After the brutal weather the past few days (and for some of us, weeks), looking at the image above made me homesick for summer…but that is, indeed, the beauty of simulations. We can visit a world of our choice anytime we choose, and almost anywhere, too. Anywhere there is a scenery file, that is.
And it seems that things haven’t changed much in one regard: we have the Christmas rush of new releases – then the doldrums of January. Then a flurry of new file “announcements” – that’s January – yet if we’re lucky we’ll get some free time to wander through the downloads at the .org and x-aviation, digging for a few missed gems. We spent a few days digging this week – so let’s go over a few things we found, ’cause you might like ’em too.
Anyway, this is a long post so pull out something with a big screen and settle in with some fresh coffee… We’re covering files in the UK, Spain, Slovenia, Switzerland and even in the good ole U.S. of A. Come on, we’re burning daylight…!
The sunny image at the top of this post came from this interesting little airfield, and this file falls into the “every picture tells a story” category. This is a scenery file to get lost in, to daydream of warm summer afternoons – and cookouts around a campfire…
EGMF Farthing Corner, by Scottish Wings, is located near London, and in this file we find snippets of a summer’s idyll – days spent flying, nights gathered ’round a leaky manifold in the hanger, a wrench in one hand, a pint in the other, maybe telling a few “war-stories” while the work gets done…
Sleepover in the caravan, then an early morning breakie before a few touch-and-goes – then its back to the city and another week gone…
…Yup. There’re a few stories waiting to be told in this file. Fun stuff. Grass strip, campers, work going on in the hanger…all sorts of little vignettes playing out before your eyes.
And then, from the same developer:
EGLP Brimpton is another grass-stripped tale waiting to come to life for you, a haven for weekend warriors of all types, and ages…(and yes, even gardeners can be weekend warriors…of a sort). Anyway, the lumber in the fence is freshly sawn and the grass mowed yesterday, so – off we go!
If an afternoon’s amble in your Piper sounds spot on, this is your file. A few nearby villages make good VFR landmarks, but be careful…the facility is painted in shades of olive and earthen-browns so it can be a little tough to spot in low light.
Runway lighting? Are you serious? You’re missing the point, old man!
But maybe Aunt Caroline will put out some Tiki-torches…just for you!
Anyway, these two files are worth keeping on hand for when the need to fly a Piper, or even a Cessna, over SE England becomes too much to handle. Highly recommended fun it is, too.
Prospero246’s CYCZ continues his British Columbian adventure; he claims this one is a bit plain and that the mountains are the big attraction here. I don’t know…it’s certainly not JFK but it looks pretty decent to me, and the download size is minuscule (only lego-brick-assets used).
The airport is useful day and night but, reading between the lines here, you’d better have serious deicing equipment on your bird if you plan to come here in winter.
We’re collecting the developers BC airports, as we’re planning to spend some time flying around here over the next few weeks. We’ll keep you posted.
axmiha’s SAZS Bariloche is deep in the Andean foothills, in the western reaches of Argentina’s Lake District. The region is alpine in character, not quite what you’d expect in Argentina, but Bariloche’s sister city in the United States is Aspen, Colorado.
Yes, skiing is a big deal here, and many national ski teams do their summer training on nearby slopes (makes sense, as it’s winter here), and so this airport is kind of a big deal, in its way. When you take a look at the architecture it all comes together.
This terminal would like right at home in Colorado, and it’s well detailed, too.
Ramps are little skinny on detail, but overall they’re certainly not bad. Concrete details are first-rate, and night textures stand out as very, very good.
Most traffic here is to domestic destinations, with some flights to Brazil. No US or European carriers…
And speaking of Brazil, by the same developer we have SBBE Val de Cans. Mainly domestic carriers here, but as this city is on the Atlantic coast TAP flies nonstop to Lisbon. Nicely detailed, decent night textures highlight this oceanfront file.
Aerobridge is almost a household name in the X-plane community, but if you don’t have their KCGZ Meig’s Field you’re not quite with it. LJPZ Portoroz was one of their early efforts, and while it’s an airport that’s a little off the beaten path for most of us, it’s close enough to the action to be worth keeping on hand. If you base out of northern Italy or southern Austria, you’ll use this file and we’d consider it a must have file.
There are little details all over this one, so it’s worth taking a peek around, and as it’s almost right on the water it’s only 2 feet above sea level. This is a GA airport in the main, though some air cargo carriers and biz-jets work out of here.
The simple terminal is well modeled, good hangers and very good lighting round out this file.
Hangers and hanger lighting get a lot of attention here, and again, it all looks very good. It’s kind of a must-have file, too.
This KGCN is a Lego-brick affair in your Global Airports file, yet it’s a decent looking airport and worth knowing about. I decided to include this today as I’ve added AlpilotX’s mesh v4 for the area and I wanted to check out the Grand Canyon. With MrX’s HD Forest file added too, I was really very curious how this would look.
The default Grand Canyon in X-plane looks a little like smeared caramel syrup poured over an unmade bed and, well, this isn’t much better. BUT, at least there are trees down in the canyon now, and that’s a minor improvement. KGCN is actually not bad, in practice, although the real facility is a good deal more complex than this stand-in file. Still, it’s nice to have.
With AlpilotX’s mesh onboard we finally get some detail at the South Rim Village, including the visitor center left of the 407’s nose, and the Kachina Lodge Resort complex ahead, on the rim. Except…it’s all houses. No hotels, no businesses. Just Southern California Rancho Cucamonga Estates tract housing. Very disappointing, as now we know OSM data is NOT the answer to all our X-plane prayers. Not even a gas station…just houses, where there are almost none. Pooey!
These mesh files are not orthos, yet all of the ortho files of the Grand Canyon area I’ve seen just don’t look, well, like the Grand Canyon. There’s little differentiation or layering, no representation of the two primary strata (Kaibab and Coconino sedimentary layers), and instead of looking like rocky structures (which the canyon is), this still looks like undulating grasslands. I guess the search goes on…
If anyone’s getting better results here, would you drop me a note and let me in on your secret?
I’m still just gobsmacked at LEBB and the surrounding area, which is what got me onto this whole AlpilotX and v4 mesh thing. I wanted to see how OSM data would “fine tune” some of the auto-gen road and building placement, then I decided to go after the HD Forest file and see if that helped fill out the hills surrounding the area.
Well, most roads are “smoothed-out” and trees are improved, so this was a win-win result. In other words, all that bandwidth didn’t go to waste. Take a look…
Next, with the mesh in place (but not the HD Forest file) I puttered over to LEPP Pamplona. I usually do this in a Carenado single, but all my Carenado singles are now dead. As in, Xp 11.11 killed them – all of them. Even my Alabeo Waco is dead as a doornail.
I cried for an hour.
Did I mention I love the DF 407. Who needs a GA single anymore. Too bad, Carenado. You lose.
Just do not, I repeat, DO NOT turn off stability augmentation in the 407. I made two 60 mile trips with it OFF and I was a nervous wreck for hours after. Twitchy? OMG. Like being in a room full of Democrats listening to Donald Trump.
I think this is Durango, below.
But I love this area. In Xp11 this is flight-sim bliss. Add the 407 and this is as good as it gets in Xp.
Just turn on stability augmentation. Okay?
Below, the San Donato region. Gorgeous!
This part of Spain is just drop-dead gorgeous, BTW, and as I’d added a Spanish windmills file (I know, there’s some kind of irony in that one) a few months back I ran across this ridgeline loaded with turbines. Kind of neat, and I love unexpected finds like this. Makes the trip all that much more fun.
This was an interesting flight in the 407, especially with SAS off. Mountains, wind shear, up-drafts, and cross-currents made this flight a real handful, but I’ve not had more fun in Xp in ages. Again, this is a truly beautiful part of the world and if you haven’t been, or can’t make it, seeing it in Xp is kind of fun, too.
There’ve been a few helicopter packages, usually some variation of the “rescue simulation” training scenario, that included the Air Zermatt pad in Zermatt, Switzerland – LSEZ is its ICAO identifier – and some have been better than others. In the image below we’re looking at Zermatt (hah, fat chance) and yes, there’s a 412 on top of that grey monstrosity. Four pads, too, as a matter of fact.
Back in the day, this is what the pad looked like…and this was the local hub for Air Zermatt. Their main base is down-valley, in Visp, at LSTA Raron, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
The AlpilotX mesh obliterated my old file…just flat-out replaced it…leaving me with that gray thing up there.
Of course, these days Air Zermatt has fancy flutterbugs with stars all over ’em. This is the freeware Bell 429, btw. Anyway, Zermatt is probably most famous after Walt Disney stole their mountain, called the Matterhorn, and put it in Anaheim, California, leaving this fake one in its place…
No doubt, you can tell the original (below) from the fake one (above)? No?
Anyway, lots of people come to Zermatt – in the summer to pretend to be mountain climbers, and in the winter to pretend to be skiers. Some of these people can’t stand the idea of taking a train up the valley from Visp, hence, Air Zermatt. Some people actually try to ski on these slopes, hence about half of Air Zermatt’s flutterbugs can be equipped as medevac choppers. So, generally speaking, you go up the Gornergratbahn, get off the train and put on your skis, think about what you’re doing up there for a minute, then point those skinny boards downhill. A few hundred yards down the slope you’ll fall and shatter your femur – in 18 places, then a St Bernard will waddle over and hand you his cell-phone. You can dial the pre-programmed number – for Air Zermatt – then wait for your ride down the mountain.
They’ll come and pick you up, pick up your American Express Black Card, too, then load you up and carry you down the valley. Depending on the severity of your fracture you may only need to go down to the clinic in Zermatt. If your leg is seriously screwed up (or about to be seriously screwed back together) you might go down to Visp – but more likely Sion. If you’ve torqued your neck – though still conscious enough to sign the financial release – you’ll get the golden ticket ride all the way down to Geneva.
And you, the intrepid helicopter pilot that you are, can now do this in X-plane.
American Express optional.
So, yes, there you are, the Ace 412 flutterbug pilot, sitting on the ramp thumbing through a two-month-old copy of Transexual Aviator Magazine – just waiting for your next call.
And when your phone rings, it’s off you go, into the wild, blue yonder…
…then, with your pick-up complete, it’s back down the valley you go…
And here’s where things get interesting – for us, anyway – looking at all this stuff in X-plane. In years gone by this valley looked like a bovine bowel movement. Now, these days, all you have to do is make sure you’ve got AlpilotX’s latest v4 mesh loaded, and MrX’s HD Forest file, too, and then, all of a sudden, most of the jagged roads, railroads, and rivers are nice and smooth. Further, OSM data has put villages where villages ought to be – and they look, well, GOOD!
Forests are where they should be (not dangling ten feet up in the air), and even the trains running up and down the valley look pretty good. You’re so busy scoping out all this scenery stuff that, before you know, it you’re blowing into Visp…which now looks…GOOD!
And then, landing at LSTA…
And yet, I have no idea where this airport came from. Global Airports? Who knows, maybe, but I kind of doubt it.
It looks too good.
The setting of this airport is just bodacious, too. It looks kinda like Colorado got hooked on steroids and grew real mountains.
I think that’s supposed to be Air Zermatt’s hanger behind the 412. Anyway, Air Zermatt’s hanger is supposed to be over there.
Decent little airport, but the hospital in Visp can’t handle your leg so it’s off you go, down the valley to Sion…
And honestly, I didn’t put this file here either. Still, this one looks pretty good too. What’s going on here? Are Global Airports beginning to look a little like real airports? Hmm…and this one’s even got heliports…
But wouldn’t you know it? The only orthopaedic surgeon in town is off fly-fishing, so it’s off to Geneva you go! Hope you bought decent medevac insurance…if not…this one’$ gonna hurt!
So, welcome to TDGs LSGG Geneva, aka Cointrin Airport – and this is a real airport, folks. It’s freeware, but it’s big – and it’s nicely detailed. There are lots of helipads, big (rotating) radars, excellent taxiways and runway markings, and the terminal buildings are fairly accurate.
So, enjoy your ambulance ride into the city, and we hope you feel better soon (but hey, you won’t after you get our bill) so…have a nice day!.
This airport has three circular satellite terminals in addition to the main concourse, and the ramps get crowded here – with all kinds of weird, crossing activity. This airport file is good at conveying the riot of activity, too, with all kinds of expected activity and some unexpected stuff going on, too. When you land and taxi in just keep your eyes wide open, keep looking for something to hop out in front of you.
Night lighting is particularly good here, with most ramps very well lighted – and even a little cluttered…!
Another thing that this Xp11 and AlpilotX co-production does particularly well is integrating OSM data into the field of play. The last time I landed here in Xp, a few weeks ago and before Mesh v4 was installed, there were high-tension power lines and transmission towers on the threshold. Not good. OSM data gets rid of most of that nonsense, which makes a pretty strong case for installing these meshes. The freeways look better too.
Again, lighting is a real plus in this file…
And beware the little yellow earth movers! ‘Nuff said!
So, Zermatt to Geneva in a flutterbug. You up for it? Good. Let us know how it goes.
Anyway, a long post today, and thanks for sticking with us. We’ll see you again soon, and thanks for dropping by.