It’s that time again. Take out the old and bring in the new – with a glass of bubbly whatever around the fire, maybe a pot of cheese fondue on the table. Or…why not open Xp and flutter your way up to Piz Gloria?
Has it been that long ago, already?
Filming for this motion picture adaptation of Ian Fleming’s novel began in 1968, now fifty years ago. “Piz Gloria,” featured in the film as Blofeld’s alpine lair, was, at the time film scouts found the place, still under construction. Eon Productions helped finance completion of construction in return for location filming rights, and the owners of the building secured rights to name the facility Piz Gloria, which Ian Fleming had called Blofeld’s hideaway in the novel. Kind of life imitating art, I suppose, but there you go. There’s a restaurant up there now, and they served a pretty mean cheese fondue up there last time my wife, my son and myself went.
There’s been a file of one sort or another in X-plane here for years, some better than others, but this latest one is pretty good – and finally adds some of the gondola towers for the ride up from Mürren. I would recommend skiing down, but the run is a certified BITCH (that’s a technical term, by the way), and that’s when the snow is good. I’m too old to even think about things like this anymore, but hey, life’s fun. Grab on while you can, ’cause the ride’s over pretty quick.
Anyway, back in the day, we had Kevin Mee image Piz Gloria for us (he was our resident flutterbug guru), but we thought it best to update our imagery with the latest file – and the Dreamfoil 407. It just wouldn’t be right, ya know? Sorry, Kev.
Anyway, there are several routes up to the summit, but we’ve mapped out our favorite:
Take off from LSMI-Interlaken (yes, there’s a default lego-brick airport there – go figure) and turn south for Lauterbrunnen. About halfway up the valley the Eiger pulls into view, which makes this trip kind of special.
Continue past the rail yards in Lauterbrunnen until you come to a broad meadow. If you see a route up…take it. If not, you are now officially lost. So, take the turn and be prepared to climb from 2000 MSL to 11000 MSL – in about a half mile distance. See, isn’t this fun…and aren’t you glad you’re not paying for the fuel today? Anyway, you climb. And you climb. Then you climb some more, and then, once you get up to the top of this climb you come to a ridge, and it looks a little like this:
Now, turn right. Now. Just remember your Bell 407 is now at 11000MSL and she doesn’t like it up here. First, there’s not a lot of air. Second, X-plane does a righteous job of simulating updrafts and wind-shear, so if your handy-dandy flutterbug is now fluttering a whole lot – that’s why. By this point, you should be saying all kinds of admiring things about the helicopter pilots who flew in the movie, too.
So, you made that right turn yet?
If not, you’re on your way to Berne and Geneva. Seeya Chuck, have fun. Write when you get there.
If you did make the turn you should see a lake down at the end of the valley. That’s Interlaken West.
Keep turning to the right.
And there it is. Right in front of you.
It’s kind of hard to see, isn’t it? Until you get close, anyway.
Then it all snaps into focus.
Yup. Right there. Maybe one more time, Annie?
You can follow the gondola lines down for a while, but you’ll need to head down now ’cause you’re gonna be low on fuel. Trust me on this one, okay? In the image above head to the notch in the center, just under the Eiger, then hang a left there.
The trip down is, needless to say, easier (and quicker) then the climb up.
And once down in the valley just follow the power lines back to Interlaken. Unless…
…you need to stop for a bathroom break. Hey, it says it’s an EMS Aid Station! If this doesn’t qualify, what does?
Anyway, there are only two rules to remember when making the trip to Piz Gloria.
- It’s against the rules to start up there. You start at LSMI or not at all.
- You absolutely have to listen to the soundtrack from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service while trying this. You won’t make it if you don’t.
Now…it’s time to change gears. Time to look back at the year that was. Or, well, three months of it, anyway…
We have, over the years, tried to sum up the year by looking back at some of the best files we ran across, and, of course, we got all full of ourselves and issued “Best Scenery File of the Year!” awards, too. Having been away from the scene for a while makes that whole exercise seem a little too pretentious – even for us – so we thought we’d just run through some images of the most interesting things we ran across over the past few months.
No particular order here, just an image or two and a few words about what struck us as noteworthy…
So, for our freeware file of the year award: EFHK Helsinki. Okay, so it’s been around awhile. It wouldn’t be fair if Mr. X got all the awards, would it?
And, for our overtly pretentious, manifestly unwarranted Payware File of the Year Award, MrX’s, er, Short Final’s KABQ.
Now, can we get back to our list of images and nonsensical free associations?
Here’s the Dreamfoil 407 for Xp11 at the airport on St Helena (FHSH, a file that released a few days ago, and read our review following this post). If we were nominating just one ACF for ACF of the Year award, this would be it.
Wait, does that even make sense?
The textures on this model are sinful. You can gain weight just looking at the thing.
And it handles like a dream. Even on St Helena. Read our review of this file following the current review.
Or…even in Austria. Who needs chocolate when we can have this for dessert?
Yes, that’s another file out there from those merry pranksters at Xp.at. These guys can make a file like this 407 look bad in comparison.
Of course…it doesn’t hurt that this thing is simple to fly, and fun. The night panel is one of the best we’ve ever seen, too. Clear, immersive…and so simple it’s fun. Anyway, this is our top choice for .acf of the year.
Thranda’s Quest Kodiak. This is the unshelled nuts, folks.
X-plane has sort of become 737 Central, hasn’t it? Though none are “new” this year, one is still the most important file in X-plane. By that, we mean we’ve got the best heavy metal file in any sim, the IXEG 737 Classic…
Then we’ve got Fly-J-Sim’s soon to be updated 732; finally, to full Xp11 compliance…
Then we’ve got the default 738, then the Zibo-modified default 738…(whew…)
And then EADT’s x737 – now in two flavors: 700 & 800 series (700 shown here, because we know you’re already getting bored).
So, if you had to chose just one 737 file to use from now on, which would you choose?
Yup, same here.
No. We’re talking about LEVC Valencia, the file by Icarus that lit our fire back in October. This file, over at X-Aviation, is a gobsmacker. One of our “Five Best” picks of the year.
GloballART’s CYYZ Toronto caught out eye too. Great textures, superb model.
“And…we’ve heard every time you open the file you get frequent flyer miles on your Sheraton Hotels account.”
“Shut up, Jethro. You know we ain’t s’posed to be sayin’ stuff like that!”
AeroSOFT’s EDDL was our second runner-up for File of the Year award. This is one of the best out there, folks.
AeroSOFT changed tactics on us this fall, too. Instead of concentrating on larger airports they came out with ENBR Bergen…to lead the way north, by way of ENVY…
This may be one of the files you overlooked this year, and if you did we’re not so sure about your strategy – for Svalbard.
First, the scenery around this airport is outrageous, even by X-plane standards, and the airport is kind of fun, too, despite the winds.
And the heliport is a great option, with the flight to Bodo in the Jetranger a fun challenge.
EPLL, in DD’s Polish Airports collection, wowed us with simply brilliant execution and stunning night textures.
While the control tower at DD’s EPWA still leaves us in awe.
But that was BEFORE we caught sight of the interior they modeled for one of the main passenger concourses:
You have to pinch yourself to make sure this isn’t an image from the real airport.
(below) the SSG E-195 braving the currents to land at FHSH St Helena. Two interesting files.
We’re working on a review of FHSH St Helena, and have a lot to say about the file too, but for now, take a look at this tower:
This is a stunning new file, by the way.
iBlueyonder’s Heron’s Nest impressed us with it’s challenging airstrip and moody, island ambiance.
Kind of like DownEast flare comes to Dallas, y’all. Fun file, but way too expensive.
KIDA Idaho Falls made our short list, too. A Top Five pick, if you know what we mean.
With some of the most stunning detail we’ve seen this year, this is a file to cherish. Well, to use. A lot. But you can cherish it if you want to.
FunnerFlight’s KLAX hits the price/performance sweet spot for us.
With some of the night textures so surreal they’re beyond good.
Daylight textures, too, look pretty good to us.
Yet this screenshot, of the airport and downtown in the distance, left us speechless. This is the way LA looked…back in the 70s – without too much smog.
Mr X released two west coast files that left us wanting more…KPDX Portland and KSFO.
Of course, X-plane does some of the heavy-lifting in Portland, with Mt Hood pulling in top honors for best actor in a supporting role…
And have you ever seen filthier ramps? Just gorgeous!
Then, his tour de force: KSFO. Should’ve been payware. Thank you.
Icarus’ KSAN San Diego hit a few bright notes for us, too.
And we were glad to find KPSP had been updated – and is still looking sinfully good.
KTTF Custer/gateway may well prove to be one of the most significant files of the year for Xp, not simply for what it is, but what it promises for the future. Surely this is the very best payware GA airport file released in a long time, but the airport was only half the story. This file opened the floodgates, however. Going forward, developers will need to provide more detailed surroundings to compete.
JustSIM impressed us with their LOWI Innsbruck, and…
…their LOWS Salzburg…
While those “wild and crazy guys” in Vienna crafted this über-kewl tower at LOWW that left us speechless.
Ah, what’s this, you ask…?
Well, not to be left out, Laminar’s KSEA & Seattle area is approaching “payware” quality…but…wait a minute…it IS a payware file, right? I mean, we paid for X-plane, didn’t we?
Yeah, I see your point.
Whatever…at this point Laminar’s KSEA is a worthwhile destination in and of itself. Drop in, anytime. You paid for it, so you might as well use it, right?
We’ve been using SkyMAXX Pro and haven’t seen any reason to change. Yet. We’re enjoying v4…very impressive thunderstorms.
Sorry. This may be the best control tower ever. Really.
So, our second place award for best payware? EDDF. It was close, guys.
But then again, THIS is the most important file released for the entire year, right here:
Tranny pilots, no less. How appropriate. This sums up 2017 rather well, don’t you think?
Y’all have a safe Happy New Years’ party, okay. We’ll seeya on the other side. – C