Skyhawk Nomad #1

First of all, let me start by a simple introduction.

What is Skyhawk Nomad?

Skyhawk Nomad  is a new series of virtual aviation stories that I’m looking to share. The name obviously references the Cessna 172 Skyhawk; but where does the “nomad” come from? Well, I recently found out that Air Hauler 2 has a new mode, in which you don’t actually own a base for your virtual company, but instead you roam around the world and take jobs from the airports you visit – they call this the Nomad mode.

That where this was born. I started a new company in Nomad mode, and bought myself a used Cessna 172. And this is the story of my first job with it.

The first job

I started in KTNP – TwentyNine Palms, where I inspected my newly bought Cessna 172R, registration N52070. It was fairly expensive, but was a recently overhauled engine, and running beautifully. I asked the mechanic there to install a brand new Garmin GNS650 on it.

The board at TwentyNine Palms was showing several jobs. I took my time to check which one appeared to be the most profitable, given the distance, pay and payload. I ended up choosing a load of electronic parts, which I needed to carry to a private airport at El Mirage, near Palmdale, CA. I didn’t get the full details on the job, we never do, but I image that they were supplies for some of the aviation companies that have factories nearby.

The cargo was easy to carry and pack into the plane, without too many weight & balance issues. The issue, however, was weather. It was borderline VFR, with rain and ceiling at about 5000′. KTNP elevation is about 1900′, so that didn’t leave much to play with. Even worse, we were sitting in the middle of a convective activity SIGMET. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t go flying.

But I did.

The reason why there are no photos of this flight is easy: I was too busy fighting with the plane and trying to keep it flying. After takeoff, we were shaken by strong gusts and winds that ended up almost stalling the plane on takeoff. There was strong turbulence that actually made it difficult to control the aircraft.

Lesson Learned: do not takeoff in marginal VFR weather in the middle of a convective activity SIGMET!

All said and done, we arrived at El Mirage (99CL) with somewhat better conditions and laded uneventfully. I quickly unloaded the electronics and looked at the job board. The weather was coming in and I didn’t want to get stuck around an industrial airfield with nothing to do.

Escaping the weather

At this point, I was much more careful with the planning. I picked up a job that would take me South, near Oceanside. It was another private airfield, called Pauma Valley (CL33). The cargo we were transporting this time was, strangely enough, sheep — yes, sheep. No the live animal, of course, since it wouldn’t fit into the airplane anyway, but frozen sheep meat.

2017-9-10_18-28-27-198

Pre-flighting the Skyhawk.

The load as a fairly heavy 427 lbs. I had to work the load & balance spreadsheet to find out the load distribution that would work without exceeding the aircraft limitations. I ended up placing some of it on the front right side, most of the loads in the back and baggage areas.

Route

Los Angeles TAC chart depicting the approximate route

As far as route, I decided to proceed VFR, heading to Cajon Pass which is fairly famous for the associated railroad pass, between the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountains. Then I planned to follow I-215 into San Bernardino and Riverside. It had the upside of keeping me outside Class C airspace of Ontario Int’l and March ARB.

After that, I would proceed to overfly lake Matthews and then join I-15. This would take me all the way to Temecula, and then I would visually search for the airfield further to the southeast.

The flight itself was uneventful. The air was quite bumpy, as it would be expected for a hot California day, but otherwise ok. You can find a few shots of the flight below.

No actual shots of the landing. It was quite bumpy… Somehow it seemed like the airplane jumped when hitting the ground, even though I was fairly slow and with a very shallow rate of descent. Long story short: it was bouncy. 3x bouncy… I could try and find and excuse, but I think it was just a bad landing.

Stay tuned for next chapters. Comments and suggestions are welcome, as always.

Fly safe!

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