Alright, ready for some GA airports?
We’re going to look over three payware files today, and the latest file from Down Mexico Way – by (insert drumroll here) ruifo. The first file we’ll look at – KDET Detroit Coleman Young – is from a relatively new developer who has just posted several payware files at the Org; we’ll also take a peek at KHAF Half-Moon Bay, just over Skyline Drive from KSFO and the City By the Bay. Our last payware file today is AeroSOFT’s KTNP Twnety-nine Palms, a small airport in the high desert east of Los Angeles, and a v10 file that works just fine in v11. We’ll finish up in Puebla, Mexico, at an airport serving one of the oldest, and most innovative cities in Mexico. If you’re ready to go, let’s get to it.
KDET Detroit Coleman Young, by Xp scenery builders
Available from: the Org store, and other vendors; $15.00
Nice tower. Modeled interior, good concrete detail, and the ramps below are nicely detailed. So, we’re off to a good start – right?
What interested me about this file is its proximity to Detroit Metro Wayne Co International – as well as KTTF Custer Gateway. A decent file here could fill out the area, create a good working environment once all files are in place. Recall the upper mid-west regional network we talked about back in November/December? Well, this could easily be part of such a network. To give you an idea, KDET is circled in yellow (below), while Custer is in the green box. KDTW is about halfway in-between…
And below, the main terminal in this file. Note the tower again, and the main terminal building.
I already see a bunch of issues here, and the first concerns the nature of payware vs freeware. Payware files should, all things being equal, provide a fair and accurate model of what’s on the ground. In this case, what’s on the ground in Detroit. Look at the next three images, then you decide…is this a payware quality presentation?
The terminal building is barely there, as it hardly looks like what’s on the ground – other than it’s got two stories and has two Jetways. The control tower? Not even close. The color is miles off, and the one in the file appears to be almost twice the correct height. Light towers are incorrect, and I never got the parking lot to show up, despite trying to wiggle things around in the ini file.
Ramp detail is good, better with the GHE package running. Window textures are good, bbut at night the terminal is just too dark.
If you turn off the sun or look at this one from a distance, it’s not that bad…b-b-but that’s not the definition of payware, is it? Oh, the airport navigator plug-in worked here, but the FF AVS system failed to register this one.
So, what you’re left with here is kind of a dilemma. I’ve looked at a few of this developers other files, and this is the closest they’ve come to getting it right. Great Falls comes close, but as I’ve flown in and out of that one for more than a few years I can tell you that that airport is way off, too, and in all kinds of ways.
Again, if this was a freeware file…so what? We excuse all kinds of transgressions in freeware, don’t we? Payware is a different matter, however. We expect payware to get the basics right and that the developer won’t take too much artistic license when he or she publishes their work. We pay for quality, and accuracy is part of that quality.
You just can’t say that about this file. Score: 6 on our 10 scale. This is good for a freeware file in X-plane; as payware…it’s time to go back to the drawing board. And time for this developer to think about how they approach their work. The control tower took skill to build, so I’m curious…why not build an accurate representation? Why go for inaccuracy over accuracy…? It just doesn’t add up…
KHAF Half Moon Bay, by Rising Dawn Studios
available at multiple vendors, including the Org, price: 19.90 USD.
This is an interesting file, developed with an almost obsessive eye for getting even the smallest detail “just so.” Compare what you see here to images online and you’ll find little to take exception with.
From the FBO to the diner, this one feels right. If you drive around the area in late autumn you’ll find farmers selling artichokes in roadside stands, fresh off their farms. They’ll more often than not sell cooked ones too, with lemon butter, while kids still sell lemonade nearby. The thing is, if you look at the image above, and at the hill beyond, you have to understand that KSFO is right there, just a few miles away…and the area’s agricultural feel comes through loud and clear…
You can better see the relationship to SFO in the image below.
Oh, I added a note in red, above, called Main Strike. This is the reservoir that Zorin, in the horrible James Bond film A View to a Kill, was going to use to destroy Silicon Valley. Ain’t trivia fun?
The ortho this file sits on is very hi-res, and the developer used high def trees to supplement the look. In fact, you can choose the quality of trees seen AND the amount of grass you want to use in this file, as these choices will impact framerates. I chose the default installation here and used a variety of complex GA singles, too. Framerates were excellent with rendering options set to near max levels.
The hanger above is where a lot of the action in this file takes place. To say it’s customizable is, well, an understatement. You can change posters on the wall, the color can be modified, and surf-boards can be added to the stack of junk in one corner. And you can even chose to have a clean hanger, or a junk-festival. Above? Mr Clean lives here.
Above, note the rust along the bottoms of the hanger doors. Then check out the grass…freshly mown around the edges, taller grass beyond. Awesome work here.
Marinas and a huge motel complex are also modeled, as is an equally huge tornado magnet. Oh…excuse me…those are also called mobile home parks.
Flying around this area in Xp as frequently as I do, AlpilotXs v4 mesh is onboard and it presented no problems. Roads and farms around the airport are custom, however, and look great.
I know the image above is dark, but check out the light cast by the taxiway sign…first on the ground, but also on the taxiway. On this side of the aircraft, note the purple taxiway lights reflecting off the Piper’s paint. HDR at MAX, of course.
The verdict? An easy 10 out of 10. A Northern California Must Have, for GA use only.
I was flying the JarDesigns 320Neo around the Bay Area over the weekend, and tried the JD Ground Handling package at SFO.
Because I also wanted to draw your attention to how MrX uses static objects around parked aircraft in his scenery files. TheJarDesigns 320 is in the center, below; and note all the action going on around the other, static, aircraft…loaders, trucks, baggage carts. And, yes, this is the freeware KSFO.
I’m amazed every time I look at these concrete textures. Stunned it’s a freeware file. Disappointed more freeware developers don’t follow MrX’s lead. Of course, I’m sure payware developers are happy about that…
KTNP Twenty-nine Palms, AeroSOFT, currently “on sale” there for 12.79USD, normally 17.+
Both KHAF and this aeroSOFT KTNP are less than 20 dollars, so in the same approximate ballpark as KDET, above, so you look around this one and you decide where payware quality fits in this world. Like Half Moon Bay, this file sits on a hi-res ortho and the results are glorious; this is good extra-value but it’s becoming more common these days, too. How much is that worth to you? Should it be the norm?
This airport is east of the LA area in the high desert (well, about 12-1800 ft MSL, if you want to call that high), and it’s a GA airport…b-but with a lot of options in the area for good mountain flying…
…as this will be part of a very fun GA circuit around southern California:
For openers, try KTNP to MrX’s KAVX out on Catalina Island (blue route). Next, for something more involved, fly from here to KSNA John Wayne, then on to KSAN San Diego. Gas up, then fly back here or, for a little twist, try KPSP Palm Springs.
This is, again, a GA airport – with a couple of static bizjets here, as well as singles – and gliders – to fill out the ramps. The desert landscape defines this airport, too. It feels hot, dry, and almost lonely…just like a desert should…
The airport itself is hyper detailed, and when you fly around the immediate area you’ll want to check out the ortho first, then all the little houses and ranchettes surrounding the airport. Note the quality of the objects used, too. The roadways, streetlights, and powerlines stand out.
How many cattle trucks have you seen at a GA file you use. Get close, and prepare to be amazed at the little details found in out of the way corners here. This file competes with Custer Gateway in some ways, and in many areas it succeeds. It’s a v10 file, however, yet it looks good and performance is excellent in v11.11.
The best thing that caught me eye? All the powerlines. They’re everywhere, and excellently done. Desert foliage is a standout here, too.
This is a small, out of the way airport and an odd choice for any developer; I can make the case for this one simply only as a well made airport on an excellent ortho. If you fly around SoCal you might want this one; if not…? It’s good enough to keep around when the mood to fly out to Catalina strikes, but you’ll want to think about this one before pulling the trigger on your MasterCard. I’d recommend it, however, with an easy 10/10.
MMPB Puebla, freeware, at the org.
ruifo’s latest continues to make the case that a well-executed Lego-brick airport can be just as interestig and USEFUL as a good payware file. Sorry, but that’s the truth and I know it hurts.
Check out the sectional, and as with MMMX Mexico City (reviewed yesterday) this airport is visually (and operationally) defined by the surrounding mountains. By that I mean 17,000MSL volcanos. The one seen below, called Popocatépetl, is NOT dormant. It actually looks very good with AlpilotX’s v4 mesh onboard, too. Wonder if they could make an explosive, pyroclastic cloud in Xp…?
Both these mountains are in the 17-thousand foot range, too. The area is seismically active, but if you follow the news you already new that. Puebla is an amazing city, and both VW and Audi have several major facilities here; one of them is routinely called the most technologically advanced auto-factory in the world. Tourism and archeology define why this airport is visited by US carriers American and United (Dallas and Houston), and this is an overflow airport for MMMX, too. The small terminal has several Jetways and good ramp detail.
Both the airport navigator plug-in and Flight Factors AVS work as advertsised here, with AVS being both larger on-screen, and a little more useful, too. Mode is transparent, second image, below.
I took the A36 Bonanza from here to MMTO (reviewed last week), and this will be an intense 40 minute flight under VATSIM with WT3 active at MMMX.
The route carries you over Mexico City, with MMMX off to the north (right) below. High elevation of mountains in the area means you’ll need to get up to 16000MSL here, so break out the Oxygen (or better yet, use a pressurized GA single like the TBM850).
And flying into ruifo’s MMTO is a joy, once again proving that Lego-brick airports need not be second class citizens in the X-plane universe.
MMPB is another solid 10 on the Lego-brick scale. If you’re flying Down Mexico Way, don’t miss this one.
Later – A