x+s+r // Dubai + MMBT + FreiburgVFR

xsr dubai

First there was London. Then the Vegas strip. Chicago’s Lakefront came next.

Yup, all major city files incorporated into the default X-plane scenery matrix, and Dubai was apparently next on Laminar’s hit list. When you download the latest beta for Xp, which is now at 11.30b3, you’ll catch a little flash as ‘Dubai’ loads…then go look inside your Custom Scenery folder and there it is. Dubai.

Yet…I was a little concerned. How would the new payware OMDB Dubai airport file mix with this new set of structures…given that many of the same buildings are at play in both Laminar’s latest beta as well as within the payware airport’s scenery file?

Well, not to worry…no conflicts on my end! I did notice that the exhaust coming from the 763’s two GE engines is noticeably more particulate, with the dark gray sheen of raw hydrocarbon emissions much more viscerally offensive now…

Dubai 1

The two major structures from the airport file, the 2717 ft Burj Khalifa and the sail-shaped Burj al Arab Jumeirah hotel are included, as is the massive fan-shaped residential development located just offshore (known as The Palm Island). Another new addition…? The Dubai Frame, seen in the first image above (out the cockpit); this is simply the world’s largest picture frame, designed to frame Dubai’s world famous skyline.

Still, Laminar’s effort falls well short of the mark. The skyline still appears empty in Xp…at least when compared to what’s on the ground.

Skyline r

But…this is not a complaint. As laudable as Laminar’s goal here is, this should have been addressed by the OMDB airport file’s developers, and realistically in the form of a payware addition to their airport file. A truly immersive effort would include all of Dubai’s mesmerizing skyline, including the riot of light and color seen from the air at night…

Dubai night r

So much of the world’s most remarkable architecture is unfolding in this city right now, and such a landscape properly captured could be a compelling addition to the X-plane ecosystem. Laminar had the right idea; now it’s time for outside developers to step up to the plate and take a risk. Can they capture this city’s style and grace?


MMBT hdr

ruifo is at it again. And how!

Of course, you’ve heard of Cancun…yet before 1970 the place hardly existed off the planning table. The resort area we know today was a centrally planned project designed to kick-start the tourist industry on Mexico’s Gulf/Caribbean coastline, and the government funded most of the early, riskier development.

Well, welcome to Huatulco, the next Cancun.

Located on Mexico’s southern coast, on the Pacific side of the equation, Huatulco is another centrally planned resort development being sponsored by public and private interests. The beaches are glorious, the setting tropical…yet all within the shadow of 12,000 foot high mountains not at all far away. Canadians have “discovered” Huatulco and are now coming here en masse from November through April, and it won’t be long before Europeans learn about this gem and the charters from Helsinki to München start.

First consideration here, as a pilot in Xp? Rocks in the clouds. Mountains above 12,000MSL within just a few miles of the coastal plain this airport was built on. What else is implied by this setting? Winds. Updrafts and downdrafts, especially in the late afternoon. From late summer through the autumn months, monsoonal flows and tropical storms. On the chart below, note the Caution re: radar altimeters? Know what orographic conditions means? No? Read this.

MMBT chart

ruifo has taken tremendous artistic license here, creating something for X-plane that is in many ways much more interesting architecturally than what is actually on the ground. Like Punta Cana, the real buildings here are palm thatched roofs with most buildings open-air. ruifo’s solution was to adhere to the basic plan of the original but to stick with Laminar’s Lego-brick paradigm…hence…


In many ways this is ruifo’s most interesting work to date. The clustered buildings appear almost Mayan, and with each building capped by a broad glass roof he’s kept to the original paradigm…to let nature inside the buildings…as best he could with Laminar’s assets. What he’s presenting is a real masterpiece of conception and execution, too, with layers of lighting, foliage and, to a degree, the flow of buildings creating interlocking fields of visual depth. When you get right down to it, this is a stunning file – night or day; stunning in it’s apparent simplicity, yet I can tell you this design is anything but simple. Again, this is the work of an artist who understands light and color, and how these affect perception and mood.


I’ll be keeping this one of course, and given the flight options available from here, that Air Canada 767 should see heavy use to Toronto very, very soon. This is a solid 10/10 Must Have file, so get your copy here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/48243-mx-mmbt-bahias-de-huatulco-intl-airport-2018/


lidlrico’s GHD sets were causing some installations to hard crash; revisions have been posted for all three versions (get them here). Below, this is the existing payware LIMJ Genoa v2.1, by BCSceneries. It’s not bad considering its age, but it will be interesting to compare to the new aeroSoft file when it releases. This is one of the best commercial approaches in X-plane, btw, with all kinds of distractions on final.

FF GHD rev


Freiberg hdr

Freiberg, Germany is a medium sized city in far southwestern Germany, located near the border with France and a famed center of education and ecclesiastical studies.

freiberg pano

The latest VFR city file from Günther Kremp models many of the famous religious and scholastic buildings, and as you proceed out of the city you’ll find all kinds of transmission towers which, I suppose, are local VFR reporting points.

Freiberg 1

There’s also a large hospital complete with flutterbug landing pad – notable as it’s big and well lighted. Or the flutterbug I was driving was incredibly tiny…or both?

One thing struck me flying over this city at night. It looked dead. Few cars, almost no street lights, no traffic signals…the exact opposite of what I found in Sioux Falls last week. Is Laminar working on Europe now? Why the big difference between default autogen in Europe and the US?

Oh well, keep on checking those betas! We’ll see you next time…



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