There have been, I think, several files covering the Canary Islands group over the years…at least as far back as Xp version 8 – when Simon and I first started XP+10+Reviews. A few of them offered the first freeware ortho integration, too, and, as such, they became the “Must Have” file du jour – ten years ago. I have to admit that since getting back into Xp last year, I haven’t looked at one of them.
So, we’ll be digging through these files over the next few weeks, seeing what’s new. Which is worth using, I guess. Today, we’re looking at a new GCLP Gran Cararia that is out of an extended beta period for v11, and just a few words before diving into the deep end.
This latest GCLP file, by hades_esp, is as good as freeware gets, so let’s run through the basics, then look at the file.
Often regarded as a mini-continent, the island of Gran Canaria is not exactly big, so what gives? Well, in the 600 or so square miles here, you can experience just about any climate on earth, save, perhaps, an arctic climate. Pico de las Nieves, the tallest mountain on the island, is over 6400 feet in elevation, so it’s up in the clouds. The peak, in other words, is a rain catcher, and that rain funnels down steep-walled canyons to the sea. These erosion patterns are readily apparent in the satellite imagery below, from GoogleEarthPro.
I think it fair to say that tourism is a big deal here, especially during the long cold, dark winter months experienced by folks in Northern Europe. Looking over the list of carriers serving the island, you’ll find a who’s who of Scandinavian operators, followed by a veritable avalanche of German carriers. Not to be outdone, Swiss, Austrian, Dutch and carriers from the UK get in on the act, too. It’s surprising that the island doesn’t sink under the weight of all that sunscreen.
This Spanish island group sits less than a hundred miles off the Moroccan coast, but it’s not that far to our usual suspects in X-plane. It’s 1070 miles to LEMD, 1150 to LEVC. 1330 to LEBL and not quite 1200 to Ibiza. It’s 1950nmi to EHAM and Dusseldorf, while EDDF, EDDS, and EDDM are each a little over 1900nmi. LSZH, too. Paris, London, and Dublin are around 1700nmi, while LOWW comes in at 2200nmi. Further away, EPWA, ENGM, and BIKF are 2500 miles out, while FHSH St Helena is 3100 miles distant. If you feel like a long haul, UUDD, KJFK, and KBOS are each around 3200 miles distant…and all of these airports are directly linked to GCLP. Obviously, there’s something special going on here.
The civil aviation facility shares the two runways with the Spanish Air Force, which bases both F/A-18 and Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft on site. The control tower is a goody: complex and interesting:
Now, let’s look at this latest version, for Xp 11…
GCLP Aeropuerto de Gran Canaria
If you have an eye for detail, the first thing you probably noticed was the array of wind generators surrounding the airport. Second? This airport is not sitting on the default Xp auto-gen terrain. And that ought to tell you that this airport file has a lot in common with better payware files.
Look at an overview at night and you’ll note that the ramps are well lighted, but the lighting effects are not overdone. No star-burst lens flares, in other words, and the lights are bright enough to work under.
The other side of the airport, where the military base is located, is nicely lighted, as well. Area highways get the full Xp11 treatment here, and they look good, as always.
Moving in close, you can begin to see that this airport is as well detailed as the best payware files, and, in some ways, it’s better than most. I spotted some auto-gen in and around the area, but a whole lot of custom work, too. So much, in fact, that this project begins to look like a labor of love. How so? Well, the work in many places is of overwhelming quality, and there’s a lot of difficult modeling executed over a twenty-mile coast-line. Would you set out to do that, in a freeware file, on a lark?
Roof details are NOT photo-textures (as seen in our last review, in the Pilot Plus Ibiza file), but modeled objects. I experienced great framerates here, too, in the IXEG 733, the FF 752, the FF763, and the default 738.
AND, you might have noted that the control tower is a custom model. And it is EXCELLENT! And there’s even more roof detail…!
This carries over to ramp detail which, in some areas, is almost overwhelming (note the area ahead of the AAL 777).
Below, satellite imagery from GEP of a power plant located about halfway between the airport and Las Palmas.
Here’s the area in Xp:
Again, this is about as good as it gets in Xp, too. Below, the town itself, Object settings at MAX:
Easy to spot what looked like many custom buildings down there, too. Below, the military base receives the same attention to detail as the rest of this project.
A Cold Front hits GCLP!
As I’ve been fond of doing lately, a blistering cold weather front passed through the Canary Islands this morning. Rather then image in the dark, making images in this cool blue light is fun to do, and often difficult to set up. Temp just above freezing this time, with damp runways just before sunrise, and a solid layer of overcast all the way to FL300, you end up with this chilly blue light. Too much vis and the effect breaks down…it’s about a quarter mile here.
Depending on the camera’s angle to the sun, exhaust can be any color from blue to almost black:
If surfaces are set to damp, it tends to accentuate HDR/PBR surface reflections:
Play with Delta T and RVR to deepen the colors.
Anyway, the color is NOT unrealistic. This color of blue is common enough…it’s just light scatter through cold water vapor…but it looks pretty cool in Xp.
Also worth noting? Taxiway markings, both painted and signage, are first-rate.
So, that about wraps this one up. Our impressions? Overall: Excellent, a Must Have file. The ATR, the Saab 340, and the Beech 1900D will all work for inter-island commutes; 737s, E-jets, and A320s will do the job to Spain, while larger heavies will be needed for OPS to northern and eastern Europe…so…it looks like a perfect arrow to add to your quiver.
Seeya next time. Hasta later – C