x+s+r // zermatt + zurich

SWISS XSR HDR

A little magic in the air tonight. I was working through the revisions in aeroSOFT’s LSZH v2.0 when word came out that the new Zermatt/Matterhorn scenery has just released. So…finish up the images from Zurich with one hand while I get the Zermatt download going with the other… All in day’s work, right?

So, let’s jump right in and take a look. Zermatt first because, hey, I know you’re ready for this one. We all are.

Mat hdr

Okay, right off the mark I was afraid this one would overpower my mid-range Mac, but I test all files on this one. If they make the grade they migrate to the Big Mac. I don’t use that one for reviews, either. It wouldn’t be fair. Anyway, with 5.5Gb on the video card, I was sure my baby Mac would start sparking and belch smoke like an old man running for the bathroom. And when I got this file onboard and started Xp I’d also forgotten to close Mail, Safari, iTunes, Adobe Reader, and iMessage. In truth, configured like this the file should have gotten 10FPS.

So, I also had just installed v1.02 of the DF Bell 407, which, it’s claimed, has been highly optimized to improve FPS.

When I opened this file, on the pad at Zermatt Flutterbugs, I checked FPS – then shook my head. Almost 40? Had my Mac overdosed…on Viagra? What was going on?

Ah. A cold and dark start. So, start her up, warm her up, then off we go…and FPS drop to the mid-30s over the center of Zermatt, but as soon as the ship clears town FPS leaps back to 40+, and – then she was climbing like a dog that had just been stung on the ass by a wasp. I mean, well, like someone had put Viagra AND testosterone in the fuel tank. Fred has done something good and mean to his 407. She’s like a rabid wolf now, foaming at the mouth and ready for a hard run.

So. Concerns about FPS? Check that one off as unfounded.

ZM 1

I’m not going to go all sappy on you this time, I swear, but Zermatt was where me and my main squeeze spent our honeymoon. In the Zermatterhof, as a matter of no one’s particular interest. January, ’79…and the real fun part? When we left, for Zurich, we learned the Shah of Iran had just abdicated and was headed for…Zurich…and when we got to the airport security was insane. I think I had my first colonoscopy that afternoon, right there in the security line. The German Shepherds were nice…the guards (replete with H&K MP-5s) were foaming at the mouth and looked like they were eating tourists for fun.

ZM2

So, above, small train station on the right. Keep in mind that Zermatt is a car-free town (well, some electric golf carts are seen every now and then, but trucks delivering heavy goods tend to show up well after midnight). There are, however, a bunch of horse-drawn sleighs (winter, remember?). Do NOT step on the gooey brown things hiding in the snow.

We had a room on the fifth floor, corner window overlooking that church. Do you have any idea how fun it is, on your honeymoon, to have a four-hundred-year-old bell going off every hour, on the hour? Romantic? Well, the words romantic and ski vacation should never be mentioned in the same sentence, but this was ridiculous. Consumating the deed was like performing with the finale of the 1812 Overture going on outside the window.

ZM 4

Anyway, maybe that’s why I strafed that MF on the way out of town. In a B-B-Bell 407 that felt like it had O-D-D-D’d on speed.

ZM 5

So, I’m listening to Rocketman, blasting up this little hill at 120 kts – and the speed kept climbing, too. Up to a solid 130, anyway, before the real climb began, then speed dropped – and fast.

FPS? Never an issue. I mean, all those programs were still running in the background? Has my baby-Mac been fooling around with the coffee-maker behind my back?

ZM 6

Came upon this little pad under the Matterhorn; a ski lift takes you up to the bottom of the face – for some of the best open bowl skiing on earth…assuming there’s snow, that is. In recent years, that’s often been in doubt. I hear chatter about wanting a winter variant of this file. Hell, I thought this WAS the winter variant…

ZMM 1

Anyway, I found the cross at the summit then we slipped, literally, all the way down to Cervinia.

ZMM2

We skied down there one morning, had some lunch then spent like four hours taking chairlifts back to the border-crossing on the ridgeline. We ended up skiing into Zermatt after dark. Through trees. Very not fun. Then…we ran out of snow and had to walk the last half mile back to the hotel. In ski boots. In ankle deep mud.

Very not fun.

One thing becomes clear after making several flights around Zermatt this evening. Both towns, both Zermatt and Cervinia, are approximations. The title says it all, too. Matterhorn Park. The developers have turned these two ski towns into Arcadian archetypes of what ski villages ought to look like…and man, do they look good. Not realistic, but immersive, and really good.

The Main Attraction? The Matterhorn?

Yup, they nailed that.

The Matterhorn is a funny beast of a mountain, too. Her looks change, a lot, depending on where you’re standing when you look at her. She looks like one mountain in Zermatt, totally different in Italy, then you go across the valley where the Gornergratbahn drops you off at the weather station…and she looks completely different. And I know this is contradictory, but you’re still looking at the same beast. That mountain broods over both valleys, and in an early morning mist she looks almost ethereal, like a giant clawed animal trying to hide – before it attacks. All that mountain needs is two glowering eyes…

Ah, below, the pad in the middle of Cervinia. I damn near made a crater landing here, too. Swung around too fast, dumped way too much collective too fast and just saved it at the last moment. Yeah, that’s the Horn in the windscreen. The town of Cervinia does NOT look like this, BTW. This looks clean. Cervinia is, well, less clean than this looks.

ZM C 1

ZM C2

This is the observatory just above the Gornergratbahn’s top loading platform. You can see the rails in the second image. What you cannot see is me and my main squeeze out on that concrete patio drinking orange juice and taking pictures of huge black raven-like birds.

ZMG1

So, the deal is…you ride the train up the mountain (get in the line by 0800, or else), and the ride up takes an hour or so. You ski down these short runs for a few hours, all up above treeline, then you shoot some orange juice and put your skis back on about 1130, then ski down into the trees. There are little chalets in the trees, more like barns, but in winter dairy farmers turn these barns into little cafés, and they serve cheese fondue and raclette – with cheeses they’ve made – and mulled wine…etc, etc, until you realize you’ve just got enough time to ski down to the hotel in time for afternoon tea. In Europe, this is called skiing. In America, you stop for ten minutes at noon and throw down two cheeseburgers, and never unbuckle your boots.

And they call us barbarians!

ZMG2

Anyway, there used to be a little station and covered platform up here, just under the domes, and stairs up to the patio area. A little café right off the patio, too. And lots of black birds.

ZMG3

I think it’s about a six-thousand-foot drop to Zermatt from here, much quicker in a 407 than on skis, BTW. Dropping straight down like this is tough on the rotors – and all the other moving parts around The Jesus Nut (!)

ZMGG4

And your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to land this rolling stone on that little triangular pad down there in the valley. Yup, that little-bitty thing with the blue arrow pointing to it. The trick? Don’t let your speed build up – or you’ll make a nice smoking crater down there by the river.

ZMHB 1.png

Then you’ve got to lock onto a few visual cues while you get your speed and rate of descent under control.

ZMHB 2.png

The final trick is to flare and kill off all your speed as you pull up on the collective just a teeny tiny bit, then pivot onto your pad. Easy.

ZMHB3

ZMHB 4

The only thing I’d change about this file?

I’d use this red Bell 407 next time. I think it would look better.

ZM3

So. The Matterhorn Park file? It’s pretty, and their decent approximation of the two famous villages works for me. The mountain, on the other hand, is grand. I’d have to say this is a 10 out of 10, a total “must-have” file, too. And see, I told you I wasn’t going to talk about all that mushy stuff.

You can get the file here. 24.9438721 USD (rounded up).

I read some BS about people griping that the Dolomite file is overpriced? Really?

Dude, keep on your medications. Really.

And…welcome to the real world…where people have to pay their bills and have something left over – for food, or, like, Viagra.

//

LSZH Hdr

After looking at the latest v2 file for EDDS Stuttgart the other day, I thought it would just be pure meanness if we didn’t show you Zurich. This is, after all, a great place for a colonoscopy. The image below hits me where I live, too. Those metal louvers are weathered, a little rusted in places, the Jetway is perfect, and the ramps are cluttered.

Who needs Viagra, Dude?

LSZH 2

I also wanted to check out the latest Better Pushback plug-in…and man, this is a better pushback.

Look at the sequence below. The pushback truck is going to execute a tight, Z-shaped maneuver with my bright, shiny new Toliss A319.

So, back we go…yes, back, slower, now…back some more…

LSZH 3

…then the first turn…yup, easy now…

LSZH 4

…then the second…

LSZH 5

…and then, the final push back…et voila!

LSZH 6

It took five seconds to map this out in the plug-in’s GUI. Easy. Fast. And very kewl.

LSZH 7

You can get the file here. Oh, Dude, it’s freeware.

So, once unhooked, take a look at the jetways and lights, the tower(s), and especially the trees.

Yes. The trees.

LSZH 8

Very kewl trees.

LSZH 9

LSZH 10

And the really nice part? Performance seems much improved.

LSZH 11

This file just shot up to the top of my favorite AeroSOFT airport list. And, the Toliss A319? Every time I have to choose between the JarDesigns320 Neo, the FF320U, and this file…I choose this one. That’s all I can say.

I do.

Really, I do.

LSZH 12

LSZH 13

As for this airport file…? If you’ve been holding off for some reason, this may be the file to jump all over. Try the aeroSOFT store, or even the Org.

LSZH 14

Besides…you can hop on the train right here and two stops later get off in Zermatt, ready to grab your (RED) Bell 407 and head up into one of the most over-the-top experiences in X-plane. It’s like, magic…like…they were made for each other.

But, oh, that’s another story.

Later – C

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