x+s+r // 727v3 + tokyo4xp city file

xsr rjbb hdr

Above, the IXEG 733 at UKHH. Just a reminder…this is the reigning champ of aircraft in X-plane. But Fly-J-Sim is mounting a challenge with their new version of the 727 series, and it came out earlier today…so we’d better take a look…

727 hdr

The much-anticipated upgrade to the Fly-J-Sim 727 is out, and the file is visually drop-dead gorgeous and technically a more refined product than before. If you’re a previous purchaser of this file from the Org Store, the upgrade price is half the new purchase price. Simply head to your account page and find your original invoice, and you’ll find your redemption code there. The Org also e-mailed update codes to purchasers so check your mailboxes, including junk mail, for an email with your redemption code.

That said, the first and most obvious question is: should you?

Well, if you’re still running Xp v10, no, you shouldn’t. If you’ve been using this acf in v11, all I can say is the cockpit was really, really nice before – and now it’s gobsmacking-gonzo-wetyurbritches purdy, and at night there’s simply nothing else in X-plane that beats the combination of adjustability and clarity you’ll find in this cockpit.

With a FOV of 100º and with HDR, textures and AA all at MAX I had no problem using the FOs instruments – from the captain’s seat. Texture clarity is astonishing. Lighting is hyper-immersive, with ambient glow spilling over onto adjacent panels, especially on the overhead. The flight engineer’s panel is operational, and it’s so well executed it brings back memories I thought long forgotten. In daylight? Well, the clarity is still there, and everything works better than before.

Let’s take a look…

727 pit comp

I’ll still say the IXEG 733 is the reigning champ of 3D panels, but Jack’s latest work has shaved the margin down to razor thin. You can add a CIVA inertial system (not recommended as very few were so equipped) or leave this as a pure steam-gauge panel with VORs and NDBs (if gunning for max realism this is the way to go).

Funny story. Back before the 757/767 program got the go-ahead, Bob Crandall, the CEO of American, wanted to re-engine all their 727s instead of commit to the new series, and get rid of the FE’s station. Then a few more carriers started complaining about the prices for the new, larger aircraft…and about that time Boeing let it be known that without the 757/767 program they would quite possibly cease to be. There was a lot of behind the scenes arm-twisting to get American onboard, and Crandall still wasn’t happy. His anger in large part was why AAL kept flying their 727s for many more years than most carriers, and the aircraft are so well built they’re soldiering on in the air cargo world with nary a complaint from owners and pilots.

The 727 was hailed as a pilot’s airplane from the beginning, in no small part because the axis of thrust for all three engines is so close to the prismatic centerline it’s often difficult to tell you’re in an engine out situation, and control with one engine out is simply easy. I managed to get my dad into a Braniff simulator and he had zero jet time (though lots of GA twin time) and he had no problem landing the aircraft with one engine out – with zero previous training or any sort of briefing. Even with two engines out control was still quite manageable, though rates of climb could become an issue depending on OAT and elevation. The NASA developed super-critical wing remains the most efficient Boeing ever put on a commercial aircraft, and this was the first ever use of triple-slotted Fowler flaps. Low speed handling was, as a result, superb, even in nasty crosswinds.

Avionics were simple in the earliest aircraft, with -100 series models delivered with top of the line Bendix flight directors at the captains position, yet often very basic instruments at the FOs chair – and by basic I mean instruments you’d find in an IFR equipped GA single from that era! By the time the -200 series came along panels were bilaterally equal, yet APs were modest affairs. Why? Because pilots were expected to fly the aircraft in almost all regimes except cruise…

Now let’s look at some exterior shots…first at the new PAKT Ketchikan, Alaska file. You’ll see tell-tale signs of HDR compatible PBR materials on most exterior surfaces, too. The aircraft is simply beautiful to look at, and on approach the leading edges really pick up interesting light.

727 ext comp

The Better Pushback plugin is integrated in this file – a first if not mistaken. Look on the overhead (near the center) and you’ll find the call button. Easy, and this points the way to the future, as Laminar’s balky pushback needs to go away.

Taxiing up the inclined ramps to the active at PAKT proved easy, with directional control and power easy to modulate, and there’s plenty of room for this modest wingspan here. Turning around at the end of the runway was easy and predictable, with good brake response noted. Exterior lighting made the experience pleasant.

Directional control on the take-off run was predictable and rock-solid, and elevator trim was very responsive on climb out. Flap retraction times are brisk, as was gear retraction. Sounds are exceptionally good for stock.

Flying a 727 on a normal approach is about as taxing as flying a light twin, and Jack’s acf has this aspect nailed. If you’ve been flying GA singles and twins for a while and have been reluctant to try a commercial jet – well – this is your baby. Don’t argue…just do it. You won’t regret it.

Below, some shots at RJTT Haneda, Tokyo, Japan, with the -200F freighter.

727 rjtt 1

In the imagery below, more of the Tokyo skyline is visible; what’s not apparent is the depth in this city file. The built up area exceeds 150 degrees, with skyscrapers, bridges, amusement attractions, wharves, docklands, and ships spanning a huge swath of real estate.

RJTT A380

Sadly, this new RJTT was pulled from the Org database just before publication this evening. RJTT_TOKYO_HANEDA_v1.01 came out this morning but was soon pulled; you might try the highlighted title in a Google search to see if it becomes available again. It is quite good

The Tokyo 4XP file is located here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/46395-tokyo-city-scenery-tokyo4xp/

Jack’s 727 is currently out at the Org Store, price just under 60 buckeroos if you don’t have a discount code. You’ll get three variants, the -100, the more common -200 ADV, and the -200F freighter.

Our conclusions?

Fly-J-Sim’s previous 727s have been very good files. This version 3 file is a worthwhile upgrade, with a cockpit – and new cockpit lighting – that is the class of X-plane. The big drawback? No interior cabin, no working doors, so any ground handling equipment will look kind of weird. You save framerates, so you win some, you lose some.

If you want to know what flying one of these classic birds was really like, load up at PAKT with the simple panel variant (no CIVA, no default FMS) and hand fly this puppy down to SeaTac, only using the AP on cruise (use the VOR mode, simplicity itself). After you do, flying an Airbus just won’t be the same again.

And then…do it at night. There’s nothing better than this to get into the whole heavy metal thing, BTW.

Below, the -100 in the first third party paint for the v3, a classic TWA “StarStream” livery from the late 60s-early 70s, departing KBOS.

727 twa -100

Thanks, Jack. You done good – A&C

 

Posted in Aircraft file reviews, First Look, Scenery: Japan, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

x+s+r // rjbb + pakt + kjax + ukhh

xsr twa748 hdr.png

aeroSoft’s Dortmund is now available at both the Org and Threshold Stores, and Dreamfoils Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante has been revised to Xp11 compliance, and it, too, is at the Org Store. A really sweet looking TWA paint for the SSG 748i by KD KORONAKIS came out a few days back, and those who like old school paint will enjoy this one, worn during the mid-70s thru the 80s all around TWA’s global route network. That’s it above, and you’ll see a few more images of her further down. Good to see this gorgeous aircraft wearing these bygone colors, too. Thanks.

As promised, we’ll start out this post looking at two versions of the Osaka’s international airport: RJBB Kansai – the first by relicroy and the second from tdg. We looked at Osaka’s domestic airport last time out (RJOO Itami), but Osaka Kansai is a totally different animal. Purpose built on a man-made island in Osaka Bay, RJBB has been hailed as an engineering marvel and derided as one of the costliest boondoggles in history. The island is, you see, settling faster than expected.

The terminal building(s) were designed by noted architect Renzo Piano, though neither freeware effort for X-plane comes close to doing this place justice; it’s all curves so probably too complex to model and/or render efficiently. Let’s look at some images of the real terminal before we dive into the files for X-plane:

RJBB real

The total land area of the artificial island is 10.5 square Km (2600 acres), including areas slated for future expansion, and there are currently two main runways open for business. Cargo OPS are significant here, and there are rail links to the mainland. Do keep in m ind this is Japan’s most up-to-date international airport, and it’s just not right that a major payware file for this airport hasn’t been made yet.

RJBB apc

There are more gates than can easily be counted and, of course, the most up-to-date landing systems currently available are in place. Major charting services provide ample coverage.

RJBB afc

Now, let’s look at reljcroy’s file, beginning with a view from shoreside towards the artificial island, then working our way in to the main terminal, then an overview of the island proper.

RJBB A1.png

Lots of details in this one, including a tank farm, the huge central AC plant, perimeter roadways, good paved surfaces with clear markings, and in some areas a lot of ground clutter. All foliage is rendered via the ortho, night textures are decent, and ILS systems calibrated. The control tower is not especially good, and at night looks almost garish.

RJBB A2.png

tdg’s RJBB is an older file (now almost four years old) and a bit less detailed. I’d also say it looks less like the real affair than relicroy’s file; if this matters more to you – and it might – tdg’s file gets better performance. The overall structure of the island and the airport is almost the same in both files, so the choice is easy. If you want more detail then go with relicroy’s file; if a slower machine is on your desktop, try tdg’s.

In tdg’s file, the semi-tubular main terminal building and the control tower are sub-standard for an airport of this importance, lighting looks like v10, but some of the smaller buildings are quite nice, especially at night. Again, this is an older effort from tdg and he’s improved quite a bit over the past three years, but I almost wish he’d revisit this one, as well as Haneda, and bring them up to date.

RJBB B1

You’ll find relicroy’s file (2016) here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/35606-rjbb-kansai-international-airport/

And tdg’s file (2015) here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/27332-rjbb-kansai-international-airport-japan/

While both get the job done, reljcroy’s newer file has more detail and better lighting, so I’d try that one first and check your framerates. Needless to say, once again what’s needed here is a seriously well executed payware file. I’d also say that the new airport at Kobe needs to be modeled ASAP, if only to round out the area.

//

PAKT hdr

We’ve seen a couple of freeware PAKT Ketchikans release the past few months, but after looking over this new developers file for that airport I think you’ll see this one is clearly superior in every regard. In fact, this may now be the best airport file available for Alaska, whether payware or freeware, and that’s saying something.

First off, Ketchikan is a coastal airport located in southern Alaska, about 60 miles north of the border with British Columbia. KSEA SeaTac is c660 air miles distant, while PAJN Juneau is c230 miles NNW; these are the number one and two destinations serviced by Alaska Airlines and Delta, though Alaskan serves a number of other cities in the region.

The airport is on an uninhabited island across a narrow channel from the town of Ketchikan, and access to the airport from the town is by dedicated ferry service; an attempt to build an auto-bridge to the island was ridiculed as “the bridge to nowhere” and funding was stopped in 2007…so ferry service remains the only link between the airport and its service area.

Good charts are available in all major charting programs.

PAKT chart

Oleg Shevchenko’s new file contains some of the best modeling I’ve seen in a long time, details are excellent, and textures convincingly immersive, with regional decorative themes evident in multiple locales. The first two images below are views from the front office in the IXEG 733 and the Rotate MD80 (day and night views), followed by images of both approaches. Please note the town across the channel, but more on that in a moment.

PAKT comp 1

I’ll next call your attention to the first two images below. I have never seen foliage as well done in any file, and in fact the effect here is almost painterly. This is the “entry” side of the main terminal area, with ramps down to the ferry docks and a sea-plane jetty. Details on the ramp-ways are outstanding, as are the rock breakwaters. Finally, the ramps, aprons, and taxiways are simply perfect, with clear markings and a decent amount of clutter. The docks and jetties are just perfect, with great detail, lighting, and textures. The only negative? Ramps are a little dark at night, but not a deal breaker by any means…

PAKT comp 2

Below, the view from the town towards the airport, and a quick comparison between satellite imagery and what’s in the file shows more attention to detail by the developer. Wonderful to see the developer taking the time to create such an immersive surrounding environment, and this extra effort makes the file worth the price.

PAKT 3

It’s the smallest details here that make the biggest difference. Look around the next two sets of images and just take it all in: the dock areas; details on the seaplane jetty; the covered walkways and wheelchair ramps up to the terminal; details around the main terminal building; including the spiral staircase up to the roof of the tower; and the steel bollards at the ferry terminal.

PAKT comp 3

And in the next set: the main terminals windows at night; the metal grating on the apron; night lighting on the side of the FBO building; night lighting revealing insides of mechanical plant; backside FBO stairways and car park; and last, the Alaskan “totem motif” band outside the EADT 737-7s front office.

PAKT comp 4

NOTE: the first two sets of images were made with Runway Follows Terrain Contours set to ON; the final two with it set to OFF – which I would recommend here.

At some point a winter version might prove interesting. All in all, this release comes as a welcome surprise, and for anyone operating seaplanes, bush-ops, or flying commercial routes in X-plane anywhere along this coastline, this has just become the Must Have file of the summer.

It’s currently at the Org Store for 25$USD.

//

QUICK TAKES

KJAX Jacksonville International is located on Florida’s Atlantic coast well north of all the action around Miami, but it is close to Daytona Beach so gets a lot of winter and spring vacation traffic. Delta, JetBlue, and Southwest are the big players here, but American, United, Frontier and Air Canada are seasonal providers. Silver flies Saab 340s out to the Bahamas from here, as well.

KJAX

This freeware file boasts extremely good detail on what is a complicated terminal building, decent night textures, good surrounding details like car parks, and note the multi-level parking garage is modeled as such, an excellent addition to a very worthwhile file. Get it here:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/46275-jacksonville-international-airport-by-lkp-designs/

//

Here’s a very, very nice UKHH Kharkiv International Airport in the eastern reaches of the Ukraine. Ellinair flies to Thessaloniki, while LOT flies to Warsaw Chopin and Wizz flies everywhere (sorry, couldn’t resist), and here’s the rest of the list. Lots of Soviet era details on many of the buildings, and the extensive work evident on these objects marks this file as a standout effort. Foliage and grasses are superior. All in all, a 10/10 Must Have file for connecting this region to Central and Eastern European as well as Russian destinations. 

UKHH

You can get the file here:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/46242-kharkiv-international-airport/

And that’s all for now. Seeya around the campfire – A&C

 

Posted in Scenery: Americas, Scenery: Europe, Scenery: Japan | Tagged | Leave a comment

x+s+r // thoughts on orbx kvuo, japan

xsr hdr

Adrian’s recent inflections on Orbx’s announcement and how “useless” their new KVUO Pearson Field might be left me thinking a little about that airport, and then about the differences between real world flying generally and in X-plane more specifically. And…I keep thinking about the 70% figure being bandied about recently: that 70% of Xp users are GA fliers and who may be inclined to stick with simple GA aircraft (which I take to mean the default Cessna 172). How many of those users will ever buy a payware scenery file, or even one or two GA singles? How many try X-plane and never even buy a joystick – only to give up in frustration? How many have never flown before and are simply curious what it might be like to fly an airplane – if only in a sim? It would be nice to know the answers to these questions, especially if I was trying to develop payware files of any sort, because that’s a huge block of users and my immediate concern would be simply this: if this group isn’t going to be an active part of the market for add-ons, can they safely be ignored? Or look at it another way…what kind of break-out add-on product would entice this huge group of people to take the next step and buy even a relatively inexpensive payware file?

Well, Orbx is one of the savviest players in the flight sim market – at least if name-presence means anything at all – and their fans are legion. And so far Orbx has released three files and each in a radically different part of the world (Chicago, the UK, and Oz), so they’ve not been particularly direct about trying to concentrate their efforts on one part of the world – yet. One might hope that such a concentrated effort will come in time, but assuming that might take a few years, where does that leave us?

Well, that leaves us with trying to fit Orbx’s latest offering, KVUO Pearson Field, into our existing network of good airports in the Pacific Northwest, doesn’t it?

So? What was one of the best GA airports released there in the last year or so? Well, my vote went to AirFoil Labs KAWO Arlington Municipal, just north of Seattle. Its well detailed and has all those visual training aids to help visualize how to fly a nice pattern, and when we reviewed that file we commented that the airport, as visualized by the developer, was an almost perfect training airport. And yeah, it still is, too.

But suppose you’re literally using Xp to learn to fly? You start in ground school, then get your 20 or so hours of instructor time out of the way before you solo, then you build more hours in the pattern before the next big milestone comes along…your first cross-country flight. Assuming you’re using KAWO for basic flight training in X-plane, the not quite 200 nmi flight down to KVUO Pearson Field is kind of a complicated but visually appealing VFR cross-country flight. Take off and fly right over SeaTac, then skirt Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens before dropping down to the Columbia River and landing in Vancouver, Washington. Or spice it up and fly over the Cascades out to Yakima, Washington before heading SW to KVUO. The point is, if you look at KAWO and KVUO as a team the two seem made for one another, and I’d hardly call either useless at that point. And with a detailed towns under the final approach areas? Again, KAWO and KVUO sound just like what’s needed for super-immersive training flights.

So, one last point, and it concerns that 70% group once again.

KVUO is almost a nightmare airport in the real world. It’s located just a little more than two miles from Portland International, so real world OPS are colored by all kinds of considerations that simply don’t exist at most other GA airports. KPDXs heavy commercial traffic – with all that wake turbulence and noise abatement procedures too, let alone the often unpredictable nature of the windy weather in the Columbia River Gorge all conspire to make KVUO a very tricky little airport, yet…does all that complication really apply in X-plane?

The short answer? Yes, it can, but only if you decide you want it to, and you’d really need to know about METARS and VATSIM to make all that happen…so, you’d really have to “work at it” to invoke all those parameters before those factors showed up in Xp. So, if you’re in that 70% group…if all you really want is two sweet looking GA airports and maybe the default Cessna 172 to putter around in, then you can have a scenic flight between two nice GA airports and not be out a lot of money. You can then add increasing layers of complexity over time if you so desire – or not – and if Orbx adds more airports in the region you’ll be ready to go – if and when. So…maybe we have the best of both worlds here?

So, no, I don’t see KVUO as useless. I see it as part of an evolving training region, and maybe some of the 70% out there will be tempted to see it that way too. Now…THAT would be something, wouldn’t it?

//

KVUO hdr

So, here we are…in beautiful Vancouver, Washington. If unfamiliar with this area, just recall that the US Pacific coast is made up by three states (from north to south): Washington, Oregon, and California, and Vancouver, Washington is located on the border between Washington and Oregon, and literally just minutes north off Portland, Oregon – a major metropolitan area. As such, you really need to consider KVUO Pearson Field as a suburban airfield that is in fact located in some very congested airspace.

You then note this is Class D airspace, so it is heavily restricted. Again, you’ll need to be very aware of the location of KPDX Portland International when using this airport under real-world conditions, because noise abatement rules are in effect, as are heavy wake turbulence protocols – and somewhat complicated arrival and departure procedures, too.

KVUO sect

Again, you’ll need to be aware of the operating protocols for KPDX arrivals and departures, as this is a very busy international airport:

KPDX plate

Because these two airports are just 2 miles apart they can confuse GA pilots new to the area. Here’e a video of an approach from the south, overflying KPDX and which reveals just how accurate this new file is:

Again, make sure you understand the spatial relationship between these two airports!

KVUO Portland context

Now, lets look at Bill’s latest masterpiece.

You’ll find all the detail you’d expect in a high-end payware file, including excellent foliage, good looking hangers and OPS buildings (with decent night lighting on hangers and windows), great paved surfaces and signage/markings, but what sets this file apart is the amount of detail (and effort) put into the facility’s surroundings, i.e., the town of Vancouver, Washington. You’ll first note the green highway bridge, and its spot-on accurate. Of course, you’ll also note Mt Hood off to the east as you circle the pattern and check out the town. This is a treat so fly low and take your time.

KVUO 1

As you might imagine, night textures are basic but above average in quality for a small GA airfield, though I’d say KTTF Custer has better night textures – but only by a very small margin. If headed north to KAWO Arlington Muni you’ll turn left once you pass the big green bridge (Interstate 5) and head for the Olympia VORTac (113.4), then on to SeaTAC, Everett, and finally KAWO. You’ll fly along the Rim of Fire, aka Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier, then Mt Baker, which will loom as you descend into Arlington. An alternate low level return route would be to fly low over Puget Sound, then follow Interstate 5 south to the Columbia River. Either is quite scenic, even in Xp.

In the third image below, arrows mark KVUO (white), the two primaries at KPDX (red), and downtown Portland, Oregon (in blue, far right). You’ll again note proximity and alignment of KPDXs runways as you turn north and head for KAWO (last two images).

KVUO 2

So, what we have in orbx/iBlueYonder’s KVUO Pearson Field is a nice suburban airport located in and around some inordinately complicated airspace. It’s not a beginners airport, in other words, at least not if flying under real world conditions. If you’re not, if you are just puttering around with no ATC and with real weather not a factor, then this is just another GA airport – albeit a very nice GA airport – to fiddle around with.

In the end I suspect that more than a few instructors will want to use this airport to help go over more complicated arrival and departure procedures, so that may well be the ultimate utility of this file. The hyper detailed area surrounding the airfield places this file among a select few airports in X-plane, too, with KTTF Custer Gateway and KAWO Arlington Municipal the other two currently available files that offer this level of fidelity to the real world. If you place a premium on this sort of visual experience you’ll want this file.

Anyway, Bill has turned out yet another Must Have file, and it’s at the Orbx store.

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After tinkering around Sapporo and Tokyo, it felt like time to check out a few other recent scenery files that have popped up around Japan over the last few months – and man-o-man, is there some good work out there to look at!

Japan is a fascinating place for a regional network in X-plane, too. With shorter overall distances than much of the E.U. or the U.S., and with an almost daunting geographical diversity (you can fly from raging blizzards to near-tropical conditions in the course of a morning). You can focus on short RJ flights or on fifteen hundred mile flights covering open water. You’ll see volcanoes through distant mists, looming over quaint seaside villages or the largest cities on earth. And now, you’ll find a handful of really good airports to call home in Xp. And I don’t know, perhaps like all good explorers who must from time to time push out into the unknown, maybe its time you tried something new, too?

We’ve recently looked at four airports in Japan, so lets move south a little today. Osaka, Japan is served by three major commercial airports, RJOO Itami, RJBE Kobe, and RJBB Kansai, and we’re lucky to have both RJOO and RJBB in X-plane. Let’s take a quick look around RJOO today, and we’ll hit RJBB in our next post.

RJOO Itami is the so-called domestic airport serving Osaka, and consider this city is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan, so it’s easily as large, and congested, as New York City. Itami is located inland and is surrounded by a dense urban landscape, and while it’s not a huge airport check out the densely packed aprons.

RJOO AGC

On the chart below you can make out the close proximity of RJBB and RJBE (which also handles domestic operations).

RJOO MRC

We’re looking at BriceB’s RJOO file today, and do note this is an Xp11 only file and it uses a bunch of scenery libraries; the results are impressive, and even night textures are quite nice.

RJOO 1

The list of airlines and destinations served is somewhat short, but encompasses most of the airports available in X-plane. As such, if you want to make RJ, 737, or MD80 flights around Japan, this is a great addition to get on board, but check out this video to get an idea of the variety of aircraft that fly into this airport.

If international long-haul flights are your thing, you’ll want to join us next time when we look at RJBB Kansai. In the meantime, you’ll fine BriceBs RJOO file right here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/41938-rjoo-osaka-itami-international-airport/

We’d call this a Must Have file for anyone serious about flying in and around Japan. That said, we’ll see you next time – C

 

 

 

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x+s+r // ekch + ukll

xsr ekch hdr

The X-Craft E175 revised to v2.4 today, see the minor change-log, and you can update through your vendor, but do note there were many reports in the announcement thread that the new version is causing Xp to crash. You might want to hold off on this one for awhile.

It’s no secret there’s a real backlog of unmade airport scenery files in X-plane, and even with the growing list of Gateway airports sometimes what we end up with leaves a lot to be desired. That’s changing, of course, as Laminar’s art assets improve and as freeware developers get more comfortable with these new tools, but still we often end up with loose interpretations of airports, and not honest reproductions. Over the years such files have been labelled “place-holders,” because these files act as temporary “band-aids” to “fix” the lack of a full-featured payware file in XP. The trouble is, many such files are ludicrously modeled and look nothing like the real airport, while others are easily the equal to good payware, yet most fall somewhere in-between.

So…we have another one today. Let’s look a renair2’s latest freeware file, for EKCH Copenhagen Kastrup, and let’s start by watching a real A318 land and taxi to the ramps:

Now, let’s look at some imagery of the real airport, to get a little better feel of the place:

ekch real

First, if you’ve not been to the real airport it’s actually a little more dramatic than it looks in these images. Still, the area around the main terminal complex looks almost chaotic, doesn’t it, whether on the ramps or even out on the streets? And the airport is, for all intents and purposes, located “in” the city – so not miles away from urban sprawl but surrounded by the city itself.

Now, let’s look at renair2’s rendition and see how it might work for us, but first, read the release notes and you’ll find a disclaimer that says, in effect, this file is not meant to be 100% accurate. Okay, fair enough, but how close to 100% is good enough?

Oh, the Are Lingus Retro paint for the FF320 can be found here. It’s quite nice.

And do note, this airport was made using Xp v10 assets, was tested in v10, but does work reasonably well in v11.25rc2, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

ekch 1

As you can see in the night image above, there’s no terminal lighting in this file and that’s an issue, a big issue that needs to be addressed – but I think this is where the v10 art assets problem comes into play. Ramps are a little bare and the street side entry and parking areas are simply not modeled. The dramatic arrowhead shaped building is not really recognizable here, either, so what we have here is a v10 airport or, in other words, an airport file that, right out of the gate, is almost totally obsolete.

Below, the practical effects of not having terminal lighting can be seen out the cockpit glass and, again, this isn’t an ideal situation. The only meaningful lighting comes from the aircraft’s taxi lights, and the end results are really sub-par for a 2018 file.

ekch 2

So, this airport file will of course work as a place-holder, yet it seems that with a little more effort it might have been quite a bit more useful. Still, this release highlights two continuing problems in X-plane…the lack of standardization in our catalogues of art assets and the continuing lack of high quality payware airports, especially for the most important airports globally.

So, Orbx is going to release one more next to useless GA airport when the chronic need is for about two dozen major international airports that have yet to be made for X-plane. And I have to ask why? Fly-Tampa’s Corfu, as nice as it is, also failed to address this need, and why? aeroSoft just released two small German RJ airports but they have at least written they plan to get back to making big airports in the near future, and that’s a good thing but – why aren’t they already making more airports? And here’s the kicker: in the release notes for this EKCH file the developer states his new EKCH was a “by request” project.

Like…really?! No one is making the airports people want, so they have to resort to making requests? From a developer who doesn’t even use up-to-date assets? WHY?

Copenhagen, Orly, CDG, Arlanda, Helsinki, Lyon, Vienna, Madrid, Athens, Tel Aviv, Tokyo (x2), Beijing, Shanghai…the list is old and hasn’t really changed much over the years, and tdg is the only good freeware developer trying to tackle even a few of these, and currently only Helsinki has a really good freeware file available.

What is going on? Are payware developers really so clueless? Or do they focus on projects they want to make and ignore the needs of the market? If that’s the case, if they complain about poor sales who is to blame?

You almost have to be an idiot to not recognize the pressing need for the airports listed above, and if you’re a developer you simply have to be ignoring sound marketing advice to not be working round the clock on these airports. There’s money to made. The demand is there.

So? What is going on here?

Copenhagen is one of the world’s most important airports. The list of airlines and destinations is staggering (even Delta flies there!), but, then again, you can say the same thing about CDG and Orly and Lyon and Madrid and…

So. Renair2’s file is an adequate placeholder for daytime OPS only but is probably best suited for those still using Xp v10, which means the file is fatally compromised for most users and probably not worth the download – unless you really, really, really need this one. Which is why I’m keeping it, by the way. Because I’ve been waiting for this airport for almost ten years, and guess what? It hasn’t happened, and at this point I doubt it will.

//

LVIV hdr

We looked at UKLL a week or so ago and promised to come back for a more in-depth look, and, well, here we are…ready for a more in-depth look! Truth is, this is actually a really nice, really up-to-date freeware file and, assuming you need airports in and around the Ukraine, this is one you’ll want to get onboard as soon as possible. We mentioned the City of Lviv is hard by the Polish border and as such this airport will fit into route networks feeding into Western Europe, the Baltic region, as well as Scandinavia, not to mention Eastern European, Russian, and even Mediterranean destinations. The list of airlines and destinations is quite interesting, and well worth taking a look at.

Though the airport is fairly small, the new main terminal building is exquisitely modeled and is a highlight of this effort. Street-side details are impressive, trees and foliage are too, while ramps and taxiways are nicely painted and easy to navigate. The surrounding city is impressive, too. There’s simply little not to like here.

A word of warning: set runway follows terrain contours to OFF. Look at the second image below. That dip will launch you into a premature rotation – and crash. I know. It almost happened to me in SSGs little E-jet.

LVIV 2

Again, the main terminal here is nicely modeled AND well detailed, from Jetways to the surrounding fences and gates… There’s also a busy little construction site by the main apron, modeled roads and car parks that DON’T rely on smeary orthos to carry the load, and, as you’ll see below, tons of surrounding detail.

LVIV.png

The JarDesign GHE package helps here because the ramps are a little quiet (above), but once again, check out the details around the main terminal building, starting in the sequence below.

UKLL 3

When I look at this kind of work it runs through my mind that this was a labor of love, that the developer was personally invested in the final quality of this project. And that strikes me as an odd thought, too, because when you get right down to it every project ought to be conceived of and executed that way. These files are forever, in a way, because once an airport gets done rarely do we see duplicates being made. And that’s good…as long as the files being made are really worthwhile.

This one is.

And you can find it here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/46155-lviv-danylo-halytskyi-international-airport/

And that’s all we’ve got today. Hasta later – A

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x+s+r // orbx + toliss319 + vrmm

Well, well, well…Orbx hinted at some kind of special treat for us last weekend, so quite  naturally we were expecting a new file – but not so fast there, Kemo-sahbee, ’cause the big treat Orbx apparently had in mind was an announcement of what’s coming next. And no word on a date, just an announcement. You know what? If this is their idea of a special treat, my guess is those folks think their feet don’t stink.

Anyway, if you looked over their announcement you’d be tempted to think the airport they’re going to treat us with is some pristine thing out in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. Well, think again, Tanto.

Orbx

KVUO Pearson Field in Vancouver, Washington is instead almost right across the Columbia River from KPDX Portland International Airport, and do look over the sectional covering these two airports, because GA traffic at KVUO is heavily effected by wake turbulence from all the heavies coming into and out of Portland. While not out in the boonies, it should be a cutie, but…really??? Bill from iBlueYonder is back at Orbx and is making this one. Much ado about stinky feet, me thinks.

//

A quiet revision to the Toliss A319 slipped out Monday, and the acf is now at v1.1.1. You’ll find a modest set of enhancements to both textures and animations, and here are a few images with a new Fiji paint:

toliss 111

The panel color seems about the same, at least in daylight, yet at night it’s more yellowish-brown than even the JarDesigns A320, yet the throttle quadrant remains quite gray. Not sure I like this version; in the last image above all the lighting on the main panel is dialed down to get rid of the brownish glow. On the exterior, engine nacelles seemed to get a lot of attention this time out. Still, this is a great acf, one of the very best in Xp…assuming you like the Airbus paradigm, that is.

Here’s the change-log for this minor update:

ESC key can now be used to close the ISCS.
Improved CI-Mach relationship
Implemented an external volume slide to adjust external vs internal volumes to users preferences.
The default x-plane commands for EFIS mode change and Map zoom in now work on the captain ND
“Resume from last time” – can be used to restore the last autosave (in case of crashes) or the last aircraft state when X-Plane was shut-down/the ToLiss unloaded
Gear animation in replay mode is now much smoother
Texture updates by Matthew

Check with your vendor for update procedures.

//

alpha aviation’s VRMM Malé International – in the Maldives – is a worthy addition to your scenery folder. There’ve been several versions of this airport over the years but this one could be the best yet…with a few tweaks, anyway. I had a bright green artifact appear intermittently near the high-rise office towers on several occasions, and the terminal area could use more detailing. Other than that, this one is looking good to go.

VRMM

The airport proper has been cleaned up, and the addition of the built-up financial center on the adjacent island is a big improvement over earlier efforts, so if interested in routes traversing the Indian Ocean SW of Sri Lanka, this file might float your boat. Looking over the list of airlines and destinations reveals lots of opportunity for long haul flights to Europe and Asia, as well as Twin Otter flights to nearby islands…assuming someone makes a few airport files to go on a few of those small resort islands! BA, Air France, Lufthansa, Austrian and even Edelweiss get in on the act here, so fire up your Airbus and load your FMS…you got some flyin’ to do.

//

One of the enduring design flaws in SSGs 748 is the lack of wing loading, whether landing, taking off, or in level flight, and the lack of wing-loading is easily seen in the images above. Here’s a decent video showing an LH 748 taking off from LAX, and you’ll see what many people have been griping about.

Still a lovely aircraft file, and take a close look at Laminar’s default 744 and you’ll see the botched wing on that model. All I can say is: it must be an extremely complicated model to get right. Hopefully the forthcoming 742 will get the job done.

We’ll seeya next time, and happy trails – A

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x+s+r // mountains and sunsets

xsr rjtt hdr

Mountains and sunsets.

The two seem to go together – like Fred and Ginger.

Who?

fred ginger

Mountains and Sunsets is also the title of a piece on the You Only Live Twice soundtrack, a John Barry classic if ever there was one. I often putter in X-plane with music playing in the background and so found myself listening to this old album as I was flying south over Japan in Xp last night. As the music played I found drifting thoughts and fleet-footed memory teasing the way ahead. I’d just finished reading Adrian’s last two posts and had downloaded his finds and was on my way south. So many things on my mind…so much change ahead.

In these odd, hot summer doldrums, with wildfires blazing above the arctic circle and blistering hot temps in places like Stockholm and Helsinki, X-plane feels like a kind of perfect place to go to fritter away a few hours. You could almost call it an escape, couldn’t you? Who knows? Maybe for some people it is, but actually, I kind of doubt it.

Can you imagine going into X-plane and, like watching a movie, sitting back with a coke and popcorn and passively taking things in? No…I can’t either. X-plane – and flight simulators in general – just don’t qualify as passive entertainment, do they? No, they’re active engagement with a number of cognitive faculties, some basic and others quite complex, but unless you’re “flying” an Airbus on AP, flying actually requires a lot of the pilot. I guess the point here is you’ll rarely see a real pilot in the ‘pit piling down one Coke after another while shoveling prodigious quantities of popcorn, and I have a hard time thinking of flying in Xp as simple entertainment.

One of the things that passed through the gray matter once upon a time, the idea of using Xp as a teaching and learning tool, is something I hope many of you have thought about, but something else was nagging away in the back of my mind…and that’s the recently quoted statistic that 70% (or more) of users in Xp are GA flyers with, apparently, little to no interest in flying larger aircraft. And that got me to thinking…just how many of these GA pilots fly in places beyond their comfort zone? In other words, if some of these GA pilots live in Texas, how many fly in places other than Texas? Or…Colorado? Do they ever tire of the Cessna 172? Why, or why not?

So, I was thinking about this stuff while “flying” late last night from Sapporo to Tokyo, yet I was in fact sitting at my desk here in the good ole U. S. of A.  And I’d rather fly anywhere other than here in my own proverbial backyard, too. Give me Tierra del Fuego any day of the week, please! So…why is my comfort zone so different? Because I flew a lot in real life? Somehow I doubt that’s the case.

Because – and strictly from a pilots perspective (in X-plane, anyway) – flying from Hokkaido halfway down the island of Honshu isn’t any more challenging than, say, flying from San Diego to San Francisco. But…while flying down in Fly-J-Sim’s bodacious 732 last night (and I do mean flying from VOR to VOR with little help from the AP) another little thought passed my way.

If you’re a die-hard GA pilot and like to fly one of Carenado’s new twins, say the Aero Commander or the Piper Navajo, what keeps you from making the leap to heavy metal?  My guess is it’s the perceived complexity of programming an FMC; most of us who’ve used these things on a daily basis are used to all the bother, but to a newbie these beasts can be troubling, even off-putting. With unusual data input formats and syntax often difficult to grasp, not to mention somewhat time consuming, it’s no wonder heavy metal remains an activity few in X-plane really “get into.” You need a serious level of commitment to wade into the deeper waters of FMC programming.

Enter the Fly-J-Sim 732 and 727 series and, to a degree, the IXEG 733. All of these aircraft can easily be flown in “steam-gauge” mode; i.e., without having to use an FMC to get from point A to point B, but Jack’s 732 has got to be the most satisfyingly easy to fly “old school” heavy metal jet in X-plane. After getting the wheels-up last night, it struck me how easy it would to transition from a twin like the Baron to Jack’s 732, and when (or if?) you do a range of new opportunities opens up to you in X-plane. Sapporo to Tokyo in the Baron is more than a three hour flight, but it’s just half that in the 732. And yet, there’s another opportunity which is, perhaps, even even more striking.

If you start tinkering in something like the 732, why not break out of all your other comfort zones? Why keep flying from Dallas to Houston when you can break out of your rut and try new places like Japan or Scandinavia? Is it the FMC problem again?

So, think about it…just how many default heavy metal aircraft these days don’t have an FMC? Uh-huh, that would be zero. You see the problem? And Jack’s 732 is one answer, too, but once our hypothetical 70% GA pilot breaks free of the rut why not try the Leading Edge Saab or even the IXEG 733? Who knows where this might lead, you know?

Maybe from Sapporo to Tokyo, but maybe Laminar needs to revisit the whole heavy metal thing. Maybe what X-plane needs is an old steam gauge DC-9-10 – with no FMC, no bogus INS, no nothing to program. Just VORs and ADFs, just the kind of panel someone who’s comfortable in an old school Cessna or Piper can relate to.

Yup. Mountains and sunsets. Somewhere over the rainbow, I reckon.

//

Adrian’s imagery reminded me…Jack’s 732 is a gorgeous aircraft, and the animated air-stairs (fore and aft) are such a joy to watch unfold. Watching the Better Pushback tug approach and lock-on is too, and in the third image below look at the light from the tug bouncing off the 732’s overhead panel. Great effects like this pull you in…and it’s just this kind of little detail that is making X-plane such an immersive joy. And this airport! Freeware doesn’t get much better.

RJ flight 1

Taxiing and taking off in the 732 isn’t radically different than a twin like the Baron (as just about any LH flight instructor will confirm), and in X-plane the differences that remain are mitigated by hardware limitations. You’ll never get the kind of feedback through hardware joysticks and rudders that you’ll feel in a real aircraft, though basic control inputs will be similar…so there are limitations and qualifiers at work here.

RJ comp 2

In the third image above you can just make out another 737 scooting along a few thousand feet above. Kind of a hoot, too, when you think about it. It’s not as fun to fly in empty skies, and between SkyMAXX Pro and Xp11’s new textures, the view out the front glass is getting very nice indeed, but having some company up here is a whole new perspective.

Below, coming into Tokyo, or, more specifically, coming into tdg’s RJTT Tokyo Haneda International while passing over a nicely done Tokyo city file…

RJ comp 3

Interesting that aeroSoft included such a complete Dortmund city file, isn’t it? Can’t wait to try it. And also interesting how important these city files are becoming to the way we experience major airports in Xp. It wasn’t all that long ago that xpfr’s Paris city file was the only game in town; now of course there are dozens available, yet Dortmund marks a transition of sorts. How many payware files do we have where the airport file includes such a large, well conceived city included with the purchase? Is this a change brought on by the arrival of Orbx? Will our expectations evolve now? Will the market demand this kind of addition?

RJ comp 4

Anyway…I’m flying on to RJNS tonight…still getting caught up and glad to be home…and it’s so nice to see Japan is getting some attention by our freeware developers. There are few places in X-plane I’d rather fly. I’m looking forward to more, please!

tdg’s RJTT Tokyo Haneda file is here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/23223-rjtt-haneda-tokyo-airport-japan/

And though quite dated, this Tokyo city file still works well in Xp11.25: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/2856-japan-tokyo-city-scenery-for-86/

There’s yet another RJTT file worth trying, but I think v11 is messing up the orthos. I had dozens of errors on opening and so did Adrian. Here it is if you want to try; the preview images look quite good: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/37241-rjtt-tokyo-haneda-airport/

//

MsM hdr

A freshly revised Mont St Michel came out today, and that is, perhaps, a good thing.

It’s a comparatively simple file and, I suppose, you could say that about the island in France, too. The island, and the abbey on it, have a long and somewhat complicated history, and you can read a little about that here so lets dispense with the history lesson today, but it’s one of those places you ought to see. It’s worth noting that sea-level increases pose an interesting challenge to this site, and if you should ever be in the mood to spend about a hundred dollars on an omelet, this is the place to do it. The rooms aren’t bad, either.

So, we now have two, yes two nice Mont Saint Michel files, and let’s look at the new file, by jpb63, before we look at xpfr’s much older though still quite nice version.

This file represents a decent attempt to get the site into Xp11 compliance, but beyond that you’ll find numerous objects of interest that never made it into xpfr’s version, notably tourist sites and a small hydropower facility.

If you don’t have xpfr’s file on hand already, you’ll have not seen the local airfield (code 3553), so first things first. After downloading your choice and opening Xp, enter 3553 for your airport code (or better yet, open on a 3-mile final) then putter the short distance over to the abbey spire…

MsM nu

Some of the texturing looks incomplete, notably on the exterior chapel walls and on the spire, but the lighting looks nice, especially from a distance. Beyond that, the spire itself seems short and bare white, while the flying buttresses simply look odd. Here’s the real deal, by the way:

MsM real

Now…let’s look at xpfr’s version, which dates back to version 8, though to be fair, the file was updated about five years ago to v10.2 compliance. Among the biggest differences, xpfr’s includes a sweet little GA airfield…yes…and you get there with airport code 3553.

MsM xpfr

An airfield with a farmhouse nearby smacks of hot coffee and perhaps fresh jam on a warm croissant, does it not? And with a nicely detailed upper level the island in xpfr’s rendition is lovely to look at. The file cannot, however, compete on the lower levels or with the land approaches to the island…so we are, then, presented with a minor conundrum. Which is more important to you: the quaintly modeled airfield and the nicely detailed abbey and spire, or the much more completely modeled lower reaches of the island, including helicopter landing compatibility? Regardless, this is an area you owe it to yourself to explore, and even if there are no mountains here, the sun setting behind the abbey spire is pretty special.

Anyway, I’d highly recommend you try both before answering that question, as this very much comes down to personal choice. Moi? Je pense que je garderai le vieux pour l’instant, car l’aéroport me convient. Désolé, mais là vous l’aves!

You’ll find jpb63’s new file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/38923-a_mont-st-michel_xp11/

xpfr’s old though nicely revised file is located here: http://www.xpfr.org/?body=scene_accueil&sc=269

Et oui, c’est la grosse dame qui chante alors il est temps de vous quittter à nouveau. Au revoir, et on se voit la prochaine fois! Happy trails – C

(note: a bunch of these images came from –A)

 

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x+s+r // licg + ebbr + rjcc

RJCC hdr

In our little write up of RJNS yesterday, we made mention of another airport file located in Japan you might want to consider downloading…but without seeing anything, why would you? Well, here it is: RJCC New Chitose, located outside the city of Sapporo. Yes, that Sapporo. The city that hosted the 1972 Winter Olympics…where a little blond-haired girl from New Hampshire named Barbara Ann Cochran took the Gold in Slalom and ignited a serious skiing craze back in the good ole US of A.

There are direct flights between RJNS and RJCC, so you might want to consider adding at least these two Japanese airports and explore a little. I can also recommend taking off from RJNS in a slow mover and head to the mountains just to the west. Head for the jagged looking peaks that almost look like a saw blade from a distance, and even with the default auto-gen scenery filling things in I think you’ll be impressed.

Or…take off from RJCC and head down to RJNS and descend as you pass Mount Fuji.

RJCC 1

You’ll note some interior elements included in this model, and some really interesting night window textures in a few places.

RJCC 2

The view from the cockpit into the terminal is as it SHOULD be: immersive, representing life and movement. Also, the area experiences real winter weather, and TerraMAXX handles these duties admirably here.

RJCC 3

Again, you’ll find this RJCC file here:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/26029-japan-sapporo-area-airports-rjcc-rjco/

//

Well, its Saturday and tdg is at it again! What can we do?

Hit the download button, that’s what!

So, his latest airport is LICG Pantelleria Airport.

And I’ll understand if you have no idea where this one is located, because this one is pretty far off the beaten path – again. Better look at the overhead imagery first, then things will pop into perspective…

LICG ge

The island of Pantelleria is located in the Straits of Sicily, perhaps just a little closer to Tunisia than Italy but most definitely an Italian possession…since the middle Roman Empire, anyway.

One of the things Chip likes to talk about is how much he’s enjoyed using X-plane as a learning AND teaching tool…and not just about learning to fly. I experienced a little of that this morning when I opened this file, then began to poke around in Wikipedia. The history of the island is fascinating, and its place in the modern world equally interesting. If you like sweet, red moscato-type dessert wines…well, you have this island to thank for that little pleasure. Anyway, one thing I read on this site years ago was Chip laying out the idea of using X-plane to teach kids geography and history – while introducing the idea of flight and the prospects of flying as a career – and I think this file brought the ideas in that post back into focus for me. After poking around tdg’s file I went to Wikipedia, then just started surfing from there. As small and insignificant as this little airport looks at first glance, dig a little deeper and you’ll run across a world you more than likely know very little about.

Not a bad way to spend the morning, when you get right down to it.

Now…tdg’s airport! Let’s take a look!

LICG comp 1

Like all of tdg’s airports, LICG is packed with interesting visual details: the ramps are cluttered when and where necessary (you don’t need two hundred baggage carts at a terminal with two gates!), and the lighting is perfect (the ramps are bright enough for a human to work safely at night). The terminal and other buildings are laid out as per the original, and though most objects are either derived from Lego-bricks or other libraries, the results adhere to the original most impressively, and orthos do not fill in detail. They act as a supporting character, filling in landscapes where appropriate, not defining a parking lot or rooftops.

LICG comp 2

The results FEEL good to the eye, too. Taxi up to the gate and you feel like you’re looking out at a small airport overlooking the Mediterranean, not at your desk fiddling with a flight sim, and that’s the magic at work. The magic you experience when a great scenery developer helps you get to that “place.”

And part of that magic is bound up in the small details you might not even be aware of, like roof ducts…

Roof ducts? Really?

Well, look at the three images below…the first with the little E170 in view. The second is the same aspect, only zoomed in a little. Now do you notice the shiny steel ductwork? But that’s not all…no, look at how the exterior wall comes up and is in fact about 3-4 inches above the flat, built-up roof. The third image shows the same duct-work from another angle, but you might look at the flat roof on the orange brick building, because you can just make up the real nature of the roofing material…rolled asphalt on hot tar…not to mention the same roof to wall transition. Now…go and look at the roofs on aeroSoft’s Dortmund airport and you find nothing at like this sort of detail. In fact, you’ll find smeary orthos for most roofs, and office buildings are box-like objects with simple textures applied, and no realistic roof-to-wall transition or other detail. Most of that work is handled by orthos, and the results aren’t impressive.

And I’m here to tell you…this kind of detail registers to the unconscious mind and it’s this immersive milieu that pulls you in. This is how I look at and judge the success of any airport file, too, whether freeware or payware. Of course the big things have to be correct, but that’s the easy part of the job. It’s the little stuff, the little details that pull you in that make the biggest difference.

Now, look at tdg’s file to see a master at work.

LICG 3 details

Anyway…though this airport supports only a short list of airlines and destinations, you’ll want to look it over carefully because there are some interesting possibilities here.

The file is located here, and yes, it’s a Must Have: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/46174-licg-pantelleria-airport-italy-xp11/

//

We have a new EBBR Brussels Airport project to look at today, and even though this one is in the early stages initial work looks good. Here’s the real airport:

EBBR Real

And here’s the work so far, in version 0.02.

EBBR

One word of advice: details! And SO FAR, SO GOOD!!! Keep up the good work.

Get it here if you want to poke around some: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/46175-project-brussels-02-public-download/

//

And everyone’s favorite KPHL Philadelphia International Airport and City file came in for another major revision this week. More and more of the original terminal (I think from an old FsX conversion) is being dumped for Laminar’s assets, and the results are surprisingly good. Better than the old stuff, anyway. Keeping it dark and far here, because you need to go take a look for yourself. Not everything is converted, so see which you like better and let the developer know.

KPHL

This is a fun project and getting better as time goes by. Pick it up here and take peek:

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

That’s all, folks. Hasta Later – A

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