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Scenery Review: PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport, Alaska by Northern Sky Studio

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Scenery Review: PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport, Alaska by Northern Sky Studio


By Dominic Smith


Welcome to another scenery review, this time we're delving into Northern Sky Studio's rendition of Kenai Municipal Airport.


Promising a meticulously detailed virtual expedition to the eastern shoreline of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, this package endeavours to recreate an essential linchpin in the global aviation network. In the case of Kenai Municipal Airport, it's a mix of straightforward simplicity and robust functionality that sets it apart, much like many Alaskan locales. With this scenery package, the spotlight isn't solely on the meticulously rendered structures or runway textures, but also on the subtle elements of the airport's surroundings. By employing detailed orthophoto imagery, the developers aim to provide a genuine and engaging representation of the region in X-Plane. Harnessing the capabilities of X-Plane 12, Northern Sky Studio aims to create an experience that mirrors reality. However, the crucial question as always is whether it fulfils these lofty aims. With that said, let’s see how it fared… 

Installation & Documentation
Once purchased, you are given the option to download two versions of the scenery - one suitable for X-Plane 11 and another for X-Plane 12. In this review, I'll focus on the X-Plane 12 iteration. The download size is quite hefty, hitting the scales at around 2GB. For a scenery pack of this size, especially for an airport like Kenai, this is quite a substantial download. The installation was a straightforward affair. After downloading the package and unzipping the files, I only needed to place the "PAEN_Northern_Sky_Studio" folder into my Custom Scenery directory. However, the documentation that accompanied the scenery pack was somewhat sparse. It did include a helpful link to download orthophoto scenery for the surrounding area, which offered to provide decent image quality (more on this later). However, for those seeking a higher resolution solution, you can add your own orthophotos by using Ortho4XP.



The documentation also provided some insights into the real-life Kenai Municipal Airport and a changelog, but it didn't supply any airport charts or additional information. Granted, these details can be sourced online, but their inclusion in the documentation would have contributed to a more convenient user experience. This could be an area for potential enhancement in future updates from the developers.

First Impressions
Looking down upon Kenai Municipal Airport, I noticed the included photographic overlay immediately. The imagery was of high quality, adding a layer of realism that lent a positive start to my overall impression of the scenery. A quick inspection of the main runway hinted at an encouraging level of detail and authenticity, something I planned to investigate further later.

The precision in the placement of airport buildings was noticeable, with each structure carefully situated to mirror its real-life counterpart. The strategic positioning of the surrounding forests and the mapping of roads leading to and away from the airport were other notable features. Their seamless integration with the ortho scenery contributed to a sense of environmental coherence.


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Ground Level
Returning to terra firma, the custom 10m mesh offered in this package emerges as one of its standout features. Compared to the lower quality mesh that typically comes with X-Plane, this is an upgrade that noticeably enhances the terrain. It transforms a generally flat surface into one with subtle elevations and depressions, significantly boosting the authenticity and realism of the airport and its environment. However, it's worth noting the abundant grass present in the scenery, that whilst visually impressive, might affect framerates for users with less powerful systems.


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Moving to the runway textures, they certainly deserve a special mention due to their excellent quality and detailed representation. Elements such as cracks, dirt, and rubber marks were meticulously added, contributing to the sense of authenticity. The integration of these textures with the provided orthophoto is seamlessly executed, devoid of any abrupt transitions, a testament to the level of skill invested in this scenery.


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The signage within the scenery delivers a mixed bag, as some elements, especially those found on the runway and taxiway ground textures, have been well-executed. The markings are clear, faithfully mirroring real-world airport signage. On the other hand, there are some areas that could use a little more polish. For instance, the signs sprinkled around the airport become noticeably fuzzy when examined up close. While this detail doesn't significantly undermine the overall quality of the scenery, it becomes apparent to those who enjoy delving into the finer points of scenery exploration. The signage is by no means substandard, but a bit of extra refinement would certainly align it better with the high standards demonstrated by the rest of the scenery package.


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Main Entrance & Carpark
Those with a fondness for striking airport entrances will likely find Kenai Municipal Airport appealing. As your virtual self approaches the main entrance, a tastefully designed, convincingly authentic airport sign greets you. A noteworthy point of interest here is the well-executed T33 "Shooting Star" aircraft, displayed prominently on its stand. This addition considerably bolsters the realism and grandeur of your virtual arrival at the terminal building.


Transitioning beyond these points of interest, you'll find a rather substantial carpark, populated with numerous parked vehicles. Although these appear to be default X-Plane models, they fulfil their role effectively. Therefore, whether embarking on a virtual long-distance journey or a brief regional hop, the main entrance and carpark at Kenai Municipal Airport aim to provide a welcoming and immersive start to your journey.


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Outbuildings & Clutter
Kenai Municipal Airport is brought to life by a diverse array of outbuildings and miscellaneous objects, strategically placed to mimic the environment of an authentic airport. An assortment of GA aircraft are cleverly situated throughout their respective parking areas, contributing to the lively atmosphere of the airport. Standout structures, such as the Alaskan Civil Air Patrol building, the wooden control tower, and the North Air building, are among the well-crafted features present in the scenery. 


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The airport grounds boast high-quality textures exhibiting realistic weathering effects, enhancing the overall immersive experience. The environment is punctuated by various ground equipment and vehicles, including UPS trucks, cones, trailers, and rubbish trucks (dumpsters for my overseas friends). Another distinctive feature is a pair of weathered aircraft floats, which again, adds to the authenticity. An array of work vehicles such as diggers, bulldozers, and steamrollers further add to the busy, working ambience of the airport. The addition of a fire station, equipped with its respective vehicles, presents another layer of realism to the airport's portrayal.


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Airport Terminal Exterior
The crown jewel of this scenery undoubtedly has to be the main terminal building as it’s one of the best I have seen in X-Plane 12. This striking recreation is a testament to the developers' skill and the remarkable attention to detail that has gone into its modelling. The exterior boasts superior texturing and 3D modelling, meticulously accounting for even the smallest features. These include benches, waste bins, air conditioning units, tiny satellite dishes, and power terminals affixed to the walls, and last but not least, and perhaps the most important item of all (for a cyclist anyway), a bike rack! 


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The developers have utilized Physically Based Rendering (PBR) in their texturing approach, which is especially noticeable when sunlight illuminates the airport structures at various times throughout the day. The window design is worth special mention, as modelling realistic glass in a virtual environment can be challenging, but in this case, the developers have executed it successfully. In contrast to the earlier-mentioned airport signage, the signs and lettering on the airport terminal are of exceptional quality, remaining sharp and legible even when viewed up close. All these elements come together to create an impressively realistic and intricately detailed exterior that truly embodies the spirit of the airport terminal.


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Airport Terminal Interior
Stepping inside the terminal building, one is immediately struck by the exceptional attention to detail that seamlessly extends from the exterior into the interior. My eyes were first drawn to an array of meticulously labelled check-in desks, each representing its specific airline. The variety of logos adds a delightful layer of authenticity to the environment and was a feature that I found particularly pleasing. A noteworthy feature is the inclusion of 3D human figures. The presence of people is essential to capture the hustle and bustle of a thriving airport, and their absence would have significantly detracted from the overall impact, regardless of how impressive the other details might be.


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As I explored the terminal, with the curiosity of a first-time traveller, I was captivated by the meticulous attention to detail. This was evident in features like a precisely modelled bench, the baggage conveyor belt, large posters, and a map highlighting the local attractions. The incredible quality of the floor textures also stood out. It might seem like a minor detail, but the immaculate sheen of the floor, even down to the reflections it cast, was truly remarkable, demonstrating the developer's commitment to detail.


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Capping off my virtual tour of the terminal interior, I had a surprising encounter with a rather scary bear (secretly modelled on my mother-in-law)! This certainly added a unique twist to my terminal experience. All things considered, the interior of the airport terminal offers an exceptional level of detail, contributing to a truly immersive X-Plane experience.


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Seaplane Landing Area
Kenai Municipal Airport also hosts a dedicated seaplane landing area, identified as 2W/20W. This addition, although not particularly detailed, brings with it a sense of diversity and caters to the interests of seaplane enthusiasts. The custom 10m mesh is subtly showcased here, replacing the usual flat mesh with slight banking, reflecting the physical features of many real-world seaplane landing areas. 


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Night Lighting
As the sun dipped below the horizon at Kenai Municipal Airport, a new spectrum of features came to life. Starting on the runway, the lighting was executed brilliantly, with dynamic illumination enhancing the realism of the runway signs. The carpark was also touched by the same dynamic lighting, lending it a remarkably realistic look appropriate for the nighttime setting. The approach to the main terminal was elegantly illuminated, with soft lighting effects offering a warm welcome to arriving virtual passengers. Moving inside, the interior lighting of the main terminal was executed with the utmost finesse. It's evident that the developers have taken care to align the interior lighting effects with the terminal's overall ambience, fostering a captivating night-time experience.


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However, it's worth noting that my system experienced a significant framerate drop whilst exploring the scenery at night. While a smooth 35fps was observed during the daytime within the terminal, this figure plummeted to around 14fps at night. While this may be more of a general X-Plane issue rather than a specific problem with the scenery, it's an aspect that users with similar systems might want to keep in mind.


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Wider Area
Armed with the optional orthophoto scenery tiles for the surrounding area, I set out to evaluate their quality. Although I could have created my own tiles with Ortho4XP, positive feedback about the provided tiles persuaded me to use them instead. For those who revel in bush flying, these expanded scenery additions are a worthwhile consideration, as they can substantially enrich your flight simulation experience. However, it's important to remember that these optional tiles can be quite large. For instance, the downloadable tile for the area surrounding the airport alone clocked in at a sizable 3.2GB! Despite its size, the enhanced detail it provides more than justifies the storage space it occupies.


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Upon completing a thorough exploration of Kenai Municipal, it's undeniable that Northern Sky Studio has delivered an outstanding creation. This package, designed for both X-Plane 11 and 12, presents an admirably detailed representation of the real Kenai Municipal Airport. The top-notch orthophoto imagery, the accurate placement of buildings, and the faithful reproduction of the broader landscape, all combine to offer an immersive flight simulation experience.

The standout feature of this package has to be the main terminal building, meticulously recreated with exceptional detail and realism. From its exterior textures to its interior design, every element conveys authenticity. The lighting effects within the terminal and across the broader airport environment further enrich the experience, although some users may experience a decrease in framerates during night-time scenarios.

The seaplane landing area is a distinctive inclusion that separates this package from many others, while the enhanced 10-meter mesh and the exceptional quality of the runway textures speak to the painstaking attention to detail that's been invested in the development of this scenery package. The provision for optional orthophoto scenery tiles for the wider area is a noteworthy addition, offering bush-flying enthusiasts an extended area of exploration.



While the package boasts numerous highlights, there are a few aspects that could benefit from further refinement. For instance, the clarity of signage, particularly when scrutinized up close, could be improved. More detailed documentation, including charts and key information, would provide users with a more comprehensive guide. Additionally, the marked dip in frame rates during night-time scenarios could be an issue for those using less powerful systems. Yet, these points are minor considerations within the broader context of the overall quality and immersion of the package


In conclusion, Northern Sky Studio's Kenai Municipal is a valuable addition to any X-Plane user's repertoire. Despite a few minor setbacks, its overall quality, meticulous attention to detail, and the immersive environment it creates make it a must-have for anyone pursuing an authentic Alaskan X-Plane experience.






PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport by Northern Sky Studio is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:


PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport

Priced at US$14.95



  • Includes both X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11 versions
  • The most detailed replica of airport buildings and vehicles
  • High-resolution ground textures / Custom runway textures
  • High-resolution building textures
  • Compatible with all X-Plane 11 and 12 features
  • Custom surroundings 
  • All materials created for full PBR
  • Shading and occlusion (texture baking) effects on all airport buildings
  • Custom orthophoto for the airport and surrounding areas
  • Excellent performance
  • Realistic glass reflections
  • World Traffic compatible
  • Custom mesh for the airport area (Ortho4XP)
  • Compatible with a default mesh



X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac, or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 2.1 GB
Current version: 1.1 (April 18th, 2023)


Review System Specifications

Intel i5 10400 – 32GB RAM - Nvidia Asus RTX 3060 – Windows 10 Home 64 Bit




Scenery Review by Dominic Smith
31st May 2023
Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews


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




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  • Dominic Smith changed the title to Scenery Review: PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport, Alaska by Northern Sky Studio

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