Hauling Across PNW

Air Hauling across the Pacific Northwest

 Although really missing my flying in virtual reality whilst my Oculus Rift is away for warranty replacement, I decided to get some rep up in my Air Hauler company, based at Bella Bella (Denny Island) in British Columbia. This is not the main company, which is in Air Hauler 2 at Bella Bella (Campbell Island), which has given me some headaches up to now.

Unfortunately, most of the jobs offered, though local, were to water ports only. The only land-based jobs were some distance away, especially considering the fact that I was flying the very slow BN-2 Islander, as my only plane - and that at 60% airworthiness (it was a 2nd hand buy).

So I decided to implement the simulation rate multiplier, to decrease the time spent flying the 200+ "empty" miles. This didn't detract from the experience. I have flown in this area before - though I normally stick to areas further North - but this series of flights was just a great experience, with the excellent FTX scenery for the area and also in winter, which presented several extra challenges, like keeping the working parts from icing in -20° temperatures, terrain avoidance in the cloudy mountain tops and trying to distinguish icy or snowy runways from the surrounding white countryside.

Once I got further south into Oregon, though the temperatures warmed to a more friendly 20°, spotting the small airstrips became no less difficult. I had never realised that this kind of flying could be experienced here and intend to remain operating in the area for the foreseeable future. In fact, I have opened a new base on the border at CZBB, Boundary Bay, to ensure I get more jobs in this area.

Firstly, then, the route:


The table is actually the flight report summary after I had completed the round trip. As you can see, the longest flight by far was the 'empty' leg from CYPU, Puntzi Mountain (which I couldn't find at all on Google Satellite until I found out the ICAO is actually just YPU) in British Columbia to OG02, Rieben, in Oregon.

It looks like I made a mistake and should have flown the W27 to 05S job first - but actually I only had 56 minutes to get the OG02 to 56S job done - and was in fact nearly 30 minutes late on delivery. Another reason to implement the time accelerator!

The first, also empty, flight to CAF4, Tsuniah Lake Lodge, was actually quite unnerving due to the clouds surrounding the mountain peaks and ridges on the way. Having recently purchased and installed Active Sky 2016 and Cloud Art, the clouds were looking more convincing than ever - especially when set to real-World weather:

On occasion I actually gritted my teeth and entered the cloud, just hoping I would come out the other side without meeting anything solid!

I thought it would be quite amusing to use the add-on Greater Manchester Police Islander repaint - sort of a Mountie exchange programme!

Thanks to the hurried  addition of the Simflyer GLX OEv1 GPS system just prior to the flight (I had attempted to use the original KLN90 GPS but it flat refused to allow me to enter a direct-to code) finding the airfield - such that it is - was not too difficult. Finding the best way at lower altitdues was another story, but luckily, I guessed correctly and came up the right valley. The runway was completely snowed over:

I didn't realise it at the time - but the large expanse the other side of the strip is a lake! Well, at least in summer it is.

The landing went without incident:

...and there was plenty of room left for the take-off run, once the job freight had been loaded aboard:

The only building around, but surely not the titular 'Lodge'? Don't know where he would go in that motor, either... Mind you, it looks like it's been stood there a while.

Thankfully, the terrain on the way to the Puntzi Mountain airfield is not so mountainous, though temps remain stiff, allbeit climbing up from the -20°C they had been over the Rockies, we are now into positive digits! Just...

Ah, a proper runway...

Though still a wee bit on the chilly side! A quick turn around and we're off again - it's the long flight this time - 3 and a half hours' worth! In real time.

Thankfully, P3D offers us the magic of time acceleration and I'm over Oregon inside of 15 minutes!

Wow! What a difference! Mind you - spotting the airfield is no less challenging - even with the GPS, I was struggling...

Got the virtual binoculars out...

...but still no joy. Plenty of combine-harvesters doing their thing, though:

Yet still no sign of an airfield. So I took it down to just above tree-top height - that way, I can spot a grass strip and am low and slow enough to get in quickly once I find it...

Have to say, this scenery is very nice - and the little additions such as agricultural machinary etc makes it even better.

At last - I come across the end of a runway...

Wow! No wonder I had had difficulty spotting it! Talk about "farm strip"....

So - overhead crosswind join, fly the circuit and in we come...

A bit wild on final finals there, and consequently, my worst touchdown in years - merely an "OK"!

No excuse, your Honour! I'll make it up next time...

Quickly get the next crate onboard and away to Seaside Municipal - ooh the seaside! I forgot to pack my trunks!

I'd just like to mention that most of these runways are anything but flat. Which makes a very refreshing change. I hope that farmer isn't thinking of racing me...

He'd probably win!

"Oh we do like to be beside the sea-side..."

Temps are now up to an amazing 10°C! Yet I still forgot to turn off the anti-icing. Oh well...

At least this one was fairly easy to spot, once the trees had moved out of the way:

The inevtiable post-ridgeline dive, whilst trying not to pick up too much speed:

...and with a feather-light touch, down we settle. That's more like it:

It's always nice to see a park fairly full of GA - nothing I dislike more than empty airfields:

Drop the stuff, and get on my way for the last empty stretch - only half an hours' flight away, in Washington state:

Lovely countryside, I must admit. Why haven't I been here before now? I'll definitely be back soon.

Now, then, where's that blasted airfield again?

Ah, time to get the fishing tackle out...

If only I had the time for it!

Oh well - got to squeeze in here first...

Room for a little one?

No problem for a pro...

...testor like me, so should be a cinch for anyone else...!

That's W27 Woodland State, Washington out of the way - loaded up the crate and off to the final. 05S, Vernonia, back in Oregon.

If only I knew where...!

Ah! I see a strip of grass slightly lighter than the surrounding:

Yup - believe it or not, that is a cross-runway strip

At least one of them appears to be very long... shouldn't be a problem even for me!

No wonder it wasn't easy to spot from the air, when it's even harder to follow on the deck:

That was it - a very pleasant and entertaining evenings' flying in P3Dv3, with the help of FTX and Active Sky 2016, not forgetting Air Hauler and the Flight 1 BN-2A Islander.

My only regeret is having to fly with TrackIR instead of VR. You know how horrid it feels to sit in a cokpit without TrackIR, after being used to using it for a long time? That's how it feels when using TrackIR having been used to flying in Virtual Reality. Claustrophobic, restricted visibility, less control over what's going on, less awareness.

So, if you haven't got a VR headset, it's about time you did! Forget 4k - that's just the same as always, just better graphics. VR is a huge game-changer.

You can never go back!

Thanks for reading - hope to have some more up soon, as my replacement Rift won't be here for a couple of weeks.