Got your attention, did it?
It should, even if the reason isn’t obvious.
ENVY is the ICAO code for Værøy Airport, an airport that, in fact, no longer exists. It is also one of AeroSOFT’s latest scenery files, and why they chose this airport was a mystery to me – until I started poking around up there.
The “why” is easy enough, at first glance, to understand. The setting is so gobsmacking, off-the-charts gorgeous it hurts – yet the airport itself is tiny – and if the only thing this file offered was a small airport stuck in the middle of some nice X-plane auto-gen scenery you’d probably laugh your buttocks off if I heartily recommended this file to you.
Well, stick around, Paco. Once again…there’s more here than meets the eye. The good folks at AeroSOFT aren’t soft in the head, ya know. Something you ought to keep in mind while jumping to conclusions.
On 12 April 1990 at 14:44 hrs, a de Havilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter took off from ENVY – seconds later hurricane-force gusts ripped the tail from the aircraft, sending it into an uncontrolled dive and into the sea. All onboard were killed, and the airport was subsequently closed – because this wasn’t the first such event. Yet the airport was only four years old…?
The airport’s location on the island explains a lot regarding this phenomenon, while the island’s position in a greater geographical context further helps understand why this happened, too.
The island of Værøy is much smaller than the city of San Francisco (7.2 square miles vs 49) and is surrounded by a tempestuous sea. Winds from this sea slam into the islands various spiny-ridged mountain, creating a maelstrom effect – with, essentially, unpredictable gusting conditions likely at any time. Over 400 people live on the island, and air services are their lifeline, but residents had been served by helicopter service for some time before the airport was built, and the idea of a new airport was met with some skepticism. Still, the new airport facility opened in June 1986, and the helicopter routing to Bodo was supplanted with fixed-wing air service, provided by Widerøe.
To give you some idea of the physical isolation, it’s fifty or so miles from the village of Værøy to ENBO Bodo. Please note the pins on the image above, especially ENSH, the scenery file AeroSOFT released last month (see our review, here), and note the other pins – in green – are all freeware files available here. More context? Check out the image below:
While it’s only fifty miles to Bodo, it is 550 to Bergen. Oslo is a little closer at 515, while Helsinki is over 600 miles. Want something a little longer? How about 1020nmi to BIKF Keflavik? Not enough? Want more? Well, it’s 1200nmi to Heathrow, Frankfurt or Warsaw, and 1350 to Vienna? Want even more? Well, LSZH weighs in at 1550nmi, and KBOS at 3400. Is that context enough?
Oh, I mentioned there are a couple of reasons why you might want to consider this file. Besides all that dramatic Norwegian scenery, you might also consider this:
Good. We clear? Let’s check out the airport first.
There’s nothing that can’t be accomplished with enough raw horsepower.
Wind? What wind?
Oh, Thranda’s v1.5 update for the Kodiak? Big Thumbs Up.
Here’s the “terminal building” (above), but do take note…the building was purchased by a private party and he turned it into a house – but now uses to control tower as a chocolate factory.
Really, folks, I’m not makin’ this stuff up.
Yup, I can see wind being a little bit of an issue here…like curling up that face then crashing back down on the runway?
The building, such as it is, is nicely done – yet there are no interior features here.
There is a baggage truck out front and some baggage carts parked around the corner, and a few cars out back, too, but that’s about all the activity this place can take.
Take off and turn downwind in the pattern and start looking around, because the scenery is wild out here. Kind of Lord of the Rings wild, if you know what I mean.
Circle around the island and you’ll come upon the village – right after you pass the observatory…
Then…set a northbound course and head for ENSH.
You’ll pass over a few villages here and there, and you might even smile when you see not all are XP-auto-gen. Very well done stuff down there, as a matter of fact, and then the thought might hit you…
This would be a fun place to come back to, again and again. Kind of grab a Piper Cub and start exploring vibe grabs you then, especially when you start gaining some altitude. Look at the spinner in the image below…those trees are about 100 m away…then let your eyes follow the ridgeline down to the sea…and try not to daydream about what it would be like down there…walking down that ridge.
200 KIAS is way too fast and before you know it the fifty mile trip to ENSH is over. It’s time to drop the gear and get that wing all kinds of dirty…
Because this is the airport with the great…bathrooms!
“Uh-oh, out of the way…comin’ through…little bit of an emergency, folks…”
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
Or, back in Værøy, what we have is a custom-built fishing village, complete with heli-port.
Here’s the real one, BTW:
And notice the nice, clean, storm-ravaged landing pad? Still looking fun out there?
So yeah, nice building, accurate as can be, too. And notice the observatory on the top of that ridge? Think you could land that 407 up there?
And, oh yes, before I forget…
There are bathrooms in the terminal building. You’ll pardon me while I go wash my hands? You can wait in the waiting room, but it’s standing room only:
Anyway, a last few words or two…
I’d say if you’re looking for one place to make fifty-mile over the water training flights this file may be ideal – assuming you can control wind velocities, that is. Either in a flutterbug or using a light turboprop airliner like the Beech1900D or Saab 340A – from the old airport. Hey, it’s not closed in X-plane, so why not?
And I doubt you’ll find a more mesmerizing setting for either type of aircraft.
You’ll do so surrounded by immersive, well-crafted scenery elements.
And if using a flutterbug you’ll have oil platforms within visible range, and enough cruise ships offshore to simulate the Normandy landings.
There are all kinds of Easter Eggs waiting for you, too. Little villages with subtle little details, or you can concentrate on commuter runs to ENBO or ENSH.
Oh, I made a snarky comment about crappy looking cars last week. This is what I mean by non-crappy looking cars. Don’t settle for less in your next scenery file!
AND…there’s one last thing to consider…
This file fits into our regional training scheme…AND…it will make an interesting diversion on your way to and from Svalbard.
But we’ll have to wait for Ollie’s review to learn more about that one…
That said, I know what I’m doin’ tomorrow. I’m gonna be green, with ENVY, checking out five new freeware files I just downloaded.
So, it’s adios time from way up north. Thanks for coming along, and we’ll see you again next time.