x+s+r // uk2000 egcc + egsh // enjb

XSR EGGC

So, had enough of the British Midlands yet? Good, neither have I.

To fit in with our theme-du-jour, we thought it best to continue looking at airports near those we wrote about the past few days, so with that in mind we’ll mosey on across town and look at EGCC Manchester, then take a look at EGSH Norwich. Another decent Norwegian freeware file popped yesterday, so we’ll make a quick stop at ENJB Jarlsberg. Right…off we go!

EGCC hdr

This is my fourth UK2000 airport and I have kind of a love-hate thing going with their airport files right now. The terminal models are good, most hangers too, but things go soft after that. Let’s take a look and break it down.

First things first: if you want static aircraft you’d better look elsewhere. Animated ground traffic is hard to find here, too; indeed, the ramps are not quite bare but some areas are better than others. Also – (night) ramp lighting does not appear to be Xp11 compliant. These omissions are, like aeroSOFT’s Rome, almost intolerable for a “new” product advertised for Xp11. In short, as more than a few commenters have implied: UK2000 are converting FsX files and using non-Xp11 resources. In other words, taking the easy way out and not providing a true Xp11 product…as in…taking unnecessary short-cuts and making a quick buck on what might be considered an otherwise obsolete product. If you want to talk about PBR materials and crowned runway surfaces – well, don’t bother. These are FsX files through and through, and that was fine – like five years ago.

Many parking lots (car parks?) at EGCC consist of smeary orthos. We’ll keep mentioning this until developers listen, but this approach was certainly appropriate for freeware files ten years ago. It has no place in a v11 payware file, especially not files in this price range. I’d imagine the excuse runs something like: ‘these car parks are too big…it would ruin framerates if we used objects…’ Well, fine, then please explain why so many other developers of similarly sized airports get away with placed objects in their car parks – without a performance hit. To me it simply smacks of – well – taking another unnecessary short-cut.

I’ve had to purchase these files through the UK2000 store, and their store is obtuse for a non-UK citizen. When prompted to select if you are or are not a UK citizen (for VAT purposes), nothing happens when the link is clicked – so you end up paying the VAT – and so one file ends up costing not quite 30USD. And obviously, with the short-cuts mentioned above these files are NOT worth that kind of money.

Of course this leads to another question. If Xp11 generated all kinds of excitement (because of all the new rendering features), enough to entice FsX developers to make the transition, why not take advantage of all these new technologies have to offer? Why not improve your FsX files, not simply convert them? And…why no static aircraft? If developers, UK2000 included, assume everyone in Xp is using World Traffic or X-Life…they’re making a seriously bad mistake.

Still, these files have many good features, enough to make them worthy of consideration. Consideration? Well, yes. There are, as always, freeware alternatives, and while some are decent enough few approach this level of quality. With UK2000 we’re left with imperfect choices again, aren’t we? Not exactly what we were hoping for from an FsX developer making the leap to X-plane.

EGCC 1

So, above, the various terminal buildings appear accurately modeled, and while there are no interior components modeled the textures used are tolerable until you move in very close. Not optimal, but tolerable. I would say night window textures visible from the cockpit could be sharper, but generally speaking the nightscapes here are immersive and attractive. Oh yes, as planned, this file is piggy-backing on Orbx’s city file.

Below, as mentioned, some car parks are loaded with placed objects (i.e., cars), and some ramps are more densely cluttered than others. Trees are good, airport roadways less so but a lot of that has to do with how Xp integrates with the file’s roads. Again, without static aircraft the entire effort is just about doomed to fail visually…without aircraft at the gates it hardly looks like an airport.

EGCC 2

Comparing ramp markings and roof detail in the file with what I can see in Google Earth it looks once again like short-cuts were taken. The asphalt and concrete ramps and taxiways show much more variety than what’s in the file (previous repair work) and some painted ramp markings are not present at all. Roof detail in the file looks like smeary orthos were used again, and few objects. Dreadful? Only when you compare to better freeware developers…

EGCC 3

Again, night lighting on ramps is dim. Night window textures are one of this files strong points.

EGCC 4

How to rate this one? Maybe a 7 out of 10. This appears to be, apparently, an older FsX file that was converted without much thought for Xp11s new feature-set. Like UK2000s Gatwick, Manchester International suffers from a few serious flaws and omissions. It could easily be a great file, however, as is it simply needs work. Decent, but there’re freeware that beats this file in detail and Xp11 compliance.

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EGSH.png

Down in Norwich we get cars, “real” cars, though in one lot all appear to be gray. No roof detail – where a couple of simple HVAC units might have done the trick. Dark ramps, not a lot of detail…are we seeing a pattern here? These guys need to hire tdg as a consultant.

Same issue with the UK2000 store, except this file ought to end up costing 12-15USD, not almost 30. Still, this file is lots better than any freeware available so let that guide your decision making. Score: 9/10

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ENJB

This is almost a waterfront airport, located in southern Norway and quite close to the border with Sweden. Looking for a good GA airport in Norway to make training flights from Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands? This might fill the bill, and nicely, too. The file is located here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/37959-enjb-jarlsberg/

And that’s all she wrote today. Later – A

Posted in Scenery files: UK and Ireland, Scenery: Europe | Tagged | Leave a comment

x+s+r // midlands adventures & b.c.x2

XSR UK hdr

Whether intentional or not, here we are with a couple of “hot & fresh” grass stripped airports in and around the British Midlands, and another just south of Norwich too, so if you’re looking to put your new Orbx EGCB file to work…well…get ready, set, and go! It doesn’t hurt at all that each is quite nice and set a mood that says: “Summertime – here I come! Winter’s over; it’s time to get back up in the sky!” Of course. you’ll have to play The Beatles Free As A Bird…in honor of EGGP? Or was that EGCB? Funny thing, lineage.

The first two files today – EGNU and EGNY – are clustered north of Hull, and EGNY will offer some interesting seaside excursions to throw into the mix. If only the Beverly Minster was modeled? The glorious little gothic church at Patrington? I wish!

EGCB map.jpg

So, let’s get this show on the road and take a peek at some phun phlying. First up, EGNU, and as with EGGP, let’s just ignore the lineage right now as that might spoil the phun.

EGNU

Look at the image just above, at the taxiway edge. The storm grate? The weeds? The gravel mixed with sparse grass? The weathered asphalt? Holy cow! Pure artistry, and the more you look around the better it gets. Freeware? Yes, and a 10/10 Must Have to go along with EGCB. File here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/27871-egnu-full-sutton-airfield-uk/

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EGNY

EGNY is a little more laid back looking, and the diner has outstanding window textures to round out a solid list of small airport features. Another Must Have? Yup, and get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/25831-egny-beverely-linley-hill-uk/

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EG97

Whimsical? Yup. Idyllic? That too. PaulMort’s The Priory Farm looks too good to be true, like a brilliant piece of X-plane fiction, but this place is anything but. Think of it as a miniature EAA and you’re on the right course. Oh yes, this airfield is located in the Southeast of England, and just SW of Norwich:

EG97 map

The VFR chart view? Note Cambridge to the WSW; London is just south of this city:

EG97 chartlet.png

Takeoff from here on a heading of 24ºm and you should run into Norwich within about 20nmi. It’s not quite 190 miles to EGCB, so a little longer flight – if time permits. Below, two nice videos of the airport and environs:

This second a little more soulful:

Visit the Priory’s site, here: http://www.flypfa.co.uk

Get PM’s Must Have file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44240-eg97-tibenham-priory-farm-aviators/

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CYKA

Nice file, as is always the case with this developer; CYKA is a GA/Commercial airport located east of Vancouver, about a third of the way to Calgary. Nice terminal marred by no night textures; still a great addition to flying in BC. Get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44247-cyka-kamloops-bc/

CYCW

CYCW offers real-world GA pilots and commercial operators a large maintenance and modifications center. Obviously, someone also has a sailboat, though it’s bad form to show an anchor light whilst on the hard. Just east of Vancouver, almost right on the US border, this great little file is located here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/41170-canada_bc_cycw/

732 CP air

This CP Air paint for Jack’s 732 is out there, and certainly worth having for a little blast from the past.

Have a good flight over the Midlands, and we’ll seeya next time – A

Posted in Europe Regional Routes, Scenery files: UK and Ireland, Scenery: Americas | Leave a comment

x+s+r // eggp + esup + peru-2

xsr hdr 420

 

An older freeware file to lead off the day, then a new freeware file in northern Sweden. We’ll end with a look at three more freeware airports in Peru.

EGGP hdr

When I first started puttering around in X-plane (uh…pre-v9), one of the first airports I downloaded was EGGP, and probably because I’d just taken my son to Liverpool to learn about all things Beatles. Anyway, I was struck by how interesting that old v8 airport was too, at least when compared to most other files available then. Well, that was then and the file we’re looking at today has no relationship to that old file – other than the name of the airport, anyway.

Interesting lineage, this file, but that’s about all I’ll say about that. This airport file was released in 2016 and I don’t think its been touched since. There’s no need, actually. Its quite good as is, though I suppose it could be updated to v11 compliance. No scenery libraries needed, too, as this is all custom work. Check out the list of airlines and service here. How about service to Cluj-Napoca, Romania?

EGGP comp 1

From ramps to car parks, this file is close to payware-perfection, but it’s a freebie. Look at the image below and you’ll see a cityscape on the horizon…and yes, a nice bit of city detail is included with this airport.

EGGP comp 2

If you want to round out your collection of airports in the British Midlands, you better make sure you have this one onboard. If you’re a Beatles fan? Hey hey, what can I say? You’ll find the file right here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/34230-eggp-liverpool-john-lennon-airport-and-city-custom-hd/

//

ESUP comp

Located in far northern Sweden almost on the border with Finland, the airport is closer to Murmansk, Russia than to Stockholm; the airport is served by Jonair (to Luleå) and Enter Air (charters to the UK around Christmas). Extraordinary file, though quite a small airport the details are all quite well done. A solid 10/10 Must Have file. The file is located here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44207-esup-pajala-airport/

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Peru

Cusco (or Qusqu, the current spelling) is the jumping off point for journeys into the mountains, specifically to Machu Picchu, whether on foot or by train:

Machu Picchu real

Still, consider these items: Machu Picchu is a 15th century construct located at 7800MSL, while Cusco is at least 1500 years older and is located at 10,000MSL. Built almost 80 years before the arrival of Spaniards, they never knew of Machu Picchu’s existence (the site was “rediscovered” in the early 20th century by an archeologist from Yale, though a German engineer may have been there almost a half-century earlier). Today, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World (in popular polling); as such, it is the mother lode of Peruvian tourism, the mainstay of a surging tourist economy and perhaps the number one reason why aviation in Peru has become so important.

As mentioned in our first segment on Peru, almost all North American and European traffic enters the country via SPJC LIMA, and from there filters out to the various tourist areas. Other than Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines, alpine climbing in the Andes has recently become a big draw, with the peak known as Alpamayo currently a major attraction among the worlds top alpinists (the peak was recently voted by mountaineers as the prettiest mountain on earth). Scientific endeavors, including climate studies, oceanography, archeology, and astronomy, brings scores of scientists to Peru every year, too.

We’ll look at three more airports today, starting with Cusco.

SPZO

If unfamiliar with Cusco generally, read the Wikipedia entry straight away, as the place is fascinating. The airport has seen direct service, via Lima, to KJFK – with 752 class aircraft – but again, keep in mind the altitude here is higher than Telluride, Colorado (runway length is over 11,000 feet, too). There is currently no direct service to Europe or North America, so you’ll need to become familiar with the route to Lima if you want to work out of this airport. Here is the list of airlines and routes served. You’ll find the file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/36666-cuzco-spzo-xp/

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SPEO

A small coastal GA/RJ sized airport; limited service, primarily government-scientific flights. File here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/39408-chimbote-xp-v10-speo-for-xp/  Good for coastal flights, a short hop to Lima.

SPGL

Described as one of the most difficult approaches in Peru, this private airstrip is located in the mountains near Pueblo Nuevo – but deep inside a narrow, twisty canyon. Included in this list for entertainment purposes only; you might try this in the Kodiak before making the approach in a light twin. This is a tiger in something like a DC3. File here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/38218-chagual-spgl-and-pias-spis-for-xp-11/    Note: this file includes a second airstrip, SPIS, equally as “interesting.”

Have fun out there. We’ll see you soon if something pops – A

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

x+s+r // lira + nzmb + orbx / egcb

xsr 738 LIRA 1

Three seriously interesting files today, one of them being, or course, the first truly new Orbx release for X-plane. Interestingly enough, the other two files – both freeware – could be as significant – at least for a few people – as the Orbx release.

First up today, LIRA Rome Ciampino, and this file marks the return of tdg to our midst after a few weeks absence. Sheesh, amigo…you have been missed! Where the hell were you…and was she worth it?

LIRA hdr

I do hope the developers behind aeroSOFT’s Rome Fiumicino don’t mind tdg’s return. Odd he chose to make the other Roman airport too, don’t you think? Well, perhaps the aeroSOFT team will look this one over, and learn a thing or two. God only knows they might try.

If nothing else, tdg’s airports are human-scaled. This sense of scale is vital to the success of any airport scenery file, too. While aeroSOFT’s file is devoid of any sense of scale, you’re immersed in scale here, in tdg’s latest. People, ground service vehicles, cars and buses, static aircraft, trees, and monuments all lend visual cues that define this airport as a human space. aeroSOFT’s Rome, on the other hand, reminds me of a mausoleum: a cool, austere place where people just don’t fit into the scheme of things.

So…assuming you want to fly into such a place near Rome, now you’ve got one. Once again, our thanks to this developer for saving the day. With his Florence and Sicilian files now onboard, we now have a good spread of airports to use in Italy. I suspect aeroSOFT’s Rome will find it’s way into the rubbish bin now, unless someone manages to salvage the file with a massive updating.

Below, the relationship between these two airports with central Rome. Fiumicino is on the coast and southwest of the city; Ciampino is southeast of the city and, notably, experiences fewer fogged in days. This airport was Rome’s primary international airport until 1960, and it remains the preferred airport for government and business aviation. There are limited GA facilities here, though a fair sized air cargo ramp.

Rome airports

LIRA chart

As usual, tdg’s buildings are approximations; he relies on modified scenery library objects to create his airports so you will NOT end up with 100 percent accurate reproductions of an airport. Is this ideal? (shrug) I don’t know…what do you think? He creates very useable freeware files with a minimum of unnecessary detail. I stress the word unnecessary, too, as his files are anything but bare-bones affairs. Still, there’s no waste and framerates are usually quite good.

In these first four images, check out:

  1. roof detail, buses, cars in lots;
  2. varied ramp textures, ramp markings, trees (varied heights);
  3. appropriate static aircraft, DC3 monument to US Army Air Corp;
  4. air cargo ramps with appropriate aircraft and cargo handling gear.

LIRA comp 1.jpg

Night textures? Simple, but not smeary blue smudge windows. HDR lights on ramps.

LIRA comp 2n

Oh yes, Ryanair and WIZZair are the only two carriers operating here, but of course between these two they fly just about everywhere on earth. And then some…

LIRA Ncomp 2.1

So? Recommended? Yup…10 out of 10, and it’s at the org.

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NZ city

kiwi_the_iwik’s few files are centered on the Aukland, New Zealand region, and he released a helicopter facility as well as a revised city file today. These files are meant to complement either orthos or AlpilotX’s latest UHD mesh (there are separate downloads for each); the UHD mesh is used here. Significant? Yes. He’s bringing a whole new level of detail to this important urban area, and when you open up at the helicopter base it’s hard to keep your jaw from bouncing off the desktop.

An easy 10/10 Must Have file.

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EGCB hdr

Very mixed feelings about this file – initially. When looking over the promo material on Threshold my first impression was “(yawn) I think I’ll skip this one,” so I guess I didn’t see anything I wasn’t expecting. “A run down pre-WWII era grass-stripped airport? I doubt I’ll ever use it, so why buy it?”

If that sums up your feeling after looking over the promo images, welcome to the club. But guess what? We’re probably in a minority, because a lot of people will buy it simply because its Orbx.

Still, this airport will, in my opinion, hold little interest to anyone not making GA (training?) flights in and around the Midlands area, maybe to York or Newcastle, or perhaps over to Liverpool. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon, and certainly better than self-abuse, yet the question remains… Why would you bother when there are already so many good grass-stripped airports around the UK? And I mean freeware, of course.

So? Why, indeed? Well, let’s take a look, and image by image:

  1. Okay, I get it. Nobody does grass like Orbx does grass. I looked at this first image and my first impulse is to get my lawn mower gassed up.
  2. I have never seen such a perfectly dilapidated building. Close your eyes. Can you see the rats scampering around the broken boards? Perhaps running up your legs?
  3. I look at that control tower and I see Gregory Peck in Twelve O’Clock High.
  4. That last image? Don’t you see Harrison Ford moaning and rolling his eyes as he says: “We’re going to need a bigger lawn mower…”

EGCB comp 1

Night lighting?

Are you kidding? Two fire-flies would put out more light than the one light bulb hitting the parking lot.

EGCB comp 2

Of course, by now you may be getting the idea that there’s more to this file than a small, run-down grass air-strip. Yup, actually a lot more, though it’s not immediately apparent exactly what’s what. You’ll need local knowledge, or a really good map, for all those answers. The images below?

  1. A BMI 319 departing EGCC to the NW;
  2. Arriving from the north for EGCC, both above EGCB;
  3. The GMP helo (Greater Metropolitan Police) base;
  4. I don’t know what this is, but with a tennis court and a swimming pool…may I join?

EGCB comp 3.png

More details? Look below:

  1. Barton Locks on the Manchester Shipping Canal, airport in background;
  2. Nearby stadium where old men watch boys in shorts run around kicking balls;
  3. Note the car park ahead? From here you can’t tell if this is an ortho or a modeled lot with placed objects;
  4. You have to get within a few hundred feet before you can be sure this is an ortho. This is what’s meant by the term “hi-res ortho,” by the by. Compare this to the car park in the Montego Bay, Jamaica scenery we reviewed yesterday. Try not to laugh. Unless of course you bought the file. Then…feel free to cry.

EGCB comp 4

So…now we get to the real meat of the matter. Look at the image below, and note EGCB bottom right. Now, a few inches above centre-fuselage you’ll just see another airport, and this is EGCC Manchester International. And all of this city detail is, of course, available when you depart or arrive EGCC, and for me this was the deciding factor.

Will I use EGCB? I suppose – now that I have it – I may from time to time. Those odds increase if Orbx does in fact release a large area UK landforms file. I’ve been looking at the forums, I’ve seen what’s being hinted at, and I am seriously intrigued.

EGCB end

When you get right down to it, I reckon I’m not so different from most people flying in X-plane. I like heavy metal files but quite often find myself wanting to spend time in something simpler, usually my Waco. Problem is…flying VFR in Xp can be dull. Like, central France looks just like central Texas. But…what would happen if all of a sudden you had a country-sized landscape that looked like what you see just above? A landscape that reveals subtle differences based on reality, not an algorithm developed in an office in South Carolina.

I’d love to fly that shipping canal, from lock to lock and all the way to the sea. Or fly from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway – about a hundred feet above Hadrian’s Wall. Or even buzz the locks at Fort Augustus on my way to Loch Ness.

I could get excited about flying GA again, ya know? And that’s why I pulled the trigger this time. I want to experience that, even just a little, right now – and you can too, right now, just a little, with this file.

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So…rate this file?

No way.

It’s Orbx and ratings just don’t apply – not really. What can you compare a file like this with – or to? Nothing – not really, though I suppose the case can be made someone might compare it to what’s available in FsX or P3D. Not me, however. Never been there.

The only “rating” I can justifiably apply is simpler still. Did this file live up to expectations? My expectations, of course, as I could hardly know yours.

Well, yes. In fact, it easily exceeded those few minimal expectations I held. EGCB is what it is, a small grass airfield with a couple of nice hangers and a fun control tower. Ditto the  GMP helo-base and the club-house area. Very nice. But it’s the area beyond the airport that grabbed my attention. Still, I found EGCB to be something quite special. Never, not once in more than a decade of flying in X-plane has a file made me want to break out my lawn mower. And yes, I’m kidding – but not as much as you think. I say this because this is the best grass airfield I’ve ever used in Xp. It looks and feels convincing.

I also kept thinking of another freeware developer while using this EGCB. Scottish Wings, and his prosaic, almost Arcadian landscapes dotted with cows and foxes and, yes, an airplane or two. Until Orbx releases their greater UK files, EGCB will fit in nicely with a few of Scottish Wings freeware airport files, and that will make for some seriously phun phlying.

‘Til next time – C

Posted in First Look, Scenery: Europe, X-plane Orbx scenery | Tagged | Leave a comment

x+s+r // skyline’s mkjs

xsr mkjs hdr

Adrian didn’t want to touch this one so he left it to me. Thanks. I think. So yes, every now and then a file like this comes along, one that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Kind of like…”I just spent twenty bucks, for THIS?” And yes, THIS is one of those files. If that’s all you need to know then click off and go on your merry way, because that’s all there is to say. No one likes to write a review like this, but someone’s got to do it.

It’s my turn today.

MKJS hdr

So, here we have MKJS Sangster International, located at Montego Bay, on Jamaica’s north coast. The file in question was converted from a LatinVFR FsX file by Skyline Simulations, who last showed up on the Xp scene with another converted file, that for KSNA John Wayne, in Orange County, California.

After looking this file over it’s time to state the obvious: just because a file comes from FsX does not mean the original file is all that big a deal. In fact, what we have here amounts to little more than a mediocre freeware file – one that will end up costing you twenty dollars. It’s called “buyers remorse,” I think. You know…when someone sells you a Mercedes and you find out it’s really a Trabant?

Looking at the first set of images below we have a bunch of trees that are obscuring a woefully inadequate (i.e., blurry) ortho. The “parking lot” in front of the terminal is made by this blurry ortho, though a bunch of cars and objects have been dropped on it; the results are dreadful, and most reputable freeware developers moved away from doing things this way years ago. Next, take away the static aircraft and there’s almost nothing on the ramps. Next item? Want rooftop details on the terminal buildings? Not in this file. Last, how about the entry to the terminal? Well, don’t get your hopes up. What you get is more blurry mess, no lighting, almost no cars and no people. In short, a converted file plopped down on a smeary ortho. No roadway detail. No curbs. No trees. No light towers.

MKJS comp 1

In the end, the entry should have looked a little like this…

real entry

While the terminal should’ve looked a little like this:

real term

And the overall area a little more like this:

ge

…and not a blurry mess.

Turn out the lights and things get better, if only because most of this file’s inadequacies simply disappear. In fact, most of the buildings are so poorly lighted they disappear completely – which is NOT a bad thing, considering. The parking lot and the main entry are huge black holes, the window textures are smeary blue blobs and, as you can see in the last image, someone couldn’t be bothered to line up the textures correctly.

MKJS ncomp

Is it just laziness, or does this developer think people don’t care? But that begs the real question. If people spend money to purchase an accurate reproduction of the original, what have you accomplished when you produce a file like this one? Not much?

Note the first image below? Note where the parking lot is, and the terminal entry – just for reference. Now go to the second and third images and compare these two. Same location, different times of day. The terminal and control tower simply disappear at night. Very nice effect. All payware should be so nicely done.

MKJS comp 2

Again, we’re repeating the last image above for your convenience, so you can compare with the two images just above. There are all kinds of different texture effects being used here, some I’ve not seen since Xp version 8/9; there’s no area lighting around most of the terminal buildings, work areas, parking lots, or smaller buildings. It’s like no effort was made to even bother making this look like an airport. How about lights by exterior doorways? Light posts to illuminate areas in shadow? Lighting in the parking lot? How about terminal building lighting generally so the terminal entry is at least visible at night?

Below, if this file has a good side you’ll find it in daylight and only if you ignore the usual amenities like ground clutter. The JarDesigns Ground Handling package is essential here – if only to break up the monotony. The nice looking building below? If you look at images of the real building you’ll note the colors used here look a little off.

real term 2

MKJS comp 3

The older, “white” terminal building just looks nothing like what’s on the ground. Colors and details are just not payware quality.

For comparisons sake, I’ve included a few images from renair’s freeware file, and while it’s not as well done as some of tdg’s files, it IS at least as interesting as this payware file – and you will save 20 bucks, too.

MKJS FW renair

If you feel like dropping money on inferior files that’s your business, but Skyline shouldn’t have brought this file to market in its current state of development. All this file really has to offer is a huge ortho and some beachside hotel developments; the airport file is, at best, not payware quality.

What this file implies about the market going forward is lost on me, too. Does it mean that just because a file comes from FsX some developers think people will snap these conversions up? Do some developers really feel comfortable selling files that are no better than freeware? ( – and in this case, there are literally hundreds of freeware files out there with much better quality than you’ll find in this file.)

To me this file smacks of an unscrupulous developer rushing a poor file to market, trying to cash in on an emerging market by taking advantage of buyers who may not know better – yet. What Skyline has done, instead, is tainted the market for these files, and that’s not good. So, what has Skyline accomplished with this release, other than to ruin their reputation? I don’t know. Time will tell, but I’m not looking forward to their next file – whatever that may be.

In the end, what this file really represents is a wasted opportunity. When a payware file comes along for an area where there’ve been few files of any sort, it’s really fun when the file brings something new and exciting, and even interesting to X-plane. Skyline’s file brings an ortho and good beachside development to the game, and that may be enough for some people. Others may like this file simply because it IS better than nothing, and it IS a little better than most previous freeware files. In the end, it could have been so much more – but this is it now. This will be MKJS in X-plane, for better or worse.

Good Points:

Looks good – from 2000+AGL and on approach.

Nice ortho with good hotel development scheme along the beaches.

It’s better than no airport file at all, but renair’s freeware file is as interesting.

Small file, performance not an issue.

Bad Points:

Really? Do I need to go there?

Recommended? No, unless you really, really need this airport; in which case, try renair’s file first.

– C

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x+s+r // uuee + 2 smaller russian airports

xsr russia hdr

So…here we are, two weeks since the last blitz of new scenery file releases and it feels like we’ve entered a wilderness, an uncharted zone of tapering development. What’s going on out there? The only new payware file at the Org is a dour looking Montego Bay, Jamaica, and it looks so uninteresting I just can’t bring myself to buy it. I mean…even the promo images feature run-down concrete covered with mildew. Yeah, that’s Jamaica alright, but who wants to pay for an airport that looks like that? An important question arises…it feels like some scenery developers are concentrating on bringing out airports few people have expressed an interest in? If that’s the case, they have no right to complain about poor sales if they keep taking this path. Is there any concerted marketing effort to determine which airports out there people are really interested in purchasing, or are developers just making what they want and hoping for the best?

I hope it’s not the latter. If so, we’re in deep trouble.

On a different note, I guess by now everyone has read about Southwest Flight 1380…

SW Flight-1380

A fan blade cut-loose and it looks like an compressor burst followed, shredding the containment shroud and holing the hull. You can see the slats above and get a pretty good idea of how much aerodynamic damage ensued, and yes, obviously the PIC did a great job of bringing the stricken 737 in for a safe landing. And…here’s the pilot, Tammie Jo Shults, the image taken as she walked down the stairs after the landing:

SW3

And another image of her, taken in the early 90s:

SW2 Shults-840x420

Yes, she was one of the first female naval aviators to pilot the F/A18, and later she transitioned to EA18 Growlers before moving on to train pilots. Then she went to Southwest Airlines – and destiny put her at the controls yesterday.

We’ve long tried to make the case that girls and young women should be using X-plane, getting familiar with flight as soon as possible then moving on and following their dreams. My guess is that Captain Shults’ actions will inspire an entire generation of young people, maybe quietly, maybe behind the scenes, to rethink the role of women in the cockpit.

She’s being hailed as a hero. And she’s avoiding the spotlight. Not one interview.

Food for thought, ya know?

So, with the continuing drought in new file releases, we’ve been sifting through all the old files we’ve not covered while looking online for a few hidden gems, and we ended up heading east this time out…checking in on one of the most vibrant communities in X-plane.

Yes, Russia. Not a country many will visit in their lifetime, and that’s a shame. Russia is a land – and a people – enshrouded in popular western mythologies that must seem impenetrably unfair to the people living there. “Why don’t people come and see for themselves? Why must we remain a mystery?”

Well, I suppose geopolitical inertia is hard to overcome. Possibly the hardest of all.

Yet here in X-plane we can at least take a peek behind the curtain, fly into a few of the most impressive airports our simulated world has to offer, and we can wonder…if only just a little…

…about – what if?

UUEE hdr

As in…what if I could fly into a huge airport literally ringed with fantastically sculpted, swan-shaped terminals? What? Allusions to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake? – in an airline terminal…? Seriously?

So yes, here’s the scoop. UUEE Sheremetyevo International Airport is one of Moscow’s three international airports, and, as such, it is an airport rich with symbolic importance to Russia (and recall, we covered the other two last year, link here). When visitors arrive for the first time in a “foreign country” – it’s often these gateway airports that form the all-important “first impression” visitors have of a country – and so, quite often, a great deal of effort goes into making these facilities as welcoming as possible. Not to mention as technologically breathtaking as possible, and as rich with culturally significant symbolism as the imagination can make possible.

And consider this: many of the (remaining) visible elements at UUEE were constructed for the 1980 Summer Olympics. Do you recall that American President Jimmy Carter led a humanitarian boycott of the Olympics that summer, and that Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev was not at all pleased? Tensions were high elsewhere that year, too. Iran was holding hostages in the US Embassy compound in Tehran and Soviet troops had recently “invaded” Afghanistan, while Israel was fighting everyone in the immediate area – yet again.

My-oh-my. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Anyway, in the intervening years UUEE Sheremetyevo has slipped in and out of regimes as easily as trees marching through the seasons, and it’s kind of interesting to think about how airports have become reassuring constants within our wildly fluctuating geopolitical storms. Think of all the history such places have seen and been a part of? If these walls could talk? Isn’t that the old saying?

And maybe this is a good enough reason to consider putting this airport file into your X-plane install, but here’s a little more food for thought. This is a Drzewiecki Design payware airport file, so right away you know this is going to be an exceptional addition. After looking around for just a few minutes, you’ll know that’s true…so, are you ready for a walk down memory lane?

There’s a lot to see here, and we’ll touch on a few highlights today, so let’s go…

UUEE D

Sheremetyevo Airport’s Terminal D is Aeroflot’s new home, and yes, this is the swan-shaped terminal mentioned above. Yes, the interior is modeled. No, this is an older file so it’s not as well finished as DDs latest EPWA Warsaw. Then again, no file is as up-to-date as DDs new EPWA. Still, it’s easy to find DDs designer DNA all over this file – and that’s a very good thing.

Next stop? Terminal E, but let’s compare the difference in exterior shapes first:

UUEE DE

If Terminal D is a lyrically inspired swan – and a product of the “openness” experienced in the early 2000s, Terminal E is covalent bonds and the molecular shapes symbolized by the march towards technical supremacy we might associate with 1970’s Soviet-era ambition. Side by side, they are quiet monuments to history caught in time…caught here and perhaps before they vanish under the next waves of change. Below, scenes at both D and E.

UUEE comp 1

And a few details, notably DDs Jetways, from both:

UUEE comp detail

DDs articulated Jetways are the best in Xp, and when compared with satellite overheads, the ramps at DDs UUEE look very accurately modeled. Ramps are a little bare, many ramps and buildings are a little too dark at night as well, and my recent Xp.org payware download had no static aircraft file so these ramps are devoid of aircraft, too. When starting from cold and dark at any gate here, my aircraft invariably opens about twenty feet short of the Jetway. Too far to work, in other words. Why? Because this file has apparently not been fully optimized for v11, and the download needs to be updated.

On the far side of the airport you’ll find one more terminal, Terminal C, as well as a new terminal still under construction. The new main control tower is located here too, and it’s one of the best executed designs in X-plane – with a completely modeled interior just one highlight. The tower is a “futuristic” exhibition of Disneyesque architecture that feels like it belongs in someplace like Epcot or Tomorrowland, and it’s a brilliantly executed model that commands a lot of attention in this file.

UUEE C

For some reason textures were much sharper on this side of the airport, too. Maybe newer work? Or a hyperactive imagination?

UUEE c2

Anyway, I’d assume an update is headed our way soon. Hopefully, please? With a few tweaks here and there this could easily be in the same league as EPWA v2, which is saying something. That said, this file is still an easy 10 out of 10, a Must Have file for extending your time in Xp to all kinds of new places.

And should you decide to do so, consider adding the next two files to your scenery folder. You won’t regret it.

USSS hdr.png

When you open at this airport you’re immediately struck by this file’s intricately modeled Jetways, then the control tower commands your attention. If you really want to see some modeling excellence, you’ll then check out the night textures:

USSS n1

Yeah, they’re THAT good, and with textures at MAX the image is so crisp it looks better than real. In fact, this airport file is overflowing with excellent features, from the models to lighting to clutter on the ramps.

USSS comp 1

What’s a little harder to swallow for many aviators in Xp is the location, which is east of the Ural Mountains and so quite a haul to either Europe or the Pacific coast region. Still, look over the list of airports and destinations here, and note that Finnair flies to EFHK, Czech to Prague, Ellinair to Thessaloniki, and several carriers to Dubai and various airports in Turkey. If you fly principally in Russia this is in the middle of the action, but you already knew that, didn’t you?

Still, this is a 10/10 Must Have file if you want to hit the airports listed, especially UUEE.

//

And here’s a superb file located on the Ukraine’s northern border, and so convenient to central and eastern Europe. The only issue? Most flights are domestic, with just a few charter flights to Turkey the only real international service. Still, this is a great airport file with a superior main terminal model.

UUOB

I recommend you head over to X-FLIGHT.SU and roam the files there, pick out the ones that interest you. Some of the best modelers in X-plane post there work here, and hey – you never can tell where your curiosity will take you.

Y’all have fun out there – A

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x+s+r // eddk v3 + lgza + lesa

xsr eddkv3 hdr

Quietly slipping on and off the modified resources page at the Org last Sunday, EDDK Köln-Bonn came out over the weekend – yet I saw not a peep from the usual news outlets. Odd…as just a few months ago this release was kind of a big deal.

Well, guess what? Cedric Gauche’s EDDK v3 is still a big deal. This team has been on track to produce one of the best freeware files in X-plane for a while, and their latest results are simply GREAT. Textures are clean, and window textures on the main terminal building at night are a spectacular improvement, but that’s not all this team has in store for you…

EDDK hdr

First up, complete TerraMAXX integration. You have to do NOTHING to get this compatibility; no file swapping, no plug-ins. Just hit winter in TerraMAXX and the two files get to work. Still, that’s not all, so let’s take a look at the change log:

– Terramax seasons

– New day and night textures for many buildings

– New vegetation and trees

– New buildings (Fedex terminal 2, P1 & P2)

– Better peformance

– Ortho for airport and surroundings (ZL20) with snow textures for Terramax

– Custom mesh with sloped run- and taxiways

– 2018 ground layout Delta Apron

– 3 static 767F Star Air aircrafts

– Documentation in English and German

– Configuration options for visuals, performance and or using another mesh / orthos.

EDDK sub hdr

Installation is straightforward – unless or until you want to start reconfiguring the pre-programmed options – then…watch out. This is a huge, 2Gb file with tons of variations available, so proceed with caution. Or, just leave it all alone and enjoy the stock version. It’s all most of us will need.

EDDK comp 1

Once again, the UPS and FedEX facilities are front and center, but passenger options are solid here. Read about all the airlines and destinations here.

Still a solid 10/10 Must Have file. Don’t miss this update.

//

LGZA

Just a few hundred miles south of Corfu, LGZA Zakynthos is sure to impress with its attention to detail and great location. Limited airline operations here due to sensitive environmental issues, this is nevertheless a sweet little airport file you’ll want to keep onboard for all your Homeric travels.  Details here.

LGZA2

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LESA

LESA Salamanca, Spain arrives today freshly revised, and I’d say the results achieved here are worth updating your present installation. Better textures and an improved parking area are the standouts in Hades_ESP’s revision, but I’m not sure why that EMB-145 is parked on the roadway? Back-seat driver, perhaps?

//

EHVK

Are you looking for a place to repel the latest invasion from our friends in Moscow? In need of a place to host your next post-apocalyptic UFO seminar? If so, look no further, because here at Cheerful Chuckies Cheapies Used Air Base Emporium we have everything you need to stoke all your paranoid fantasies and delusions. Need an airbase in those oh-so-easy to overrun “low countries?” Well friend, here you are, ready to go for a return engagement of all your worst nightmares – so why play “duck and cover” when you can rumble with the Big Boys right now? KC-10s, B-52s and all  manner of stealth aircraft are available to repel the slavic hordes as they rape and pillage their way across Western Europe. Our recycled bases won’t last long at these prices too, so stock up now while the price is right!

Y’all have a good day. Later – The Saint/XX116

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