x+s+r // magical mystery tours

XSR WACO hdr

KTEX Telluride released a few minutes ago and for the life of me I don’t know why…but I’m hardly interested. Strange, too, as I’ve flown in and out of that airport more than a few times, usually in Baron’s and 421s, and while it has an (undeserved) reputation for being a tough airport to land at, I’d say it’s got a dramatic looking approach but is not necessarily difficult. It sure can be interesting in winter, and if you’re not adept at handling crosswinds and wind-shear this one could catch you off-guard, but I doubt Xp will present much of a challenge. The new file apparently has a lot of detail covering the resort area – and apparently the ski slopes will be shown both night and day, and with a winter landscape option – which all seems fun (I skied there more than a few times back in the 70s and 80s, and the views of the San Juans are spectacular). Like all such things, however, the go-go 90s changed places like this all over Colorado – from laid-back alpine hideaways to one vast suburb of Beverly Hills. Maybe knowing the region as well as I do, or did, makes me so ambivalent. I don’t know…we’ll see.

That said…a bunch of really whimsical files released over the past few days…and I’ve still got this Finland buzz going, too. Maybe something stirring in our Spring breezes? It’s always nice when winter loosens its grip and the sun shines through, brushing aside all that snow and ice. Anyway, a quick post today, no long editorials (i.e., no rants), just a quick look at several interesting freeware files, most smaller GA airfields – and each one has a story to tell.

So…a magical mystery tour – of sorts – and let’s start ours – in Scotland…

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EGPJ hdr

We’ve covered a few recent efforts by this developer – Scottish Wings – and I’m almost – almost – hesitant to call these little scenery files works of art…but in truth, they are. Each one that rolls around my desktop is greeted as an old friend, too, in rather the same way iBlueyonder’s Heron’s Nest has. Heron’s Nest hit me personally as my Annie and I used to walk and sail around that area, keeping our sailboat in South Bristol, Maine which is just a stone’s throw from the where the fictional island would be. I laid her ashes in those waters – in that immediate area – so when I opened the Nest file it hit me like a wall of unwanted feeling. I wasn’t prepared for that at all, I guess you could say, yet that says something about the power of the environments we’ve created on our little computers. Maybe more than we’d like to admit, perhaps?

So…what’s all that got to do with Scottish Wing’s files? Well, Annie and I used to take long walks in the UK – Hadrian’s Wall, the Cotswold Way, etc. – and always in summer, and for some reason opening these files brings all that back. When you get to a certain age, when most things are suddenly in your rearview mirror, you begin to take comfort in the memory of place – wherever you find them.

And the thing about his little airport files is…well…they’re not really airport files at all. No, I think, after playing around with them in Xp11 for a few months now, they’re more like landscape paintings hanging on the wall – only you can step outside yourself and slip into these little worlds and poke around sun-dappled fields for a while, maybe find a cool shadow under a broad tree and rest… If you think about this latest airport in such terms, well, perhaps, just maybe, you’ll see where I’m coming from. And where these little jewels can take you… Me? I keep hoping I’ll bump into C S Lewis around the next bend in the road. Maybe we’ll duck into the Nibbler and have a spot of tea and talk about Perelandra, or all the unexpected people who drop into our lives along the way…from the Shadowlands, perhaps. Of course, Nick Drake would be sitting nearby, playing his equally brilliant Riverman while the sun slips away…

EGPJ 3

But, yes, this is indeed an airport file. And a nice one, too, complete with restaurant and the usual assortment of characters you might find in such places, in places on the run…

EGPJ 6

I keep falling back on (or is it into) these lyrics, but Every Picture Tells a Story, and the artists among us making scenery files for X-plane understand this. Look at the image above…can you just make out the wall of sunflowers? The mechanic in the hanger on his cell-phone? What’s his story? Can you turn your imagination loose for a moment and come up with one? What’s more…can you feel the summer evening with its arms all around you?

EGPJ 7

Or birds in their trees, soft grass underfoot as you walk around this impossible landscape? Just look at the image above for a moment, then imagine falling inside and walking around. Where would you go? What would your “possible” look like – in here?

EGPJ 4

Maybe after a long afternoon’s walk you’d be coming round a bend and see an aircraft taking off – and so you’d take off through the trees until you came upon the action…

EGPJ 9

EGPJ 1

Maybe you’d walk among the airplanes, careful to avoid the hard moving bits…

EGPJ 2

And you’re surprised how many aircraft are here, even helicopters, and you see a flight school and wonder…could I? Should I?

EGPJ 5

EGPJ 8

Maybe you’ll walk on, or perhaps the lingering air of scones borne on the afternoon’s breeze might entice you to step inside the Tipsy Nibbler for an early tea? It’s kind of hard to tell, isn’t it? Just where you’d go…when you follow your memories.

***(download the file here)***

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PHUP hdr

In another painting on our imaginary wall, in our little corner of the magical mystery tour, we might come upon another interesting scene and wonder what it’s like in there…

PHUP 1

A little airport perched on the edge of the sea? A skydiving center…on the Big Island? Skydiving…in Hawaii? How many images come to mind when you think of that?

PHUP 2

Instructors and students gathered around an impromptu fire, talking about the day’s fun? Or maybe you’d walk down to the water’s edge, your imagination sparked by a pod of dolphin just offshore. What must that life feel like…to live in the water yet breathe air? What does she think when she looks at you?

PHUP 3

And…what must that dolphin think of the silly things jumping out of noisy contraptions up there in the sky?

***Now, time out for a quick trip back to reality – if only for a moment***

PHUP 4

Yes, this too is a real airport and not an errant flight of fancy. It is located on the Big Island (aka Hawaii)  and after a brief hiatus skydiving is apparently taking hold out on the point again. There’s a lot going on in this file, from dudes (and dudettes) hanging out around a 55-gallon drum enjoying a fire, to wind-turbines whirling away in the background, and all of it very well executed, including the ortho that accompanies the download. Diego2115’s file, by the way, is located here, and it’s highly recommended for anyone using Xp for GA flights around the islands.

PHUP ge

Skydiving optional, I reckon. Thranda’s Kodiak? Mandatory!

PHUP 67

This one’s a keeper, folks.

PHUP 5

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39N hdr

XCaptain recently released two files in the Philadelphia area, and while we looked them over we weren’t too impressed. He seems to be a newer developer and just learning the ropes, but our guess is he’s a quick learner. His 39N Princeton, New Jersey is a very nice little file, a workable rendering of the real airport, and you should take a look at this one.

39N real 2

39N real

The airport, as executed here, feels old, like the 1950s are still hanging in the air apparent…maybe even the ’30s. Poke around…can you feel it too?

39N 1

The asphalt is old and snaking repairs line the taxiways. Very nice work, too.

39 N 4p

Another little thing that grabbed my attention? This fluid spill…or is it just water after a passing summer’s storm? I’m not sure I’ve seen this before in a freeware file and, well, it’s an impressive detail.

There’s one runway here, lighted and about 3500 feet paved, and while there are lots of little details tucked away in out of the way corners, framerates weren’t ever an issue.

39 N 3.png

Oh, this is the Alabeo Staggerwing, a handsome flyer and maybe the earliest iteration of what would become mass-market general aviation. It’s a great file, just not a Waco or I’d use it more…

39N 2

Anyway, the Staggerwing and this airport seem made for one another…and we’d rate this airport file an easy Must Have, especially if you fly along the Atlantic seaboard or around the New Jersey – Pennsylvania countryside on sunny Sunday afternoons.

Oh, don’t quite know where this one is located?

39N vfr sectionial

Well, in the image above, that big yellow thing located top-right is New York City.

You got it now? Don’t forget to read up on your terminal procedures…

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A small commercial facility in Lille, France for you to think about now.

LFQQ 00

I wasn’t sure about this one until I looked around at night. Decent work, nice to have if you fly around this part of France.

LFQQ GE

Air France is the big player here, though the airport is close to Belgium so serves that market, as well. Lots of smaller carriers here too, with lots of winter flights to the Med. Ibiza, perhaps…or Palma de Mallorca anyone?

LFQQ Lille

Here’s the real facility. Oh, and when I said this is a good one at night – I’m not saying this is a bad airport in daylight…more that it simply comes alive at night.

LFQQ 1

The textures on this trapezoidal part of the terminal are a little wavy and, yes, there are a bunch of smeary yellow window textures, but this is freeware folks. We expect smeary windows in freeware, so we put-up or shut-up, right? No rants today, remember?

LFQQ 1n

LFQQ n2

See? It looks good at night. Real good, as a matter of (opinion).

LFQQ n3

One of the things that stood out was the area surrounding the airport. Very nice night features, though some buildings (like this one with the distinctive red and white logo) show up more than once. Horrors!

Anyway, on the freeware scale this is a solid 9 out of 10, useful, not quite excellent but with a little more work it could be.

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Now for something a little different. I’m just going to toss out a bunch of images of small GA airports around Finland – with no identify remarks – and if you like what you see you’ll find a link at the end of today’s post that will lead you to the source (and no, it’s not the Org). That said, off we go…

EF 1

EF2

ef11

ef4

ef6

ef5

ef7

There’ve been some really good scenery makers in X-plane over the years, but one of the best ever – in terms of innovation and sheer artistic talent – was True Scenery. I’m not sure what they’re up to these days (!) but their site is still up and these three airports – EFME, EFSI, and EFTS – are all listed as freeware on their home page. One of the best payware airport files of the late v9 early v10 era was their Helsinki Malmo file. Take a look, but it was last updated in 2014. Nothing would make me happier than to see this file updated for v11.

Anyway, I hear the fat lady singing so it must be time to go. We’ll see you around the campfire…on our way to the next Magical Mystery Tour… –A

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