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Scenery Review: PAPG - Petersburg James A Johnson Airport by Northern Sky Studio

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PAPG Petersburg- XP12 Dom Header_.jpg


Scenery Review: PAPG - Petersburg James A Johnson Airport by Northern Sky Studio


By DrishalMAC2



Petersburg James A. Johnson Airport (PAPG) is situated in the remote wilderness of Southeast Alaska, within the small but vibrant community of Petersburg. It serves as an essential lifeline to more populous regions, providing indispensable connections for the area's residents. Its single runway, 5/23, with an asphalt surface stretching 6,400 by 150 feet (1,951 by 46 meters), accommodates daily flights operated by Alaska Airlines with Boeing 737-700 passenger jets, reflecting the essential role of air transport in this region. Historically, the service was further supported by Boeing 737-400 passenger/cargo Combi aircraft, highlighting the airport's importance in both passenger and cargo transportation.


Petersburg is a locale steeped in heritage, often referred to as "Little Norway," reflecting its Norwegian roots and the fishing industry that has long supported the local economy. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Tongass National Forest, the area offers access to the unspoiled wilderness, including the scenic Inside Passage and the majestic Misty Fjords National Monument. These features highlight PAPG Airport's role as a gateway to Alaska's vast wilderness, welcoming adventurers and nature enthusiasts who are eager to explore the region's rugged terrain and varied weather conditions.




Northern Sky Studio's latest scenery project for X-Plane aims to boost the realism of PAPG Airport and its Alaskan wilderness surroundings with detailed visuals. Targeting a broad spectrum of X-Plane users, from those passionate about general aviation to commercial jet aficionados, the package promises a significant enhancement. So, without further ado, let's explore how this scenery performs in testing.



Copyright © 2023 Navigraph / Jeppesen


The installation process is straightforward. Download the file, which, once extracted, occupies about 2.6GB of space. Then, place the extracted file directly into your Custom Scenery folder within X-Plane. Additionally, the manual included in the download contains a link to an Ortho4XP tile for the surrounding area. This tile can be downloaded and added to the Custom Scenery folder in the same manner as any Ortho4XP file.

The documentation included is concise to say the least, as it consists of just a single slide that outlines the installation process and includes links to the Ortho4XP file. Additionally, it features recommendations for third-party scenery addons, enhancing the overall experience. Among these recommendations is simHeaven's X-World, which is highly recommended for users looking to further enrich the scenery. 

Note: All screenshots featured in this review were captured using the optional ortho tiles and simHeaven’s X-World America


First Impressions

The airport is situated within Alaska's mountainous landscape, encircled by a complex network of waterways that contribute to the region's distinctive terrain. The scenery boasts an impressive array of ortho textures surrounding the airport, derived from high-quality satellite imagery. A particularly appealing decal effect has been applied to these textures, significantly enhancing their appearance and bringing the rugged beauty of Alaska's wilderness to life. 


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Ground Textures and Foliage
The runway textures are of outstanding quality, showcasing a rugged and worn appearance that aligns perfectly with expectations for an airport in such a remote setting. Physics-Based Rendering (PBR) technology enhances the textures of both the taxiways and runway, vividly bringing the airport environment to life. The ground textures are accurately marked for runways and taxiways. Notably, the careful addition of cracks and tire markings contributes significantly to the weathered appearance of the surfaces.


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The vegetation surrounding the airport, with its mix of small bushes and grass near the runway, appears naturally random. This deliberate randomness enhances the feeling of a remote and untamed setting. Ground textures stand out for their quality, with edge markings and tar lines that unify the different concrete textures, adding to the scenery's realistic touch. The rough and uneven edges of the taxiways contribute to the scene's authenticity, reflecting the rugged and genuine atmosphere of the area.


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Signage and Navigation Aids
The airport’s signage is both accurately placed and of high quality. Specifically, the signage at runway hold points, which display aircraft radio frequencies, are notably sharp and clear. The accuracy extends to taxiway signs and runway distance markers, which are not only placed with precision, but are again both sharp and easy to read. This attention to detail ensures that navigating around the airport feels both realistic and intuitive.


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Main Airport Buildings
The airport buildings have been recreated to a very high standard, featuring detailed 3D modelling and high-quality textures. Each building is unique, and after comparing them with real-life images of the airport on Google, it's clear that the models are true to life. The Alaska Airlines terminal building receives special attention, with its representation being particularly accurate and convincing.


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The main terminal is the only building with a modelled interior, and one which has been recreated with an excellent level of detail. From security signage to wall-mounted electrical sockets, the effort to recreate a realistic interior is evident. The inside is adorned with Alaska Airlines branding, enhancing the immersive experience. Details such as 3D people, welcome stickers, medical and security notices, and even televised images contribute to a bustling and authentic atmosphere. This careful attention to both exterior and interior details promises a convincing and immersive representation of the main airport building.


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Ground Clutter

The ground clutter around the airport is nicely detailed, with a variety of high-quality, random objects, all strategically placed to enhance the authenticity of the airport. Items such as fire extinguishers, pallets, cones, and fuel pumps are thoughtfully added, each contributing to the realism of an active airport setting.  


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Surrounding Area

The town of Petersburg, surrounding the airport, has been recreated with careful attention to detail, depicting a highly authentic setting. Notably, the town features numerous dockyards and piers, significantly elevating the area's visual appeal. A tanker moored at the piers, numerous private small boats, and several De Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver seaplanes on floats bring the waterfront to life, suggesting a bustling local marine activity.


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Night Lighting
The custom night lighting at PAPG enhances the experience for night-time flyers with a convincingly modelled nocturnal scene. An innovative feature is the control of Runway End Identifier Lights (REIL), and taxiway illumination, which activate only when 122.500 MHz is tuned into Comm 1 on the aircraft. This mimics a real-world system where pilots can manage night lighting, adding an extra layer of realism to the scenery.  However, this feature introduces a significant issue. Activating the lights at this airport causes an unintended consequence where the Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) lights at all other airports, whether default or addon, fail to illuminate unless 122.500 MHz is selected on Comm 1. This oversight is notable, and hopefully, it's something the developers will address in a future update.


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Throughout my testing, I found the scenery's performance to be exceptional, characterised by a seamless experience with no noticeable drop in frames per second (FPS), or stuttering. The airport's relatively small size and its secluded location no doubt contribute to its excellent performance. Although Virtual RAM (VRAM) usage is marginally higher, this is a natural outcome of the scenery's enhanced details and higher quality textures over the default settings, and it is a small price to pay for the significant visual improvements offered. 


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Northern Sky Studio's rendition of PAPG Airport in Petersburg, Alaska, carefully combines authenticity with functionality, whilst targeting a diverse audience of X-Plane users. The scenery's highlights include its strategic location in the stunning Alaskan wilderness, high-quality ortho imagery, custom mesh with the optional ortho tile, carefully modelled ground textures, and bespoke buildings that resonate with the essence of the area. This detailed representation allows for an expansive exploration experience, accommodating everything from general aviation to larger aircraft like the Boeing 737, enabling pilots to embark on adventures through the nearby mountains and iconic sites such as the LeConte Glacier and Misty Fjords. Despite an issue with the custom night lighting feature, the scenery maintains an immersive and seamless experience. 


So, if you're seeking a launchpad to explore Alaska's expansive wilderness, Northern Sky Studio's PAPG airport stands out as an immersive base. It serves as an ideal gateway for X-Plane users keen on uncovering the rugged beauty of the Last Frontier.






Petersburg James A Johnson Airport by Northern Sky Studio is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:


Petersburg James A Johnson Airport

Priced at $12.00



  • The most detailed replica of airport buildings and vehicles
  • EDGE, REIL and Taxiway lights can be enabled on 122.500 COM1
  • Custom hand-placed autogen
  • High resolution ground textures / Custom runway textures
  • High resolution building textures
  • Compatible with all X-Plane 12 features
  • Custom mesh for the airport area (Ortho4XP)
  • All materials created for full PBR
  • Shading and occlusion (texture baking) effects on all airport buildings
  • High-resolution building textures
  • Custom orthophoto for the airport and surrounding areas
  • World Traffic 3 compatible


X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 (both versions included)
Windows, Mac, or Linux
8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 2 GB
Current version: 1.0 (Feb 15th, 2024)



Scenery Review by DrishalMAC2
26th March 2024
Copyright©2024: 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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