I’ve read more than a few comments recently (at more than a few sites) that go a little something like this: ‘Man, it sure seems like the flow of new files has slowed to a trickle…’
Yeah? Well, after being in this Xp environment for ten plus years let me cue you in on the real score. The release of new files in X-plane is cyclical and, to a degree, seasonal. The big seasons are early summer and from mid-November through “the Holidays” (which means Christmas in a less than politically correct vernacular). Even so, September and October have been the slowest months for new file releases in X-plane since I’ve been involved writing these reviews (and again, that’s been about ten years or so).
So those who think this “slowdown” portends doom and gloom in the X-plane universe might want to hang on a little longer. And we had a couple of blistering weekends in September, so I’m a lot less concerned than many of these worried correspondents.
Besides, there are a bunch of new airports in the pipeline and due for release soon, so hang on, keep those credit cards at the ready…the whole Santa Claus thing is right around the corner, and that’s traditionally been a very good time to rupture your credit limit with new add-ons.
Anyway, we’ve got a bunch of freeware airport files to look at right now, as well as a couple of freeware aircraft and a revised airport file. Lots of good stuff to look at and work with, so let’s get right to it.
The images above and just below are from PropStrike’s Qualam River file, and today we’re including a bunch of night imagery at the main base…as they’ve gone out of their way to mention the HDR effects at night in their promotional material. My conclusion? This is astonishing work, almost groundbreaking, especially at dusk or dawn. A few of these scenes look so bloody real I was half expecting to see a grizzly bear or mountain lion come ambling out of the shadows, looking for a snack. In as much as the developers have openly stated that they intend to add new features, including wildlife, in forthcoming revisions and updates, such scenes are only going to get better. Take a look and see for yourself:
This is technically superior work, immersive realism on a “Hollywood” scale, but the greater question still remains: do you want (or will you really use) such a limited-in-scope scenery file? If you’re still sitting on the fence about this one, well…that’s very understandable. “It’s gorgeous, but am I really interested in landing a JetRanger on a landing platform the size of Stormy Daniels’ panties?”
I’d also say that whatever future updates the developer has in mind may mean a lot to the long term success of this file. More than anything else right now, this is a helicopter skills challenge. Secondarily, this is a decent, if limited, bush pilot training facility. Third, I guess, it’s just really nice to look at, yet a lot of very intense video action-games are really nice to look at, too. And while turning this scenery file into a challenging “game” may be of interest to younger people using X-plane, I’m afraid the developer will need to broaden the scope of appeal a little to turn this into the breakout file such work deserves. X-plane is a flight simulator, but a large enough audience may well go for something as different as skills challenge-action driven situations simulator.
So…if you’re still on the fence, buying now is almost an act of faith. Sure, we like to reward developers who let it all hang out, and we can also act based on the developers’ good intentions, but right about now some kind of development timeline might be a good idea. Qualam River is gorgeous and that might be enough for some of us, but if this was my project I wouldn’t count on it.
Here’s a small GA airfield in west/central France, located just north of Poitiers and a rural/agrarian area. The file boasts custom objects and the work shows; this is a realistic piece of work and I hope the developer keeps enjoyed the project enough to try another, larger airport.
I’d say a few of the scenes imaged could almost be mistaken for a photograph, and if that appeals to you…well then…this is an airport you’ll want to get onboard. GA flights anywhere in France are obvious options, but add Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany and the Benelux countries to that list, as well.
This is a 10/10 Must Have file for GA drivers in Europe.
ruifo continues to revise earlier works (pre-version 11 files), and he let slip two such files this week:
Located close to sister-city Orizaba and west of Veracruz, this appears to be a regional GA airport, and it’s an odd one. The single runway is flanked on both sides by warehouses and small ramp areas, so the layout is completely unconventional. Taking off or landing, it almost feels like you’re working in a canyon – full of tall warehouses.
This file represents an idealized vision of MM20. Looking at the area in Google Earth you’ll find a small airport in a rough, under-developed neighborhood, and not this almost park-like setting of new buildings…yet this is an important part of Mexico and I’d hesitate to NOT recommend this one. Orizaba lies on the eastern approaches of the Sierra Madre and is 4000 feet above sea level. Cordoba, just a few miles away, is 2600 feet above sea level. The tallest mountain in Mexico, a volcano named Pico de Orizaba, is just to the north and at 5600MSL it’s impossible to miss. Cordoba and Orizaba are located along the principal trade route established by Spanish colonists moving between Veracruz and Mexico City. Keep in mind Cordoba was settled in 1612. So, my point is that the geography here is astonishing and the area is rich in history. Explore a little in a Piper or Cessna, and have some fun in Wikipedia along the way.
Next, a small GA/commercial facility ESE of Mexico City, near the gorgeous university city of Puebla.
Located near Puebla, data on this airport is sketchy at best, reporting that 3800 people boarded flights here, but no airlines or destinations are cited. ruifo’s file is well executed, showing two commercial ramps and several small GA areas.
I’d say this is a good choice to build up the commercial options around Mexico City, but probably best with small turboprops, or possibly RJs. Still, quite nice.
Here’s a small GA airfield located quite close to LLBG Ben Gurion in Tel Aviv, Israel. The model is well conceived and executed, and the thought hit me recently…why not take a fast GA single or twin from here to Greece. I’ll leave it to you to look at the navigational options, but suffice to say it’s not as difficult as it sounds. I’ll be testing two new GA files along this route over the weekend, so sit tight or go for it now. This will be an excellent GA field to work from, and the file is highly recommended.
The surrounding cityscapes are well realized, too – a nice bonus.
A “new” B58 Beech Baron popped today, but it appears to be Laminar’s default unit with a well executed Garmin G1000 panel onboard. This is quite close to what Beech is offering on it’s new Barons, so check it out. The model works quite well, and is a welcome addition to our growing G1000 fleet, but could use updated panel lighting. Many thanks for this one!
And here’s another default Laminar file that’s been tweaked, this time the 744, now with gray cockpit and revised screens on the panel. Rather than download the various parts, the developer has simply packaged an entire 744 file, complete with liveries, for ease of installation. Note the Emirates Cargo paint, last image.
Yup…LIML Milan again, this time with a new control tower, various radar radomes (they’re sprouting up like mushrooms, I tellya…), and the whole thing is looking better and better.
Here’s a heartbreaker.
A freeware SEQU Quito Mariscal Sucre (the old, original international airport) popped on the Org’s servers Thursday night and I jumped on it as it looked really, really good. A few minutes looking around confirmed that this was indeed a very nice looking, well detailed file, yet within minutes the file was pulled and it’s no longer available. Assumption? A conversion with no permissions, and that’s a shame. Take a look, and look closely, as this would have been a seriously good file to have on hand.
Boeing 707s and 727s fit in here like an old glove. Most of the major US carriers, including Braniff, had extensive route networks in South America, and the old SEQU carried on until recently.
My hope here is that the developer will get his permissions lined up and we’ll see this one at the Org again soon. Quito is a dynamite destination and SEQU was a one of a kind airport; you can catch glimpses of the city and the old airport in the Russel Crowe, Meg Ryan film Proof of Life.
If the file pops again we’ll get word out ASAP, and that’s all for now. Adios –