x+s+r // freeware june 15th 2018

xsr ukbb hdr

Above, coming into Sydney after flying across Oz from the Broom and man-o-man, there’s a whole lot of nuthin’ on that flight. All of Australia needs an ortho to do that flight justice; you overfly the Ayers Rock area and the ortho kicks in and things get interesting – for about two minutes – then its back to mile after mile of auto-gen blah. So…the point here? Orbx’s YBRM is kind of neat, but it’s an airport file in search of a greater context. A few more Orbx quality airports in the region would make this one worthwhile; as it is, there are a few options but doing them over and over is about all you’ll get with this purchase. Flying from the Broom to Ayers Rock and back is a little more interesting, maybe three times.

If you followed the Sim Conference on Threshold you got to follow the live tweets coming from the main presentations on Friday. Not a whole lot to report, really, other than some incremental changes in default auto-gen and Vulkan-generated particles. PMDG had nothing new for the X-plane market and I don’t know…maybe its time we just gave up on them and moved on. They obviously have other priorities…and we have IXEG…so really, who cares? Yes, we really need a good 787 and yes, we really need a Canadair C300, but waiting for PMDG to make them for Xp is a waste of time. What PMDG DID announce, a subscription-based global/real time airline operations scheme, will appeal to hard-core airline enthusiasts – or ATP-rated pilots training in-sim – looking to give their time in FsX/P3D a deeper layer of operational realism. Casual simmers will have little interest in this type of scheme, I’d assume, as the parameters of this type of experience are way beyond the typical users needs.

A few interesting freeware files out, so let’s take a look.

First up, UKBB Boryspil International Airport, located about 20 miles east of Kiev, Ukraine. The developer is gaining experience with new assets in WED and it shows; the terminal buildings look quite good, and simulate a static environment to good effect. The file is also TerraMAXX compatible, a good point in its favor.

UKBB

A touching dedication, so read the accompanying text at the Org. We’d say this is a Must Have file in its current state, and it’s being revised so we’ll keep you advised as the file develops. You can find it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45201-ukbb-boryspil-international-airport/

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revised: paulmort’s LFMQ – Le Castellet International Airport

LFMQ

French Riviera biz-jet airport revised today. Nice airport, worth having around. Get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44989-lfmq-le-castellet-international-airport-france/

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revised: MWCR + Grand Cayman 

MWCR.png

Another freeware Caribbean airport worth keeping on hand, in an almost constant state of revision now and improving fast. Get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/44639-mwcr-grand-cayman-airport/

We’ll see you next time. Thanks for dropping by – A

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x+s+r // first look + orbx ybrm

xsr ybrm hdr

Well…THAT was different.

If Orbx’s aim is to get the audience in X-plane totally confused, they’ve achieved at least that much now. First Chicago, then the British Midlands…and now…the ass-end of nowhere (e.g., Northwestern Australia) – and a small airport that serves a community of 16,000. Tourism is the big thing out there, and approximately 30,000 people a year visit the area in order to swat mosquitoes and broil in the tropics. I suppose the crocodiles are quite friendly, and all the snakes are tame.

I’m sure it’s lovely.

So…the airport Orbx has created here will remind some of you a little of a Cami de Bellis file – only on steroids. The end result is almost cute, and taken as a whole the airport and surrounding town are as immersive as anything you’ve seen in Xp before. So, the Custer Gateway file now has some serious competition in one regard: the town is almost as completely modeled as the airport, though not quite as nicely as you found in the Custer file. There’s no interior modeling at the terminal (such as it is) and the lighting at night soldiers on with Orbx’s proprietary light-sources, yet the net result is something more than a little interesting: what we have is a hyper-detailed file that gets really good framerates.

This post is just a first look, and yes, we’ll follow-through with a few more stats and impressions as soon as we’ve had time to look this one over thoroughly, but first impressions do count. Look over the images below, then we’ll talk about ours.

YBRM 1

A little night music…?

YBRM 2

So. First impressions?

Mine was the Cami de Bellis thing; when the EADT x737/7 opened at Gate 1 I thought I was looking out at a Cami file. Then I started to look around more…and the first word that came to mind was…orange. Orange, as in dirt. And…that ought to pull you in, because the “ortho” is fantastic around the airport (notice the dirt and grass by the shadow in the takeoff image, above). Ramps, taxiways, and runway textures are beyond excellent…then move out into the parking lot and check out those surfaces. Move around the town, out to the point, to the loading dock and even into the mangroves.

It’s just impressive work. I say so as after a few minutes it was easy to forget I was in X-plane. You begin to think every where you turn you’re inside a 360º VR photo, and I’m sorry, but you don’t run across files like this very often.

So…what can you do with this file?

Load up the 737 of your choice and fly to Perth, Sydney, or Melbourne. Or…why not out to Ayers Rock/Connellan? That’ll be my first flight out of here, and who knows…maybe the Saab 340 will get a workout this weekend…?

The quick verdict?

This is a 10/10, and another Must Have file from Orbx. We’ll have more in a day or so – C

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x+s+r // seen around eddt

xsr eddt hdr.png

So…we were wandering around the ramps at aeroSoft’s EDDT Berlin Tegel today, and we came upon a few interesting comings and goings…

If you haven’t poked around inside Laminar’s MD82 in a while, maybe you should. SSG’s E-jets both came in for a facelift, including panel lighting and a lot of behind the scenes tweaks…

EDDT 1 SSG1

Here’s SSG’s changelog:

– LNAV at 200 and VNAV at 400ft
– Improved Autoland and follow localizer
– Now it is possible to select FMS without Route
– New CDU and ND popup Windows
– Fixed bug about fuel remaining at descent page
– UTC was not properly computed at NAV Ident PAGE
– VASEL is not shown as armed when VNAV Active
– Throttle can be managed when landing
– Enter temperature on digit at TRS PAGE
– Fuel Prediction improved
– Correct number Page At RTE Page
– Waypoint Altitude restriction respected without extreme vertical speed
  added LIM and OVRD A/P feature
– Fixed  AP sound  when landing
– Fixed  glass rain graphic glicth  when on the ground
– Tuned landing gear
– Tuned steering time
– Added T.O. Config ok sound
– Fixed auto-gate not working in XP 11.xx
– Default ground vehicle configuration fixes
– Better cockpit night lighting.

Subtle lighting change, but it’s there.

Once upon a time a Dornier 328 came out, like in v9…maybe? Well, the same freeware developer (MG) made some tweaks to the acf to bring it into Xp11 compliance, and here’s what she looks like now:

EDDT Do328

This project has always been on the fringe of greatness…yet the cockpit textures appear to lack texture baking and that keeps it in the freeware category. Not a bad file, and recommended if you want to tinker in an easy, fun to fly turboprop. The file is located here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/43052-mg-dornier-do-328/

A new VFR City file came out today, this time for City of Brandenburg/Saale, located SW of Berlin, Germany. In fact, depart EDDT on a heading of 252º and putter along for about 29 nmi and you’ll be there.

EDDT Brandenburg

And…you’ll find the file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45169-brandenburg-vfr/

Y’all have a good weekend – A

EDDT end

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x+s+r // helgoland + ngte + eddv + c207

xsr helgoland hdr

Not quite sure who’ll go for aeroSOFT’s latest scenery file, but it’s out. Helgoland (Heligoland) almost fits into a specialists niche in X-plane, and there’ve been decent freeware files for this airport/island as far back as version 8 – so the immediate question has to be: Was there a pressing need for this one?

Well, yes, I think the case can be made for this one. Easily.

If you fly around northern Europe this is a great training destination – for VOR navigation and even dead reckoning work (assuming anyone still does that kind of thing these days). It’s also an ass-puckering STOL airport that’ll test even the jaded among us, so you can consider this a fun airport to test your skills at. There are wind farms out and about, and they’re a minor challenge to find with vis set at around 20 nmi or less, so give that a try, too, and you’ll get your monies worth from this one.

Another thing to consider. Alabeo released their Cessna 207 Skywagon this week, and I’d say these two files were meant for one another. It’s not a cakewalk to land this thing on the shorter runways here, but give it a try. More below…!

EDXH 1

Flughafen Helgoland-Düne is located on the smaller of the two island out here (Düne), and it’s a gem. Built during WWII, the current iteration has been modified a few times recently but the runways in this file look like the originals, i.e., robust concrete and nicely textured. There are three runways, but one (6/24) is only 850 feet. The longest (15/33) is 1575 feet, while the most interesting in the C207 is 3/21 at 1200 feet. You’ve got to hit the threshold and make sure you have “Hold Brakes at Maximum” mapped to your stick! Another trick? As soon as you’re down raise the flaps immediately: you’re dumping lift that way and therefore applying more downward force on the tires, so you’ll have more braking force, sooner.

Alabeo’s 207 is kind of an unexpected treat, too. Rather that feeling like just another GA single, this acf is actually capable of becoming quite a handful – especially when loaded near max gross takeoff weight ( don’t try that here unless you want to swim from your Cessna). Anyway, you’ll find PBR materials on both the acf and main elements of the scenery file, and there is some HDR lighting scattered around the two islands so if you can, try to get HDR up and running on your computer.

Oh, the 207 is fully Xp11 compliant, and includes a “bush” option as well as a wheel fairings option. There’s a single G530 and a decent AP, but lite IFR is about all you’ll want to try in this rig. Where this file excels is at low speed; the 207 is a handful close to stall speed, and with an unexpected rate of descent that will catch the less experienced pilot with bad results. Of course, this is an advantage if you know how to use it, and with the powerful 300 Hp Continental up front you have what it takes to tame that beast if it gets away from you.

EDXH 2

Instruments are very clear and nicely lighted, and both the Garmin and the AP are “pop-up” enabled so quite easy to use. Of course, as Alabeo is part of the Carenado family interior detailing is second to none.

207 2

All told, aeroSOFT’s latest is a winner, but it’s aimed at a narrow market so keep that in mind. Back in v9 a file for EDWY Norderney came out and that’s an ideal jumping-off-point for this trip (out to the islands); you can find the file here. This part of the German coast is gorgeous (the East Frisian Isles) and it would be nice to see this old airport updated for Xp 11. Here’s a brief sequence from EDWY out to the islands in the new C210, to help put things in perspective:

EDWY 210

Still, I can’t quite bring myself to call this new Helgoland scenery file a Must Have, as it really is too specialized for a broad audience to take advantage of. That said, if you have any interest at all in flying around here, this is a good place to start, and the file really is quite good. You may find yourself entranced by flying around here, and note that Hannover and Hamburg are not at all far away.

The Skywagon? A Must Have for old school Cessna fans.

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Cami de Bellis’ latest Kiribati file: NGTE

NGTE

There are two airports in this file, both quite interesting, and CDB’s Polynesian villages are becoming more and more immersive. Get the file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45144-tabiteuea-atoll-kiribati/

or

Drop by her site and check out her work; donations encouraged.

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EDDV Hannover by Pfeffer

Updated to v4; this is a major update, and it’s worth the download. Get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/34929-eddv-hannover-airport-haj/

EDDV

Thanks for dropping by. Happy trails – C

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x+s+r // freeware quicktakes 6 jun 2018

xsr ehrd

EHRD + VRMM + LGKC + SPTN + KPHL + 748i

If crystal balls are anything like accurate, my guess is a whole bunch of files will release in Las Vegas next week. That said, the show should give us a pretty good indication of just how healthy our part of the sim genre is. Anecdotal evidence suggests a downward trend, but there’s not a lot to back that up. One positive trend? Airlines are going to need trillions of new pilots over the next decade or so, and there’s no better way to light a fire under a kid’s rear-end than to stick him behind the controls in X-plane and give her (or him) a lesson. I still think those of us in the community need to evangelize a little more than we do…share our passion with any one you can, but go out of your way to get teenagers off the latest first-person shooter and into something with a little more reality behind it – like a 737 in X-plane.

And speaking of 737s…EADTs x737 site has been down for a week? What gives, guys?

Anyway, a fair crop of freeware out over the last few days, so let’s jump right in.

EHRD Rotterdam

There’s been a decent freeware file for this airport since the late Jurassic period – or maybe from v8 onward, anyway – and yet this latest file is just about payware quality. Well, it’s better than some recent payware, but enough of that.

We’re generally seeing more developed ramp clutter and animation lately, with items like parked (static) aircraft with catering trucks and other appropriate ground clutter/action in view, and you’ll find some here in Rotterdam, too. Great ramps, in other words. Good nearby commercial development and what looks like a good ortho are in place. Terminal entry-side is well modeled, and you’ll find that many of the local commercial buildings have photo-textures, a rarity in freeware.

EHRD 1

This file really struts its stuff at night however, but don’t take my word for it. Take a look and see for yourself (and the cockpit shot is from the eadt x737-7)…

ehrd 2n

This is, I think, as good as we can expect from freeware, but with great ramp detail and a high quality terminal model that looks very much like the airport on the ground…? This is a 10/10 Must Have file, and you can get it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/39679-ehrd-rotterdam-the-hague-airport/

VRMM Velana International Airport, Maledives by fsclips

In the first image immediately below you can see a runway and some airport lighting…and at the far end of the runway some lights off to the right.

And…those are sailboats at anchor.

This airport might as well be a really big aircraft carrier! It’s located on a tiny island and water-taxis carry you out to any one of a number of resorts spread around the area, some on private atolls. Quite fun, in other words, and we’re seeing better quality coming from this new developer as he picks up skills. That’s fun too.

VRMM

A nice addition to your long-haul inventory – as this one is well off the beaten path. The Maldives consist of 26 atolls and islets located about 3-400 miles SW of the southern tip of the Indian Subcontinent, and the list of airlines and carriers is surprisingly long. One look at the image below might explain why…

Male real 1

Compare the airport in the file with these airport images, and you’ll see why we think this is a Must Have addition…for all kinds of reasons…

Male real 00

Male 3.jpg

Still, can you imagine what this file would be like with all the islands finished-out, complete with seaplane landings? Anyway, get the file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45019-vrmm-male-maledives/

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SPTN Tacna by jorgechin

We reviewed this one in our earlier Peruvian airports series, but here’s another version of SPTN Tacna, and it’s so good we think you might update your scenery folder with this latest version.

SPTN

We won’t go over all the particulars again but its worth the download for those doing short haul in and around the Andes; you’ll find the file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45071-tacna-sptn/

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revised: KPHL Philadelphia International and City v1.5, by StevePHL

Lots of ongoing changes in this file, with the airport proper now using gateway objects. Highly recommend you get this and look it over, especially the downtown area…as this one just keeps getting better-n-better.

KPHL

Get the latest version here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/38420-kphl-philadelphia-international-airport-and-city/

The SSG 748 series was updated today, and while most of this update covers instrument procedures, there’s also been some tinkering with the cockpit and other lighting. The improvements are subtle, but nice…:

748LSZH

Imaged at aeroSOFT’s LSZH…and for a reason, because tdg just released a new freeware LSZH, right on the heels of fsclips releasing another version of the same airport, and we have to ask: Why? Why…when one of the very best payware airport files in X-plane happens to be aeroSOFT’s LSZH? There are so many airports out there that need to be made…so again, why expend the energy to undermine the success of a payware developer? It’s one thing to make a freeware airport file and then have a payware developer come along with a duplicate effort – like UK2000s recent efforts at Edinburgh and London Luton – and that’s their business, too. But when a good payware file already exists is there really such a need for a freeware duplicate, especially when yet another version exists in the gateway airports series that comes with every copy of X-plane…?

Anyway, when such circumstances arise we won’t review the new freeware file. In short, we will try not to actively work to undermine good existing payware files with a review of new freeware. tdg’s work at LSZH is, as always, quite good, but that’s beside the point, and yes, while our purpose here is to look at new files, we have to look at what’s ‘best’ for all the varied aspects of the community, too, and we hope you understand. We’re quite aware of the potential to be seen as hypocritical, and we love tdg’s work, but our recommendation for a good LSZH Zurich is to buy aeroSOFT’s file, if only because it happens to be one of the very best payware files available in X-plane. We also think the SSG 748 series is getting quite interesting, especially for long haul drivers – A

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x+s+r // EagleAspen

xsr eagle

So, a little something different today, inspired by the chance appearance of a new KEGE Eagle Colorado that popped today in new freeware at the Org.

Well, let’s assume you’ve heard of Vail, Colorado. Big ski area, lots of big runs, big enough for the FIS Alpine Skiing World Championships to have been held there recently. Big money there too. Until recently if you drove by the airport you could see Trump’s gorgeous 757 ramped there. Former president Gerald Ford lived at Vail most of the time, too, so this airport is used to VIP arrivals and departures.

There is no airport in Vail proper, so nearby KEHE Eagle handles the chores. All of the major carriers operate here, and the biz jet ramps are almost as busy as Aspen’s. 757s are the largest ac I’ve seen operating here, while 737s and MD80s are the norm. The airport is busy year round, too, with modest lulls in spring and fall, and summer is as busy as winter. You can find the file for Xp11 here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/45052-kege-eagle-county-regional-vail-co/

Aside from the usual stuff, KEGE is at the eastern terminus of Glenwood Canyon, and the image up above is from the canyon. Interstate highway 70 runs along the north side of the airport (about a half mile away, really), and after taking off from the Eagle make a hard left turn, then another left over the highway – and proceed west a few hundred feel AGL. Do NOT be tempted to try this run in an F4 or similar aircraft; rather, you’ll be doing good to handle anything faster than 80-90 kias once in the canyon…but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves…

Here’s the latest version of KEGE (below), with an overview in the first image, following an AAL MD80 in the Da-62, then lining up for takeoff…

KEGE 1

All in all, this new file is decent enough. I drove by last year and all the buildings are shades of tan/gray and slate-brown now, but in the overall details this is not a bad effort.

Anyway, pick and acf that cruises around 80-100kias (the C172 is ideal), takeoff and head west down Interstate 70…

Yes, the highway really is split level, often cantilevered out over the river. And yes, that’s the Colorado River, quite near the headwaters so not very big here – except during the spring thaw/runoff, then it’s a raging nightmare. On the opposite bank of the river is the old Rio Grande Railway main line to Salt Lake City, and this is the line the California Zephyr used. Vista-dome railway cars manufactured by Budd made this line famous, by the way, and Amtrak’s California Zephyr still uses this same trackage, with semi-modern cars taking the place of the older Budd cars.

KEGE 2

At the end of the canyon you’ll come to Glenwood Springs, Colorado (the TB sanitarium where Doc Holliday spent his last days with Wyatt Earp is located here), and here you’ll make another hard left turn and follow Colorado Highway 82 to the S/SSE – for about 40 nmi, at which point you’ll dead end into KASE…

KEGE 3

You’ll fly over a little airport when leaving Glenwood Springs (there used to be a file for it too, back in v9…), and note the new aerial refueling tankers at Aspen! Again, just follow the divided highway all the way to KASE, and don’t get lost when you pass through the 2-3 small towns along the way!

It’ll take you more than an hour and a half to make this flight, and you may be quite tired after. This is a fun way to use that new KASE file, too, so give it a try.

Happy trails – A

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x+s+r // egph+egka+uuww/r

xsr egka hdr

Curious day.

FranceVFR’s self imposed deadline to release their new file in the South of France – in May – came and went, and all mention of the file is now gone from their site, too. Waiting for Las Vegas, perhaps? UK2000 released their new EGPH Edinburgh a day early, and from the looks of it they should have kept working on it a few more weeks. Then, out of the blue a new dev pops a GA airport in Britain, and it ain’t bad.

And then, unannounced anywhere, JustSim released a revised UUWW Moscow Vnukovo…

UUWW

With their v1.0 release notes, JustSim promised they’d add auto-gate support, and now, just a few weeks post release here it is. A few light features were corrected, a misplaced poly too.

Assuming Orbx releases perfect files that need no updating, I’d assume the scenery file wars will be won be those developers that identify problem areas soon after release and fix them ASAP. Unlike a bunch of devs that churn out “abandonware,” or worse…payware files no better than decent freeware.

Which leads to this interesting file…

EGPH hdr

Coming into a new airport, there’s nothing quite so interesting as seeing a lot of buildings defying gravity, and UK2000s new EGPH Edinburgh has a lot of interesting features just like this small radio building near the end of the runway (below). I could see floating warehouses in the background, too, so I quit Xp and made sure all remnants of tdg’s EGPH were gone (they were) and that the scenery packs ini file was squared away (it was), then I reopened the file and changed runway follows terrain contours to OFF and re-loaded the file.

No change. And no, no Global Airports on hand (mine resides in the trash) to muck things up. This file simply appears to be a stinker.

EGPH smooth sailing

But wait, there are more goodies waiting for you here, like the van below…apparently in quicksand. And do note the nice black windows too.

EGPH van

So, UK2000 continues their dark night textures and smeary ortho parking lot tour, but at least this time they included static aircraft (note: if you open the file with contours off, by the way, the static aircraft float about 20 feet above the apron). Both sides of the terminal building are almost totally dark, which might explain why there are not many revealing night images on the EGPH sales page.

EGPH dark entry

Want ground clutter? Lots of animated traffic on the ramps? Well, not here, but how ’bout an American Airlines CRJ for that extra added touch of realism?

EGPH BM ramps

Even the airport hotel is dark (below, right), and let’s face it, these ramps are DARK, too. Dark ramps make such a nice, safe work environment, ya know? Always so realistic.

EGPH BMramp 2

You will find some ground clutter – over by the cargo ramps. But without the JarDesigns GHE package there’s not much going on over there, either.

EGPH cargo

There ARE four lighted windows in the pax terminal, and they’re visible in this shot from the cargo apron below. Four. Windows. Lighted. Same blue texture UK2000 always uses, too.

Yowza. That’s just classic.

EGPH cargo 4windows

Now, after reloading tdg’s file let’s take a quick peek around. No problem with cars in the parking lots, or lights in the windows, or clutter on the ramps, or a lighted airport hotel…

Need I go on?

egph tdg

I feel a little put out this time, as all these little issues have plagued UK2000s files at one time or another and it just feels like this team either doesn’t care or they’re unwilling to learn from previous missteps. About all I can add is simply this: if you’re in the business of making payware scenery files you ought to do your homework. You ought to be able to produce a file that makes the best freeware file look a shambles in comparison to your work, too. If you can’t, I’m not sure what you hope to accomplish in this business.

So anyway, I kind of had a feeling if I bought this one I was going to get burned again. Guess what? I finally learned from past mistakes. Never. Again.

And the really bad part?

This file costs more than JustSims UUWW file.

 

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EGKA + Shoreham – Brighton City Airport by NKDesign

Checking the Org this afternoon I ran across this one and thought “why not?” – and I’m kind of glad I did. After EGPH I had a bad taste in my mouth and was ready for something interesting, and this new development team delivered.

Brighton is located about 50 miles south of London – on the Channel, of course – and this little airport is up to it’s eyeballs in History (just read the wikipedia entry for a taste), and the art deco terminal building is justly famous, too. Oh, here’s the interior, though this isn’t in the model:

EGKA int

You can see more images of the terminal at the airport’s official site, and you’ll find that the devs did a decent job here. Not perfect, but not bad for a first effort.

One weird item: the trees. Up close they look great; with increasing distance there’s a white fringe that makes them look almost snow covered.

EGKA 1.png

Love that the devs included the West Coastway railway line, as well as the WWII memorial seen below – and yes, it’s legible. Bravo!

EGKA 2

The Hummingbird Restaurant’s dining terrace is modeled, a nice touch.

Below, a neat trick. Open inside the hanger and the door is closed; flip the mains (red switch in Cessna models) and the doors snap open. Plenty of room in here for medium twins, but I’d say a King Air will be too big (MU-2, anyone?)

EGKA 3

If you want to increase your GA flying options in southern Britain this is a nice addition. Cross channel to France, Benelux, or even Dutch/German airfields are all doable from here, too.

Fun, nicely detailed, and a decent price all make this one a Must Have file.

Have a nice weekend – A

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