My-oh-my, but it does feel awfully quiet out there this week. Maybe after the latest episode of the Trump & Putin Show, everyone is digging bomb shelters.
Well, a long period of inactivity then last weeks frenetic burst of new scenery releases – with, indeed, two of the most consequential new releases in ages. And then, on the freeware front, the 737-9 “Ultimate” posted as a public beta and I happily downloaded the file and opened her up – and instant crash. Yup, I missed the “not Mac compatible” blurb in the release notes. But of course, why should it be? Well, a pox on your house, you terrible fiends! I’m making big fart sounds and hoisting a single finger salute, just for you!
Anyway, the new week started with a whisper, but it’s only grown more quiet since – with only a few notable freeware files coming along so far. Anyway, whatever, this happens from time to time. Odd too that both tdg and ruifo have been so quiet…perhaps a developer came along and snatched them up? Anyway, let’s take a look at the best files out this week – so far, anyway.
So, yes, the Dangerous Isles? Where’d that come from?
Well, we have to drift back in time to find our way back to that answer. When sailing ships left the old world for Polynesia (and, eventually) Australia hundreds of years ago, these ships rounded Cape Horn then sailed up to Valparaiso (Chile), where they replenished stores and took on water, then, due to the prevailing winds, these ships typically worked their way up the West Coast of South America to approximately 20º south latitude. Loading all the water on board they could carry, these ships then waited for a weather window and eventually took off for Tahiti. There was another option, of course: leaving Europe bound for Panama, offloading cargo there and returning to their home ports in Europe; their cargo would then be transported overland to the Pacific side of the Isthmus, where other trading vessels would reload these cargos and take off for Tahiti – by way of the Marquesas – and, if needed, from there on to Australia or New Zealand.
Whichever route to Tahiti was taken, whether direct from Valparaiso or via the Panama/Marquesas option, these ships had to make their approach to Tahiti by traversing a line of low-lying island “motus”, and these islets were not very well charted. Most are only a few feet above sea level, and while many are uninhabited, most are devoid of vegetation. And – most are ringed with shallow coral reefs. Sailing on the trade winds, often carrying full sail and barreling along at more than 10 knots, more than a few of these ships plowed into these reefs and “motus” in the dead of night, and those not taken by the white-tipped reef sharks that range these islands found themselves marooned on what could charitably be called a desert island – with no food or water and little to no shelter or other sources of food, beyond what could be caught in the sea, or… Finding rescue by passing traffic was, as you can imagine, an infinitely small possibility.
So, these islands, known today as the Tuamotus Islands, came to be known as The Dangerous Isles.
And now, they’re in X-plane, too.
Consider first, the two files extent by xpfr in the region; their original French Polynesia (nee Tahiti) file (link here and last updated in 2011) and their much more recent Marquesas file (link here – this last updated 13 March, so not quite a month ago). Look at the “map” above and note that most of the airports in this latest Polynesie file are in the part of the Tuamotus Group that lies on the rhumb line between Papeete and the Marquesas. Ideally, then, you can see this new file serving as a refueling stop for GA flights between the two larger sets of islands and airports in the Marquesas and Tahiti.
I only opened a few of these new airport files and found a bare-bones minimum of development, and at a few nothing more than a runway and a windsock. A couple of the larger airports are near settlements and Southern California style Rancho Cucamonga Estate Housing (i.e., default auto-gen) is all you’ll find, so no, there are no custom orthos, no custom palm-thatched cottages or anything original looking. There are runways, a few Laminar Lego-brick objects – and nothing else.
So? Why bother?
If you want to extend your explorations of French Polynesia to the most remote settings imaginable you’ll appreciate this file, and that’s about all there is to it. Literally. So, just like those poor ship-wrecked souls hundreds of years ago, you too can experience absolute isolation, even in X-plane. If nothing else, this file provides a little food for thought along with a good excuse to work on your NDB nav skills.
And here’s another file pretty far off the beaten path.
The developer states: “I would like to welcome you at Khabarovsk International Airport. My hometown and one of the most largest airport at Russian Far East. NOVY, base airport of Aurora Airlines (part of Aeroflot group), and ETOPS airport of the flights from China and Korea to USA and Canada, from Europe to Taiwan and Japan and back.”
So, if puttering along in your twin-engined wide-body and all of sudden the do-do hits the fan, this airport may well be the closest thing to survival you’ve got. And, so, it’s a good thing Prin’s file is more than adequate to handle all your needs, from ILS to catering to fuel and maintenance hangers, welcome to far eastern Russia. Two files provided, one airport, the other OSM data, and just FYI, the airport sits on an ortho and winter as provided by TerraMAXX does not cover the airport proper…other than that, this is a very nice, 10/10 file. Link here.
A new City-file released Monday, this time for Jena, Germany.
Say what? Jena Who?
Well, strange as this may sound, but Jena might very well be considered the epicenter of German intellectual development, and dating back to the 1100s too, yet the real turning point for the city happened in 1806, during the height of the first round of Napoleonic conquests. From Wikipedia:
Around 1790, Friedrich Schiller University became the largest and most famous among the German states and made Jena the centre of idealist philosophy (with professors like Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Schiller and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling) and of the early Romanticism (with poets like Novalis, the brothers August and Friedrich Schlegel, and Ludwig Tieck). In 1794, the poets Goethe and Schiller met at the university and established a long lasting friendship. Consequently, the reputation of the University and the Duchy of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach as particularly liberal and open-minded was enhanced. On 14 October 1806, Napoleon fought and defeated the Prussian army here in the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, near the district of Vierzehnheiligen. Resistance against the French occupation was strong, especially among the students. Many of the students fought in the Lützow Free Corps in 1813. Two years later, the Urburschenschaft fraternity was founded in the city. During the later 19th century, the famous biologist Ernst Haeckel was professor at the university. The expansion of science and medicine faculties was closely linked to the industrial boom that Jena saw after 1871. The initial spark of industrialization in Jena was the (relatively late) connection to the railway. The Saal Railway (Saalbahn, opened in 1874) was the connection from Halle and Leipzig along the Saale valley to Nuremberg and the Weimar–Gera railway (opened 1876) connected Jena with Frankfurt and Erfurt in the west as well as Dresden and Gera in the east. Famous pioneers of industry were Carl Zeiss and Ernst Abbe (with their Carl Zeiss AG) as well as Otto Schott (Schott AG). Since that time, production of optical items, precision machinery and laboratory glassware have been the main branches of Jena’s economy. Zeiss, Abbe and Schott worked also as social reformers who wanted to improve the living conditions of their workers and the local wealth in general. When Zeiss died in 1889, his company passed to the Carl-Zeiss-Stiftung, which uses great amounts of the company’s profits for social benefits like research projects at universities etc. This model became an example for other German companies (e.g. the Robert Bosch Stiftung).
That said, Jena is an interesting addition to the select group of cities included in the German VFR series of city-files. It’s a modestly sized city full of famous old-name optical industries (Zeiss, Leica), and it sits in a narrow valley and so almost out of sight until you’re right up on top of it. It is NOT served by a major international airport, either; the closest airports are EDDE Erfurt-Weimar (see below) and EDDP Leipzig-Halle (one of the best payware airports in X-plane, BTW), so you’ll need to grab a flutterbug or slow GA single to sight-see around this city in X-plane. I stumbled across EDDE yesterday while looking for airports around Jena, and I’m glad I did. Let’s take a quick look at this file, now already a couple of years old and NOT updated to v11 compliance.
You’ll have noted the interior of the main terminal is modeled? There’s also an issue with the exclusion zone between the terminal and the parking lot, but the results (just above) look pretty good at night. The parking garage is a standout model, too. With a little work this file could become really quite interesting; failing that, I’m sure a payware developer could ‘start-from-scratch’ and have a blast with this little airport, perhaps turn it into a real gem.
Two more airports to look at now, and that’s about it.
A small GA & military airfield in SE Switzerland, this LSZL file has many ultra-accurate custom objects and is in an extremely useful location.
LSZL (yellow circle) is almost on the rhumb line from Lugano (red circle) to Zurich, linking two aeroSOFT airport files; the “other” Locarno (blue circle) we reviewed a month or so ago, is a Pilatus facility.
Overall, a nice addition to the area, and well worth having onboard. Link here.
Now…last, but not least…
ENST Sandnessjoen/Stokka is located about halfway up the Norwegian coast, say roughly halfway between Bergen and the North Cape area, and it lies on the first air route serving the Norwegian coastal fjord-lands. Widerøe services the airport these days, and flies to Bodø, Brønnøysund, Mo i Rana, Mosjøen, Oslo, and Trondheim from here. After that…it’s last stop is for Yodenheim and the Frost Giants.
Here’s the real main terminal, by-the-by:
And a few more images – in winterblue, but note, TerraMAXX is blocked by what appears to be an almost meaningless ortho from doing it’s thing.
Anyway, I think you’ll enjoy this one. The surrounding terrain is stunning, and the airport is very good freeware. Link here, in case you missed the one above.
And that’s all, Folks! We’ll see you soon, and thanks for dropping by – A