It is a little odd that there’ve not been many Mexican airports in X-plane. There is, after all, a thriving network of modern airports, a growing number of airlines and, I’d assume, a growing number of people interested in flying. Including students, if you know what I mean. Kids still in school are the perfect age to take up flying in a desktop simulator; they can see if they develop deeper interests in flying and step of from the desktop with a deeper understanding of flight than another teenager who has never tinkered in X-p.
Well, there’s a freeware developer working over at the Org, RUIFO, who has been cranking out scenery files for Brazilian airports recently, but for the past year or so he’s been absolutely prolific – with nine pages of airport files created over the last year. Yeah, I know. Unreal. And there’s no place, it seems, he hasn’t been working…from Malasia to, now, Mexico.
These are scenery library files, and there are a lot of Lego-brick buildings in these files too, which means performance (e.g., framerates) should be stellar. After using four of these files that was my experience, too.
Well, for the past few weeks he’s been concentrating on Mexico – but so far there doesn’t appear to be one type of airport he’s concentrating on. Instead, we’re seeing commercial airports both large and small, some with heliports and some without. Most seem to serve tourist destinations, but hey, that’s Mexico. And, true to form, just as we were finishing this post a new file came out – for the popular tourist destination Mazatlan. Maybe next time we’ll get some images of that one up for you.
What may have escaped notice if you’ve never been to Mexico is not only the size of the country but also the huge diversity of ecosystems. From tropical rainforests to alpine tundra, from the hottest deserts to sublime coral reefs, Mexico has it all – from a tourists point of view, anyway. Looking at the maplet below, note that it’s 2000 miles from MMTJ Tijuana on the California border to MMCM Chetumal on the Caribbean Sea, yet Tijuana is, literally, located right on the border with San Diego, while you’re much closer to Houston when in Chetumal that you are to Tijuana. Also on the maplet, circled in red is the Copper Canyon region we covered a few weeks ago, along with the newest airport in Mexico, MX31 Creel.
I wasn’t surprised to see MMTJ Tijuana show up; it’s one of the most famous in Mexico due to a few unique border features – which we’ll look at in a minute.
The first thing you note is the Lego-brick terminal, and yeah, it’s too bad there’s not a custom terminal but that’s the nature of the beast. You want a bunch of freeware airports to fill in a region where there’s just not a lot of coverage and this is what we have. Now, the good part. This guy has been building a lot of airports and my guess he knows this system inside and out, so what we have here conforms to the outlines of the real terminal.
Now…it ain’t perfect but this isn’t a perfect world, is it?
There are two ways of looking at this terminal. 1) It’s better than nothing, OR, 2) Damn! This ain’t bad!
I’m in the ‘this ain’t bad’ camp, by the way. It’s kind of like the ‘glass half full’ analogy, I guess. I like that we now have a very workable group of airports in Mexico. I like it a lot!
When we have a dozen more airports down there I’ll like it a lot more, too. Sheesh, when I compare this to what we had back in version 9 this image makes my head spin.
Below, here we have a Laminar MD80 and Laminar art assets. Is this better than nothing, or just plain good? But, you ask: “can’t we do better than this?” Hell yes! That’s what good payware is all about! But, can you talk a payware developer into cranking out a decent MMTJ in two or three days?
Good luck with that.
And in the meantime, can you tell me how many payware developers you think might be interested in these airports?
So, welcome to the looming central dilemma in X-plane these days.
Because, here’s the thing. This freeware file works just fine. No, it’s not payware quality, but it gets the job done, and now we’ve got some decent airports in Mexico to work with.
So…who’d want to work with these airports?
Well, could you guess, in a million years, that AeroMexico flies direct from this airport – to China? Or that Hainan Airlines flies nonstop here? From Beijing? Interested in RJ flights around Mexico? This is a viable hub for traffic to dozens of cities around Mexico.
Now…here’s the unique element about this airport.
In the image below, note the highway on the right? The one with the white covered walkway over all four lanes?
You can see more in this image (below):
And here’s that walkway again, with the arrow pointing to it this time.
Okay, got it?
This line (green, in image below) is the boundary between the United States and Mexico. That white walkway crosses the border and, as you can see in the image below, there’s a terminal for MMTJ – on the US side of the border! This is the only airport in the United States that crosses a border like this. You can check in for a flight in the US, clear customs then walk across the border to take a flight either to a destination within Mexico, or to China.
Note, in the image below, US flags on one side of the terminal, and Mexican flags on the other.
Pretty neat stuff, and great that we now have this unique border element in Xp.
Below, on the far side of the field, you’ll run across this massive military/law enforcement helicopter facility, as well as some GA hangers.
So, this is a well-conceived and nicely executed Lego-brick airport, and I’d call it a Must Have file, too.
MMCM Chetumal is located as far from Tijuana as you can possibly get and still be in Mexico. Chetumal is on the Caribbean Sea south of Cancun and Cozumel, and right on the border with Belize. So, why is this an international airport? Well, aside from local traffic to Belize, this area is full of great SCUBA diving and is a jumping off point for trips to a half-dozen major Mayan ruin complexes.
This area has been hit by numerous Cat 3-5 hurricanes, so the town has been flattened more than once. I’d imagine the airport remains a vital link during evacuations and reconstruction.
And yup, this is another Lego-brick airport. And yup, framerates are excellent. The terminal is what it is, while the hangers and other details are great.
Yet, when you look around this airport you realize that it’s been constructed with great care. Between the varied lighting and the use of multiple treelines, real depth has been created and, as a result, this is a really cool little airport, especially at night.
And here’s another cool item. The hangers Laminar has developed for their Lego-brick airports are just about the best in any sim out there.
And again, this is Laminar’s successful implementation of art assets at work here. It just takes an artist to bring it all to life.
Here’s MMOX Oaxaca, located near the Pacific coast in far southwest Mexico. This is another tourist town geared towards archeological sightseeing and resorts in the more temperate climate of the mountains.
The city is nearby and there are a few built-up areas around the airport, so this feels more like Tijuana than the other two airports we’re looking at, and once again we’re dealing with Lego-brick assets so performance is great.
The terminal? It conforms to the shape of the one on the ground, and that’s not a bad deal.
And finally, here’s MMPS Puerto Escondido, located on the Pacific coast just south of Oaxaca (above). This is more a working airport built around trade than it is a passenger airport, but a little bit of everything goes on here.
And the city has kind of Greek vibe going, too. It’s not quite on the main tourist map…yet…but give it time.
Again, nicely executed, great performance, and the perfect place to use an A320 or a 733, or even an Rj, for flights to Mexico City and Oaxaca.
So…four useful airports to connect Mexico to regional destinations, from the US to Costa Rica and Panama. All ready to go and they won’t cost you a dime.
Payware developers? Take note: X-plane could use really super detailed airports in Mexico City and Monterrey, not to mention Cabo San Lucas and Cancun. Can you deliver?
Time will tell, I guess, who wins this race.