

With the word out on the street that we might be looking to upgrade, brokers are pounding on our door and lighting up our phones. The first contender came out to the Ranch to let us take a demo flight. With a purchase price of just over $2.23 million, the venerable Short Skyvan SC.7 isn’t the most beautiful horse in the stable, but it has some impressive load and performance qualities.


For our demo flight, I’ve decided to load it up with 50% fuel, and 4,240 lbs. of cargo (you can sacrifice fuel for cargo in Air Hauler) to see what she’s got at her maximum certified gross weight.

Winds are calm and we taxi to the end of the 5,335’ long runway at Longview Ranch, hold the brakes, run up the engines, and let her rip…

With two notches of flaps - we are airborne by the second hash mark - probably no more than 1,100 - 1,200’ of takeoff roll…!

She’s no speed demon for sure. We climb up just slightly in the valley, wheel around, and set up for a landing to the north…

The VirtualCol Shorts package has a pretty rough cockpit - but I’m a simple man. I hold the recommended 65 knots or so down the pipe, try to plant it on the end, and use maximum reverse and braking to bring her to a stop - again, in a stunningly short distance of about 800’…!

Very impressive. 2.2+ million is nothing to sneeze at though. But if I can stuff 4,000 lbs. of cargo in her - I can expect to make around $20,000 to $35,000 per trip perhaps. We’ll put her stats in a column and over the next couple of weeks we’ll have some additional platforms to consider…


@BeachAV8R, you might of been scammed. I’m waiting for the response from the FAA, but I don’t think you’re actually allowed to duct tape wings onto a Winnebago and fly it.


It does defy all sense of aerodynamic decency doesn’t it?




Tailgates, er loading ramps, rock.


But if it was the last plane on earth, you’d still fly it. You know you would,


Big tail, long wing, wide interior space for loading. Unpressurised and slow, sure. But it’s a great plane for what it does!


Well…despite the excitement of the Shorts demo - the show must go on. Thus, back to hauling in our faithful 185F until we can make enough money and rep to consider upgrading. We have a heavy load out of Bald Mountain…which is always concerning since it is really easy to stall the 185F with a super heavy load. The bumpy runway doesn’t help either. With two notches of flap…I nurse it off and start the gentle climbout…

A bit of clouds on the route…but clear at the destination. The dirt strip is just adjacent to the road…hard to spot, but is a nice little turf field…

Down safely…another 8K in the bank…!


Another day at the Ranch - another day of having a broker bring an aircraft out for evaluation. In looking at the numbers, I’ve decided to try to stick to maximum payload numbers since that is most reflective of how productive the aircraft will be with MAC. Most of our routes are short haul (less than 200nm) - and while those distances might climb over time with more capable aircraft, I still want to primarily fly into relatively small fields. So knocking off payload for fuel at this moment in time isn’t all that useful when comparing aircraft. With that said, I adjusted the SC7 Skyvan number to more appropriately reflect its maximum hauling capability:


But today, the focus is on yet another iconic aircraft that has been seeing heavy duty as a freight hauler around the world for the past couple of decades since it fell out of favor with many passenger airlines - the Fokker F27 Friendship…!

A bit of a large leap for MAC if we decide to finance one - a fair chunk of change at $8.6 million - nearly 4x the cost of the Skyvan but with 3x the load hauling capability.


The Just Flight F27 is a fair bit more complex than the “lite” VirtualCol Skyvan. The F27 is a true study level type aircraft with all the bells, whistles, panels, and complexity that you would pay a bit more money for. If I decide to utilize it for MAC, I’d have to study up on the systems a bit for sure.

I love the large cargo door - pallets of @chipwich’s craft beer should slide in there easily for distribution to the Pacific NW…

I’ll just say right now that Just Flight did an incredible job with the shriek of the Rolls Royce Dart engines - I mean, the sound will rattle your fillings and is just deafening…lower your speaker volume or you’ll wake the entire household…

My main concern with the F-27 (in addition to the price) is the 92’ wingspan operating out of Longview Ranch’s 75’ wide runway. While there is some clearway to the sides of the runway, the trees are pretty close in, so centerline discipline would be hugely important if we go with the F-27.

It isn’t the nicest morning in the world to fly today - with a mid level overcast, rain showers, but calm winds - so our takeoff run should be fairly representative of what we could expect. I load up with 50% fuel and max out the cargo area until we are just shy of MTOW. Acceleration is fairly good, and the F-27 lifts off in about twice the distance of the Skyvan - still a respectably short run of only 1,900’.

For our short circuit - we leave the flaps at approach, gear down, and circle around in the valley to land back to the north, keeping under the scud layer…

At MTOW and full flaps, the stick shaker wants to activate at around 85 knots, so I keep the speed around 100 or so - a bit slippery for the kinds of fields we want to operate to. Throttle response is a bit laggy too, requiring you to stay ahead of the game or recovery from a low speed, low power situation can take quite a few seconds. This is definitely a bigger feeling airplane, not as snappy in roll and it takes some time for power to translate to the airspeed and VSI…

Touchdown, maximum braking and reverse. I see I leave skid marks of rubber on the runway - I’m not sure if the F-27 is equipped with anti-skid brakes or not…but I left a nice little mark. Total landing distance was a bit over 1,800’ - nice performance considering we landed at MTOW - which is a couple thousand pounds over max landing weight.

Altogether a nice demo of a very capable lifter. I’m not sure of her unprepared field chops - a capability I’d like to retain as MAC moves into bigger equipment. Definitely a contender, but we have lots of other aircraft to consider as well…


So I’m back in town after a couple weeks of hurricane evacuation flying (too bad I don’t get any Air Hauler rep for that…!) and instead of doing a cargo run, I decided to do some continued plane evaluations. This morning it was the tried and true SA227 Metro III (nevermind the graphic, it is supposed to be SA227!)…


In my day to day travels at work, I often see Metro IIIs populating ramps all over the country. They have a unique shape, stance, and sound…so they are hard to miss. Popular mostly with cargo operators these days, the Metro III has always appeared to me to be a plane that needs to be flown from start to finish, and is probably fairly unforgiving of carelessness (particularly during an engine failure). Of interest to MAC - the really nice cargo configuration and loading capability through the massive aft cargo door…

The RAZBAM Metro is simply beautiful - the panel is top notch. Unfortunately, it isn’t P3D v4 compatible although there are some people working on it (not RAZBAM people). As such, there are a few glitches that are important and somewhat limiting. For instance, the fuel flow and torque gauges do not work. You can still set power according to ITT and just fly it by feel, but those are somewhat important power gauges.

Despite the complexity of the cockpit, she is a very simple airplane to bring to life…requiring only a half a dozen steps before the engines are up and running…

Taxiing out from the ramp at Longview Ranch for the spin around the local area…kind of a grey and gloomy day…


At 60% fuel, and around 5,000 lbs. of cargo, the Metro takes about half of the runway length or around 2,700’ to get airborne - a bit more than I’d like for my cargo operation. Climbout is nice and apparently the Metro III will really scoot in cruise.

Coming back around for a max gross landing…

The Metro is a real sled…really requiring some power and positive deck angle as you come down the glideslope. The view out the front isn’t the greatest with the windscreen pillars requiring that you sort of tilt your head around them to see. It isn’t the most comfortable view point. It also looks like the AOA gauge isn’t working correctly in P3D v4…

Touchdown around the numbers, max braking and reverse brings us to a stop in about 2,500’ or so - again, not superb numbers for the more austere strips I’d like to operate to.

While a really cool airplane…I think for my current operation I’m going to discount the Metro III right off the bat. If I expanded to a larger airport with an operations area to more established fields, it might be a good fit. But for now…I need something a bit more short field capable and rugged…



I was thinking about buying this one in the past. But afaik it is not, out of the box, compatible also with FSX:SE.


Continuing with some evaluation flights (I just wanted something mindless to do today…) I loaded up the VirtualCol Dash 8-100 (@Troll should like this!).

We load it with 60% fuel, and around 8,600 lbs. of cargo - quite the load hauler, but you’ll pay for it at a list price of just above $7 million…


Taxiing out for takeoff…

Even at max gross takeoff weight, the Dash 8-100 leaps free of the ground in just about 1/3 of the runway length (roughly 1,600’) and climbs out nicely…

Though the VirtualCol Dash 8 series isn’t super realistic with regards to systems and cockpit, it does have a nice 3D model and a passable cockpit…

I bring her back around for the landing - the Dash 8 has wonderful low speed handling characteristics. Not knowing what the actual Vref should be, I shoot for a bit above 80 knots…

Touching down - max braking, full reverse brings us to a stop in an astonishingly short distance (about 12-1,300’)…

So I really, really like the Dash 8-100. Excellent load hauling, great short field performance, and a fun little bird… Definitely on the short list…!


Troll approves!

Vref for max landing weight (33900 lbs or 15377kg) is 90Kts, for the -100.

MAC should have a Dash8 in its fleet! :slight_smile:


I am just wondering… is this according to the books? Does the VirtualCol 8-100 resembles the real figures accurately? Not saying it is important, or something, just asking :slight_smile:


I don’t know. What I DO know is that the Dash 8-100 is used world wide for very short fields due to its excellent low speed handling and short takeoff and landing performance. I don’t know if the VirtualCol nails it exactly…but it sure does seem short like I would expect.


I can vouch for the short field performance of the real Dash8-100. Haven’t tried the VirtualCol rendition of it though. I could do some calculations to compare with, if you want, @BeachAV8R

Gimme field altitude, temp, wind and QNH and I’ll tell you the distances from the real performance graphs.


So we had to take some time off - fortunately that didn’t cost the company too much, just the leases on the two bases, which don’t add up to a whole lot. And since we own the only aircraft (the Cessna 185F), we aren’t really taking a hit.

Tonight I invited another aircraft broker over - still eyeing that 40% rep level where I’ll be able to lease something much larger. For this demo flight, we are taking a look at the Dornier 328-100, a really cool aircraft that I’ve always thought is a looker. They have largely been retired from domestic regional service here in the United States, but there are quite a few of them in private fleets flying corporate trips.

Though she is a bit expensive, weighing in at nearly 5.5 million dollars - she will carry around 6,620 lbs. of cargo at a 59% fuel load. That compares favorably to the more expensive Dash 8-100 which was capable of 8,600 lbs. with a pricetag of just over 7 million…


And I have to admit, I like the Primus 1000 type layout since those are the same avionics I fly in our Citation Ultras…

Old school VirtualCol with their 2D panel…

With flaps 20 and lots of trim - the Dornier is a bit more of a runway hog than some of the other aircraft we’ve looked at - at max gross using up nearly half the 5,335’ runway…and I don’t know how rugged the aircraft would be for some of the more austere airports I’d like to visit…

Taking her around the valley to return for landing…

The Dornier seemed comfy at around 105 Vref with full flaps at MTOW. I don’t know what the max landing weight is supposed to be, but we probably exceeded that…

A bit of a float near the touchdown zone, but on the ground, max reverse and braking brings us to a halt in about 2,700’ - we could probably shave about 500’ off that with some better technique and lighter landing weight.

I like the Dornier…but testing with other aircraft will have to continue. And in the meantime, I’d better earn some money and rep…!


I sure wish that Just Flight would convert their BAe 146-200/300 package to P3D v4 compatible. It would probably be my preferred aircraft once I get into bigger cargo planes…


Oh my, with the Black Friday sale my wallet has taken a brutal beating. Among my new acquisitions…

  • Coolsky DC-9
  • MILVIZ DHC-2 Beaver
  • MILVIZ DHC-3 Otter
  • Flight1 GTN 650/750 avionics suite to supplement by Beaver, Otter and DC-6
  • FlightFactor A320 Ultimate (I was lucky enough to be eligible for its beta!)
  • Aerobask Epic E1000
  • Aerobask Pipistrel Panthera
  • Aerobask Eclipse 550 NG
  • JustFlight PA28R Arrow III
  • Aerosim Development Group’s Super Cub
  • Felis Tu-154M (freebie with the bonus points I had)
  • And Pacific Fjords, Northern Rockies, Pacific Northwest and Southern Alaska, aaand Squamish Airport sceneries by ORBX

I don’t know why I’ve suddenly gotten into this “bush plane” craze… that must be me reading too much of the bush plane AARs of @BeachAV8R .

If Mrs Chuck asks why we’re eating peanut butter and jelly for a month, I’m blaming Chris.


Oh man…lemme count the things I’m jealous of:

Felis Tu-154M - I keep looking at that during every sale and the quirkiness of it is appealing. I’ve gotten so far as to put it in my cart…but haven’t actually hit the BUY button.

FlightFactor A320 - I’m not eligible or I’d buy it today.

The Aerosim Cub - that is a good looking airplane. Unfortunately I’m flush with bush planes at the moment.

I’d like to pick up the Eclipse 550 too. And I think I bought around $300 worth of ORBX stuff way back in the spring. Just waiting to visit some of those in my Air Hauler company…