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Airport Review : KTPA Tampa International Airport by VerticalSim

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KTPA Tampa_Header.jpg


Airport Review : KTPA Tampa International Airport by VerticalSim


If you follow X-PlaneReviews you will know that we spend a lot of time in Florida or flying around Florida, mostly because it is a very interesting area to fly around. But in X-Plane there has been a very large hole in your network that is a prominent destination and that missing area is Tampa on Florida's western coastline on the Gulf.


There was a few freeware versions of KTPA Tampa, but the problem is that as an airport it is a very complex infrastructure of all types of aviation, business, commerce and industrial installations, and it was really impossible to just depict the airport and make it realistic, so creating KTPA - Tampa from the outset was a huge project...  but as usual someone in X-Plane is always going to take on the impossible and in this case it was VerticalSim.


The project has grinded on now for over several years, and here is the result with the release of VerticalSim's KTPA Tampa International Airport and the progress has been very visual via the forums. And the first impression is overall very, very good. Tampa International (Originally Drew Field) is six miles (9.7 km) west of downtown Tampa, and it is the 28th largest airport as listed in the United States.


KTPA Tampa_Head 1.jpgKTPA Tampa_Head 2.jpgKTPA Tampa_Head 3.jpgKTPA Tampa_Head 4.jpgKTPA Tampa_Head 5.jpg


The first thing that strikes you is that the ground textures are significantly darker than the surrounding default mesh... this is a shift to cater for the Orbx or other third party photo-ortho addon Florida textures and texture options are included with this scenery package, worse is that on some edges to give a perfect join to these textures the lines are very distinctive and even sharp cuts, besides catering to an addon, the darker textures also create a more sombre darker inner feel to the scenery overall.


Tampa International Airport (TPA)



10/28 - 6,999ft (2,133m) Asphalt/concrete

19L/1R - 8,300ft (2,530m) Asphalt/concrete

19R/1L - 11,002ft (3,353m) Concrete

Elevation AMSL26 ft / 8 m


The runway layout is interesting because you have two parallel runways 19R/01L - 19L/01R and a smaller cross runway (over 19L/01R) 10/28. Runway 19R/01L is the longest runway at KTPA at 19R/1L- 11,002ft (3,353m) long.


KTPA Tampa_Head 9.jpgKTPA Tampa_Head 8.jpgKTPA Tampa_Head 7.jpgKTPA Tampa_Head 6.jpg


Layout has that hub central area with spoke satellite design very similar to Orlando with trains connecting the hub and spoke system, in the business it is called Landside/Airside and the layout is very up to date and current with TPA's ground plan and details.


KTPA Tampa_Head 10.jpgKTPA Tampa_Head 11.jpgKTPA Tampa_Head 12.jpgKTPA Tampa_Head 13.jpgKTPA Tampa_Head 14.jpg


An odd visual layout that instantly stands out is on Taxiway J? A taxiway bridge is completely not finished and sits quite awkward on the taxiway? This makes the taxiway unusable as well. On Taxiway B there is another taxi bridge, but it is completed and well done, so what gives?


KTPA Tampa_Taxi J.jpgKTPA Tampa_Taxi B.jpg


As noted the photo-ortho joins are quite jarring, sharp and leave blank spaces in the autogen... not pretty.


KTPA Tampa_Head 15.jpgKTPA Tampa_Head 16.jpg


Airside satellite are A, C, E and F clockwise are set out around the main central (Landside) terminal...


KTPA Tampa_Airside 1.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airside 2.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airside 3.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airside 4.jpg

KTPA Tampa_Landside 1.jpgKTPA Tampa_Landside 2.jpgKTPA Tampa_Landside 3.jpgKTPA Tampa_Landside 4.jpg


The main central terminal has the built short term carparking and the larger second facility which is the extensive long term carparking. Extensive detailing covers the terminal roof, and all the satellites are connected by very nice animated railways, in fact the whole complex central landside zone is a complicated weave of road, rail, monorails, SkyConnect and passageways between the inner and outer areas, and it is extremely all well done and put together.


Iconic 1973 Tampa Airport Marriott (with revolving restaurant!) and the air traffic control tower set at 227-foot-tall (69 m) when opened in July 1972, it was the tallest field tower in the United States at the time. Tower view is set correctly and you have a great view of all the approaches with just a few aerials in the view point.


KTPA Tampa_Airside Odds 5.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airside Odds 6.jpg


Airside modeling is very good, but missing that real grittyness and wear and tear. To be fair every Airside terminal is completely different and in a different style, and so it is a huge undertaking to make it all extremely realistic. Glass is dullish, but at least realistic.


Airside A

KTPA Tampa_Airside 1-A.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airside 2-A.jpg

Airside C

KTPA Tampa_Airside 1-C.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airside 2-C.jpg

Airside E

KTPA Tampa_Airside 1-E.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airside 2-E.jpg

Airside F

KTPA Tampa_Airside 1-F.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airside 2-F.jpg


Prominent on all Airsides are the excellent SAM (Scenery Animation Manager). These active airbridges are worn and torn with great branding including Delta, Southwest, Air Canada and others. Overall it works on all the aprons. There is a huge amount of detail, so you are getting your money's worth here... Airside Sorting A building, Fire Station and remote parking (remote 46-56) detail is all very good with a lot of branded clutter to make it all work very well.


KTPA Tampa_Airside Odds 1.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airside Odds 2.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airside Odds 3.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airside Odds 4.jpg


Cargo facility is on taxiway J along the north side of runway 10/28, is called Drew Park Air Cargo in a throwback to the original name. The well done cargo apron has seven stands with 4-7 fronting the large FedEx depot. Cargo clutter is branded and well done.


KTPA Tampa_Cargo 1.jpgKTPA Tampa_Cargo 2.jpg



The most prominent buildings at Tampa TPA are the two huge "Airborne" Maintenance hangars situated on taxiway E along the length of of RWY 19L/01R...   and big they both are.


KTPA Tampa_Airborn 1.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airborn 2.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airborn 3.jpgKTPA Tampa_Airborn 4.jpg


Set between the hangars is a "Maintenance Runup Bay" or engine test facility that is well represented. Far north is the airport's Fuel Depot and approach radar tower (behind) the radar is also nicely animated.


Southwest and along RWY 19L/01R is the General Aviation area...  more for private jets than your average Cessna as it is a large area for private jet operations, maintenance hangars and offices.


KTPA Tampa_Southwest 1.jpgKTPA Tampa_Southwest 2.jpgKTPA Tampa_Southwest 3.jpg


Distinctive is the "Signature Aviation" fabric sail roofing, that has been well done, "Sheltar" is also represented as is the U.S. Customs office. Overall you wish for more static aircraft and vehicles to break up the large empty aprons.



One of the more significant aspects of this VerticalSim KTPA scenery is the excellent infrastructure surrounding the actual airport confines...  Southeast there is the excellent International Plaza and Bay Street shopping centre, Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel, Corporate Center at International Plaza, Greenway Health, Verizon Connect and Gerdau buildings that are all well detailed and represented.


KTPA Tampa_Infrastructure 1.jpgKTPA Tampa_Infrastructure 2.jpgKTPA Tampa_Infrastructure 3.jpgKTPA Tampa_Infrastructure 4.jpg


Southwest is more airport infrastucture with the SkyConnect Rental Car Facility Station and TPA - Economy Parking Garage and United States Postal Service facility and are all custom made...


KTPA Tampa_Infrastructure 7.jpgKTPA Tampa_Infrastructure 8.jpgKTPA Tampa_Infrastructure 9.jpgKTPA Tampa_Infrastructure 10.jpg


....  and even the Fish Creek interchange has been recreated for the arrival of RWY 01L (but can also be highly viewable from RWY 01R).


There is an option is to download the free VSCities - Tampa VFR 1.0.0 from the X-Plane.Org, this option includes the Downtown Tampa City buildings and cruise ships...

KTPA Tampa_Infrastructure 11.jpgKTPA Tampa_Infrastructure 12.jpg


...  and east of the airport are the Raymond James Stadium (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Baseball George M. Steinbrenner Field, as part of the option.


KTPA Tampa_Infrastructure 5.jpgKTPA Tampa_Infrastructure 6.jpg


Ground Textures

The ground textures at TPA are excellent, with great concrete detail and a lot of very realistic wear and tear... 


KTPA Tampa_Ground 1.jpgKTPA Tampa_Ground 2.jpgKTPA Tampa_Ground 3.jpgKTPA Tampa_Ground 4.jpg


...   all the textures are PBR and Baked Ambient Occlusion active and so with any rain, wet or even damp drying conditions the runways, taxiways and aprons come alive.


KTPA Tampa_Ground 5.jpgKTPA Tampa_Ground 6.jpg


3d grass is also really good and shows why you need this aspect to cover over the Lo-Res photo textures...  it works well when done correctly like at TPA.


KTPA Tampa_Ground 7.jpgKTPA Tampa_Ground 8.jpg



Overall the lighting is a bit "Hit and Miss", approaches are fine and quite good...


KTPA Tampa_Lighting 1.jpgKTPA Tampa_Lighting 2.jpgKTPA Tampa_Lighting 3.jpg


...  but on the taxiways there is no centre green navigation lighting except for taxiways W and B? This makes most the ground movements very dark and uninteresting in the areas you need the guidance...  RWY 10/28 has odd approach lighting and no centre line lights but it is only really a GA runway.


KTPA Tampa_Lighting 4.jpgKTPA Tampa_Lighting 5.jpg


Marriott Hotel has the brand logo lit and "HOPE" spelt out via lit room lighting, rooftop carparks are very well lit and look very nice.


KTPA Tampa_Lighting 6.jpgKTPA Tampa_Lighting 7.jpg


Overall the satellite Airside terminals leave me cold...  as it is just a grey FSX feel that has no life or does not even look anyway close to being realistic?


KTPA Tampa_Lighting 8.jpgKTPA Tampa_Lighting 9.jpgKTPA Tampa_Lighting 10.jpgKTPA Tampa_Lighting 11.jpg


"Airborne" Maintenance hangars are nicely lit with dropdown lights and look nice over to the east of the central area...


KTPA Tampa_Lighting 12.jpg


...  over at the International Plaza complex it is dark in the south carpark but well lit behind, this to reflect the main shopping cenre being closed at night were as the entertainment (restuarants, cinemas) are open. So overall it is good.


KTPA Tampa_Lighting 15.jpgKTPA Tampa_Lighting 13.jpgKTPA Tampa_Lighting 14.jpgKTPA Tampa_Lighting 16.jpg


Carparks are nicely lit and so are the optional Downtown buildings, but the cruise liners are all in darkness? and Football, Baseball fields are also a missed opportunity as they are all in darkness as well? So there feels a sort of not completed work in certain areas.



Significant airports are required for any good simulator, but one major hub for Florida in Tampa International - TPA was always a black hole on the west coast of Florida. The reasons are manyfold, but the over-riding main issue is that it is a very complex airport layout to develop. TPA has a Landside/Airside arrangement or Hub and Spoke with satellite departure terminals. More so is the complex infrastructure set closely around the airport itself with Business parks and Shopping Centres close by. To make Tampa International realistic required a significant development investment and time to bring it all to reality.


Vertical Simulations have took on that huge task and to a point have succeded in recreating this important Florida hub. Overall this a very comprehensive reproduction of TPA, but in areas currently it feels slightly unfinished.


The main airport modeling and layout is excellent, but it is not a to a total Hi-Res standard in just being very good modeling and good textures as that extreme realism is missing here, poor lighting textures also let it down, but the excellent intergration of the SAM plugin is very good with airbridge branding, around the airport traffic animations and branded clutter are also well done.


Ground runway/taxiway textures and 3d grass are excellent but again are offset by the use of the current tend of darker photo-ortho textures to match Orbx and other third party photo based texture packages...  this aspect leaves you in two places with nowhere to go, darker textures that don't match the surrounding defualt mesh and for the use for only of users that invest in the addon packages, overall these photo textures are simply too dark anyway.


Significant infrastructure including the International Plaza complexes and Business parks and all the southern remote carparking facilities are all really well done and add great great visual detail for any departure or arrival approach drama. An optional Tampa City package adds in downtown office towers, cruise ships and Football/Baseball stadiums,


But there are still if few areas of unfinished work, a lot of objects float, missing centre taxiway lighting and a completely unfinished taxiway bridge on taxiway J is not good for an offical release, also untextured animated traffic vehicles and areas of the photo-orthos are not finished in hard straight lines and open non-autogen areas.


I have personally wanted to fill in that Florida black hole that is Tampa International for a long time, and certainly this is a very worthy and extremely well done addon scenery...  There is no doubt on the extreme effort and work put in here on the TPA scenery to make it the best available Tampa yet for X-Plane and in most areas it succedes very well.... so overall VerticalSim's Tampa International gets the tick from X-PlaneReviews and is recommended.



X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


Yes! KTPA Tampa International Airport by VerticalSim is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :


KTPA-Tampa International Airport


Price is US$26.99


  • 2020 Airport layout
  • High-resolution textures taken with high-res cameras
  • Surrounding Autogen Hand Placed
  • High Resolution PBR Ground Textures
  • Sam Custom High detailed jetways (specific per airline and airside)
  • Compatibility with VStates Florida and ORBX True Earth Florida
  • Freeware Downtown Tampa optional
  • Animated car traffic, monorails, SkyConnect (using groundTraffic plugin)
  • Thousands of handplaced tree types (palms, oaks, spruce, etc.)
  • Baked Ambient Occlusion
  • Animated Ground Traffic Vehicles
  • Taxi Networks and OPS File for World Traffic 3 and Traffic Global
  • 3D Airport Vehicles
  • Custom Mesh
  • Easy Installation
  • Highly Optimized
  • 3D Grass
  • High-res 0.5ft/Color Graded Satellite Imagery
  • HDR Lighting


Windows, Mac or Linux
4GB VRAM Minimum - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended
Release and Review Version 1.0 (June 24th 2020)


WT3:  WorldTraffic GroundRoutes are not provided and a generation is required, and overall the airport generation functions perfectly as the ATC routes are refined. Traffic Global v9454 runs fine


Download scenery file size is 1.62gb:
  • V1.3 KTPA


There are a lot of options including details for:

  • True Earth Florida
  • VStates
  • Forkboy
  • Ortho4XP


VSCities - Tampa VFR 1.0.0  Tampa City addon is also available


Total scenery installation is quite big : 4.62gb


SAM Plugin - Scenery Animation Manager - Suite 1.0 is required for this scenery



One extensive manual in English with notes (8 pages) but no charts. Details of optional ortho options are noted in the manual.


  • VS-TPA_Manual.pdf



Scenery Review by Stephen Dutton

10th July 2020

Copyright©2020 : 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)


Review System Specifications: 

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane  11.41 - tested v11.50.b6 (fine)

Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins: Traffic Global (Just Flight) US$52.99

Scenery or Aircraft

- Default Boeing 737-800 by Laminar Reserch


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Interesting review, some incorrect points though. For starters if you have floating objects such as the taxiways check the manual since you obviously missed the part about using the ortho patch provided or by downloading vstates Florida which will correctly fix the floating taxiway overpasses. Secondly not all airport utilize green centerline puck lights, most mega airport such as LAX utilizing them, TPA only has them for certain taxiways which reflect this in VerticalSims version. You can clearly see this in the google maps/earth ortho. 

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  • Stephen changed the title to Airport Review : KTPA Tampa International Airport by VerticalSim

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