Hard to know which was more momentous, AlpilotX releasing his v4 UUHD mesh, or Aerobask cutting loose with their Da62. Well, tdg released a really nice file up in Norway, too, and you know what Norway does to the crazies around Chaos Manor!
Anyway, as we’ll be featuring the v4 UHD mesh in all our screenshots today, let’s talk about that first.
Every time we get a new mesh or ortho product in our grubby little hands, it’s off to northern Arizona we go, to the Grand Canyon. There’s no better place to check for color and texture than here.
So, what do you think?
Me? Well, this is the first mesh product I can make out the two predominate limestone strata in the canyon’s layers. These are the Kaibab and Coconino layers, the darker red and lighter tan layers you’ll see in these images. We’ve not seen these structures in earlier mesh products, nor have we seen such rough (accurate) textures. There is no doubt this is the best Grand Canyon we’ve ever seen in a mesh product to date.
Ok? The downside?
Well, right now the UHD version is only available for a limited number of regions. There’s the American and Canadian West (yee-haw), Japan (ah-so), New Zealand (do tell), the Alps, the Pyrenees, and Scandinavia (minus Finland). The other major consideration? These files range from 3 to 8 GB, with the average being 6 Gb. These are the zipped files, and the installation of all files will take up some serious real estate on your SSD, and download times are not insignificant. If you’re on a limited data plan – well, good luck, Chuck.
The good news? AlpilotX is still selling these for zero dollars and zero cents.
This is some of the terrain around tdg’s ENAL, and this iteration of terrain features seems to do a much better job with rocky features than anything I’ve seen before, and the shorelines are much more convincing too. Urban details are very nicely laid out too, per OSM data.
These files increase load times and do effect frame rates – but less than you might expect. If you have a newer, more powerful GPU, and a big HD/SSD drive, this new series ought to be considered a Must Have addition to your library. Scandinavia here, the Alps further below.
tdg is on a roll, turning out some of the best scenery files you could hope to have, and still – freeware. I can imagine a half dozen payware developers sitting around a fireplace, having a few pints and wondering how he does it – and how they can stop him!
A few images with TerraMAXX up and running, just to set the mood, then we’ll jump back to summer.
You can read the airlines and destinations served from here, here. The real terminal?
No, tdg’s building is not a payware level re-creation; yes, it is a very close approximation, and yes, it’s really good, no matter what your criteria.
Here’s a telling before and after shot, same day (mid-July) and one with TerraMAXX’s deep winter, the other with Xp11 default scenery. Note how TerraMAXX puts snow on the rooftops, and how tdg’s trees are green in winter? Other than that, TerraMAXX melds well here.
This is simply another excellent tdg airport, but the JarDesigns GHE package looks good. That’s a corporate livery on the Toliss A319, too.
Night lighting? Blue windows, with some facsimile of interior detailing. Not optimal, but par for the freeware course.
There’s a neat stone breakwater around the runway’s end, complete with tugboat.
And all the details are here, too, including air cargo and GA facilities, as well as a helicopter base for North Sea rigs just offshore.
Lots of rocks in the clouds, so take care to read your approach charts and mind your altitude. The VFR approach is sweet, with lots of good views to the east.
Another 10 on the 10 scale, but this is the last time we don’t take off points for TerraMAXX incompatibility!!!
Get it here.
Diamond Industries, an Austrian aircraft manufacturer currently owned by a Chinese consortium, started the Da62 program in 2012 and first flight was in 2014; the aircraft is powered by diesel engines and touts fly-by-wire controls. Turboprop engines are expected to be an option, and there are currently two versions; one for the European market, and one for the North American market – the primary difference being weight, to skirt a European tax on certain weight/class aircraft landing fees.
Aerobask is currently one of the more popular GA aircraft developers in X-plane, with a decent stable of aircraft and a legion of dedicated followers, I was curious what all the fuss was about. I’d normally pass on an aircraft this weird looking, but all things being equal, curiosity got the better of me and I pulled the trigger. It’s at the Org store, link here.
If you’re of a certain age, this aircraft will either look very, very kewl – or like something out of The Jetsons. I fall into the Jetsons’ camp, though I’ve been on a kind of mission to look over every aircraft (within reason) in X-plane that has a G1000 panel. This acf does, and it looks very well implemented in promotional images, so there you go. Another 35 buck out the window.
So…the idea is to take the Da62 from Lugano to Zurich, in deteriorating weather falling temperature and snow in the forecast. Open up the file and do the weights and balances thing (tab on left margin) and tank up on go-go juice (i.e., jet fuel a), then start her up and go. aeroSOFT’s Lugano has been around for a while but it’s still one of the better airports in their quiver, and the surroundings are just crazy beautiful with the UHD v4mesh onboard. Oh, you can open and close the doors and luggage bins, and remove the chocks all from the tab on the left margin. If you can program a Garmin 430 you can get a destination into the 1000, too, and if you haven’t used one of these before I’d recommend you just fiddle with it for a while, and discover some of the more interesting features on your own. Laminar has a more in-depth manual if you want to use this for deeper IFR OPS.
I found this act’s acceleration on the runway almost sedate, or maybe sedated is a better word, and her rate of climb leisurely. This is NOT an A56TC Turbo-Baron, in other words, but it almost manages 1200FPM and 115KIAS, so it could handle the mountains around Lugano – just.
Aerobask’s model, both inside and out, is faultless…a true work of art. Everywhere you look there are seriously cool features, too, though some work better than others. One of the features they’ve enabled is windshield and window fogging, but the window defogging switch doesn’t have any sort of light to let you know it’s on, so it’s hit or miss. I also had trouble getting the G1000 to lock onto the ILS at LSZH (runway 34), though it finally did about two miles out.
We went into TerraMAXX about 20 miles north of Lugano, and rode that all the way into Zurich. Below? Specular highlights and PBR materials? Oh yeah.
You can just make out a line of icy fog on the lower limit of the windscreen, and in the corners, but the defogger takes care of it quickly. Below, it ain’t called Alpenglow for nothing! the UHD mesh looks awesome up here in the Alps. TM and all that snow is icing on the cake. Literally.
Even under IFR you’d know that mountain was there, and it’s height, with the right screen on the Garmin showing topo-terrain. What a game changer.
We’re at 13000MSL and 138KIAS here, our MAX for the trip.
And just about to begin our descent for LSZH.
Which was, of course, in cloud.
The v4Mesh really cleans up the roadways, and the runway is ahead now, back in VFR conditions.
About all I can say for this acf, it’s rather benign. Not bland, mind you, as it’s anything but, yet it’s just an easy, pleasant ride – that has an interior that belongs in a BMW. A few things I’ve not mentioned? The power adjustable rudder pedals are animated! The door animations are first rate. So are the landing gear animations, for that matter.
Anyway, I walk away from this one kind of glad I picked it up. The more I use the G1000 the more intriguing it is, yet the more I want to get back in my Cessna 340 and tune in a VOR…! Still, while not a speed demon, the Da62 gets you there in style.
So…this is an easy 10 out of 10 file, a must have for fans of GA twins and those that are into the G1000. We can see why Aerobask has developed such a strong legion of fans, too.
We’ll see you later this weekend, with more from Helsinki.
Adios – A