x+s+r // copper canaries…

Copper Canaries hdr

Copper Canaries…?

Whoa-boy…wonder what they slipped in the water over at x+sim+reviews?

Well, recalling several airports we reviewed back in Xp v9.70 for the Canary Islands – and while we were working on our latest for GCLP Gran Canaria – we decided that the time was right for a return to those airports – to check up on their status. While we were up to no good (i.e., digging through those old files…), a new freeware file popped up over at the Org., this for the Copper Canyon region in Northern Mexico, if you can get into that.

So…Copper Canaries seemed like just the thing…so while islands in the Atlantic are still fresh on our minds, let’s head back to the canaries, or – the Canary Islands.

Canary GE

We’re dealing with five “new” airports in this review, but do note, we looked at GCLP in our last post. That said, let’s look at these five new (old) airports with GCLP in mind, so the distances involved FROM GCLP  are noted below (note: the download links are in blue):

  1. GCXO Tenerife North (70 miles);
  2. GCTS Tenerife South (72 miles);
  3. GCLA LaPalma (110 miles);
  4. GCGM La Gomera (151 miles);
  5. GCHI Hierro (155 miles)

Recall, too, this map from our last post – showing relative proximity to the European airports. Most traffic between the smaller airports is inter-island, though they have links to Madrid and Barcelona.

GCLP GE routes

Also, these are all freeware files, so have fun.



When we last visited this area, in v9.70, there were a couple of simple buildings here and nothing worth writing home about – except for the island of Tenerife’s wild beauty, and that came through on the ortho we had installed at the time. Well, that beauty is still with us, but that old airport is long gone. What’s in this new file is very close to payware file quality…


The ortho carries some of the load here, so, of course, there’s the usual breakdown in visual quality we find at low altitude. If the area seen above had 3D objects placed, instead of relying on an ortho to do the job, this file would gain a lot of visual credibility, yet, as it stands now, the airport itself is really very well executed.


There are simple blue textures used for night windows, and while that looks good from a distance it’s hard to take up close. Then again, performance here is excellent, and while we didn’t pull out the Rotate MD80, it should work here for flights to Rome, Madrid, and Barcelona. Finnair flies nonstop to Helsinki (752), and Alitalia to Rome, but most other options are budget carriers flying to Madrid, Barcelona, and Alicante in A320s and RJs.


So, with a good ortho, excellent attention to detail, and operationally accurate specifics, this is a worthy addition to your CS folder. Do note: this is the facility where the infamous 747 runway collision occurred.


GCTS hdr

Located on the same island (Tenerife), this is the big daddy, where almost all the major carriers can be found…from BA to Edelweiss to Lufthansa and Finnair…and with a 3200m runway, this is where you’ll fly in a 744 or A380.


Nice ortho under the airport model here, and the runway/taxiway markings are a real standout effort. AND…the night textures are very nicely executed, adding real depth to the terminal building:



GCLA hdr

This is a stunning airport, brilliantly executed for Xp11 and a total Must Have file.

Any questions?


This looks like a small airport, but you can fly direct to a bunch of cities in Europe, from Madrid and Barcelona to Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Munich, and Berlin – Zurich, London (Gatwick), Amsterdam and LFPO, too.


Wherever you chose, this is one file we think you’ll cherish. The surroundings are just gorgeous, the facility almost perfect, and the approach is a blast – visually.


And, compare the image above with this image of the real facility:

GCLA real

The developer nailed this one, so don’t let this one slip away.



GCGM hdr

We first looked at this file way back in v9.70, and we can’t tell if much has been done since then. Maybe the lights? And don’t take this as a put-down; it’s not. We liked this file almost ten years ago and we STILL like this file. The main terminal building is dated, it could use a makeover, but the essentials still come through loud and clear.

This file is all about the approach, too. It’s a blast. Set some 20-knot crosswinds and give it a try…and we think you’ll be impressed too!


The approach (and departure, for that matter) are as challenging as that found on St Helena (and there’s a near-perfect ortho included with this download). The file is framerate friendly, and all our 737 files easily work here so I suspect the Rotate MD80 might too. I do wish there was an A318 Ultimate, because it would be perfect at airports like this. For that matter, a 737-5 would too.


Binter is the main carrier out here, and they fly to Tenerife North, only. The ATR is perfect on that route, but the Saab 340 or Beech 1900 would do the trick here, as well. The Twin Otter would be overkill, but fun. The Lauda Air 738 just dwarfs these ramps.


And despite the simple textures on the terminal, we continue to think highly of this file. You’ll enjoy it, so give it a try!


GCHI hdr

This is the one that stoked our interests, like – ten years ago – and, oddly enough, it still does. It looks like lighting may have been updated here, and not much else…but that’s okay. This one was near perfect in v9.7, and it too still is a blast to use.


Same situation here again. Binter flies ATR-72s to Gran Canaria and Tenerife North, so a 737 is more wishful thinking than anything else, as the runway is only 4000ft long. The approach, like at La Gomera, is a raucous roller coaster with winds dialed up to 15-20 knots. Try a crosswind and hang on: with high cliffs surrounding the runway, you’re in for a vomit-comet ride.


Here’s the real facility:

GCHI real

And if you have access to updated Spanish charts, you’ll find material for the Canary Islands in there, too:

GCHI chart

What struck me first all those years ago was flying the approach at night (in the ATR, I think) and how the terminal buildings stand out like an island of light. This file still ranks right up there as one of our favorites, but when added to a Canary Islands route network this file may become one of your favorites, too. It’s a classic.


Now, off to Mexico…and…


Copper Canyon hdr

So, imagine for a moment…

You’re flying air cargo at night from Dallas Love Field, usually out to West Texas, but occasionally you carry people too, on short charters to New Mexico and Colorado. One night your dispatcher calls and tells you that you’re needed, immediately – to take a Cessna 421 down to Mexico…

“Mexico?” you ask.

“Yeah, someplace southwest of Chihuahua.”

“I don’t think there’s anyplace southwest of Chihuahua. It’s just mountains out there.”

“Yeah, so? We got a group of doctors down there, volunteering at a little clinic, and one of them got sick, needs to get back up here asap.”

So, it’s one in the morning when you head out to Love Field and pick up the 421; and there the dispatcher lays it out for you. “One of the docs got through on a radio-telephone, and he’s a pilot. The airport down there is located west of Chihuahua, around this intersection…”


“Yeah, well, the doc says the airport ain’t much more than a road, a kind of steep road…”

“A steep road?”

And, so, it’s 600 or so miles down to Chihuahua, Mexico, where you stop for gas. Your aeronautical charts mean squat out here, and as you take off into the sunrise you’re wondering if you’ll even be able to find this “airport…”

Well, you find it, and someone has set out smudge-pots to mark the runway – which looks wide enough to handle a jeep…maybe. But you can see people gathered down there – by dawn’s early light – so you fly low and slow, try to get a feel for the place…

So…do you want to get a feel for this place? If so, have we found a file for you! Hang on to your britches and let’s take a look:

Copper GE 2

So, you don’t even want to think of flying down here in anything other than the Quest Kodiak – or a flutterbug. There is ONE airport included in this package that can handle 737-size aircraft (that’s MX31 Creel) but I’m not sure this airport is even open yet. It’s new, still under construction last time I heard, but it’s become a priority as opening up the Barranca del Cobre mountains to tourist development has suddenly become a Very Big Deal to folks down in Mexico City. Part of the reason why…?

Copper canyon 1

It’s called The Copper Canyon, and it’s one of the newest, hottest destinations on the eco-adventure-tourism circuit.

For many people, this area is synonymous with the Tarahumara Indians, and yes, doctors from UT Southwestern (and loads of private practitioners, too) have been going down there for decades, volunteering to work in mud-walled clinics. I took part in building one such clinic, a semi-modern affair, the first of its kind, after flying down there one night to pick up a sick doc.

The area is magic. If you’ve seen the film Altered States, you’ve seen the area, and parts were used time and time again in a number of westerns, including those with John Wayne (The Undefeated, Big Jake) and Steve McQueen (The Magnificent Seven). If you read Carlos Casteñeda’s works, you’ll be familiar with other reasons why this area is famous.

Also famous, the Copper Canyon train ride, one of the most spectacular anywhere.

Copper train

Anyway, now you can explore the area in X-plane, too.


But read the download instructions carefully, as this one is loaded with scenery libraries, including one that might give you trouble. The culprit? Trees. If this one file isn’t loaded, the Copper Canyon file won’t load, either. And yes, it’s the dreaded Madagascar Forest file, too. This bugaboo has been the cause of more trouble in Xp than a hooker in a convent, so listen up.

Go to Shade Tree’s main site (here), and download BOTH Madagascar files, then put them both, still in their separate file folders, in your CS folder. Also, download AlpilotX’s v4 mesh for the area (+20-110); make sure you have all the other scenery libraries listed, then you’re good to go. The trees are worth the effort.

MX trees

Below, the large MX31 Creel airport. Don’t spend much time here as it’s hardly relevant to the nature of this area. You will want a bush plane for your adventures here, and yes, they WILL be adventures.

MX31 1

Try opening at MX80 first. Try to do so on the runway…because the ramps feel a lot like a ski slope. When I opened the Kodiak here the Kodiak started sliding down the slopes…with full brakes making no difference!

MX80 1

If you do manage to make it to the top of the runway (!!!) this is what you’ll find. A nice, intermediate level ski run. It’s like a French alti-port, but instead of snow, if you crash you’ll find yourself in a jungle full of really mean snakes.

MX80 2

MX80 3

For some odd reason, this one is lighted, too. Like, yeah, sure, I’m gonna land here at night? It would take half a bottle of Tequila to get me to even think about landing here at night. Oh, ask Simon about Tequila someday, would you? Then…run.

MX80 4

The lighted Coca-Cola sign is a real treat, though. It might stop your slide down the runway if you get the timing just right.

MX81 1

Then there are airports like these two in the file. Nice, short, paved, with friendly workers willing to give you a bottle of tequila to fly them up to MX80 after work…

MX85 1

That’s why I recommend using a flutterbug around here. Still, I opened at one with the DF Bell 407, and the helipad was on such a steep slope that the helicopter simply rolled on its side and tumbled down the mountain.

You’ve been warned.

Now…get out there and have some fun! Tequila optional…!

Hasta later, Amigos! – C






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