x+s+r // …and the winner is…

xsr ww hdr

This is a short post…about early adopters…and being first out of the gate.

Checking-in at the Org a few hours ago I noted an update to Peter Borovszky’s (alias hapet) EFVA Vaasa, to v1.2, and this file appears to be a densely reworked summer texture package. Clicking on the download button, two options appeared: the v1.2 summer package, and a winter textures package. Maybe I missed it before, or maybe it was released today, but this would appear to be one of the first – if not THE first – file modified to take advantage of TerraMAXX.

There are no installation directions with this download. In the end I decided to duplicate the summer package, rename it winter, then put the winter texture objects into the summer textures objects folder. Yes, this way you’ll have to manually change seasons, by switching out the winter for summer file, but if you do, this is what you’ll find…


When Xp opens the immediate airport area will have snow, while the surrounding terrain and auto-get will still be in whatever mode you were in the last time you closed Xp. This could be winter, or it might be either summer or autumn mode. Above? This is autumn. Go to the TerraMAXX plugin and switch to winter (in this case regular winter) and this is what you’ll get:


Note: the two parking lots in the foreground have snow and ice showing, while the lot closest to the terminal is pristine. So are the aircraft ramps.


Trees and grass are semi-white in this state, and depending on the light will appear white, blue (as here), or almost dark gray/black near or at night.

EFVA mild winter

Compare the image above with the one below. Same date, time, temperature, etc., the only difference is mild winter (above) and deep winter (below):

EFVA deep winter

Trees are whiter and the light has a cooler temperature, a deeper blue cast to it. Snow “depth” remains the same, so if deep snow is to be rendered it will need to be modeled, i.e., models made in Blender or AC3D, and textured appropriately, then will have to be added to the ground objects folder. Note: this was the route taken by Truscenery in their EFJO Winter file, as seen below. There are mounds of snow from snow-plows all around the ramps and taxiways.

EFJO ww 5

The question becomes…how far do you, as a scenery developer, want to take this? In the image below, the “closed” runway is heavily weathered with snow and ice, as it would be, while the main (open) runway is clear. This is taking it to the next level.


This opens up a world of possibilities for conscientious developers, but again it all comes down to “how far do you want to take it?”


hapet’s EFVA winter objects file is certainly convincing and may well be “all the winter” sim users expect in Xp. Truscenery has taken this a step further, of course. Can you imagine an airport like ESSA or EFHK…with piles of snow lining the ramps after plows finish snow clearing operations? It’s only a matter of time before an adventurous developer presses the issue and becomes the first to make this happen.

I wonder who it will be…?

So, on to the next issue/concern…?

KPHL hdr

KPHL Philadelphia International & city file was also revised today, so on a hunch I downloaded and opened this file.

Guess what? No ortho, so instant winter landscape all over the airport.


Pretty neat, huh?


Maybe, or maybe not.


Suppose you’re a payware scenery file developer and all your files rest on orthos. Now, suppose word gets out that all of a sudden you can have an instant winter landscape at all your files…by simply removing the ortho file – so TerraMAXX can work it’s magic.

Uh-huh. And what’s going to happen too all of your carefully placed layers and objects? Can you also imagine a growing tech support nightmare as customers begin tearing into their files and corrupting all sorts of things?


So…wouldn’t it be easier if you just modified your existing files to work in TerraMAXX – right now?

KASE ortho

Food for thought.

Later – A

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x+s+r // freeware, freeware everywhere

XSR 319 hdr

Continuing to work with TerraMAXX, and I’m surprised how easy it is to get really good results with little effort. Sometimes it feels like SkyMAXX can be difficult to get consistent results with (but c’mom, it’s weather!), yet TerraMAXX is simplicity itself: install, set either Full Auto or just pick the season, and away it goes. I like the extra-added ambient lighting, too; e.g., if you set winter the light takes-on a bluish cast; autumn has a little more of a golden hue. Another stroke of simple genius, too.

So, a bunch of freeware to get caught up on now, with ruifo releasing two more files from Down Mexico Way, a small GA airport in Northern California that has Peanuts written all over it, a little Swiss magic, a timely – and very well done – revision to a Mediterranean favorite from xpfr, and, to round out the post, a quick look at one of the primary airports in the massive VFR Hungary release. And yes, where appropriate, I’ll try to dial in some TerraMAXX.


MMSD hdr

ruifo continues to churn through the list of under-represented airports in Mexico, and with Mexico City and Puebla last week I thought he might have outdone himself. Well, no way. There are just too many really useful airports left to do, and he released two more this weekend that are really excellent, and useful.

The first, MMSD Los Cabos, services the all-important Cabo San Lucas resort area at the tip of Baja California and, consider this: there are more US and Canadian airlines flying out of here than Mexican carriers. If you’re not familiar with Cabo San Lucas, just think of it as Mexico’s version of the Canary Islands…a secluded seaside destination resort surrounded by desert, and a perfect climate in winter.

Forty years ago Cabo was a sleepy seaside village with four small hotels on the beach; you dared not drink the water so instead drank copious quantities of either beer or tequila. Or, sometimes, beer AND tequila. I’ve sailed down from Newport Beach a few times and it’s a sleigh ride; I flew into the old dirt strip in a Beech Travel Air long before this airport was around, too, so this place and me, well, we go back a ways. There were lots of restrictions on GA aircraft flying from Texas to Baja in those days, too. You had to stop in Chihuahua and register a special flight plan, and at that time had to prove you had gear onboard to survive a water landing in the Sea of Cortez. It was preferred that you flew in a group, too. Oh, well, those were the days, right? Can you imagine a caravan of Bonanzas and Barons flying across Mexico, everyone deathly afraid to drink anything but tequila?



MMSD is about a thousand miles south of San Diego, California, and this part of Baja regularly gets pounded by hurricanes. From November through April, it gets pounded by tourists from California and Canada, and a lot of gringos are moving down here because the cost of living is really low. Indeed, you can now shop at Costco or Home Depot down there, though the general consensus now is that this airport is too small; plans are in the works to replace it with a bigger facility further north.

ruifo’s file is constructed of Laminar’s Lego-brick airport components; this provides a decent approximation of the original and the facility works well in Xp11. The single asphalt runway (16/34; 9843ft/3000m) will handle wide-bodied heavy metal (there was, for a while, non-stop service to Shanghai). Of singular importance, however, the airport is equipped with both a Burger King, as well as a Carl’s Jr. And tequila, too, pours forth from every water fountain (you wish).


ruifo is an expert at getting all the small details done – and perfectly, too. Check out the ramp and taxiway markings, the ortho integrated into the taxiway islands, the parking lots and the trees. His airports are really fun to look at because they’re put together like a Swiss watch. This one is as good as it gets.

mmsd 2

Add the JarDesigns Ground Handling Equipment package to create a little magic of your own, too…


This will be a good file for medium range flights to LAX, SFO, Vancouver, Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta, Salt Lake, Houston, Dallas, and SeaTac. Oh yes, try Mexico City in the SSJ100.

MMCP hdr

ruifo’s second file this weekend is the exact opposite of Cabo; MMCP Campeche is a working airport that helps service the huge offshore oil fields just NW of the airport. As such, ruifo has wisely chosen to fill up the offshore areas with a dozen or so oil platforms, both large and small, so you too can work on your helicopter navigations skills:


Yes, they ALL have pads; some have two or more. These are animated platforms, too, and very well done. Adding them to this file was a great idea, too, and if you’re into helicopters this will be a must have file for you. Besides, it’s a really sweet airport file, too!


This is a Lego-brick terminal building, but note the circular structural details.



There’s a fair sized GA facility next to the main terminal, and…


…several really good flutterbug pads, with excellent lighting.



Oh, here’s an SSJ100 at this airport, bound for Mexico City. Aeromexico handles most of the work out of here now, with flights to Mexico City and direct to Houston from there.


If you haven’t tried Roman’s SSJ you really should. Great night panel, the best of his early work…before he became Flight Factor.

Anyway, ruifo’s two files are excellent, as usual, with great details everywhere you look. If you fly around the Americans south or southwest, these are all nice destinations to work on VOR nav skills. They’re also really good airport files. 10 out of 10, too.


KSTS hdr

So, who is Charles M Schultz? Well, does this ring a bell?


KSTS Sonoma Country Regional is located about an hour north of San Francisco, so think of all the short to medium range GA flights you could link this airport to. Seattle to Newport Beach, with a stop here for fuel? Or, start here and fly to Telluride or Aspen? Try this in the Carenado Cessna 340 or the default Baron, or just fly touch-n-goes here for fun.


This area was devastated by wildfires last autumn, and it’s located in the heart of California’s wine country. Sorry, no tequila.


There are some nice facilities here; good hangers and a diner, kind of above average quality too, so you might want to try this one out. I’m going to keep it for a while, too. It’s hard to find good airports around San Fran City.


LFML hdr

Yup, another release by xpfr. Another cause for celebration.


LFML Marseilles has long been one of my favorite destination airports, since at least version 8 anyway, and I really enjoy ending a long GA or bizjet flight here. For an RJ flight? LFPO to LFLL in the morning, end up here an hour or so later, and that’s hard to beat. If not tired yet, look over the list of destinations here, because you can fly to, literally, almost anywhere from here, but consider Barcelona, Valencia, Palma de Mallorca, Lisbon, Casablanca, Frankfurt, Tours, Florence, Ibiza, Dusseldorf, Heathrow, Stockholm Arlanda, or Amsterdam. Feeling adventurous? Try Montreal with Air Canada Rouge.


You’re seeing TerraMAXX’s autumn textures below, and also note the window textures. Excellent work here, and a really nice upgrade over previous files.


That was the Toliss A319 up above, and this is the X-Craft E170, below. One is a little easier to see than the other, neh? Has HSBC taken over advertising on Jetways all around the world? Note the Autogate guide-on?


The window textures at night are not as clear as the day textures, but the overall effect is a little like a Van Gogh. Good colors, too.


Jetways, lighting, and ramp details stand out here; the GHE package helps give the scene depth, doesn’t it?


Details on both sides of the field have been improved, and this has gone from an average quality airport file to really very good. From the parking lots to the new lighting and static aircraft around the revised terminal buildings, this feels like a brand new file, and it’s just excellent.


A 10 out of 10. Don’t forget to add this one; it’s too good not to.


LSZC hdr

Located about 25 miles south of Zurich in the lake district near Lucerne, Switzerland, LSZC Buochs was a military airfield (Mirage IIIc) until recently; it now serves Pilatus as a test and delivery airfield.


The motorway details shown in AlpilotX’s v4 mesh are a standout feature near the airport, but the airport itself is really quite good. Even so, this part of Switzerland qualifies as one of the most gorgeous areas on earth, so flying from here to Lugano will be a popular affair with this file onboard.


This is strictly a GA airfield now, and I’d think a PC12 would be put to good use here. I can also see taking the Bell over to Zermatt now, too (ahem, cough-cough), or a DHL Saab 340a to Zurich.


So, add this to aeroSOFT’s Lugano for some challenging mountain flying in a GA single, or try Zermatt for a real alpine treat. Either way, you’ll want to try this one. (9/10)



To characterize the Hungary VFR Project as significant is kind of an understatement; with an entire country’s landmarks covered AND almost a dozen airports modeled – then wrapped up in a freeware scenery download, is, well, I’d say an act of kindness to the community that we’ll be hard pressed to pay back. Anyway, you can find the files here.

And there’s no way I can cover this effort in one post, so the thinking here at Chaos Manor is we’ll look each airport over, one by one, over the next few weeks. This was a massive undertaking on their part, and from what I’ve seen so far, the quality is out there – like payware quality – so you might want to go ahead and download these. Or, you can wait and see what we find and report.


South of Krakow (how convenient) and just east of Vienna (better still), this is a modern airport serving one of the most delightful cities in Europe.

LHBP real

The list of airlines and destinations is impressive, with American flying to Philadelphia and Air Canada Rouge non-stop to Toronto (another new file in Xp, too), but you can fly from here to just about anywhere…even EDDF or EDDM.


Window textures display a little forced perspective in the main terminal buildings, but the overall effect isn’t unpleasant.


And the model looks extremely accurate, right down to ramp markings and Jetways.


Ramp details are here, but not overdone. I’d say more could be done, but you can achieve much the same with the GHE package, seen here (below) with the freeware Airport Navigator plugin.


Below, ramps with the Better Pushback plugin. The control tower is excellent, BTW.





Of course, the airport is only half the story here…as the team has built out the city of Budapest, and you’ll want a powerful computer working on your side here – as the details are rich – and dense. From palaces and bridges, to parks and roadways, this city environment is as detailed as anything I’ve ever seen in X-p.


And, yes…TerraMAXX looks wonderful here but my scenery load was nearly 8GB. You’ll need to plan carefully to make this work.


So, that’s about all I can do in one day. I’d really recommend you look at this Hungarian effort ASAP, and we’ll have more soon.

Thanks for coming along – C





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x+s+r // seasons to the maxx

WW hdr

Reading through John’s announcement over at X-Aviation concerning the release of his latest weather/terrain enhancement package – TerraMAXX – it wasn’t hard to pick up the excitement in his words. And yes, he has every right to be excited. Bringing seasonal change to X-plane has long been a sort of Holy Grail for a bunch of developers over the years, though I guess Tom Curtis should get line honors for the Winter World (WW) freeware file he developed to accompany his Canadian and Alaskan scenery packages. Curtis’ WW came out something like three hundred years ago and wasn’t updated all that often (or…at all?) and it had some fairly deep limitations. Most bothersome was needing two Xp installations – one summer, one winter – and all that entailed, so there was no dynamic change of seasons, no autumn, and no variations within the winter milieu. TerraMAXX brings all that to the table – and more, and in the process creates an astonishing assortment of landscapes within X-plane 11.

The 6Gb file (download size, 12Gb on your drive), available at X-Aviation (link here), will set you back thirty-nine bucks and some change, or about the cost of two moderate quality pizzas. For your money you’ll get either one of the most useful utilities we’ve ever had in X-plane – or cramps, gas, and three hours of non-stop fun on the toilet. Do yourself a favor; get John’s file.


There’s currently one hitch, and it’s a big one: Orthos are not covered. Take a look at aeroSOFT’s LSZH Zurich v2 above. Aside from looking colder than a well-diggers (rear end) the airport proper looks more like Miami Beach than northern Switzerland. There’s a simple fix but John can’t make it; scenery developers will have to, and that’s going to be interesting. Some will, I feel sure, see the financial incentive that goes along with making their file(s) more useful, others may take a “wait and see” approach – and therein sits a big, fat problem. If too many payware developers take the wait and see approach it could spell all kinds of trouble for end-users. Well, trouble is a relative term here, because about the worst thing that could happen is you begin or end a flight at an airport that looks like this.

So, we’re talking synergies. And we’re also talking about the X-plane community, and you know what that means. My guess is the first developers to give this a try will be freeware scenery file developers, maybe home-brew developers at that. Word will get out how cool the end results look and then a couple of payware developers will make the leap…


Above, same view, midday, and time for a word about FPS and file size. X-Aviation and John have (thankfully) included an interesting option at download: a hi-res or low-res option, hi-res for machines with over 5Gb on the video card, and this was a stroke of genius on their part. I didn’t want to buy two copies so I went ahead and opted for the hi-res version, and so installed this on my iMac Pro which, among other things, has 16Gb on it’s Radeon Pro Vega 64 card. These images are all 30bit and 5120 x 2880 on a 5K monitor, and with all rendering options at MAX, including objects & shadows. The A319 is scooting along in the hi-40-FPS range, the IXEG 733 was in the 50s. And the JarDesigns A330v3 still won’t open unless I drop rendering options (so, yeah, that file is going in the trash and you won’t see it on these pages again unless they get that file tamed…).

From a testing standpoint a big machine is a little less than optimal, and I understand that, but I knew this file was going to be a keeper. I knew that because I dealt with John for years, especially around the time he first started out, and I know him to be a man of boundless optimism – and serious integrity. That said, when John says he’s going to do something, you can count on it happening. You can read his thoughts on the download page, and I recommend you do so, and there’s no need for me to repeat all that here…but he offers a roadmap of sorts to think about.


Above, looking south from LSZH you can see the alps in the distance and yeah, they’re white. So is everything between here and there. It’s just great to see this coming now, when everything else is coming together in Xp. Now let’s take a look at a stretch along the Limmat River in central Zurich… Here’s the view in Google Earth Pro, north UP:

Limmat GE

Next, here’s the same area with default autogen scenery under all that white stuff:

WW Limmat 737

And the same area with AlpilotXs v4 mesh under the snow:

WW Limmat v4mesh

At least here’s proof…it works!

Now, one of the other cool things in the file…autumn!


Aut 2

And there are all kinds of interesting permutations to consider…such as starting a flight in, say, Rome, on Finnair – in January – and landing in Helsinki a few hours later…and in the process going from an autumn to a winter landscape – seamlessly, with no work at all on your part.

Interested now?

You should be.

There’s another permutation out there already, too, and we looked at it a few weeks ago.


There are several airport files out there that have a winter option – right now. TruScenery’s EFJO is but one of them (and they have a Helsinki winter file that’s full of ice along the waterfront, too), and you can see that this looks “okay” – but even so it could use some work. It’s obvious where one texture set ends and the other begins. At the same time, it looks like a fix is easy enough to implement…though the developer might have to spend a few hours tweaking his or her file to get convincing, immersive realism.

Is it worth it?

Consider the reasons why it might be, from a developer’s POV:

  1. It advances the sim, and makes Xp a more interesting platform;
  2. If, as a result of this increased interest, more people come to Xp, or if more people switch from “another platform,” developers stand to generate more sales;
  3. If a talented developer can make all the necessary changes to her or his file in, say, one day…what if that one day’s labor generates hundreds of additional unit sales for each file on the market?

I think this is a win-win situation for scenery developers, and John too. That’s what “synergies” means, after all. John sells a few copies and a developer sees the potential and modifies her files. She sells a few more than expected, and her potential customers note the option and so buy her file too, and because of that, they pick up John’s file too. The more developers that jump on this synergy train the better, as it becomes like a loop at that point. Sales of one file reinforces sales of the other – and on and on.

The point, if I may, is simply this.

If John’s TerraMAXX was a poorly implemented file none of this would be possible. But John’s file produces beautiful results, and so TerraMAXX has the potential to increase airport scenery file sales – but only if developers jump on his train.

To my way of looking at this game, TerraMAXX is a game changer, a real paradigm shift, so “Ted Customer” has got a choice to make. Spend forty bucks on a file that is going to radically alter the way he experiences X-plane, or go buy a couple of pizzas.

Don the Developer has a different choice to make. Invest a few hours updating his files, or go buy a couple of cheap pizzas. Invest a couple of hours in X-plane’s future, or stop off for another pizza.

The toilet paper? That’s all on you, Slick.

TerraMAXX is a 10 out of 10, a solid must have file.

Later – C

WW end






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x+s+r // zermatt + zurich


A little magic in the air tonight. I was working through the revisions in aeroSOFT’s LSZH v2.0 when word came out that the new Zermatt/Matterhorn scenery has just released. So…finish up the images from Zurich with one hand while I get the Zermatt download going with the other… All in day’s work, right?

So, let’s jump right in and take a look. Zermatt first because, hey, I know you’re ready for this one. We all are.

Mat hdr

Okay, right off the mark I was afraid this one would overpower my mid-range Mac, but I test all files on this one. If they make the grade they migrate to the Big Mac. I don’t use that one for reviews, either. It wouldn’t be fair. Anyway, with 5.5Gb on the video card, I was sure my baby Mac would start sparking and belch smoke like an old man running for the bathroom. And when I got this file onboard and started Xp I’d also forgotten to close Mail, Safari, iTunes, Adobe Reader, and iMessage. In truth, configured like this the file should have gotten 10FPS.

So, I also had just installed v1.02 of the DF Bell 407, which, it’s claimed, has been highly optimized to improve FPS.

When I opened this file, on the pad at Zermatt Flutterbugs, I checked FPS – then shook my head. Almost 40? Had my Mac overdosed…on Viagra? What was going on?

Ah. A cold and dark start. So, start her up, warm her up, then off we go…and FPS drop to the mid-30s over the center of Zermatt, but as soon as the ship clears town FPS leaps back to 40+, and – then she was climbing like a dog that had just been stung on the ass by a wasp. I mean, well, like someone had put Viagra AND testosterone in the fuel tank. Fred has done something good and mean to his 407. She’s like a rabid wolf now, foaming at the mouth and ready for a hard run.

So. Concerns about FPS? Check that one off as unfounded.

ZM 1

I’m not going to go all sappy on you this time, I swear, but Zermatt was where me and my main squeeze spent our honeymoon. In the Zermatterhof, as a matter of no one’s particular interest. January, ’79…and the real fun part? When we left, for Zurich, we learned the Shah of Iran had just abdicated and was headed for…Zurich…and when we got to the airport security was insane. I think I had my first colonoscopy that afternoon, right there in the security line. The German Shepherds were nice…the guards (replete with H&K MP-5s) were foaming at the mouth and looked like they were eating tourists for fun.


So, above, small train station on the right. Keep in mind that Zermatt is a car-free town (well, some electric golf carts are seen every now and then, but trucks delivering heavy goods tend to show up well after midnight). There are, however, a bunch of horse-drawn sleighs (winter, remember?). Do NOT step on the gooey brown things hiding in the snow.

We had a room on the fifth floor, corner window overlooking that church. Do you have any idea how fun it is, on your honeymoon, to have a four-hundred-year-old bell going off every hour, on the hour? Romantic? Well, the words romantic and ski vacation should never be mentioned in the same sentence, but this was ridiculous. Consumating the deed was like performing with the finale of the 1812 Overture going on outside the window.

ZM 4

Anyway, maybe that’s why I strafed that MF on the way out of town. In a B-B-Bell 407 that felt like it had O-D-D-D’d on speed.

ZM 5

So, I’m listening to Rocketman, blasting up this little hill at 120 kts – and the speed kept climbing, too. Up to a solid 130, anyway, before the real climb began, then speed dropped – and fast.

FPS? Never an issue. I mean, all those programs were still running in the background? Has my baby-Mac been fooling around with the coffee-maker behind my back?

ZM 6

Came upon this little pad under the Matterhorn; a ski lift takes you up to the bottom of the face – for some of the best open bowl skiing on earth…assuming there’s snow, that is. In recent years, that’s often been in doubt. I hear chatter about wanting a winter variant of this file. Hell, I thought this WAS the winter variant…


Anyway, I found the cross at the summit then we slipped, literally, all the way down to Cervinia.


We skied down there one morning, had some lunch then spent like four hours taking chairlifts back to the border-crossing on the ridgeline. We ended up skiing into Zermatt after dark. Through trees. Very not fun. Then…we ran out of snow and had to walk the last half mile back to the hotel. In ski boots. In ankle deep mud.

Very not fun.

One thing becomes clear after making several flights around Zermatt this evening. Both towns, both Zermatt and Cervinia, are approximations. The title says it all, too. Matterhorn Park. The developers have turned these two ski towns into Arcadian archetypes of what ski villages ought to look like…and man, do they look good. Not realistic, but immersive, and really good.

The Main Attraction? The Matterhorn?

Yup, they nailed that.

The Matterhorn is a funny beast of a mountain, too. Her looks change, a lot, depending on where you’re standing when you look at her. She looks like one mountain in Zermatt, totally different in Italy, then you go across the valley where the Gornergratbahn drops you off at the weather station…and she looks completely different. And I know this is contradictory, but you’re still looking at the same beast. That mountain broods over both valleys, and in an early morning mist she looks almost ethereal, like a giant clawed animal trying to hide – before it attacks. All that mountain needs is two glowering eyes…

Ah, below, the pad in the middle of Cervinia. I damn near made a crater landing here, too. Swung around too fast, dumped way too much collective too fast and just saved it at the last moment. Yeah, that’s the Horn in the windscreen. The town of Cervinia does NOT look like this, BTW. This looks clean. Cervinia is, well, less clean than this looks.

ZM C 1


This is the observatory just above the Gornergratbahn’s top loading platform. You can see the rails in the second image. What you cannot see is me and my main squeeze out on that concrete patio drinking orange juice and taking pictures of huge black raven-like birds.


So, the deal is…you ride the train up the mountain (get in the line by 0800, or else), and the ride up takes an hour or so. You ski down these short runs for a few hours, all up above treeline, then you shoot some orange juice and put your skis back on about 1130, then ski down into the trees. There are little chalets in the trees, more like barns, but in winter dairy farmers turn these barns into little cafés, and they serve cheese fondue and raclette – with cheeses they’ve made – and mulled wine…etc, etc, until you realize you’ve just got enough time to ski down to the hotel in time for afternoon tea. In Europe, this is called skiing. In America, you stop for ten minutes at noon and throw down two cheeseburgers, and never unbuckle your boots.

And they call us barbarians!


Anyway, there used to be a little station and covered platform up here, just under the domes, and stairs up to the patio area. A little café right off the patio, too. And lots of black birds.


I think it’s about a six-thousand-foot drop to Zermatt from here, much quicker in a 407 than on skis, BTW. Dropping straight down like this is tough on the rotors – and all the other moving parts around The Jesus Nut (!)


And your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to land this rolling stone on that little triangular pad down there in the valley. Yup, that little-bitty thing with the blue arrow pointing to it. The trick? Don’t let your speed build up – or you’ll make a nice smoking crater down there by the river.

ZMHB 1.png

Then you’ve got to lock onto a few visual cues while you get your speed and rate of descent under control.

ZMHB 2.png

The final trick is to flare and kill off all your speed as you pull up on the collective just a teeny tiny bit, then pivot onto your pad. Easy.



The only thing I’d change about this file?

I’d use this red Bell 407 next time. I think it would look better.


So. The Matterhorn Park file? It’s pretty, and their decent approximation of the two famous villages works for me. The mountain, on the other hand, is grand. I’d have to say this is a 10 out of 10, a total “must-have” file, too. And see, I told you I wasn’t going to talk about all that mushy stuff.

You can get the file here. 24.9438721 USD (rounded up).

I read some BS about people griping that the Dolomite file is overpriced? Really?

Dude, keep on your medications. Really.

And…welcome to the real world…where people have to pay their bills and have something left over – for food, or, like, Viagra.



After looking at the latest v2 file for EDDS Stuttgart the other day, I thought it would just be pure meanness if we didn’t show you Zurich. This is, after all, a great place for a colonoscopy. The image below hits me where I live, too. Those metal louvers are weathered, a little rusted in places, the Jetway is perfect, and the ramps are cluttered.

Who needs Viagra, Dude?


I also wanted to check out the latest Better Pushback plug-in…and man, this is a better pushback.

Look at the sequence below. The pushback truck is going to execute a tight, Z-shaped maneuver with my bright, shiny new Toliss A319.

So, back we go…yes, back, slower, now…back some more…


…then the first turn…yup, easy now…


…then the second…


…and then, the final push back…et voila!


It took five seconds to map this out in the plug-in’s GUI. Easy. Fast. And very kewl.


You can get the file here. Oh, Dude, it’s freeware.

So, once unhooked, take a look at the jetways and lights, the tower(s), and especially the trees.

Yes. The trees.


Very kewl trees.



And the really nice part? Performance seems much improved.


This file just shot up to the top of my favorite AeroSOFT airport list. And, the Toliss A319? Every time I have to choose between the JarDesigns320 Neo, the FF320U, and this file…I choose this one. That’s all I can say.

I do.

Really, I do.



As for this airport file…? If you’ve been holding off for some reason, this may be the file to jump all over. Try the aeroSOFT store, or even the Org.


Besides…you can hop on the train right here and two stops later get off in Zermatt, ready to grab your (RED) Bell 407 and head up into one of the most over-the-top experiences in X-plane. It’s like, magic…like…they were made for each other.

But, oh, that’s another story.

Later – C

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x+s+r // xpfr et les Îles Marquises

XPFR main hdr

Splendide! Un travail d’une importance capitale pour l’avenir de X-plane et xpfr. À la fois une magnifique réalisation artistique et technique, ce projet procurera années de plaisir à des milliers de pilotes chevronnés et accomplis.

And that about sums up all I’ve got to say about this file, too.

I’ve been, as I think many people who’ve been around X-plane for a while have been, curious why things have been so quiet in France lately. The last time something like this happened, and by that I mean a prolonged period of relative inactivity from this team, xpfr released, with little warning, their first French Polynesia file, the monumental effort that covered the main Tahitian Islands. This happened, if I recall correctly, late in the v9 ecosystem, perhaps early v10, but it was the “biggest thing” to happen in Xp in a long time. For a while, those of us on the various forums were talking about nothing but this approach here and those mountains over there, and for months, too. At any rate, xpfr was on a roll back then, with Khamsin & Arno putting out their Er Coupe and B17G about the same time, all under the xpfr aegis.

With Basel and Tours the only files they’ve released lately, I was concerned. The work found in these two airport files was, as usual, excellent, but there are literally dozens of airports all over France that have seen little updating – since v8.6! France needs help! France needs xpfr! These guys are a national treasure, and they don’t get half the recognition they deserve – except around here – at Chaos Manor, of course…!

So, what have they gone and done now?

Well, the Marquesas Island group, a part of French Polynesia – just as Tahiti is – can be found here:

Marquesas GE

And a little closer, perhaps?

XPFR GE Overview

And so, yes, xpfr has gone and one it. They’ve taken all the new tech in Xp11 and tossed in some incredible foliage and ground texture files. Then they’ve gone after the orthos, cleaned those up, painted what needed painting, and you can download the results here, and as always with this group, their work will cost you not one centime…not even a pfennig.

The resulting download will give you five files – and these will simply reside in your CS folder – leaving you with four new airports in the Marquesas. And from there, well, the rest is up to you.

You might get a Twin Otter and make inter-island flights. Or fire up your new v1.2 Bell 407 and take passengers on sightseeing tours. You could, quite reasonably, use the Bell 412 on SAR missions, or make Rj flights to Papeete, when you’re not up in a GA single just looking around.

***Because you’ll have missed the point of this file if you don’t get down close to the ground (or up in the mountains) and take a slow look around.***

This file is not quite as visually immersive as, say, the movie Avatar, but for me, that’s what the experience was like…at least just a little. You’ll find terrains in these imagined islands you’ve never seen in Xp, and, as the ReadMe file implores, you really need to open this area with all your rendering settings as high as your computer possibly allows. There are a few “built up” areas – settlements and harbors, in the main – that can zap your FPS, but, by and large, these are a minor part of the experience…so crank it up and see what happens. Do be aware that all that custom foliage and the hand-painted orthos are causing some of this slowdown, too.

Although there are four airports included in this file, there are more islands – and they’re all detailed, at least the ones I’ve looked at so far. Now let’s take a look, now, island by island, airport by airport, at the four included airports/islands.


NTMN hdr.png

I think the first thing to mention is: make sure you have this World Region in your primary Xp installation. If you’re not sure, run the installer in your main Xp folder; you can add the region there. If unsure, click on the just visible islands south of Hawaii; the region will be highlighted if you need to download the additional files. If you have them onboard – and xpfr’s new file, too, I’d recommend you open them in the order I’m following here. The logic will become clear…


Air Tahiti connects the four island airports in this group to Papeete, 900 miles to the southwest. They fly smaller Beech 200s or Twin Otters between the islands to NTMN, where passengers transfer to larger ATR-42 or -72 aircraft for the outbound flight to Tahiti proper. I would assume some of these flights also stop in Rarotonga, in the Tuamotu Island Group, another of the primary groups in French Polynesia. You’ll find Air Tahiti static ATR-42s at two of these fields, as seen above. If you want to make the Coconut Run to Papeete, try a turboprop before trying a small Rj.


Below, Atuona, one of two large settlements on the island, and home to most tourist facilities. Famous residents have included French painter Paul Gauguin and Belgian singer Jacques Brel, both of whom are buried in a small cemetery overlooking Atuona. Atuona is also home to the largest tiki sculptures in French Polynesia.


The settlement is located quite near the airport. After wheels up, take the first valley to the south…can’t miss it…


Museums, schools, clinic – and lots of sailboats. Mine among them, once upon a time. Below, hillside resort areas. And I’ve yet to fly here at night so don’t know how these areas look after the sun goes down.


A tiki garden. Just thought you should know.


Keep in eye out for different foliage, and critters in the sea, too.


It is a total necessity to run these files with Runways Follows Terrain Contours ON. Don’t argue, just do it.


Another good idea? Switch your forward view to unobstructed by using the key combination “CMD W”; just trim your aircraft and fly where your curiosity takes you. With practice, you can take off and land in this view mode.

NTMN 6.1

Or…do it the old fashioned way!

Next up, NTMD Nuku Hiva.


NTMD hdr

The new freeware BD-5J was made for these islands – as long as you do not intend to cross between these islands. With both a prodigious fuel burn AND a small tank, the results would seem obvious, no? Even circling this island resulted in dry tanks. That said, this is an ideal way to see each of these islands – if you’re in a hurry.

Which, of course, completely defeats the purpose of this file.

As Nuku Hiva is less than fifteen miles across, in any axis, range won’t be an issue for most acf. I suppose, with a sea state set to zero, or near zero, you could try a seaplane, but this particular airport seems perfect for the Beech King Air 200 or a Twin Otter. Or…a f-f-f-flutterb-b-bug.


Still, let’s take the quick route this time.


And I’d recommend taking the coast route first time up, as the orthos and textures are gonzo.


There are five settlements on this island, and cruise ships in the harbors, too. Those red flags on the map (above) are famous SCUBA diving sites, in case you were wondering.


The mountains are taller here, so be careful, and you’ll find smaller settlements tucked in little valleys here and there.

NTMD 4.png

You’ll note both tanks are running low here. They were registering empty on my rollout. Like I said, thirsty beast – small tank. Oh, the pilot has green fingernail polish. Just thought you should know – in case you’re having masculinity issues.


Once on the ground and stopped at the little terminal, you’ll find old Land Rovers everywhere, and really good grass.


Even the dirt is looking good here.

NTMD 6.1

Next up…

NTMU hdr

A flutterbug (aka: helicopters) will work out well here, if only because the terrain (or, the orthos) is so good – you’ll probably want to linger and take long looks around. This island has it all, too.


This is the smallest of the four islands, and Air Tahiti stops here on its small airliner circuit using King Airs and Otters. Below, an image of the real airport.

NTMU real


What got me? The rocky landscapes along the water’s edge. The effect reminds me of the payware St Helena’s file.


And most of this island has a rugged, inhospitable coastline, though you will find a few inlets that could shelter a passing sailboat if the winds were just right.


Below, more interesting formations, and the airport is just visible, upper left.


On the ground, you’ll find this old Beech Twin Bonanza…


…as well as five, count ’em, five…Land Rovers. Yeah, man.


Yes, of course, I saved the best for last. One more to go…

NTMP hdr

This island is a riot of color and Tolkienesque shape. You could use a Twin Otter here, or something like the C208. My choice for fixed wing? The Kodiak, for carrying inter-island passengers, anyway. For fun? The 407 – v1.2, naturally.


No overhead imagery can prepare you for the spires on the ground, and xpfr must have worked on these features for months. If you open Xp11 without this file, the area is uninspired, to be charitable. With this file…? Wow.


You’ll just need to take your time on this island. Don’t rush it. It would be far better if Dave’s old Land Rover from the Mount Blanc tunnel file was around and working in v11, as you could (theoretically) get out and drive around the island…or, you could try this and see if it still works in v11?


For me? The 407 is the perfect choice for this island.


You need to take your time up here. I know I keep repeating myself, but, yeah, go slow, take your time, look around.


There are all kinds of little clearings to drop down and explore…


And, well, all kinds of flat places atop spires where, well, you know…?


I think I will spend days on this one, for personal reasons. A lot of memories here.


Though this airport is not among them. While it was easy in the 407, I think it might be more than interesting in the King Air or Twin Otter. Why? Well…


Look over the next four images, and you tell me…?



NTMP 12.1

Get the picture? Not quite long, and not at all smooth, but you’ll have fun at this one.


Which, really, about sums up this download.


Like xpfr’s Tahiti package or days past, this file is all about having fun. This is not for flight-planning and VATsimming…this is simply simple fun…about sightseeing in X-plane, if you will. So, maybe it’s not for everyone. Or, maybe it is?

The file isn’t exactly small, and two scenery libraries are used (OpenSceneryX and 3DPeople Library), but it is from one of the best freeware development teams ever and I’m sure they’d love to see you use the fruits of their labors.

On any scale, this is a 10 out of 10, a Must Have file if ever there was one. Use it in good health…which means…have some fun.

Later – A

Posted in Scenery files: Islands & Off the beaten path | Tagged | 2 Comments

x+s+r // lirq + epkk + edds + edfe

XSR LIRQ main hdr

Releases seem to be picking up momentum now, the post-Christmas doldrums behind us once again. There are several notable, and quite large, payware scenery files in the final stages of production, so the next few months should see a blitz of activity. Then again, we have freeware developers like ruifo and tdg that are burning the midnight oil, filling our SSDs with top quality files at an incredible pace – and no doubt frustrating the Dickens out of more than a few execs at aeroSOFT et al.

So, what could possibly be more appropriate today than tdg’s latest, and this time for one of the biggies on the tourist circuit: LIRQ Florence, Italy. We’ll start there today, then move on to a new file from a developer many are unfamiliar with: FlyDesign. Next up: a second look at EDDS Stuttgart, as aeroSOFT has released a v2 file and it’s very good, maybe as good as EDDF. Last up, a quick look (in passing) at EDFE Frankfurt Egelsbach, and we’ll do so – in passing – from the seat of an intriguing new freeware acf. So, if you’re ready to go, buckle up and let’s take a look at a few surprises.

LIRQ hdr

I do not know how this guy does it. A few weeks ago, ESSA Stockholm, then a week later LEPA Palma de Mallorca. Today, LIRQ Florence, and each one seems to be better than the last. It would be one thing for him to produce one or two files a year of this quality, but…oh, no…it’s more like one a week! Even that might be semi-understandable if he was cranking out crap files, but they’re not. Far from it and anything but, tdg’s files are getting to the point where they’re the equal of many payware files.

So…for all you payware developers out there, I have a novel idea. Hire this guy. It’s the only way you’re going to get him out of your hair. It’s insane that files this good are free.

Okay, rant-joke mode switched to OFF.

Florence. Yeah. Where do you start? Here?


Or here?

LIRQ Duomo

Florence is engrained in western consciousness, whether we understand that or not. Western political theory is grounded in Machiavelli, art and scientific theory in Michelangelo and Galileo, all Florentines. Once you walk these magic byways at night, under torchlight, you’ll understand this city’s magic. A consequence of that? There’s a steady stream of air traffic into this little airport. I’ve flown on Lufthansa and Sabena, both times on BAe146 (or is it RJ100?) aircraft. I’ve pictures on my wall of my son, then not yet ten years old, sitting on the little fenced-in viewing area atop the dome in the image above. The way up spirals, between two layers of stonework within the dome, to a small viewing platform up there. It did my best to smile after I saw the iron railing was rusted and some of its bolts missing.

Or, you can stroll over to the Uffizi…

Fl Uffizi

…and take in a Botticelli before lunch…

Fl Venus

Anyway, it’s an amazing city, yet the airport, the real airport, is a little underwhelming:

LIRQ real

But that in no way applies to tdg’s little file. He’s packed big detail through his adroit use of scenery library objects, and, as is usually the case with his work, when he needs a custom building he simply makes his own. How he does it in the time available…again, I have no idea. Take, for example, this control tower…

LIRQ tower 1

LIRQ dramps

It’s accurate, and it’s very nice looking. And tdg creates a web of landscape details all around this airport, from warehouses and other industrial buildings to everything you see around this little corner of the airport, below, where helicopters hang out.

Note the fencing, the houses and Quonset huts in the background, all part of the file.


Or the fuel truck by the pad, and yes, that’s a helicopter hanger and control tower, below, for the flutterbugs based there.


Another view of the hanger, fencing, and parking lots.


The landing pad is, of course, lighted.


Now let’s move over to the commercial ramps, first, with satellite imagery, below…


And tdg’s ramps, at night. The first thing you need to look at is the static Air France 320.  Yes, he’s now putting catering trucks, baggage loaders, and fuel trucks under his static aircraft… When is this guy going to let up on you payware developers?

LIRQ Nramps 1

LIRQ Nramps2

Above, of course, the JarDesigns Ground Handling Equipment package under the Toliss 319. This adds so much to any scene.


tdg’s choice of objects and night textures is, as always, good, and the ramps feel immersive. No errors intrude, I guess, is another way of looking at it.

When you look beyond the ramps you’ll see an incredible level of detail, like around the equipment yard, seen below.

LIRQ details 1

LIRQ parking 1

LIRQ park 2.1

So many developers, payware and freeware alike, ignore an airport’s entries and parking areas, yet the best developers never do.

tdg never does.

Below, look closely at the building in the foreground. Outstanding!

LIRQ Park 2

LIRQ Gas 2

Or, below, this transit station, complete with bicycle racks.

LIRJ bike rak

LIRQ bikes 2

LIRQ park 3

Look over the list of airlines and routes here. Also, note that BA flies direct to London City from this one. Them be some fun flyin’, Jethro…!

This is an airport file you’ll want to get onboard asap, and my guess is you’ll keep this one – and use it – for years to come. I know I will. Again, many thanks to tdg…I know a few payware developers are cursing you right now, but c’est la vie. A 10/10 must have file.



EPKK hdr

This payware file came out of the blue this afternoon and I was curious. With Team DD having built out the region with Warsaw and it’s three volumes of Polish airports, can this developer compete? I mean, DD is a powerhouse developer, so to go up against them in their own backyard takes some kind of nerve. I got my copy at the Org Store; it’s less than 20 bucks.

Well, first things first: look at the control tower (above), or the military ramps full of Antonov-26s, below. Fire station, blast fencing, lighting, and taxiways all appear top shelf. And the tower has an interior! Lighted, too!

EPKK ov1

Kracow is almost as close to Wien and München as it is to Warsaw, and yes, this is in the heartland of old Europe. The plains around this city are where the Second World War kicked off in earnest, too.


The facility is older, though it went thru an extensive modernization program in the early 2000s. Real image below…not from the file.

EPKK real

And though the developer has the form down, some textures, especially the night textures, are garish, and at times, visually more than a little confusing…but we’ll get to that. This main terminal building would be a complex undertaking for anyone, though it looks decent enough, especially from a distance. Get too close and the illusion breaks down quickly. It feels like the details are lost in textures that provide little in the way of visual cues.

EPKK t entry logo

But…step back and all is well.  Again, this is a very complex group of buildings, yet the closer you get the more problematic they become.


In other words, they look better from a distance. That is not so good.

EPKK Term ov

EPKK ramps ovh

And at night, it’s almost a toss-up again. From a distance, things look pretty good, but get up close, and, well, what do you think? Yup, chaos.

EPKK ov2

The tower and helipad area looks good at night…


EPKK H2.png

And in daylight, very good indeed. Another highlight? The grass is really good!


See what I mean?

EPKK grass

And this area beside the runway offers two kinds of grass.


In fact, this area looks so nice in Xp11 I’d be tempted to call this a daytime airport.

EPKK towervu 1

Note the interior of the control tower?

Ah, here’s the satellite imagery:

EPKK GE ramps

Now, let’s dive into the night textures…

EPKK n tex

I can’t quite call the textures above the smeary blues. They just aren’t. It’s more like they’re a texture of the interior that’s distorted by the lattice-work over the windows.

Below, the repetitive amber textures on the upper level just have no context. I have no idea what’s going on up there. Below, doorways, to, perhaps, hotel rooms?

EPKK Nite 733

Now things just get weird. Yes, I know what this is… Forced perspective images, repeating over and over again, but the perspective in the texture is so askew it almost looks like a fireworks display…! or a fountain? It does not look the interior of an airport terminal building.

EPKK night tex

Even from a moderate distance, the windows just look weird.

EPKK 7372

Ramp lighting is v11 compliant and works well: ramps are nice & bright.

Next several images include the JarDesigns GHE package.

EPKK 190n

EPKK 320 u 2

EPKK 320u 1

The only acf used that gave me performance issues was the FF320U.

Now, three regrettable flaws in the textures.

Below, circled, is this an error, or a weird angle…?

EPKK flaw 1

Below, I can see the ramps beyond the terminal through the (solid) roof.

EPKK flaw 2

And again, below, textures not lining up…and that weird amber texture is applied here, too.

EPKK flaw 3

Things are just better in daylight here, and the countryside in Xp is really nice looking:

EPKK runway paint

EPKK grass 2

I like this airport. A lot. There are a few glaring issues with night textures that keep it from scoring higher than an 8 out of 10; that said, I hope the developers revise this one and release it soon. I’ll use it for now “as is,” but in daylight only.



EDDS hdr

As mentioned up top, this aeroSOFT file was recently revised to full v11 compliance in a version 2 release.


EDDS AA Oe World ramps

You can pick up reflections in daylight on walls and windows, and on the ramps.

The terminal building came in for a makeover, too.



Details are in “the amazing” category.



But night textures, while clear, exhibit some forced perspective issues too.



Still, this is a good update, and highly recommended.


EDFE hdr

EDFE is an older file that still looks quite good in v11; even better with a wild looking acf like the BD5J that released this past week at the Org.

EDFE 1.png

The airport is in the shadow, literally, of EDDF Frankfurt – as you can see below, and yes, this is a GA only airport, dedicated to training and sport flying.


And NOT, I’d imagine, to splitting the sky open in a micro-jet painted like a dragon.




The terminal building and restaurant are the main attraction at this airport, and very well done in this file. The window textures are very well done; hangers, too.


EDFE 4over under view

This is a potent combination, too. Fun aircraft and a sweet looking airport.




There are bizjets on the ramps, but I think GA singles and twins are the norm these days. Runway 08/26 is 4593 feet long, paved. There’s a shorter one, too.


Again, the window textures here were a big deal when this file released. They still look good.

EDFE term

EDFE rest

A little gulashesuppen, I think, would go good right here.

Now, about this little jet. This is not a supersonic fighter; it has a Vne of less that 300KIAS, though with about 3oo pounds of thrust on a 3oo pound airframe, vertical acceleration and maneuverability are exceptional. Follow the smoke trail in the image below. Ever done a Cobra before? This little jet can do it. Oh, you probably didn’t know that this airframe is alive and well again; they’re being used as manned drone targets. If you get where that is going, anyway. Kind of like Hal Jordan in The Green Lantern…?



Anyway, the acf is a blast. Very solid flight model…assuming you know what it felt like to begin with. There are very few people still around who do, besides Octopussy, and her boyfriend…

Later – A



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x+s+r // kdet ktnp khaf // mmpb

xsr MMPB

Alright, ready for some GA airports?

We’re going to look over three payware files today, and the latest file from Down Mexico Way – by (insert drumroll here) ruifo. The first file we’ll look at – KDET Detroit Coleman Young – is from a relatively new developer who has just posted several payware files at the Org; we’ll also take a peek at KHAF Half-Moon Bay, just over Skyline Drive from KSFO and the City By the Bay. Our last payware file today is AeroSOFT’s KTNP Twnety-nine Palms, a small airport in the high desert east of Los Angeles, and a v10 file that works just fine in v11. We’ll finish up in Puebla, Mexico, at an airport serving one of the oldest, and most innovative cities in Mexico. If you’re ready to go, let’s get to it.


KDET Detroit Coleman Young, by Xp scenery builders

Available from: the Org store, and other vendors; $15.00

KDET hdr

Nice tower. Modeled interior, good concrete detail, and the ramps below are nicely detailed. So, we’re off to a good start – right?

What interested me about this file is its proximity to Detroit Metro Wayne Co International – as well as KTTF Custer Gateway. A decent file here could fill out the area, create a good working environment once all files are in place. Recall the upper mid-west regional network we talked about back in November/December? Well, this could easily be part of such a network. To give you an idea, KDET is circled in yellow (below), while Custer is in the green box. KDTW is about halfway in-between…

KDET Sectional

And below, the main terminal in this file. Note the tower again, and the main terminal building.


I already see a bunch of issues here, and the first concerns the nature of payware vs freeware. Payware files should, all things being equal, provide a fair and accurate model of what’s on the ground. In this case, what’s on the ground in Detroit. Look at the next three images, then you decide…is this a payware quality presentation?

KDET T real 1

KDET T 2 real

KDET T 3 real

The terminal building is barely there, as it hardly looks like what’s on the ground – other than it’s got two stories and has two Jetways. The control tower? Not even close. The color is miles off, and the one in the file appears to be almost twice the correct height. Light towers are incorrect, and I never got the parking lot to show up, despite trying to wiggle things around in the ini file.

KDET Pit term

Ramp detail is good, better with the GHE package running. Window textures are good, bbut at night the terminal is just too dark.


If you turn off the sun or look at this one from a distance, it’s not that bad…b-b-but that’s not the definition of payware, is it? Oh, the airport navigator plug-in worked here, but the FF AVS system failed to register this one.


So, what you’re left with here is kind of a dilemma. I’ve looked at a few of this developers other files, and this is the closest they’ve come to getting it right. Great Falls comes close, but as I’ve flown in and out of that one for more than a few years I can tell you that that airport is way off, too, and in all kinds of ways.

KDET 1900 1

Again, if this was a freeware file…so what? We excuse all kinds of transgressions in freeware, don’t we? Payware is a different matter, however. We expect payware to get the basics right and that the developer won’t take too much artistic license when he or she publishes their work. We pay for quality, and accuracy is part of that quality.

KDET 1900 2

You just can’t say that about this file. Score: 6 on our 10 scale. This is good for a freeware file in X-plane; as payware…it’s time to go back to the drawing board. And time for this developer to think about how they approach their work. The control tower took skill to build, so I’m curious…why not build an accurate representation? Why go for inaccuracy over accuracy…? It just doesn’t add up…


KHAF hdr

KHAF Half Moon Bay, by Rising Dawn Studios

available at multiple vendors, including the Org, price:  19.90 USD.

This is an interesting file, developed with an almost obsessive eye for getting even the smallest detail “just so.” Compare what you see here to images online and you’ll find little to take exception with.


From the FBO to the diner, this one feels right. If you drive around the area in late autumn you’ll find farmers selling artichokes in roadside stands, fresh off their farms. They’ll more often than not sell cooked ones too, with lemon butter, while kids still sell lemonade nearby. The thing is, if you look at the image above, and at the hill beyond, you have to understand that KSFO is right there, just a few miles away…and the area’s agricultural feel comes through loud and clear…

KHAF sectional

You can better see the relationship to SFO in the image below.

KHAF Overview

Oh, I added a note in red, above, called Main Strike. This is the reservoir that Zorin, in the horrible James Bond film A View to a Kill, was going to use to destroy Silicon Valley. Ain’t trivia fun?


The ortho this file sits on is very hi-res, and the developer used high def trees to supplement the look. In fact, you can choose the quality of trees seen AND the amount of grass you want to use in this file, as these choices will impact framerates. I chose the default installation here and used a variety of complex GA singles, too. Framerates were excellent with rendering options set to near max levels.


The hanger above is where a lot of the action in this file takes place. To say it’s customizable is, well, an understatement. You can change posters on the wall, the color can be modified, and surf-boards can be added to the stack of junk in one corner. And you can even chose to have a clean hanger, or a junk-festival. Above? Mr Clean lives here.


Above, note the rust along the bottoms of the hanger doors. Then check out the grass…freshly mown around the edges, taller grass beyond. Awesome work here.


Marinas and a huge motel complex are also modeled, as is an equally huge tornado magnet. Oh…excuse me…those are also called mobile home parks.


Flying around this area in Xp as frequently as I do, AlpilotXs v4 mesh is onboard and it presented no problems. Roads and farms around the airport are custom, however, and look great.


I know the image above is dark, but check out the light cast by the taxiway sign…first on the ground, but also on the taxiway. On this side of the aircraft, note the purple taxiway lights reflecting off the Piper’s paint. HDR at MAX, of course.

The verdict? An easy 10 out of 10. A Northern California Must Have, for GA use only.


I was flying the JarDesigns 320Neo around the Bay Area over the weekend, and tried the JD Ground Handling package at SFO.

KSFO ramp 1

Because I also wanted to draw your attention to how MrX uses static objects around parked aircraft in his scenery files. TheJarDesigns 320 is in the center, below; and note all the action going on around the other, static, aircraft…loaders, trucks, baggage carts. And, yes, this is the freeware KSFO.

KSFO ramps 3

KSFO ramps 4

I’m amazed every time I look at these concrete textures. Stunned it’s a freeware file. Disappointed more freeware developers don’t follow MrX’s lead. Of course, I’m sure payware developers are happy about that…


KTNP hdr

KTNP Twenty-nine Palms, AeroSOFT, currently “on sale” there for 12.79USD, normally 17.+

Both KHAF and this aeroSOFT KTNP are less than 20 dollars, so in the same approximate ballpark as KDET, above, so you look around this one and you decide where payware quality fits in this world. Like Half Moon Bay, this file sits on a hi-res ortho and the results are glorious; this is good extra-value but it’s becoming more common these days, too. How much is that worth to you? Should it be the norm?

This airport is east of the LA area in the high desert (well, about 12-1800 ft MSL, if you want to call that high), and it’s a GA airport…b-but with a lot of options in the area for good mountain flying…

KTNP sectional

…as this will be part of a very fun GA circuit around southern California:


For openers, try KTNP to MrX’s KAVX out on Catalina Island (blue route). Next, for something more involved, fly from here to KSNA John Wayne, then on to KSAN San Diego. Gas up, then fly back here or, for a little twist, try KPSP Palm Springs.


This is, again, a GA airport – with a couple of static bizjets here, as well as singles – and gliders – to fill out the ramps. The desert landscape defines this airport, too. It feels hot, dry, and almost lonely…just like a desert should…


The airport itself is hyper detailed, and when you fly around the immediate area you’ll want to check out the ortho first, then all the little houses and ranchettes surrounding the airport. Note the quality of the objects used, too. The roadways, streetlights, and powerlines stand out.



How many cattle trucks have you seen at a GA file you use. Get close, and prepare to be amazed at the little details found in out of the way corners here. This file competes with Custer Gateway in some ways, and in many areas it succeeds. It’s a v10 file, however, yet it looks good and performance is excellent in v11.11.


The best thing that caught me eye? All the powerlines. They’re everywhere, and excellently done. Desert foliage is a standout here, too.


This is a small, out of the way airport and an odd choice for any developer; I can make the case for this one simply only as a well made airport on an excellent ortho. If you fly around SoCal you might want this one; if not…? It’s good enough to keep around when the mood to fly out to Catalina strikes, but you’ll want to think about this one before pulling the trigger on your MasterCard. I’d recommend it, however, with an easy 10/10.


MMPB hdr

MMPB Puebla, freeware, at the org.

ruifo’s latest continues to make the case that a well-executed Lego-brick airport can be just as interestig and USEFUL as a good payware file. Sorry, but that’s the truth and I know it hurts.

MMPB sectional

Check out the sectional, and as with MMMX Mexico City (reviewed yesterday) this airport is visually (and operationally) defined by the surrounding mountains. By that I mean 17,000MSL volcanos. The one seen below, called Popocatépetl, is NOT dormant. It actually looks very good with AlpilotX’s v4 mesh onboard, too. Wonder if they could make an explosive, pyroclastic cloud in Xp…?


Both these mountains are in the 17-thousand foot range, too. The area is seismically active, but if you follow the news you already new that. Puebla is an amazing city, and both VW and Audi have several major facilities here; one of them is routinely called the most technologically advanced auto-factory in the world. Tourism and archeology define why this airport is visited by US carriers American and United (Dallas and Houston), and this is an overflow airport for MMMX, too. The small terminal has several Jetways and good ramp detail.


Both the airport navigator plug-in and Flight Factors AVS work as advertsised here, with AVS being both larger on-screen, and a little more useful, too. Mode is transparent, second image, below.

MMPB airport navigator


I took the A36 Bonanza from here to MMTO (reviewed last week), and this will be an intense 40 minute flight under VATSIM with WT3 active at MMMX.


The route carries you over Mexico City, with MMMX off to the north (right) below. High elevation of mountains in the area means you’ll need to get up to 16000MSL here, so break out the Oxygen (or better yet, use a pressurized GA single like the TBM850).


And flying into ruifo’s MMTO is a joy, once again proving that Lego-brick airports need not be second class citizens in the X-plane universe.

MMTO final

MMPB is another solid 10 on the Lego-brick scale. If you’re flying Down Mexico Way, don’t miss this one.

Later – A

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