All in all, we usually do NOT feature a roadway as our main image when covering new airports or aircraft files in X-plane, so pardon this going into today’s post – but there’s something quite interesting going on here. Maybe a little behind the scenes, too, but we’ll get to this in a minute. Also, a little “developer interview” today – as part of our review of two African airport files.
A lot of new and revised scenery files came out over the past few days, and we’re pretty sure you’ll find most of these more than a little interesting. Besides GFMO in Morocco and FNUB in Angola, xpfr released a surprising duo in west-central France: LFOT & LFEN, both in Tours. But what makes this pairing even more relevant is an extensive city file was included, and it’s a very nice addition if your flying takes you around the central part of France. Also out this week, a new version of 2NC0 Mountain Air, North Carolina…everyone’s favorite neck breaking East Coast roller coaster. So, to start off today’s post, let’s look at a very different scenery file, a hypothetical airport located in The Netherlands…that simply does not exist.
So, we’ve never reviewed an imaginary airport before, so…what’s going on here? Why bother?
Well, let’s see what the developer has to say:
Let me be clear first: Doetinchem Regional Airport is a non-existing airport; EHDT is a non-valid ICAO code. Well, since this is out of the way, why did I create this imaginary airport in the first place? To be honest, I wanted to try WED 1.6 and didn’t wanna mess up any existing airport and to learn everything one has to start from scratch. So, this is the result. I was looking for an airport with lots of capabilities, but with tight maneuvering space. I wanted to create a grass strip as well as a concrete runway. And I wanted to make it ‘alive’. So lots of objects, while trying not to overdo it.
I realize that the result may be far from perfect, but I would like to ask everyone out there to give it a try. And although I also realize that I’ve used a lot of libraries, I’d love to receive comments. Comments are not considered as criticism, but merely as steppingstone for that moment I’m going to work on an existing airport.
So, let’s test your knowledge of existing terminal buildings in X-plane. Look at the glass corner of the building in the image below. Any guesses where this terminal came from?
Before we look at the answer…take in the interesting scene below. Tons of equipment scattered about the ramps, as well as a throng of passengers about to board the ATR (beyond the 737). I think this image speaks volumes, too, about a central problem with many airport scenery files, namely…Every Picture Tells a Story (and no, we’re not referring to the Rod Stewart song). “Static” has come to define too many of our airports, and that’s not good. A little visual story-telling isn’t such a bad thing, even in a flight-simulator…and, as you can see in the little action unfolding here, perhaps this is an image with all kinds of stories waiting to be told. It’s a hard thing for a designer to wrap their head around too, but sometimes little out of the way corners are great places to develop a little scene like this. People talking around a construction site, or by an engine with access ports open…just little pockets of interest…but these give your final product a lot more impact.
There’s a fair amount of action going on around here, too, though there could be more movement, such as ground vehicles scurrying about. For a first effort, however, this is excellent work.
Lighting helps produce layers of depth here, and this makes the small area look larger. So, re: the question above, if you guessed EICK Cork, Ireland…you’re correct! Easy to see when looking at the whole building, isn’t it?
If the developer’s intent was to cram as much action as possible within a confined space, I’d say ‘Mission Accomplished!’
Whatever the merits of the developer’s original idea, this is an interesting, very useful little commercial airport. I suppose it makes more sense to use it with a virtual airline, but it’s well conceived and nicely executed, so it would be a shame to let it go to waste. I’ll not be deleting this one.
Score: (9/10) Download the file here.
2NC0 (zero, not the letter O) is a very small private airport located in western North Carolina, near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park (west of the Winston-Salem/GSO area). The airport is located on the grounds of a private development that includes upscale homesites, condominiums, as well as a country club with a quite challenging golf course. As a rule, the airport is NOT open to the public as there are very limited emergency services available here. That does not mean, however, that users in X-plane can’t take advantage of all this runway has in store for you.
When we reviewed Santiago’s (nee Nimbus’) original version of this airport (eight years ago!) we featured a Youtube video of an MU2 making the approach here, and this is still about the best introduction you’ll find to flying this runway…
You’ll note, however, that the runway in this file (indeed, all such files to date) does not accurately reflect the contours of the real facility…
I think a Super-Cub, or another such ultra-light STOL aircraft, might manage to land near the threshold of runway 32, but a larger twin, such as an MU2 or King Air might get in real trouble here, so I’d advise trying Rwy 14 first.
Taking off on Rwy 14, once the runway crests it falls away quickly. You’ll want to be airborne before you hit the final pitch…or you’ll be digging a ditch with your aircraft. Regardless, what sets this file apart from earlier efforts is the golf course and residential developments spread around the mountain. It’s a very nice job and quite immersive…
The Phoenix ultra-light is a blast to land here as it carries a tremendous amount of flare (if you, ahem, come in a little hot), and the tricycle gear works to your advantage on Rwy 32s steep initial grade, too. A tricycle geared acf like the Waco, on the other hand, is hindered by its limited visibility…and not recommended.
There’s also something funny going on in the parking area. Several aircraft I used had a difficult time turning here, like the pitch of the original hill is still enabling a loss of steering. The Phoenix and Waco were almost impossible to turn here.
Which brings me to another element worth noting; the trees around this airport. I don’t know if this is auto-gen, but the forests around this airstrip just feel right. This part of North Carolina sees a mix of deciduous and conifer trees, and this is well presented in the file. Also, there is a separate WINTER file available, but I did not try this out, and, in real life, this runway would be terrifying in either snow or ice. I’d imagine the facility is closed during such weather, too.
Anyway, this is now an Xp11 compliant file and assuming you fly GA aircraft in the mid-Atlantic region, this is a fun addition when you want to work on your piloting skills.
xpfr has seemed almost dormant lately, with few new scenery files released and little to indicate they’re still active. The vast majority of their files came out several years ago, in a burst of creative energy that took them from early version 8 well into v10. Arno & Khamsin developed their T28 Trojan and B17 files then (not to mention Arno’s little ErCoupe) and, at about the same time, their teammates at xpfr released the huge French Polynesia file; for a time it looked like xpfr was THE dominant force in X-plane. Then…well, that’s a long story, a thorny tale for a rainy day, perhaps. It takes time for some wounds to heal.
So, anyway…when xpfr releases a new file it’s time for celebration here at Chaos Manor, though the choice we see today is rife with potent symbolism. I see little need to talk about Charles Martel and the Carolingian ascendence after the Battle of Tours; after all, what has that to do with X-plane?
Indeed. Let’s ramble on to more relevant material…
So, what we have here are two rather interesting airport files in one download, as well as an extremely well-executed presentation of some of the more important buildings in and around Tours (and if unfamiliar with Tours, try this Wikipedia entry to get caught up).
It’s a little over a hundred miles to LFPO Paris Orly, and about 250 out to Brest (above), and note that Ryanair flies to London-Stansted, Marrakesh, Porto, Dublin, and Marseilles.
LFOT is primarily a small commercial facility – one it happens to share with a significant military base – and you’ll find both included in this part of the download. Well…wait one. I say “you’ll find” with a wink and a nod, as there are Rafales hidden in hardened revetments all over the place, usually hidden deep in the surrounding woods, and some aren’t exactly easy to find. Aside from a commercial ramp surrounded by trees (with a Ryanair 737 static parked at the terminal), you’ll also find a large military area behind these trees, with all kinds of military equipment on display, including an Airbus 400.
Now, let’s look at the commercial side of the facility, and how about a little comparison to start off with?
All in all, a very close rendition, and xpfr was modeling parking lots in X-plane before just about anyone else…so, of course, you’ll find an excellent one here.
True to form, they employ a variety of lights to impart depth. Learning how to use light – as well as shadow – is an important part of the design process. These guys are masters.
Diving into the blue end of the spectrum found around sunrise – and with a low RVR – this terminal seems to come alive. Can’t you just smell the coffee and croissant…and the lingering patina of a little jet-fuel…?
I loved nothing more than getting to work on mornings like these…and…are you checking out that control tower yet…?
Because night brings out a few details you’ll want to take note off, too.
a) below, you’ll find a ton of interior detail hidden within these textures of the terminal building’s second-floor windows, and;
b) note the tower is subtly lit, and there are interior details showing from the ramp.
Below, some of the details on the terminal building, as referred to above in (a):
I’m not sure, but I think I can tell what brand of copier is in that window!
Now, let’s hop on down to the southern part of the city, where you’ll find LFEN Tours Sorigny…
This is a small GA facility with both a grass and paved runway, an FBO/flight school, and a bunch of extremely well-detailed hangers…all set off by small, almost whimsical details.
There’s a little rust on many of these hangers, lending the airport a faint patina of age. Faded paint is the tell-tale sign I note here: real artists at work…vintage xpfr, too.
The asphalt runway is too short for anything more than GA singles, maybe an overpowered light twin like the Baron, as well. Ramps and taxiways are paved, and there’s some runway lighting, too.
Now, a few “impressions” of the morning…just for fun.
The third part of this download encompasses landmarks in and around the city of Tours, and two of my favorites are the Cathedral and the art deco influenced Gare de Tours. Both are located within blocks of one another, just south of the Loire.
In the image from GE (above), the cathedral is at the top, the train station at the bottom. Below, some images of the cathedral, and NOT from X-plane.
Now…a few in Xp, and note the textured flying buttresses.
Below, the Gare de Tours:
And now, the front facade, followed by a shot of the interior/platforms.
Note the trees on the end platform!!! Obviously, helicopters are the best way to experience these city files, but even flying into LFOT, the view of the city center is impressive.
So, lots to see and do here, and as all of these elements are well executed we’d rate this a solid 10/10. It’s a Must Have file…and you have no idea how good it feels to say that about a new file from xpfr.
Adriana is a young girl with an interest in graphic design and developing assets for X-plane, and she has, to date, created two very interesting airport files – which we’ll be looking at today. We’ve been picking up bits and pieces of her story for a while, so decided to reach out and ask her a few questions about her work, and where she’s going from here. Here’s what she had to say:
- Could you tell us a little about your interest in X-plane, and how you became interested in flying?
Since I was a child I have always been interested in the creative world as well as gaming. Starting out as playing with Photoshop and 3D programs, I fell head over heels with design and 3D Modeling, which resulted in taking a degree of Graphic Design in high school. While continuing modeling, I had thought of a way to enter the gaming world, and my dad being a huge fan of X-Plane and in the flying simulation world made me also have this same passion as he started to introduce me to this world. Since then, I have been developing content and getting better and better at what I love to do. If I must say, I am not interested in flying aircrafts, but actually developing content. I have not entered this world to have people downloading my sceneries, on the contrary, I entered to be able to let all simmers enjoy what I love to do, just like I do, as well as feel like they are truly inside the airport just like in real life.
While continuing to develop my skills and my love for gaming, I got into the world of Animation, in which I am now undertaking a course in 3D Animation, in my opinion in one of the best Animation schools. Additionally, and to complement my gaming experience, I am working in ESL (Electronic Sports League) the biggest eSports company, I am a Staff Head leading the Design Team.
- Concerning the two files you’ve released so far, what sparked your interest in these two airports?
Why Oujda in Morocco? It was one of the first places I have ever traveled to, and it was a scary landing (due to high winds and a sandstorm) which will stay in my memory forever. But although all of this happened, I had a great time and I enjoyed the vacation. This was what led me into deciding to start out with this airport. As for Lubango, Angola I found it curious due to the fact that it is both a military airport as well as civil. This truly fascinated me and I was more than excited to make it as my second project!
As you can realize my main focus is not to build mainstream airports but build exotic airports. This is also why, this next project that I will launch this weekend is a closed airport, that will reopen this Easter. I like to be different 🙂
- So, this surprise project is your next?
The launch this weekend and already in development (you are the first one to know about this 😛 ), a supercar and an airplane, where I will be applying the animation techniques. These, however, are very challenging projects although fun to work on! My goal is to release them in the next couple of months.
So, let’s look at Adriana’s first airport file, released last summer, GMFO, located in Oujda, Morocco. You’ll note this airport fits in nicely with almost any western Mediterranean route network you could be interested in. In addition, flights to Lisbon, Paris, Amsterdam, and Marseilles are all viable real-world options, as well as regional flights around North Africa.
I decided to show more night-time images here as this file just comes alive at night, and her choice of lighting reflects a concern for lighting objects and revealing depth. Look at the image below; I count at least four types of lights used, and her choice helps create an immersive sense of depth.
The only drawback? Plain blue textures on the windows. Compare this effect with those on xpfr’s above, on the main terminal at LFOT. With interior details visible, this airport would be approaching payware quality; hopefully, Adriana will revisit this file in the future and show us a v2 file with such detail included.
She’s got the lighting down, and good use of foliage, too.
Ramp & apron detail is very good, though there’s not a lot of movement on the ramps.
Ramp and taxiway markings are similarly well done, as are the multiple parking areas for automobiles.
All in all, this is a very useful file that will tie in nicely with the Casablanca file released a few weeks ago. As is, this file is a 9/10; with better night/window textures, this file would be close to perfect, and you’ll find the download link here.
Adriana’s second file is located in Angola, and I found this one particularly interesting. Why? Well, look at the map below…
Yes, that’s St. Helena off to the left, and Windhoek, Namibia at the bottom right…so…guess what? We now have an excellent airport file to use in concert with the St Helena Island payware package we reviewed in December! And I do say excellent advisedly, as this one is as interesting as GMFO.
There is a military facility attached to this airport, and it’s modeled, as are a number of ancillary hangers too, for air freight, maintenance and, I reckon, for military use, as well. Appropriate static aircraft are included, and the SAA paint is on the EADT x738, available from EADT. The New Lufthansa Cargo paint is for the EADT x737-7.
Here’s the real terminal, BTW, and another image of the building in Xp11.11. It’s hard to tell from just one image, but the real building appears much longer than what’s modeled:
This file is so useful as a stepping off point for St Helena, I know I’ll keep this one. I like the feel of the main terminal building, too, as well as the lighting here. I’d rate this file a 9/10 as well, and you can download the file here. It’s great to learn we have such a promising and talented new developer working on new projects for Xp, and we’ll keep you posted as we learn more. Thanks, Adriana!
.Again, great to see xpfr back in the fight! The image above? From LFOT, of course!
Hasta later – C & A