x+s+r // ixeg 733

IXEG B733 HDR

This is going to sound a little self-defeating, but there’s hardly any point reviewing an aircraft file as pristine as IXEG’s 733 Classic. In the last version, I read a few reviews that pointed out this or that quirk in the flight model and I just couldn’t duplicate what had been mentioned. Put it off to something in hardware settings, perhaps?

And to make matters a little more delicate, as a reviewer you’re supposed to be brutally honest in your assessment…and I get that. I also know that this last version was, quite literally, as close to perfect as anything I’d experienced in X-plane. When I first opened the last version ( a few months ago ) I flew a pattern then fired off a half dozen screenies to Simon, then it was onto Facetime, where I raved non-stop about the file for what must have seemed, to him, like seventy or so hours. Objective? Yeah, sure, I guess. Like…Amy Adams is walking towards you on the sidewalk and you’re not going to stare, right?

So, when I fired up the latest revision earlier today I was scared. I mean, I had the jitters.

Why?

Well, I was terrified that somehow, someway, someone at IXEG tried to go fancy on us and tweaked a critical setting – and so totally screwed up the feel of the best .acf in Xp. What would we, all of us in X-plane, do? Cry? Drink a keg of beer? Try to find Amy Adams and pull a Trump on her? Yeah…I was THAT scared…

733 1

Well, whatever (or whoever) else the guys at IXEG may be, before they formed the current team most were working at the X-plane Freeware Project. They cranked out the best 757 anyone had ever seen, too, but they also put out two remarkable files: a DC9 that was hard as hell to get your hands on and a 733 that was decent, but unfinished. You can look at old images of the XPFWP 733 and see the integrity of their first models was only a kind of teaser, and a lot of us got our hands on the 733 and thought we were previewing what we hoped to find in IXEG’s handiwork.

And, as you can imagine, nothing could have prepared us – or anyone, for that matter – with IXEG’s finished product. I wrote then and I’ll re-affirm now: there’s not one .acf in X-plane (so far) that comes close. I say that with zero time in the FF A320 Ultimate (so far), yet I’ve felt confident the IXEG would remain at the top of the mountain.

After using this latest, v1.3 revision, I feel that confidence has not been misplaced.

733 2

You won’t see the difference…or FEEL it, until you open this cockpit on a hi-def screen, but everything pops now. Colors especially, but even shaped seem more defined, and I supposed that had a lot to do with PBR materials rendering. Even the flaps setting gauge seems more readable from a distance now, and from anywhere in the ‘pit. Yet, while no specific changes were made to the basic textures in the cockpit, Cameron at X-Aviation advised the more reflective glass employed adds depth. I’d agree, too. The difference, to me, isn’t subtle…it’s a nice improvement, one I think you’ll appreciate, and it’s impossible to miss.

733 3

Routine operation seems little changed – if at all, but in the image above check out the two reflections on the vertical stabilizer. More PBR? Another tweak, perhaps…wheel well lighting seems brighter, especially at the nose. Or…I could be just full of it and totally impartial now. What I do know? It’s been weeks since I’ve spent a few hours in this cockpit, and man, does it feel GOOD to be back. There’s just nothing else like it in Xp

733 4.png

Even the cockpit (above), as seen from the ramp, seems better defined now. Taxiing felt different, too, as in more intolerant of sloppy handling and/or going too fast. Oh, while most of my hardware settings were fine, I needed to re-check the nosewheel steering option. If you have issues on this front, check these settings first.

733 5

Ah, the airport in these images is the latest revision to KPHL Philadelphia International, which came out a couple of days ago (I would assume a few minutes after the Super Bowl…). A few tweaks to the main terminal area are included here, but I gather most of the work was on the downtown area, with several new buildings reported added to the city file. There are a few heliports down there, too.

733 6

One area where the flight model was tweaked concerns the low altitude, low-speed regime. You can read about it in the changelog, but you’ll notice the change, and I think you’ll like this, too, once you’re used to it.

733 7

I flew to KPIT, or, I should say, to the latest freeware KPIT that came out a few days ago, just my usual VOR to VOR thing, and landing this aircraft is still just about my favorite thing in X-plane. Predictable and smooth are the two words that come to mind; polished…is another. Hyper-realistic? Is that going too far? Jack’s new 732 has a little low-speed porpoising, but you won’t find anything like that here.

733 8

The 733 is in the center of the image (below), and here it’s seen by zooming out (using the comma key) then zooming back in with the “+” key. Note the windows are still visible; more importantly, the side of the fuselage is still nicely defined. With the FF752, zooming out and in like this reveals an overblown texture that looks like crumpled tin-foil under a bright light. The 733s texturing job is perfect.

733 9

This KPIT file is another matter entirely. Lots of lights missing, some areas with no lighting at all, I’d consider this a WIP file, with quite a way to go, too. Still, lots of promise here.

733 10

Below, at PADU Unalaska, and this is one of the most interesting files in the western Alaska region you’ll find. Sandwiched on a little isthmus about halfway out the Aleutian Island chain, this airport is virtually surrounded by water…and at 4100 feet, the runway here is really too short for any kind of routine 737 ops. PenAir flies Saabs to Anchorage from PADU, but the developer of the scenery has seen fit to load up the ramps with Alaskan 738s (and one 340A), so if you’re up for a little challenge, do try to fly the 733 in or out of here. If you miss the TDZ by much, you’d better hope the 733 sprouts water-skis for landing gear, and fast.

733 11

The last place I checked out today (in the 733, anyway) was NAPS/Fred’s latest revision to PHLI, Lihue, Hawaii. Some very nice custom terminal work sets this file apart, and I wanted to check a few of Fred’s Hawaiian files out with the 733 – as it’s the perfect inter-island RJ. More soon!

733 12

Oh…the option to use either steam-gauges or digital tapes is still available for engine instruments on the 733s panel. Steam lives!

733 13

If you’re a previous owner of the IXEG 733 this is a free-update from X-Aviation; you should have received an email notification from X-Aviation (assuming you checked “keep me updated!” when you purchased???); if not, check in with Cameron and I’m sure he’ll get you sorted out. X-Aviation has top-notch customer service…they always have, so don’t sweat it.

If you don’t have the IXEG 733 for X-plane, I’m sure you’ve got your reasons. I hope you think they’re good ones, because I can see no reason for anyone even halfway interested in airline ops to not have this file. I’d take it a step farther, however. Let’s play: “If you could only have one aircraft file to use in X-plane, what would it be?”

No question. This is the one…the Big Kahuna.

And it just got better.

//

407 1

Here’s the second NAPS file we looked at today, PHOH, Kahului, Hawaii. If you’re into flutterbugs (aka helicopters) you’ll want this one.

407 2

The two hangers immediately above are just packed with solar panels, and don’t take my word for it; get up close and take a look at these things. Very cool, Fred.

407 3

Lots of detail here around the radar arrays. I’ll not ramble on, but the main attraction is the island, though this airport scenery file is a must have, too.

407 4.png

This airport is sweet, with good GA ramps, a massive helicopter area, and even some decent RJ ramps. Something for everyone…in other words.

Okay, we’re off like a herd of turtles. Seeya next time. – A

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x+s+r // copper canaries…

Copper Canaries hdr

Copper Canaries…?

Whoa-boy…wonder what they slipped in the water over at x+sim+reviews?

Well, recalling several airports we reviewed back in Xp v9.70 for the Canary Islands – and while we were working on our latest for GCLP Gran Canaria – we decided that the time was right for a return to those airports – to check up on their status. While we were up to no good (i.e., digging through those old files…), a new freeware file popped up over at the Org., this for the Copper Canyon region in Northern Mexico, if you can get into that.

So…Copper Canaries seemed like just the thing…so while islands in the Atlantic are still fresh on our minds, let’s head back to the canaries, or – the Canary Islands.

Canary GE

We’re dealing with five “new” airports in this review, but do note, we looked at GCLP in our last post. That said, let’s look at these five new (old) airports with GCLP in mind, so the distances involved FROM GCLP  are noted below (note: the download links are in blue):

  1. GCXO Tenerife North (70 miles);
  2. GCTS Tenerife South (72 miles);
  3. GCLA LaPalma (110 miles);
  4. GCGM La Gomera (151 miles);
  5. GCHI Hierro (155 miles)

Recall, too, this map from our last post – showing relative proximity to the European airports. Most traffic between the smaller airports is inter-island, though they have links to Madrid and Barcelona.

GCLP GE routes

Also, these are all freeware files, so have fun.

//

GCXOhdr

When we last visited this area, in v9.70, there were a couple of simple buildings here and nothing worth writing home about – except for the island of Tenerife’s wild beauty, and that came through on the ortho we had installed at the time. Well, that beauty is still with us, but that old airport is long gone. What’s in this new file is very close to payware file quality…

GCXO 1

The ortho carries some of the load here, so, of course, there’s the usual breakdown in visual quality we find at low altitude. If the area seen above had 3D objects placed, instead of relying on an ortho to do the job, this file would gain a lot of visual credibility, yet, as it stands now, the airport itself is really very well executed.

GCXO 2

There are simple blue textures used for night windows, and while that looks good from a distance it’s hard to take up close. Then again, performance here is excellent, and while we didn’t pull out the Rotate MD80, it should work here for flights to Rome, Madrid, and Barcelona. Finnair flies nonstop to Helsinki (752), and Alitalia to Rome, but most other options are budget carriers flying to Madrid, Barcelona, and Alicante in A320s and RJs.

GCXO 3

So, with a good ortho, excellent attention to detail, and operationally accurate specifics, this is a worthy addition to your CS folder. Do note: this is the facility where the infamous 747 runway collision occurred.

//

GCTS hdr

Located on the same island (Tenerife), this is the big daddy, where almost all the major carriers can be found…from BA to Edelweiss to Lufthansa and Finnair…and with a 3200m runway, this is where you’ll fly in a 744 or A380.

GCTS 1

Nice ortho under the airport model here, and the runway/taxiway markings are a real standout effort. AND…the night textures are very nicely executed, adding real depth to the terminal building:

GCTS 2

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GCLA hdr

This is a stunning airport, brilliantly executed for Xp11 and a total Must Have file.

Any questions?

GCLA 2

This looks like a small airport, but you can fly direct to a bunch of cities in Europe, from Madrid and Barcelona to Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Munich, and Berlin – Zurich, London (Gatwick), Amsterdam and LFPO, too.

GCLA 3

Wherever you chose, this is one file we think you’ll cherish. The surroundings are just gorgeous, the facility almost perfect, and the approach is a blast – visually.

GCLA 4

And, compare the image above with this image of the real facility:

GCLA real

The developer nailed this one, so don’t let this one slip away.

GCLA 5

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GCGM hdr

We first looked at this file way back in v9.70, and we can’t tell if much has been done since then. Maybe the lights? And don’t take this as a put-down; it’s not. We liked this file almost ten years ago and we STILL like this file. The main terminal building is dated, it could use a makeover, but the essentials still come through loud and clear.

This file is all about the approach, too. It’s a blast. Set some 20-knot crosswinds and give it a try…and we think you’ll be impressed too!

GCGM 1

The approach (and departure, for that matter) are as challenging as that found on St Helena (and there’s a near-perfect ortho included with this download). The file is framerate friendly, and all our 737 files easily work here so I suspect the Rotate MD80 might too. I do wish there was an A318 Ultimate, because it would be perfect at airports like this. For that matter, a 737-5 would too.

GCGM 2

Binter is the main carrier out here, and they fly to Tenerife North, only. The ATR is perfect on that route, but the Saab 340 or Beech 1900 would do the trick here, as well. The Twin Otter would be overkill, but fun. The Lauda Air 738 just dwarfs these ramps.

GCGM 3

And despite the simple textures on the terminal, we continue to think highly of this file. You’ll enjoy it, so give it a try!

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GCHI hdr

This is the one that stoked our interests, like – ten years ago – and, oddly enough, it still does. It looks like lighting may have been updated here, and not much else…but that’s okay. This one was near perfect in v9.7, and it too still is a blast to use.

GCHI 3

Same situation here again. Binter flies ATR-72s to Gran Canaria and Tenerife North, so a 737 is more wishful thinking than anything else, as the runway is only 4000ft long. The approach, like at La Gomera, is a raucous roller coaster with winds dialed up to 15-20 knots. Try a crosswind and hang on: with high cliffs surrounding the runway, you’re in for a vomit-comet ride.

GCHI 2

Here’s the real facility:

GCHI real

And if you have access to updated Spanish charts, you’ll find material for the Canary Islands in there, too:

GCHI chart

What struck me first all those years ago was flying the approach at night (in the ATR, I think) and how the terminal buildings stand out like an island of light. This file still ranks right up there as one of our favorites, but when added to a Canary Islands route network this file may become one of your favorites, too. It’s a classic.

GCHI 1

Now, off to Mexico…and…

//

Copper Canyon hdr

So, imagine for a moment…

You’re flying air cargo at night from Dallas Love Field, usually out to West Texas, but occasionally you carry people too, on short charters to New Mexico and Colorado. One night your dispatcher calls and tells you that you’re needed, immediately – to take a Cessna 421 down to Mexico…

“Mexico?” you ask.

“Yeah, someplace southwest of Chihuahua.”

“I don’t think there’s anyplace southwest of Chihuahua. It’s just mountains out there.”

“Yeah, so? We got a group of doctors down there, volunteering at a little clinic, and one of them got sick, needs to get back up here asap.”

So, it’s one in the morning when you head out to Love Field and pick up the 421; and there the dispatcher lays it out for you. “One of the docs got through on a radio-telephone, and he’s a pilot. The airport down there is located west of Chihuahua, around this intersection…”

“Around?”

“Yeah, well, the doc says the airport ain’t much more than a road, a kind of steep road…”

“A steep road?”

And, so, it’s 600 or so miles down to Chihuahua, Mexico, where you stop for gas. Your aeronautical charts mean squat out here, and as you take off into the sunrise you’re wondering if you’ll even be able to find this “airport…”

Well, you find it, and someone has set out smudge-pots to mark the runway – which looks wide enough to handle a jeep…maybe. But you can see people gathered down there – by dawn’s early light – so you fly low and slow, try to get a feel for the place…

So…do you want to get a feel for this place? If so, have we found a file for you! Hang on to your britches and let’s take a look:

Copper GE 2

So, you don’t even want to think of flying down here in anything other than the Quest Kodiak – or a flutterbug. There is ONE airport included in this package that can handle 737-size aircraft (that’s MX31 Creel) but I’m not sure this airport is even open yet. It’s new, still under construction last time I heard, but it’s become a priority as opening up the Barranca del Cobre mountains to tourist development has suddenly become a Very Big Deal to folks down in Mexico City. Part of the reason why…?

Copper canyon 1

It’s called The Copper Canyon, and it’s one of the newest, hottest destinations on the eco-adventure-tourism circuit.

For many people, this area is synonymous with the Tarahumara Indians, and yes, doctors from UT Southwestern (and loads of private practitioners, too) have been going down there for decades, volunteering to work in mud-walled clinics. I took part in building one such clinic, a semi-modern affair, the first of its kind, after flying down there one night to pick up a sick doc.

The area is magic. If you’ve seen the film Altered States, you’ve seen the area, and parts were used time and time again in a number of westerns, including those with John Wayne (The Undefeated, Big Jake) and Steve McQueen (The Magnificent Seven). If you read Carlos Casteñeda’s works, you’ll be familiar with other reasons why this area is famous.

Also famous, the Copper Canyon train ride, one of the most spectacular anywhere.

Copper train

Anyway, now you can explore the area in X-plane, too.

MX31 GE

But read the download instructions carefully, as this one is loaded with scenery libraries, including one that might give you trouble. The culprit? Trees. If this one file isn’t loaded, the Copper Canyon file won’t load, either. And yes, it’s the dreaded Madagascar Forest file, too. This bugaboo has been the cause of more trouble in Xp than a hooker in a convent, so listen up.

Go to Shade Tree’s main site (here), and download BOTH Madagascar files, then put them both, still in their separate file folders, in your CS folder. Also, download AlpilotX’s v4 mesh for the area (+20-110); make sure you have all the other scenery libraries listed, then you’re good to go. The trees are worth the effort.

MX trees

Below, the large MX31 Creel airport. Don’t spend much time here as it’s hardly relevant to the nature of this area. You will want a bush plane for your adventures here, and yes, they WILL be adventures.

MX31 1

Try opening at MX80 first. Try to do so on the runway…because the ramps feel a lot like a ski slope. When I opened the Kodiak here the Kodiak started sliding down the slopes…with full brakes making no difference!

MX80 1

If you do manage to make it to the top of the runway (!!!) this is what you’ll find. A nice, intermediate level ski run. It’s like a French alti-port, but instead of snow, if you crash you’ll find yourself in a jungle full of really mean snakes.

MX80 2

MX80 3

For some odd reason, this one is lighted, too. Like, yeah, sure, I’m gonna land here at night? It would take half a bottle of Tequila to get me to even think about landing here at night. Oh, ask Simon about Tequila someday, would you? Then…run.

MX80 4

The lighted Coca-Cola sign is a real treat, though. It might stop your slide down the runway if you get the timing just right.

MX81 1

Then there are airports like these two in the file. Nice, short, paved, with friendly workers willing to give you a bottle of tequila to fly them up to MX80 after work…

MX85 1

That’s why I recommend using a flutterbug around here. Still, I opened at one with the DF Bell 407, and the helipad was on such a steep slope that the helicopter simply rolled on its side and tumbled down the mountain.

You’ve been warned.

Now…get out there and have some fun! Tequila optional…!

Hasta later, Amigos! – C

 

 

 

 

 

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x+s+r // gclp gran canaria

GCLP main hdr

There have been, I think, several files covering the Canary Islands group over the years…at least as far back as Xp version 8 – when Simon and I first started XP+10+Reviews. A few of them offered the first freeware ortho integration, too, and, as such, they became the “Must Have” file du jour – ten years ago. I have to admit that since getting back into Xp last year, I haven’t looked at one of them.

My bad.

So, we’ll be digging through these files over the next few weeks, seeing what’s new. Which is worth using, I guess. Today, we’re looking at a new GCLP Gran Cararia that is out of an extended beta period for v11, and just a few words before diving into the deep end.

This latest GCLP file, by hades_esp, is as good as freeware gets, so let’s run through the basics, then look at the file.

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Gran Cararia

Often regarded as a mini-continent, the island of Gran Canaria is not exactly big, so what gives? Well, in the 600 or so square miles here, you can experience just about any climate on earth, save, perhaps, an arctic climate. Pico de las Nieves, the tallest mountain on the island, is over 6400 feet in elevation, so it’s up in the clouds. The peak, in other words, is a rain catcher, and that rain funnels down steep-walled canyons to the sea. These erosion patterns are readily apparent in the satellite imagery below, from GoogleEarthPro.

Gran Canaria GE

I think it fair to say that tourism is a big deal here, especially during the long cold, dark winter months experienced by folks in Northern Europe. Looking over the list of carriers serving the island, you’ll find a who’s who of Scandinavian operators, followed by a veritable avalanche of German carriers. Not to be outdone, Swiss, Austrian, Dutch and carriers from the UK get in on the act, too. It’s surprising that the island doesn’t sink under the weight of all that sunscreen.

GCLP GE routes

This Spanish island group sits less than a hundred miles off the Moroccan coast, but it’s not that far to our usual suspects in X-plane. It’s 1070 miles to LEMD, 1150 to LEVC. 1330 to LEBL and not quite 1200 to Ibiza. It’s 1950nmi to EHAM and Dusseldorf, while EDDF, EDDS, and EDDM are each a little over 1900nmi. LSZH, too. Paris, London, and Dublin are around 1700nmi, while LOWW comes in at 2200nmi. Further away, EPWA, ENGM, and BIKF are 2500 miles out, while FHSH St Helena is 3100 miles distant. If you feel like a long haul, UUDD, KJFK, and KBOS are each around 3200 miles distant…and all of these airports are directly linked to GCLP. Obviously, there’s something special going on here.

GCLP FA18 w Tower

The civil aviation facility shares the two runways with the Spanish Air Force, which bases both F/A-18 and Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft on site. The control tower is a goody: complex and interesting:

GCLP pano real

Now, let’s look at this latest version, for Xp 11…

GCLP Aeropuerto de Gran Canaria

GCLP D Overvu

If you have an eye for detail, the first thing you probably noticed was the array of wind generators surrounding the airport. Second? This airport is not sitting on the default Xp auto-gen terrain. And that ought to tell you that this airport file has a lot in common with better payware files.

Look at an overview at night and you’ll note that the ramps are well lighted, but the lighting effects are not overdone. No star-burst lens flares, in other words, and the lights are bright enough to work under.

GCLP N Overvu

GCLP N Overvu 2

The other side of the airport, where the military base is located, is nicely lighted, as well. Area highways get the full Xp11 treatment here, and they look good, as always.

GCLP ramp day

Moving in close, you can begin to see that this airport is as well detailed as the best payware files, and, in some ways, it’s better than most. I spotted some auto-gen in and around the area, but a whole lot of custom work, too. So much, in fact, that this project begins to look like a labor of love. How so? Well, the work in many places is of overwhelming quality, and there’s a lot of difficult modeling executed over a twenty-mile coast-line. Would you set out to do that, in a freeware file, on a lark?

GCLP details 1

Roof details are NOT photo-textures (as seen in our last review, in the Pilot Plus Ibiza file), but modeled objects. I experienced great framerates here, too, in the IXEG 733, the FF 752, the FF763, and the default 738.

GCLP details 2

AND, you might have noted that the control tower is a custom model. And it is EXCELLENT! And there’s even more roof detail…!

GCLP details 3

This carries over to ramp detail which, in some areas, is almost overwhelming (note the area ahead of the AAL 777).

Below, satellite imagery from GEP of a power plant located about halfway between the airport and Las Palmas.

GCLP power plant

Here’s the area in Xp:

GCLP power plant xp

GCLP Power plant xp 2

Again, this is about as good as it gets in Xp, too. Below, the town itself, Object settings at MAX:

GCLP town 1

Easy to spot what looked like many custom buildings down there, too. Below, the military base receives the same attention to detail as the rest of this project.

GCLP MIL ramp 412

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A Cold Front hits GCLP!

GCLP cold ramps 1.jpg

As I’ve been fond of doing lately, a blistering cold weather front passed through the Canary Islands this morning. Rather then image in the dark, making images in this cool blue light is fun to do, and often difficult to set up. Temp just above freezing this time, with damp runways just before sunrise, and a solid layer of overcast all the way to FL300, you end up with this chilly blue light. Too much vis and the effect breaks down…it’s about a quarter mile here.

GCLP ramp pit 1

GCLP ramp pit 2

GCLP cold ramp 737

Depending on the camera’s angle to the sun, exhaust can be any color from blue to almost black:

GCLP cold ramps 2.jpg

GCLP cold ramps 3

If surfaces are set to damp, it tends to accentuate HDR/PBR surface reflections:

GCLP cold ramps 5

Play with Delta T and RVR to deepen the colors.

GCLP cold ramps 7

Anyway, the color is NOT unrealistic. This color of blue is common enough…it’s just light scatter through cold water vapor…but it looks pretty cool in Xp.

GCLP Cold taxiway 2

Also worth noting? Taxiway markings, both painted and signage, are first-rate.

GCLP Cold taxiway detail

So, that about wraps this one up. Our impressions? Overall: Excellent, a Must Have file. The ATR, the Saab 340, and the Beech 1900D will all work for inter-island commutes; 737s, E-jets, and A320s will do the job to Spain, while larger heavies will be needed for OPS to northern and eastern Europe…so…it looks like a perfect arrow to add to your quiver.

Seeya next time. Hasta later – C

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x+s+r // ibiza + petersburg + innsbruck

Ibiza main hdr

Announcements, both for new files and fresh revisions, are beginning to hit the news-streams again, so – perhaps – we’ll begin to see some major new scenery and aircraft files this Spring. Regardless, (and I almost don’t like writing this) we’ve had so many really excellent freeware files release the past five weeks that I haven’t missed the expected payware deluge all that much. There are really good files in the pipeline, but there are really good freeware files releasing all the time.

Anyway, we have a handful of really nice files for you to work with this weekend, so let’s dive in and take a look around. We’re going to Ibiza, Spain – and look at three files, then on to Petersburg, Alaska, for a nice surprise; and then to a small rooftop helipad in Innsbruck, Austria. It’s likely you’ll want all three LEIB files, too, and, assuming you like flutterbugs, the Innsbruck file might float your boat, too. And the Alaska file is a no-brainer. So – off we go…to an island rich with sunshine, just off the southern coast of Spain, not far from Valencia.

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LEIB Ibiza, Ibiza, Spain

So, first things first. What’s this whole Ibiza thing?

Well, if generally unfamiliar (or you’re from Des Moines), think of it as many European’s ideal place to spend Spring Break…and you’ve kind of got the picture. It easily beats Lauderdale and Daytona for outrageous nightlife, while places like Galveston and Padre Island and Destin aren’t even in the running. Maybe, maybe the only places that top Ibiza are in the South Pacific…but that kind of depends on what taking a break means to you.

When you think of modern, electronic music, what name comes to mind? For me, it’s Chicane, and though he’s been around a while and isn’t really considered cutting edge as much as he was 20 years ago, his stuff stands up, even today. Dig up an album on iTunes called Club Energy (you’ll know it when you see the girl on the “cover”) and run Chicane’s Sunstroke through your phones. That tune was almost synonymous with JRollon’s CRJ-200 too, as the breathy, techno-string intro defined the opening of his earliest pre-release teaser videos. And, to me, anyway, this version of Chicane’s Sunstroke pretty much defines Ibiza, too. Frenetic, pulsing with life, this is music on its own terms. Powerful – yet kind of peaceful. If Chicane is too staid for you, try Ulrich Schnauss’ Medussa. Turn up the volume and zone out for a while…

LEIB GE routes

The list of airlines carrying holiday-makers to Ibiza is tilted – and strongly so – on the scales towards budget carriers. While most of the European majors fly here, blatantly low-cost airlines dominate. And…what does that tell you? Yup, lots of backpacks and sandals. Ibiza is all about nightlife and in Europe that means basement clubs packed with kids – and lots of light pulsing to music louder than a Saturn V launch. It’s also beaches and water so clear you’d swear it’s a swimming pool. It’s also hormones – and The Love Parade is definitely in full swing.

LEIB Ibiza GE

The airport is located west of the island’s main town, Vila d’Eivissa (or simply, Vila), and the old port area is loaded with UNESCO World Heritage Sites – which will come into play shortly – and note, the airport has been around, in one form or another, since the 1930s.

And the really, really neat thing?

We now have three very good LEIB files available in X-plane. Two are freeware, and one is a v10 payware file that also works rather well in Xp11.11. The real airport is no big deal…a medium sized facility with no particular architectural magic going on. It is what it is, and the main tower looks kind of like this:

LEBI real tower

Let’s take a look at what we’re dealing with in X-plane, starting with the latest to hit the servers at the Org: Luis Garcia’s latest LEIB Ibiza, and I’ll be right up front here. This file includes a lot of detail in and around the old port, including a decent number of UNESCO WH sites…such as this little area:

Ibiza pano real

Vila 1

So, right off the bat, I’m already leaning towards this one as my favorite…but…but…not so fast there, Kimosabe. TDGs freeware file has a lot going for it, and Pilot Plus’ payware file is very definitely in the über high-quality file category, so a lot depends on what YOU want out of a LEIB airport file, too. If, like me, the inclusion of city landmarks means a lot to you, Sr Garcia’s file is going to knock you for a loop.

Luis Garcia’s LEIB Ibiza

LEIB hdr

Take a look at the image above, of Luis’ LEIB Ibiza, Spain. I’m not at all hesitant to call this file near “payware quality” – because, in some respects, it is. And so what if a file of such reasonable quality is free? Does that make it somehow less worthy of being used?

aaLEIB ramp 2

You already know when we’re dealing with control towers we’re, well, we’re fiends. Throw an Open Scenery X or other scenery library object into your project and we’re ready to slice and dice it. We’ll show no mercy. But really, who gives a hoot?

Yeah. We do. If you want your file to get a good review here, start with a custom tower – OR A REALLY GOOD LIBRARY OBJECT. If the tower is lighted watch as we go crazy, too.

So, Sr Garcia’s file has a lighted, custom tower.

Need we say more?

Well, more.

aaLEIB 4

He’s got v11 lighting, the terminal area has a fair amount of detail, and framerates were so good we were able to open the Rotate MD80v1.4 file here. And framerates were – good! Well, settings were dialed back (a lot), but the beast was flyable. That filthy, hi-res Iberia paint on the latest version is really over the top, too. I’ve never seen anything as filthy – unless it was in a back alley behind the Crazy Horse Saloon.

LEIB MD80 TO

LEIB MD80 hold short

All in all, for this reason alone you might want this file over the others, but as they say, Wait! There’s more!

LEIB old port

Yeah, the old port area, and the other two files offer nothing like this. Nothing. As in: Nada. Zip. And…nothing!

LEIB 407 Ibiza app

The odd thing about it? If you never saw this extra material you might not consider this file. Without it…it’s good, but it lacks a few things, too. The ramps are quiet, not as much clutter, and as the file relies on a small ortho to provide detail, many of the airport’s smaller buildings are missing. But…include all the detail in the nearby port area and all of a sudden this file jumps to the head of the line.

So, Mr Scenery Developer, what does this tell you?

But first, consider this one extra factoid. Big FsX/P3D developers like Orbx have made their reputations on creating such immersive, yet ancillary detail. No, this is not a part of the airport…YES, it is a part of the experience of flying into this airport – or ANY airport, for that matter. If you want your airport file to attract a wider, more critical audience going forward, you’re going to have to start including this level of detail. Wait, you say! I can’t use that stuff from Google Earth or SketchUp’s Warehouse due to copyright issues…? Well, guess what…? Time to fire up Blender and get to work. It might add a week or so to your production timeline, but you’ll make it back. Or…you’ll find someone out there who can help you make this stuff easily and cheaply because, in a competitive market, you need every advantage you can get, and in flight sim scenery right now, city detail is IN. It’s IN right now because we finally have hardware that can handle it. Notice all kinds of developers adding city detail? Notice they’re selling well, so earning their developers money they might not have otherwise? Don’t miss out on this one, guys. It’s only time and sweat…and only your reputation on the line.

//

TDG LEIB hdr

We’re generally pretty high on TDGs files around here, and his LEIB is no exception. The ramps are the best of the three, as there’s both clutter AND movement all over this airport.

TDG LEIB 1

Ramps are even well lighted – but wait one. You’d never know that, right above the tail in the image below, there’s a control tower lurking in the darkness. I mean…really? Nothing? Not even a lamp post nearby to give the tower a little glow? Sorry, but this is a “remove from consideration” item around here.

TDG LEIB nite tower

And, in case you were wondering, there’s the old port area (below), in all it’s default auto-gen glory. As in, there’s nothing on that hill but a highway and a few bushes…and none of the UNESCO details in Sr Garcia’s file.

TDG oldport area

So, TDGs file works, and works well, assuming you have all the scenery library files onboard. The night issues? If you don’t fly at night, will that bother you? If you don’t care about city details, will this lack bother you? TDGs file has great detail where it counts, and that won’t bother you.

//

PP LEIB hdr

If I’ve given you the impression this payware file is somehow inferior, well, it’s not. Far from it, in fact. As you would expect from an expensive payware product, this one is loaded with all kinds of detail not present in the other two freeware files…

However, I think the control tower in Sr Garcia’s file is a little more accurate, and the night lighting in this file looks like I came straight out of Xp  – version 8.7…

I’m sorry guys, but I’m not sure why you thought this is somehow appropriate. Take a look at AeroSoft’s EDDF, and then decide if you want to move up to the big leagues; because when your night lighting is no better than freeware, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. When it’s not as good as freeware, something’s wrong.

PP LEIB 1

But night textures aren’t the end of the ball game, are they? Pilot Plus has a new Gatwick file that we’ve not looked at, but their Block Island file is one we’ve used – and enjoyed. Still, this file needs a makeover in the night department. On the other side of the equation, with the sun out, this file simply works, and very well, too.

PP 2

Oh, that “New” Lufthansa paint is on the default 738, link here. Ramp details here are decent, with just enough detail to work, but nowhere near the level we’d consider top-of-the-line. There could be more movement but, as is, the file gets the job done and framerates are in line with the Garcia file. But…it could be better.

PP 3

You’ll find payware levels of detail here, like foliage and buildings around the airport perimeter that are not in the other two. What you will not get is city detail in the port area. Again, as with TDGs file, how important is that to you? Xp is, after all, a flight simulator. When is enough, enough? When do things get out of hand? There’s nothing about landing here, in this file, that doesn’t ring true. It’s an immersive experience and I enjoyed it very much.

PP 7

PP 4

PP 6.1

PP 5.1

PP 5

Really, besides the funky blue window lighting at night and the file lacking city detail, this package beats the other two hands down. Good mesh, excellent static aircraft, the taxiways seem far better (wider, better lighting), and all the other little details surrounding the airport simply look “better” – as in extensive, more thought-out.

PP2

Oh…and that hyper-detailed roof on the terminal building (above) is a photo-texture. Get down low and it looks like a photo-texture, too. From a thousand feet it looks decent, and once on the ground you won’t see it, so this looks like a good compromise to enhance looks and save performance.

PP 6

File sizes tell a tale here, too. The Pilot Plus file weighs in at 500+Mb, while Sr Garcia’s file comes in at 250Mb. TDGs file? Don’t laugh…but it’s a whopper, coming in at 12.2Mb (yes, all those scenery library files you spent all last summer downloading are carrying the real load here). TDGs file has performance on par with Sr Garcia’s, which is just a little better than PPs file, but considering the PP file is twice the size what’s surprising is how well optimized their file is. I did not try to open the Rotate MD80 at PPs file (I wasn’t feeling adventurous enough, I suppose, for another hard crash), so if using the Rotate file is a ‘must-have’ for you, I’d get either of these two freeware files and laugh all the way to the bank. If you want a better looking, more detail airport for daylight use, stick with the payware file. If you’ll be using this file more at night (like, uh, me) then the Garcia file almost makes more sense.

On the freeware scale, Luis Garcia’s file is a nine out of ten. It simply needs more detail, more buildings, more clutter. TDGs file loses big points with the dark tower, but it picks up momentum when you consider the other detail included.

The PP payware file? As currently priced at the Org store (24USD) this is actually one of the more expensive files out there. Yes, there are a few close to 30, but then again there are a bunch under 20 that equal or exceed this one. Does that matter? I doubt it, and the idea of a few backs making a difference is kind of a stretch.

Why?

Well, these days going to dinner and a movie – for one – costs more than this file. So, one meal, one movie…versus, literally…years of use from one file…so in that context does a price of 24$ make this somehow less interesting than 19? Not to me.

What matters most in this group is the inclusion of the old city and port. Of the three LEIB files I have, I’ll end up using Señor Garcia’s file more often – because his is, literally, more interesting. Each has strengths and weaknesses as airport files, but only his, in the three file’s current state of development, has something going on beyond the airport itself. Why this is beginning to mean so much to many in the community is a little bit of a mystery, but I suspect the popularity helicopters has something to do with the phenomenon.

Luis Garcia’s file can be found here.

TDG’s file is hiding out here.

And you can find the Pilot Plus file at the Org store, and at their own web-store.

//

PAPG hdr

If you use files that need scenery library objects in order to function, odds are you’ve run across the PM Library. PM is PaulMort, and he has made the odd scenery for Xp from time to time, and this PAPG Petersburg file is the latest example. Not far from RD’s PAWG Wrangell (which we covered here a few months ago), PM’s file is similar in many functional ways (heavy use of scenery file objects chief among them), yet this one is almost whimsical feeling…in a way. It’s also quite good, and you’ll want this one onboard if you fly the bush from time to time.

PAPG GE

Juneau, Alaska is about 120 miles to the NNW; Wrangell is less than 30 to the SE. Alaska Airlines currently operates 737-700 (thanks, EADT!) to Anchorage, Juneau, Ketchikan, Seattle/Tacoma, and Wrangell, but as we’ve said before, there are many acf in Xp that would be fun to use up here. Try the Dash-8 Q400, or the Saab 340. Use the IXEG 733, as Alaska used to use the 734 on this run. The Beech 1900D is my favorite turboprop on these waterfront strips. The SSG E-jets would do the job, of course, so there are plenty of options to work with. Of course, there are also plenty of freeware options for the other airports on this list (gee, I wonder where I can find a nice KSEA…?).

PAPG 1

I used the word ‘whimsical’ to describe this one, and I think you’ll see what we mean after using this one a few times. In the image above, man and pick-ax take on a pile of rocks…while below, man and forklift tackles a stack of sewer pipes.

PAPG 2

PAPG 3

While a construction crew gets set for another day’s work across from the airport.

Writing about EDDC a few weeks ago, I bemoaned the lack of people visible there – well, anywhere – around that airport. It’s a total Zombieland, a dead zone…yet PaulMort’s Petersburg is the exact opposite. There are literally people…everywhere!

PAPG 4

Does it take away from the file? Well, you tell me. Would you rather have airports with people visible, or denuded of all traces of humankind? Assuming I can’t have airports full of bouncing puppies, I’ll take people. ‘Nothing’ gets kind of old, kind of fast.

PAPG 5

Of course, the radar set is animated. In the village down the road, fun little buildings from the PM library pop up here and there, too, as well as custom homes and boats, including the local Coast Guard cutter near the seaplane base…

PAPG 6

PAPG 7

PAPG 8.jpg

And while I suppose Beavers on floats would seem to be the thing up here, flutterbugs might be better for looking over the town itself.

PAPG 9

In the end, however, this file makes the most sense when considered as part of a larger network. Wrangell is a toughie, but can you imagine making the thirty-mile flight between Petersburg and Wrangell – in CAT II conditions? Bliss! And, do it at midnight, with 30-knot winds out of the north, maybe a little icing, too. Now…that’s a flight simulator! No problem, you say? Okay, try it in the Fly-J-Sim 732, without the FMC. Just steam gauges…and see if you don’t get more worked up than Trump at a beauty pageant.

You can find the file here.

//

LOIU hdr

Those wild and crazy guys at X-plane Austria are still at it, cranking out new files on the order of a couple a week. Now, knowing how much everyone hates LOWI/Innsbruck, I thought it would be fun to look at a heliport on top of a fifteen story hospital in the middle of the city. Thank goodness there’s no such thing as a crosswind at a heliport…

LOIU 1

Yes, Virginia, there is a helicopter up there by those blinking red lights, and – don’t look down!

LOIU 2

Because it’s a long, long way down…

And that pad is looking itsy-bitsy, teeny-tiny right about now…

LOIU 3

But you just got another call, this time out at the airport, so it’s time to load and go…are you ready, Eddy?

LOIU 5

LOIU 6

The lighting up there is almost not enough, maybe the pad could use a few spots? And maybe a light in or on the wind-sock? Still, I like these types of pads; they’re a challenge you just can’t get in a fixed wing (well, no AV-8B Harriers allowed on hospital roofs, right?), and this one is really well done. Then again, so is most of the material coming from this group.

Oh, two new paints for the DF407…seen here:

LOIU paint 1

AlpinLIFT v1.0 shown; the current version is 1.1, and it’s located here.

LOIU Paint 2

Zip Aviation, link here. And this just looks kewl…

Anyway, that’s all we got for now. Have a good weekend, and don’t forget…Carb Heat…!

If anything interesting breaks, we’ll get it out as soon as we can. Seeya then.

 

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x+s+r // LEMD & Madrid

LEMD hdr

Madrid. Where do you begin.

You could call it the capital city of Spain, and you’d be correct, of course, but you’d be missing the point. Madrid is a vibe, young and strong – yet rooted in traditions a thousand years in the making. Everywhere you go in the city you’re reminded of that one salient fact…this is one of the oldest, and most majestic, cities in the world, and her residents are proud of Spain’s place in that order. Among European destinations visited by non-Europeans, Paris and London may be visited by more first-timers, but those who know Europe, and know it well, tend to come to Madrid. Indeed, just about anything you can do in France or the UK you can do in Spain, and I think that surprises many first-time visitors.

Spain is one of those regions I’ve always concentrated on when flying in X-plane. It’s a geographically beautiful part of the world and, generally speaking, the climate is pleasantly moderate, almost benign, year-round…so the flying is VFR.

As befits an airport serving a city as vibrant as Madrid, LEMD Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas is huge. In scale, the airport reminds me of CDG, even DFW, but, rather like growth rings inside a tree, the airport has morphed over the decades, with the older layers still there, just not readily visible. Let’s take a look at the airport today, the real one, then the file for X-plane, then let’s take a look at that interesting new city file for Xp, too.

LEMD Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas

The list of airlines working out of LEMD reads like a Who’s Who of aviation today, and this is one European airport that still hosts most of the American flag carriers – from South AND North America. Yes, Air Canada, American, Delta, and United all fly here, and Aeromexico, too. Indeed, the only major player I couldn’t find on the list was SAS, though Norwegian and Finnair (and yes, Icelandair) fly here. BA, Air France, Lufthansa, Alitalia, and Austrian work out of here, too. Both Iberia and LATAM Chile fly to Santiago, Chile, in case you were wondering.

The Geo-context:

LEMD GE 2

And the airport, with N to the upper left:

LEMD GE 1

Here’s a simplified diagram of the airport:

LEMD simple diagram

And next, the current aerodrome charts:

LEMD diagram

LEMD parking one

LEMD parking 2

There are, of course, multiple ILS plates for all runways, as well as SID/STAR charts. I do not have the bandwidth to put them all in this post. Now, let’s look at some imagery from the real airport, most notable of all, the New Control Tower by T5:

LEMD tower real

Just gorgeous! Like a chalice of dreams…

Next up, two images of the Ground Control Tower at T4:

LEMD GC 4S

LEMD GC tower

Snow? In Spain? If you’re guilty of thinking that, you’ve probably never heard of Francisco “Paquito” Fernández Ochoa. Do read about him at the link…because guess what’s coming in a few weeks…?

Last up, the oldest remnant of the original airport, the Tower at Terminal 1:

Old tower

Now, let’s look at the file for X-plane, LEMD Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas v.1.0.0, by Pedro Escartin.

LEMD subhdr 1

This file was made for Xp 10 & 11 using converted files (not specified), as well as OpenSceneryX. I suspect more library objects were used as I keep getting minor load errors, though my log.txt doesn’t tell me a whole lot. Forum entries at the org report similar issues, though I wouldn’t let that keep you from downloading this one. There may be issues, but the file is a “work-in-progress” – so cut the author some slack!

You probably know by now all of us at XSR are control tower freaks; when we run across a well-done tower it’s a source of pure joy. Conversely, when we run across a stinker we spare no barbs skewering the developer.

Why?

Well, control towers are a big deal, and architecturally is just one reason why. Some are so over the top (think Warsaw-Chopin or LAX) that they define the airport. Often, such control towers will end up on the airport’s official logo and can be found in the airport’s promotional literature, and they’re often the first thing visitors see when arriving in a new country. First impressions count, and that’s why so many architectural monuments are found at modern airports.

And then, there are airport control towers in X-plane, most usually represented by bland scenery library objects. As a practical matter, who cares? It’s just a tower, right?

Wrong. If that was the case why not just be content with Scenery Gateway airports. Why would AeroSoft and dozens of developers be busily making new airport files? With really grand towers???

Well, because most of us have gotten to the point where we define our time in X-plane (or FsX, or P3D) as most enjoyable when we encounter hyper-realistic airports inside the simulator. I can imagine that even more immersive VR experiences will put a premium on this sort of file, too.

That said, the main tower in this file is a twelve on the ten scale. It’s just awesome.

LEMD 3t1

LEMD 3t

Here’s some more images around T5:

aa LEMD 47 det

aa T5

aa37 1

aa47 1

aaT52

bb 37 ramp tower

Terminals 4 & 5 are lighted, but the ramps are dark…while T1-3 has lighted ramps.

aaT5 n2

Still, the area looks promising, and that control tower completely dominates the visuals of this airport.

aa T5 n

Enough said on control towers…for now.

And, well, here’s the old, original tower at T1, and it’s nicely rendered, as well:

LEMD 1

Which leaves the Ground Control tower at T4 to be the focus of our ire tonight:

LEMD 4.4

Yes, this OpenSceneryX stinker has been around the block more times than a sixty-year-old hooker. It was interesting, the first time we ran across it – in 2007. Now? Really? Sure, I get it. It’s just a measly ground control tower. Who cares, right?

So, yeah, let’s move on.

LEMD 2

Overall, the ramps are spottily detailed. You’ll find more stuff on the ground over at T5 than around the other terminals, so if you’re flying a heavy into Madrid, park there. If you’re in a Rj, T4 is nice to look at but the ramps empty, The T1-3 area is the barest of them all, as you can just see, above, and yeah, it looks like this is where the Rjs park.

Approaching LEMD at low level, in the image below, such as coming from the city in a flutterbug… – T4 really grabs your attention – if only because it’s SO HUGE.

LEMD 4.3app

LEMD 4.1

LEMD 4.2

Again, the ramps here are a little empty, not lighted, but the quality of the original file is readily apparent. The building is massive, and it IS very nicely textured, and my guess is this was a very difficult building to model. It just needs work…on the ramps and with lighting. Maybe some static aircraft, too.

LEMD 4

Madrid City File

Now, let’s move into town, and see what this new city file brings to the table. First up, a couple of areas from the real city:

Gran Vía Madrid

The image above, by Felipe Gabaldón, represents, to me, the moment a photographer dreams of…when all the external elements come together and allow the photographer to really show what they’re made of. Light and shadow, a sense of dynamic poetry…it all comes together in an image like this, transforming something as mundane as a city street into a work of art. And that’s Madrid. Few cities, anywhere, have all the elements Madrid has. And consider, when you fly around here, that the greater metropolitan area has over 6 million inhabitants now…

Below, it’s a scene reminiscent of Paris, or Rome…but no, Madrid.

Madrid street scene

Plaza de Canalejas

And above, Canalejas Square, similar in many ways to Piccadilly Circus.

All of which we need to keep in mind when exploring the City of Madrid in X-plane, because we now have a very nice, very new city file in Spain. And note, the original MADRID CITY FILE was released over the weekend, but SUR4714 issued a fresh revision on Monday (30 January 2018) that updates ALL textures. Let’s take a look around:

Madr 1

AlpilotX’s v4mesh is under here, and highways look excellent. In the image above a small custom building is just ahead…and below, a close up of same:

Madr 2

In the Central District, the Gates of Europe, below:

MADR 3

And below, the Four Towers, the tallest buildings in Spain. Alas, no heliports…and sadly, most of these buildings are very dark at night.

MADR 4

MADR 5

And here’s the Four Towers, as seen from the airport:

aafour towers.jpg

This is NOT how X-plane renders Madrid, by the way. As we stated a few weeks ago, these new City Files are redefining how we experience places in Xp. I think it easier to relate to a city when unique landmarks are presented to us in the Sim like this…just as when we see the Eiffel Tower we think, by association, of Paris. When you use cities in Xp that have these landmarks present, perhaps you’ll begin to rethink how you experience these places, too. Who knows, maybe you’ll decide to pack a suitcase and go for a visit! If you go to Madrid, I doubt you’ll be disappointed…

MADR 7

There are at least two major stadiums included in this file. Below, Real Madrid’s stadium.

MADR 6

And another big one on the south side of the city, quite near the airport:

MADR 8

MADR 8.2

In fact, it’s kind of hard to miss this one, as it dominates the local horizon…even from the airport!

aa T5 stadium

Speaking of textures and rendering, it’s getting easy to spot custom buildings in these images, because from a distance they render almost black:

bb 47 c1

Anyway…that’s about all we’ve got for now. Safe travels! – A

bb 47 2

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x+s+r // essb stockholm bromma

ZESSB hdr

An interesting update came out Saturday evening, to Stockholm, Sweden’s ESSB Bromma Airport, and this file will slip right into your operations all around the Baltic. Bromma is the third busiest airport in Sweden, with service to most airports in the region, but there is also limited international service here, too. Let’s take a look:

ESSB GE 2BALTIC

While Bromma fits into the greater scheme of things regarding our Baltic OPS scheme, in reality, most international traffic is to Helsinki (#3, above), and to Brussels (off the map, above, #4); major domestic destinations include Malmo (1) and Gothenburg (2). Here’s the airport in GoogleEarthPro:

ESSB GE

Of note: this facility is the closest to the city center of the three major Stockholm area airports. As such, the facility is completely surrounded by densely packed urban neighborhoods – as seen here, below, in Xp11.11 – with objects at MAX:

ESSB surroundings 1

ESSB overvu xp

Below, a few images of the real airport:

ESSB real 1

ESSB real 2

Note, Braathens Regional remains a large operator of BAe/Avro Rj-85 and -100 aircraft, so I will once again shamelessly plug the Avroliner Project’s aircraft files for Xp 10 & 11. Below, the real control tower, and you know what comes next, don’t you?

You will, of course, find that the control tower in the file is the same one found in TDGs Palermo, Sicily (LICJ) file, among others. As I have never made a twelve-sided structure in SketchUp, of any kind, I feel the need to make another control tower coming on. Sorry. Below, an example of the paint on a recent Braathens Rj-100:

ESSB Rj85 real

Now…let’s look at TDGs ESSB Bromma Airport v2 for X-plane 11. Below, this first image, with the 732v3 in the foreground, was made with all rendering options at MAX. The windows in the darker brick building, right, are quite well defined at these settings; drop texture quality below MAX and these windows are reduced to smears. Oddly enough, the lighter gray building in the center retains clarity at medium settings. Hard to tell what you’ll end up when using multiple scenery libraries.

ESSB 732 ramps

ESSB parking.jpg

Above, the primary aircraft parking areas, with small aircraft relegated to the area in the bottom half of the image, and commercial aircraft on the two brightly lighted peninsulas, middle/top/right.

ESSB ramps 1

Position 7 with a 752, above, and a 738, below. The 752 is a marginal operator here, though I had no issue getting off the ground in Xp.

ESSB ramps 738

TDG does a great job including small, often overlooked details, in his files. Below, a small construction site, hard by ramps and taxiways. Many payware developers could learn a thing or two here.

ESSB ramps construction site

And he’s included not only appropriate static aircraft – but PEOPLE, too! – including passengers boarding the Rjs. Who would have thought…?

ESSB ramps ppl1

ESSB ramps ppl 2

I still feel bad after ripping the revised EDDC file a few nights ago, but really… Why no people there? Is it a copyright issue? People look, well, good out there on the asphalt. Kind of like they belong there, ya know? The whole Zombie Apocalypse look just doesn’t work for me.

I made the mistake of opening the file with hideous weather conditions set once again, and while it looks interesting the reality in X-plane right now is more than a little off-kilter. It’s a tire adhesion problem, and Austin is apparently aware of the issue and a fix is in the work, but let me tell you this much, based on recent experience. You can get a 737 in X-plane spinning like a figure skater out there on an icy ramp like this.

Below, with wind at 29 knots (higher gusts), temp at -10F (yes, that’s minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit) and with moderate precipitation falling – as snow – but you’ll find the ramps and taxiways are frozen solid. I mean, those ramps have an identical coefficient of friction as a World Cup/FIS slalom course. Maybe a Super G. Release the brakes and away you go, all 150,000 pounds of you and your 737 – whirling like a dervish. Try braking. It’s fun. Hint: use your thrust reversers for a real thrill. You CAN make it to the run-up area, but it’s frustrating – and not at all realistic. And…the issue will probably go away soon, so why not give it a try while you still can. I mean, really, have you ever made a 737 do donuts in a parking lot?

I thought not.

Now’s your chance!

ESSB ramps 2 ice

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

ESSB ramps 3 ice

When it’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, even in X-plane, things look different. Note the exhaust coming out of the 738, above? Blue? Is that blue?

ESSB ramps 4 ice

Yup. Blue. It looks cold, whatever it is. I guess ice crystals are blue. Sometimes.

ESSB ramps pit ice 1

Above, the view from inside the front office BEFORE the brakes were released. I was too busy laughing after…while the Boeing pirouetted off the ramp. Brakes did nothing, btw. Once the aircraft is in motion, off she goes.

So, on to another topic. Here’s the Aerodrome Chart:

ESSB chart 1

…and the Parking Chart:

ESSB chart 2

And note, there are NDB + DME + ILS charts for Rwy 30, NDB + DME charts for 30, NDB + ILS for 12, NDB + NDB for 30, NDB for 12, as well as multiple VFR charts available – from third-party sources; no charts are included with the download. Both SIDs and STARs are available for runways 12 & 30, too.

All in all, we’re big fans of TDGs files. You can’t beat the value, and overall, they’re really quite good – despite the fact they use a bunch of scenery library objects. We’re not fans of those libraries, btw. They require constant updating and if one is missing or out of date they can stop the loading process dead in its tracks. Still, they allow developers, freeware developers, anyway, to quickly and somewhat easily churn out new files. I guess there’s really no need to reinvent the wheel for each and every aircraft hanger, but we take issue with using stock objects to replicate unique control towers and really dramatic terminal buildings. Why use library elements to make such objects if the end result is really much less interesting than the real airport? Don’t answer that one…we already know… Still, TDG does a great job with libraries, and it looks like he used custom objects in this latest update, so our hats are off to him. He’s taking the road less traveled, making really, really good freeware, and he has our thanks for what he’s given the community.

On the freeware scale, this one rates a healthy 10 out of 10, and its a Must Have File for all our Baltic wanderings

We’ll see you next time, and be safe out there. – A

 

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x+s+r // updated: eddc & ksna

A few maintenance updates worth passing along, to EDDC Dresden and KSNA Orange County John Wayne. First up, let’s look at the minor tweak in California.

KSNA mod 1

Apparently, the four pads at the Helistream rooftop heliport weren’t hardened, so if you attempted to land there you were in for a rude surprise. Well, it works now. If you didn’t get a notification, check the link here. There are no installation instructions, so copy the name of the downloaded file and do a find/replace. Works like a charm.

KSNA mod 2

I checked two of the three pads (the As350 takes up the fourth), though the other helo seems to be hovering about six inches off the concrete all the time.

Another oddity. Since installing the v4mesh for this area I wanted to check out the UC Irvine campus and see if it looked any different. Well, it does. Kind of.

KSNA UCI

Instead of housing, and only housing, it looks like two of UCIs buildings are appropriately placed now; the rest are still absent. The area should look a little like this, by the by:

KSNA UCI 2

I had been hoping the developers would include this area at some point. UCI is such a focal point in the area, it would be nice to have in the airport file.

//

EDDC Dresden

This update installs autogates and further darkens the already too dark windows on the main terminal building – and, to add insult to injury, the control tower, too. I had mentioned that the main terminal looked a little too dark in my review, but, apparently, someone thought differently.

Here’s what we had in v1.0:

EDDC v1

I felt the ramp lighting was too dark, and the terminal building as well, writing that I thought the lighting looked flat at night, and so the area lacks vibrance.

Here’s the updated version:

EDDC v1.1

The lower row of windows is now all but invisible. Are the ramps brighter?

EDDC v1.1 2

So, it looks like the developers have embraced the “Night of the Living Dead” look. Still no people visible anywhere at all, and the terminal now looks even more dead. Why not go all the way? Blacken all the windows…maybe just have a daylight only airport? We can go all the way back to v8 for lighting like this, too…

I also wrote about the excellent control they had modeled, and with the stairway so nicely detailed, as well as the interior of the control tower itself modeled, why not include a few people, too? Seemed a simple enough idea, ya know?

EDDC v1.1 tower

Well, their response was to darken all the windows in the tower. Take a great product, and make it less interesting. Good thinking, guys. Why didn’t I think of that? Keep up the good work.

One thing I didn’t notice before, the runway HIRL system on approach:

EDDC v1.1 HIRL

Very accurate, and nicely done. Also, take a look at all the highway signage on the 4/13 motorway:

EDDC v1.1 hwy signage

No auto-gen here! Very nice indeed. I can’t imagine the hours it took to make this.

Anyway, I hate to stoop to sarcasm but some of these changes just make no sense at all. Why not include a few people here and there? Is this supposed to be an airport – or an air cargo facility?  Or…perhaps…an architectural monument of some kind?

Hasta later, and we’ll see you next time. – A

 

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