A virtual start-up

Flight simulators – civilian ones, at least – are almost always sandbox-type games. You may have missions, achievements or other goals created by the publishers, but most of us end up doing free flights between their airports of choice. At some point, however, you naturally start to search for a purpose or a motivation to plan your flights.

There have been multiple add-ons and applications trying to fill this gap and provide you with a structured career. The latest, and arguably one of the best, is Just Flight’s AirHauler 2. I won’t go into too many details on this, since I don’t want to review the add-on itself. Instead, I will just try and tell the story of my virtual aviation start-up, which will probably give you a sense of the possibilities opened by this software. So let’s start.

The base

I took many of my flight lessons in the Pacific Northwest region of the USA, specifically around Bowerman airport (KHQM). It’s a small airfield located near Hoquiam, Washington state.

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During my flight lessons and having flown out of the airfield for a few years, I noticed that there was frequently the need of transporting stuff around the Olympic Mountain ranges and National Park. I spoke with a friend at the airfield, and over a couple of beers we found that we both had some money to invest and the idea of creating an aviation start-up. And that’s how Washington Air Transports was founded.

The first step was renting a hangar to serve as the operating base for our company. Fortunately, the stars aligned and we were able to rent a free hangar at Bowerman airport. Now we needed aircraft.

The aircraft

We searched the ads online, and ended up finding three good options:

  • An used Cessna 152, available for sale at the airport.
  • A fairly new Piper PA-28 Cherokee, available for a strangely low price, near Portland, Oregon.
  • An old Cessna 172R, with about 5,600 hours, located near Seattle.

We found that we only had the money for two of these. We checked them out. The Cherokee looked very nice, but it turned out it had been involved in an incident that caused wing damage, hence the lower price. We decided to avoid that gamble and went with the C152 and C172 instead.

The 152 is not very well equipped, but it’s useful as a cheap aircraft to carry some cargo without burning too much fuel. It’s an old, but reliable, workhorse. The 172 is much better equipped, with a Garmin 430 and full IFR suite.

The 172 had to go directly to the Maintenance hangar, as the mechanic found some issues with the oil filter. Both aircraft were serviced with the standard oil change and check-up.

 

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Here is our Cessna 172R tied down at the ramp, after undergoing maintenance.

 

 The jobs

Washington Air Transports was now open for business! We had to advertise our services, and decided to advertise our services around the airport as a cheap transport alternative for air cargo in the region. Our aircraft don’t allow us to carry that much cargo and the range isn’t that great, but it’s a start.

Soon we were gathering some requests for transports. We were logging them into our database. Here is a screenshot:

Airhauler

The next step is to start flying them.

 

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