Splendide! Un travail d’une importance capitale pour l’avenir de X-plane et xpfr. À la fois une magnifique réalisation artistique et technique, ce projet procurera années de plaisir à des milliers de pilotes chevronnés et accomplis.
And that about sums up all I’ve got to say about this file, too.
I’ve been, as I think many people who’ve been around X-plane for a while have been, curious why things have been so quiet in France lately. The last time something like this happened, and by that I mean a prolonged period of relative inactivity from this team, xpfr released, with little warning, their first French Polynesia file, the monumental effort that covered the main Tahitian Islands. This happened, if I recall correctly, late in the v9 ecosystem, perhaps early v10, but it was the “biggest thing” to happen in Xp in a long time. For a while, those of us on the various forums were talking about nothing but this approach here and those mountains over there, and for months, too. At any rate, xpfr was on a roll back then, with Khamsin & Arno putting out their Er Coupe and B17G about the same time, all under the xpfr aegis.
With Basel and Tours the only files they’ve released lately, I was concerned. The work found in these two airport files was, as usual, excellent, but there are literally dozens of airports all over France that have seen little updating – since v8.6! France needs help! France needs xpfr! These guys are a national treasure, and they don’t get half the recognition they deserve – except around here – at Chaos Manor, of course…!
So, what have they gone and done now?
Well, the Marquesas Island group, a part of French Polynesia – just as Tahiti is – can be found here:
And a little closer, perhaps?
And so, yes, xpfr has gone and one it. They’ve taken all the new tech in Xp11 and tossed in some incredible foliage and ground texture files. Then they’ve gone after the orthos, cleaned those up, painted what needed painting, and you can download the results here, and as always with this group, their work will cost you not one centime…not even a pfennig.
The resulting download will give you five files – and these will simply reside in your CS folder – leaving you with four new airports in the Marquesas. And from there, well, the rest is up to you.
You might get a Twin Otter and make inter-island flights. Or fire up your new v1.2 Bell 407 and take passengers on sightseeing tours. You could, quite reasonably, use the Bell 412 on SAR missions, or make Rj flights to Papeete, when you’re not up in a GA single just looking around.
***Because you’ll have missed the point of this file if you don’t get down close to the ground (or up in the mountains) and take a slow look around.***
This file is not quite as visually immersive as, say, the movie Avatar, but for me, that’s what the experience was like…at least just a little. You’ll find terrains in these imagined islands you’ve never seen in Xp, and, as the ReadMe file implores, you really need to open this area with all your rendering settings as high as your computer possibly allows. There are a few “built up” areas – settlements and harbors, in the main – that can zap your FPS, but, by and large, these are a minor part of the experience…so crank it up and see what happens. Do be aware that all that custom foliage and the hand-painted orthos are causing some of this slowdown, too.
Although there are four airports included in this file, there are more islands – and they’re all detailed, at least the ones I’ve looked at so far. Now let’s take a look, now, island by island, airport by airport, at the four included airports/islands.
I think the first thing to mention is: make sure you have this World Region in your primary Xp installation. If you’re not sure, run the installer in your main Xp folder; you can add the region there. If unsure, click on the just visible islands south of Hawaii; the region will be highlighted if you need to download the additional files. If you have them onboard – and xpfr’s new file, too, I’d recommend you open them in the order I’m following here. The logic will become clear…
Air Tahiti connects the four island airports in this group to Papeete, 900 miles to the southwest. They fly smaller Beech 200s or Twin Otters between the islands to NTMN, where passengers transfer to larger ATR-42 or -72 aircraft for the outbound flight to Tahiti proper. I would assume some of these flights also stop in Rarotonga, in the Tuamotu Island Group, another of the primary groups in French Polynesia. You’ll find Air Tahiti static ATR-42s at two of these fields, as seen above. If you want to make the Coconut Run to Papeete, try a turboprop before trying a small Rj.
Below, Atuona, one of two large settlements on the island, and home to most tourist facilities. Famous residents have included French painter Paul Gauguin and Belgian singer Jacques Brel, both of whom are buried in a small cemetery overlooking Atuona. Atuona is also home to the largest tiki sculptures in French Polynesia.
The settlement is located quite near the airport. After wheels up, take the first valley to the south…can’t miss it…
Museums, schools, clinic – and lots of sailboats. Mine among them, once upon a time. Below, hillside resort areas. And I’ve yet to fly here at night so don’t know how these areas look after the sun goes down.
A tiki garden. Just thought you should know.
Keep in eye out for different foliage, and critters in the sea, too.
It is a total necessity to run these files with Runways Follows Terrain Contours ON. Don’t argue, just do it.
Another good idea? Switch your forward view to unobstructed by using the key combination “CMD W”; just trim your aircraft and fly where your curiosity takes you. With practice, you can take off and land in this view mode.
Or…do it the old fashioned way!
Next up, NTMD Nuku Hiva.
The new freeware BD-5J was made for these islands – as long as you do not intend to cross between these islands. With both a prodigious fuel burn AND a small tank, the results would seem obvious, no? Even circling this island resulted in dry tanks. That said, this is an ideal way to see each of these islands – if you’re in a hurry.
Which, of course, completely defeats the purpose of this file.
As Nuku Hiva is less than fifteen miles across, in any axis, range won’t be an issue for most acf. I suppose, with a sea state set to zero, or near zero, you could try a seaplane, but this particular airport seems perfect for the Beech King Air 200 or a Twin Otter. Or…a f-f-f-flutterb-b-bug.
Still, let’s take the quick route this time.
And I’d recommend taking the coast route first time up, as the orthos and textures are gonzo.
There are five settlements on this island, and cruise ships in the harbors, too. Those red flags on the map (above) are famous SCUBA diving sites, in case you were wondering.
The mountains are taller here, so be careful, and you’ll find smaller settlements tucked in little valleys here and there.
You’ll note both tanks are running low here. They were registering empty on my rollout. Like I said, thirsty beast – small tank. Oh, the pilot has green fingernail polish. Just thought you should know – in case you’re having masculinity issues.
Once on the ground and stopped at the little terminal, you’ll find old Land Rovers everywhere, and really good grass.
Even the dirt is looking good here.
A flutterbug (aka: helicopters) will work out well here, if only because the terrain (or, the orthos) is so good – you’ll probably want to linger and take long looks around. This island has it all, too.
This is the smallest of the four islands, and Air Tahiti stops here on its small airliner circuit using King Airs and Otters. Below, an image of the real airport.
What got me? The rocky landscapes along the water’s edge. The effect reminds me of the payware St Helena’s file.
And most of this island has a rugged, inhospitable coastline, though you will find a few inlets that could shelter a passing sailboat if the winds were just right.
Below, more interesting formations, and the airport is just visible, upper left.
On the ground, you’ll find this old Beech Twin Bonanza…
…as well as five, count ’em, five…Land Rovers. Yeah, man.
Yes, of course, I saved the best for last. One more to go…
This island is a riot of color and Tolkienesque shape. You could use a Twin Otter here, or something like the C208. My choice for fixed wing? The Kodiak, for carrying inter-island passengers, anyway. For fun? The 407 – v1.2, naturally.
No overhead imagery can prepare you for the spires on the ground, and xpfr must have worked on these features for months. If you open Xp11 without this file, the area is uninspired, to be charitable. With this file…? Wow.
You’ll just need to take your time on this island. Don’t rush it. It would be far better if Dave’s old Land Rover from the Mount Blanc tunnel file was around and working in v11, as you could (theoretically) get out and drive around the island…or, you could try this and see if it still works in v11?
For me? The 407 is the perfect choice for this island.
You need to take your time up here. I know I keep repeating myself, but, yeah, go slow, take your time, look around.
There are all kinds of little clearings to drop down and explore…
And, well, all kinds of flat places atop spires where, well, you know…?
I think I will spend days on this one, for personal reasons. A lot of memories here.
Though this airport is not among them. While it was easy in the 407, I think it might be more than interesting in the King Air or Twin Otter. Why? Well…
Look over the next four images, and you tell me…?
Get the picture? Not quite long, and not at all smooth, but you’ll have fun at this one.
Which, really, about sums up this download.
Like xpfr’s Tahiti package or days past, this file is all about having fun. This is not for flight-planning and VATsimming…this is simply simple fun…about sightseeing in X-plane, if you will. So, maybe it’s not for everyone. Or, maybe it is?
The file isn’t exactly small, and two scenery libraries are used (OpenSceneryX and 3DPeople Library), but it is from one of the best freeware development teams ever and I’m sure they’d love to see you use the fruits of their labors.
On any scale, this is a 10 out of 10, a Must Have file if ever there was one. Use it in good health…which means…have some fun.
Later – A