x+s+r // closing in on KACK

KACK main hdr

Well, after a quick get acquainted flight around the island in the Waco last night, almost falling asleep in my chair (!!!), I couldn’t wait to get back here as soon as I could this afternoon. After spending several more hours here today all I can say, again, is Wow. KTTF Custer Gateway has been the undisputed champion as far as airport quality AND included city structures, but iBlueyonder’s Nantucket Island scenery may knock that champ off his throne. Yes, this file is that good, and keep in mind that, once again, iBlueyonder is coming to the market offering more than reasonable pricing for their work.

I used the DR Bell 407 for an extended flight around the island, made a quick hop in the Alabeo Beech Staggerwing (another oldie but goodie), and, just for grins, I opened the Rotate MD80v1.4. Let me get this out of the way right up front; the new v1.4 MD80 is gorgeous but it is now the undisputed framerate hog. I opened the IXEG 733 here just to confirm my impressions and it’s no contest. The IXEG file is quite useable here; the Rotate MD80 ground my machine into the dirt. The only way I’ll be able to use this file with textures or objects dialed up will be to get a new machine, period, and I’m not sure an 8Gb GPU card will be enough. The new iMac Pro has a 16Gb GPU option, and that may well be the way to go if you’re going to take flight simming seriously going forward. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but with powerhouse weather and season enhancing files just around the corner, I fear 8 gigs won’t last long – at all. Files like EDDF – when loaded with MAX rendering and objects – clock in at a 12Gb load. Throw in X-Enviro or who knows what weather generator and your 8Gb card is going to smoke and sputter.

That said, no aircraft files gave me fits here except the MD80, and at less than 5FPS I just imaged it a few times and shut her down. The Waco and Staggerwing are optimal fixed wing files around here, as they excel at puttering around at low speeds, perfect for sightseeing, but nothing will beat a flutterbug for seeing all this file has to offer.

The Terminal

KACK 2 COMM ramps

Last night I had a UAL A319 parked on the ramps by the terminal; this morning a DL CRJ and AAL 738 were sitting there! Great algorithm for getting appropriate aircraft on the apron…no Air Berlin or other inappropriate files observed.

KACK 1 COMM ramps

Yeah, the MD80 is flat out gorgeous. So is this terminal, and with shadows rendered this north facing area will always be in the dark.

KACK 4 Term Wings ac

On the commuter side, two Cape Air Cessnas are ready and waiting all the time. I haven’t seen interior detail anywhere, including the tower. The only negative remark I have.

KACK 5 Term lots

Parking lots and access to the terminal is faithfully and nicely modeled, with good foliage once again…something we noted at iBy’s MinuteMan.

KACK 5.1 Term lots

Even this gazebo-picnic area looks perfect.

KACK 407 2South of the terminal, you’ll run across the Biz-jet ramps as well as emergency services. There is no dedicated helipad here, by the way. I loaded where the MD80 had been, down by the CRJ, before taking off for a flight around the island in the 407.

Around the Island

KACK ortho 1

Heading away to the north, you’ll overfly a bunch of boat storage yards (those stacked racks behind the 407 are loaded, three high, with little motor boats…). You’ll note, right away, too, that roads and houses on this part of the scenery are not auto-gen, and pretty soon you’ll see some fairly unusual scenery elements.


Like the white caleche driveway (right) or the black looking field (left).


The black field is, I believe, a cranberry bog. (below) still headed north, you’ll run across two pretty high-end golf course/country clubs – before you run out of island.


Turn WNW here and head on out to Great Point. Be prepared to be wowed some more, as the orthos get really interesting out there.

KACK O sf1

While there’s not a lot of land ahead, as you fly over this spit look down…into the sea. Details on the sea-floor really pop here, and it’s easy to see real differences between rock and sandy bottom.

KACK O sf 2

And the tidal range is easily visible along the beach. Even the surf-line looks excellent, and the orthos hold up very well here, at just 200+ feet AGL.

KACK O sf 3

Further along, you can see underwater rock formations! Curiously, many houses on the ortho begin to break down under 500AGL, while terrain features (both above and below the water) remain quite good. Still, 500 AGL is quite for good, considering it wasn’t all that long ago that 1500AGL was the norm.

KACK O 6 pt1


Once into the  main settlement, called, oddly enough, Nantucket, you’ll run into many custom structures, including the Brant Point Lighthouse (one of many on the island) near the channel inlet…as well as the First Congregational Church, below:

KACK O church.jpg

One thing I noted here…older, custom housing on one side of the street and Rancho Cucamonga Estates tract housing on the other…like “the exclusion zone ends – Right Here!” Anyway, the church is accurately modeled (on the outside, anyway), as is most of the village center, right down to the city wharf area (below).

KACK ortho end port

I have, over the years docked my sailboat here perhaps a dozen times, and the area directly under the 407 is a happy agglomeration of shops and memories that for me, at least, stretch back to the 1980s. The area in snow, at Christmas, is simply magic.

Back to the Airport

KACK 407 app

Other than the usual ramps and gates, there are two hangers assigned as starting locations when you open this file: Hanger One, below, is the smaller of the two…

KACK Hanger 1

While Hanger Four is the humdinger I found last night:

KACK hanger 4.1

KACK hanger 4

There are three commercial (jet) ramps (positions 1-3), as well as the biz-jet area seen above, and again, here:

KACK 407

Emergency Services are located here, as well – and yes, there are fire trucks behind those glass doors:


Beyond the BJ area is a large GA ramp with room for dozens of aircraft. The terminal building and the various parking lots are all lighted, of course, but you won’t find a barrage of starburst lighting here – and I would assume that was a deliberate choice in keeping with the aesthetic of the place. New Englanders are a frugal lot, not prone to spending money on silly things like excess lighting, so judge this accordingly. This ain’t Vegas, ya know?

KACK 3 term night

Still, what is rendered here is tastefully done, and it “fits” the area. What lighting there is “gets the job done,” unobtrusively. That’s the New England way.

KACK Term twilight

KACK ramps nite MD

Nothing “in your face,” nothing garish – just workable.

That idea carries on regarding runways and taxiways. Here’s the layout, by the by:

KACK Diagram

And here are a few examples of the attention to detail I found on all taxiways:

KACK taxiways

All appropriate signage is lighted, and nicely done:

KACK Taxiways 2

Oh, concerning all those Noise Abatement areas…they’re everywhere, as you can see on this visual approach plate:


There are multiple RNAV and ILS/LOC plates, too, for runways 06, 15, 24, and 33, as well as two STAR charts. Examples:



So, what we have here is a small commercial facility that also happens to have a rather large bizjet ramp (all those golf courses, remember?), as well as a sizeable GA ramp. Could this work out as a GA training facility for you? Well, with all the ILS approaches, yes. Add to that the well-executed ortho/mesh this scenery provides and you’ve got a first-class visual environment for your training facility. Throw in all of the regional airports you’re already familiar with…


…and now, with the addition of KACK Nantucket Island, the middle New England area is perhaps the best GA training area in the U.S. (in X-plane, of course), though, logically, a really good Martha’s Vineyard file would help round out the immediate area. And as interesting as iBlueyonder’s Heron’s Nest file is, I think that fits another purpose entirely, but we could certainly use other good airports in Maine – if only to add another layer of scenic interest to our travels in this part of the country. I’d nominate Hancock County-Bar Harbor airport just outside of Acadia National Park as a good one; another would be Knox County Regional in Rockland. This old B-17 staging facility has a mix of GA and light commercial activity and is home to the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum. Kind of a Downeast NY94, I guess. If you don’t have KBID Block Island yet, you ought to think about that one, too. With excellent freeware options for KBOS and KJFK, this region also represents an excellent RJ training area. In New England, bad weather is all but guaranteed.

KACK Beech ramps

In the end, iBlueyonder has brought a new level of excellence to X-plane, that most of us have been waiting – patiently – for years to see. As mentioned, this file is very reasonably priced, so make their effort a winning proposition for all of us. Support good developers, okay? They’re taking a gamble coming to X-plane, and if they win, we all win.

That’s all on Nantucket Island for now. We’ll be using this one a lot in our spare time, for all the reasons outlined above. Flying out of NY94 last week only served to remind how good the area is for short-to-medium duration trips. Adding New York and Boston into the mix only makes that time in X-plane all the more enjoyable.

Thanks for dropping by. Seeya next time. – C&A




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