Scenery Review: KAST - Astoria Regional Airport, Oregon
Welcome to beautiful Astoria, Oregon USA, recreated for your X-Plane adventures by developers, Skyline Simulations. Founded in 1811, Astoria is the oldest city in the state of Oregon and was the first American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains. Astoria is located on the south shore of the Columbia River, where it flows into the Pacific Ocean. The city is named for John Jacob Astor, an investor and entrepreneur from New York City, whose American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria at the site and established a monopoly in the fur trade in the early nineteenth century.
Astoria Regional Airport, much like the city, is again located on the south shore of the Columbia River. This General Aviation airport sits directly at the border of two US states - to the north is Washington and south lies Oregon - divided by the mouth of the Columbia River. It’s not a particularly busy airport for commercial traffic - it’s not presently served by a scheduled commercial airline - but it’s certainly dynamic and active. KAST is home to a US Coast Guard service station - Coast Guard Air Station Astoria - that serves the Oregon and Washington coasts. Also of note, portions of the popular classic adventure movie The Goonies was filmed in the town of Astoria.
Download & Installation
I purchased and downloaded my copy of Astoria through the X-Plane.Org Store (other outlets available). The 3.3GB file size (unzipped) is what I consider to be substantial, but others may see it as the norm these days. Upon expansion, you will have one folder that contains two subfolders and the PDF manual, with the total file size rising to 5.03GB. Installation instructions are nothing out of the ordinary; move(cut-paste) the folders into your Custom Scenery folder. Launch X-Plane and go to the Graphics settings tab, adjust the Number of World Objects to Maximum. Since the art assets of the scenery package are high-definition and utilize PBR materials, it’s also important to make sure you have Visual Effects slider set to at least High (HDR).
The largest structures at the airport are the two large hangars which date back to World War II. Both the 3D modelling and texture work is of a high standard, and when viewed up close, you really get a sense of their size. Situated nearby are numerous smaller buildings, such as the FBO terminal and T-hangars.
Runway 26, the longest of the runways measured at 5773 x 100 feet, is served by an ILS (modelled by default in X-Plane) and RNAV(GPS) approach for when the wet West coast weather closes in. The other runways lack precision approaches but are served by PAPI & VASI visual approach aids as well as non-precision RNAV(GPS) and VOR approaches.
The Skyline team has used a large number of decals and textured polygons to give tons of detail to the airport environment, such as cracks in the asphalt and concrete surfaces, stains from oil and dirt, tire skids, water puddles, and grass in the infield and surrounding areas. Everything is very high fidelity, crisp and clearly textured. The downside to all this detail is that users with low to middle-end systems might possibly experience slowdowns at certain parts of the scenery.
Even though the scenery demands higher spec’d computer hardware, the details of specific elements of the airport area impressed me, such as the gateway and hangar of the Coast Guard station, the general aviation hangars with high-resolution signage, plus other nicely detailed exterior features such as wooden staircases.
There appears to be a driving school that uses one of the decommissioned runways as a training area, and there is liberal usage of 3D grass objects that help to add a lot of character to this airport scenery.
Away from the airport, you can find landmarks specifically modelled by Skyline, such as the Astoria Column and the Astoria-Megler bridge which are nicely detailed. There is mention of a lighthouse, but I haven’t found it yet, which gives me one more reason to keep on exploring this scenery!
PBR & Night Lighting
During the evening and late-night hours, the scenery really comes alive with the vehicle traffic lights moving through the airport's various areas. Around the hangars, I noticed a few parked vehicles with their lights on which was a nice touch and helped create a sense of realism.
The airport environment is well lit with some especially nice areas, but I found the interior lighting from the general aviation hangars unfortunately shines through their roofs and creates a floodlight effect that doesn’t strike me as particularly realistic.
However, the custom-made landmarks, such as the Astoria-Megler bridge, shine beautifully across the river, and when the Astoria Column is lit, the lights are really well done, as they are omnidirectional and not simply focused spotlights on the column.
During my testing, I have to say that I have spent more time than I wished working on finding an optimal balance with my existing scenery collection and Skyline’s KAST package. If you haven’t already done it by now, you can safely use the HD/UHD scenery meshes created by Alpilotx. Also, if you have the HDD space, I recommend installing the orthophoto overlays created by Forkboy or generating your own using Ortho4XP.
There are many small GA airstrips nearby to KAST that can be enhanced by other available free third-party scenery packages. If you haven’t yet discovered simHeaven, they create freely available add-ons that can enhance the surrounding area nicely, but I’ve found there are some object conflicts and anomalies when combined with this scenery package. When compared with their other offerings, I’ve found Skyline’s KAST scenery detail isn’t quite as deep, i.e., the omission of building interiors and human figures, but then again, the size of this package is considerably smaller than the others.
A couple of words of caution for prospective customers; the installation requirements stated in the enclosed support documents mention you need to set the X-Plane object density to Maximum. I was able to do this, but due to my system being on the low end, really strained by computer systems. However, I found that I could use medium density, but it did detract from the overall look of the geographical area, i.e., fewer trees in the forests and a smaller amount of building objects in the populated areas. If you have the Orbx Washington SD/HD orthophoto scenery package installed, you will see object conflicts and anomalies. If you want to fly around this specific area with orthophoto overlays, I recommend those created by Forkboy.
One of the reasons why Astoria Regional Airport has such a pull, is due to its beautiful location in the Pacific Northwest. There are just so many amazing places to explore, such as the Gifford Pinchot National Forest to the east and the Olympic National Park to the north. And if you’re a Goonies fan, then there’s a bit of nostalgia thrown in for good measure!
Even with the issues I encountered with my system, I have to say the developers have done an excellent job at recreating this airport for the enjoyment of X-Plane pilots. It really did bring a smile to my face as I explored the airport grounds and surrounding areas. Keeping in mind my concerns about this scenery offering (do your homework), I really do think you'll enjoy exploring KAST Astoria Regional Airport by Skyline Simulations.
Astoria Regional Airport by Skyline Simulations is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
Priced at US$20.00
- Designed with the latest airport updates
- UHD Realistic Custom Textures
- Detailed HD Ground with PBR and decals
- Landmarks. Bridge, Column,
- Super Detailed 3D modeling
- PBR Materials on every building
- Thousands of 3D custom static objects
- Amazing and detailed night textures
- Accurate City using original OSM data
- Ground Traffic
X-Plane 11 - X-Plane 12 (when available)
Windows , Mac or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum. 8GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download size: 3.3 GB
Current version: 1.0 (May 16th 2022)
Review by Sean McLeod
8th Sept 2022
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Review System Specifications
Windows 10, i7-2600K @ 3.9Ghz, 32GB DDR3 RAM, Gigabyte GTX1070 G1 8GB RAM, SATA HDD.
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