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Scenery Review: VerticalSim KSYR - Syracuse Hancock International

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KSYR Syracuse Hancock_Header.jpg

Scenery Review: VerticalSim KSYR - Syracuse Hancock International 


By Joshua Moore


Syracuse International Airport is situated in upstate New York, USA. The site on which it was built was first developed into an airport by Charles Hanna, the Mayor, and former WWI pilot. Upon the United States entrance of WWII, the US Army Air Corps built 3 runways and renamed the airfield Mattydale Bomber Base. It was used as a training and staging base for B-17 and B-24 bombers. In 1946 the airport was leased back to the city, with it being reopened as a commercial airport in 1948. It gained international airport status in 1970 and today serves twenty-eight destinations over eight airlines. Syracuse has two asphalt runways: 10/28 is 9,003 by 150 feet (2,744 × 46 m) and 15/33 is 7,500 by 150 feet (2,286 × 46 m).


Prior to developing this X-Plane 12 version, VerticalSim had previously released Syracuse International Airport for X-Plane 11 and MSFS. Having enjoyed both, I was intrigued to see what Syracuse would look like in Laminar Research’s latest sim. So, without further ado, let's see how this rendition stacks up...


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Download & Install

The installation process follows the tried and tested method many X-Plane users are familiar with. Once the 1.6GB file has been downloaded and unzipped (extracted size is 3.1GB), it’s a simple case of dragging and dropping the airport into your X-Plane’s Custom Scenery folder. Located in the airport’s scenery folder is a single eight-page PDF document which covers the installation process, features, and contact details for the developer. It’s simple and to the point, but it would have been nice to have seen some charts of the airport included. 



First Impressions
Like many scenery developers, Verticalsim has used a photographic overlay as the main airport ground texture, and it certainly looks the part, especially with the ground objects all being correctly placed. When viewed from above, it makes X-Plane’s default ground textures stand out, but if you use photographic tiles of the surrounding area, it fits together seamlessly. 

However, one thing I did notice that was missing from the previous X-Plane 11 version, was the copious amounts of 3D grass. When I contacted the developer about this, I was told it had been temporarily removed, with the reason being, and I quote:


“I removed it because they changed the way .for (forest files) are working, and I was getting weird shading issues with it. So, I just removed it for now till I had time to figure it out “

Other than the 3D grass, the rest looked quite familiar, which was a positive sign. 


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Exploring the Airport
Starting off with the main terminal building and I have to say that Verticalsim has done an excellent job at modelling the exterior, with all the major details being covered. It looks good, especially the smaller details that could have easily been left out.


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Unfortunately, some of the texturing didn’t quite meet the high standards set by the modelling, as I thought the entrance of the terminal looked a bit bland by comparison, especially with its repetitive textures. In saying that, this was when viewed close up and not something you would normally see from an aeroplane, so in this respect, the texturing is sufficient. The same is also true for the textures used for the roads, which I found to be slightly blurry but again adequate. As well as the main terminal, there is also the Million Air building located close by and again, this has been modelled to a high standard. The texturing was also good and upon checking with numerous sources on the web, found it to be a remarkable likeness of the real building. Further afield and you'll find the FedEx building plus other smaller maintenance facilities and hangars, along with the airport's own fire station.  


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Airside and there’s plenty of detail to be observed. Multiple baggage carts, containers, pushback trucks, and other typical details can all be seen, with each being modelled to an acceptable level. Many of these are animated too, which really helps bring the airport to life. The cargo ramp contains plenty of ground clutter, and if you enjoy cargo operations as I do, this airport sees daily flights from UPS and FedEx, so there are plenty of chances to visit the apron from your choice of aircraft, be it an A300, 757, 767, etc. The Air National Guard side looks quite typical for a guard base, as it includes a lot of brick and steel buildings, all built to typical DOD standards. The one thing missing is the guard shack at the entrance of the airport, as in the scenery it’s represented by a single US flag. 


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One area of the scenery which I hope will see an update in the near future is the addition of a 3D interior to the main terminal building. While I am certainly no fan of memory-hogging lavish interiors, such as those seen in certain sceneries in MSFS, I do think this add-on would benefit from one, even if it were basic. Being able to see chairs, counters, or even people inside the terminal, would add some additional life to the airport. As it is, it just seems to feel slightly empty.  


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The developers at Verticalsim have always managed to get their apron ground textures to look authentic and Syracuse is no exception, as there is plenty of weathering on offer, such as scuffs, rubber marks, oil stains, etc. If only every airport employed this kind of detail…unlike the clinical feeling you get from some I have experienced in the past. The included jetways, and I observed three types, on the whole look good, with some variants looking more realistic than others, mainly due to the texturing. 


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Both taxiway and runway texturing have been used to good effect and unlike some airport sceneries I have used, they do not look repetitive or blurry. Both the numbering and lettering for the majority of the scenery is very good, but I did notice that one of the runways was labelled sixteen instead of fifteen as it should be. Apart from that one error, the results were quite pleasing.  

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Night lighting overall was good, especially the volumetric effects used around the ramps, terminal, and other buildings, but there were a few areas which I felt were lacking, the lit windows on the terminal being the main culprit. Here the textures consisted of a baked, flat 2D lit texture and didn’t do the building any favours whatsoever. This was a shame because the terminal itself (as mentioned previously) looks good and is another reason why a 3D interior would be beneficial. When it came to navigating around the airport, I found the lighting to be more than adequate, with both taxiways, runways and signage being well lit.    


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While testing Syracuse, I observed no noticeable slowdowns or stutters. Framerates always remained high which wasn’t a total surprise, as the airport isn’t overly detailed, plus it was missing the 3D grass, which can, on some systems, occasionally play havoc with framerates. 

I have always been a huge fan of Verticalsim’s work as many of their sceneries exhibit higher than average framerates, decent quality texturing and modelling, plus interesting locations to fly in and out of, and Syracuse doesn’t break with that tradition. Yes, it does currently have a few issues, namely the lack of any 3D grass and a 3D interior of the main terminal. However, even with those faults, I still found this to be a scenery I enjoyed flying in and out of.


So, is it worth the asking price?


Well, if you enjoy flying airliners and visiting large hubs as I do, then this is a scenery I think you would really enjoy.  When you also factor in the developer’s track record for updating and improving their sceneries, then I think this add-on becomes even more compelling.  






Syracuse Hancock International Airport by VerticalSim is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:


Syracuse Hancock International Airport by VerticalSim

Priced at US$19.99



  • X-Plane 12 version now available
  • 4K PBR texturing
  • Circa 2022 airport layout
  • SAM jetway support
  • Animated vehicle traffic
  • HDR night lighting
  • Taxi routes for use with AI traffic addons



X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 1.7 GB
Version XP12 - September 21st 2022


Review System Specifications

Windows 11 

Ryzen 5800x




Scenery Review by Joshua Moore
8th December 2022
Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews


(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions.





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