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Scenery Update : KLAS Glitter Gulch 1.5 by Tom Curtis

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Scenery Update : KLAS Glitter Gulch 1.5 by Tom Curtis

 

Tom Curtis (Scenery4Xplane) is back with another update to KLAS - Glitter Gulch with version 1.5, which takes in the area of Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon in the United States.

 

Grand Canyon map.jpgGrand Canyon map 1.5.jpg

(google maps ©)

 

In the earlier updates of Glitter Gulch the focus was on Las Vegas itself with...

 

1) McCarran International Airport (IATA: LAS, ICAO: KLAS) (v1.0)

2) Las Vegas cityscape (extended in v1.3)

3) Henderson Exeutive Airport (IATA: HSH, ICAO: KHND) (1.2)

then

4) Nellis AFB (ICAO: KLSV) (v1.4)

This 1.5 update focuses on the aviation tourism aspects of flights associated with the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon...  with airports:

5) KBVU - Boulder City Muni 

6) 1G4 - Grand Canyon West

And the scenery of The Hoover Dam, Tillman Bridge with the Grand Canyon Skywalk tourism facilities.  

 

KBVU airport at Boulder City (I'll note it here as BCM) is the main central departure airport for all scenic flights (fixed wing and rotary) for the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam sightseeing. Papillon/Grand Canyon Helicopters, Scenic/Grand Canyon Airlines, Las Vegas Helicopters and Sky Dive Las Vegas are all based here and between them conduct over 100 passenger tours to the Grand Canyon every day of the year, in other words...  a lot.

 

For X-Plane aviation this is also one of the very best areas to fly, in either just General Aviation looking at the sights to the grind of tourism flights of maybe four of five flights a day. I personally love this grind of flying, crazy yes but good discipline in you are constantly going over the same routes over and over again and working the routes down to a fine art. The area is immensely challenging as well in the fact that running out of Boulder City Muni (I used Henderson before KBVU) you are faced with a huge elevation change in leaving BCM or when returning, so that is hard climbing out and a deep descent on returning. Add in the mix with very few Nav-Aids (there is a VOR at BCM) and you have to get all approaches correct, and it is harder than it looks with mountain ranges all around your aircraft, you need to plan, but also fly really well to VFR (Visual Flight Rules). It is also highly challenging, but that is why I come here so often.

Overall the scenery like most of Tom Curtis's work is very light on your frame-rate. I'm not running the HD meshes here that are available for this area (I like to keep the simulator basic for the reviews) but that would certainly add in another great dimension to the area as they are noted to be very good.

 

So we will start out at the base camp of KBVU - Boulder City Muni. Note KBVU is assigned BVU by the FAA and BLD by the IATA.

 

KBVU - Boulder City Muni 

KBVUapt.jpg

KBVU - Boulder City Muni

9L/27R 2,166 660 Asphalt
9R/27L 4,803 1,464 Asphalt
15/33 3,852 1,174 Asphalt

Elevation AMSL 2,203 ft / 671 m

 

BCM overview 1.jpgBCM overview 2.jpg

BCM overview 3.jpgBCM overview 4.jpg

 

Like most airports around the area BCM has a lot of aircraft storage, and this bookends the airport with hangar storage in the east and ramp parking in the west that also has two very large BFE/FBO maintenance hangars for servicing the large fleets of rotary and fixed wing aircraft or are used for undercover parking. In the centre there is the tourism operators terminals and ramps.

 

BCM maintenance 1.jpgBCM maintenance 2.jpg

 

Supplied is the STMA (Shade Tree Micro Aviation) plugin system that will open and close the hangar doors and various objects, but as construction goes the hangars are really well reproduced here and are as close to the original hangars as possible.

The tourism operators run BCM...  west to east they cover a significant part of the main ramp areas....  First off is Skydive Las Vegas.

 

BCM Skydive.jpgBCM Skydive 2.jpg

 

Then Papillon.

 

BCM Papillion 1.jpgBCM Papillion 2.jpg

 

The largest operator (or the most successful) is Grand Canyon Airlines/Helicopters, with the most flashiest building.

 

BCM GC Helios 1.jpgBCM GC Helios 2.jpg

 

Then Scenic...

 

BCM Scenic 1.jpgBCM Scenic 3.jpg

BCM Chevron 1.jpgBCM central 5.jpg

 

And finally a Chevron petroleum building. There are lots of small offices and buildings and GA aircraft parking in off airport areas.

 

Altogether the BCM ramps and the arrival sides are comprehensive in the detail and very realistic. Yes it is all very good and on the ground you feel the excitement of leaving for one of the tours of one of the great wonders of the world. Only negative is that a few of the static aircraft are a little basic and the textures are a bit wishy-washy here and there even though my render resolution settings are set at "very high"?

 

BCM central 3.jpgBCM central 2.jpg

 

Hoover Dam and Tillman Bridge

Tourist flights to the Hoover Dam and the road Tillman Bridge are usually around 15min flight time (cost is by the way US$124.00 and they may even throw in a wedding... this Las Vegas after all) and they use mostly the EC-130 machines. Tom Curtis provides in a separate folder liveries for the RotorSim EC135 Helicopter (the old version? but the livery still works on the EC-135 v3 I fly here with a little editing), X-Hanger's DH-6 Twin Otter (Grand Canyon/Scenic), old versions of the DH-6, (Grand Canyon/Scenic) and F16-C Fighting Falcon (for use with Nellis AFB).

It is a relatively easy flight, and you don't even need any navigational help...  just follow the electricity pylons. As they all go either one way to Las Vegas or the other way to the power source at the Hoover Dam. If fact there is one set of power lines you can follow to get there...  and a completely different set of lines more to the north to bring you directly back to Boulder City, it is just easy peasy.

 

Hoover Dam 1.jpgHoover Dam 2.jpgHoover Dam 3.jpgHoover Dam 4.jpg

 

Tom Curtis has done a great job on this American Icon and you get the real drop in the water level from Lake Mead as well (which by the way is well worth its own tour). The Tillman Bridge is also right and centre and I am sure you will land for a few quick photos before flying back the KBVU.

 

Hoover Dam 5.jpgHoover Dam 6.jpgHoover Dam 7.jpgHoover Dam 8.jpg

 

So I was very impressed.

 

There are two main tourist centres for the Grand Canyon reachable by air (we are talking fixed-wing here) South Rim and North Rim.

The closest is the South Rim complex and Grand Canyon Skywalk that is owned and operated by the Hualapai Indian Tribe. The airport servicing the tourist attaction is 1G4 - Grand Canyon West which is located directly on the south rim of the Grand Canyon approximately 60 miles east of Boulder City. And 4 miles off the departure end of Runway 35, is the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

 

1G4 - Grand Canyon West

 

GCW 1.jpgGCW 2.jpgGCW 3.jpgGCW 4.jpg

 

As noted it is not really a long distance 1G4 at just over 50nm (52nm) but you have to climb and get altitude as quickly as you can to get over a range. KBVU around it has a few green patches as golf courses and playing fields that are placed there as part of the scenery by Tom Curtis. From the air they work quite well but are fuzzy close up.


GCW 5.jpgGCW 8.jpg

GCW 6.jpgGCW 7.jpg

 

I climbed to 8300ft (ASL) and pushed the power out to 140knts to cover the ground as quickly as I could make the Caravan go. The views are amazing. Great flying in abundance.

 

Grand Canyon West - 1G4

IATA: GCW – ICAO: none – FAA LID: 1G4

17/35 5,058ft (1,542m) Asphalt

Elevation AMSL 4,825 ft / 1,471 m

 

GCW 9.jpgGCW 10.jpgGCW 11.jpgGCW 12.jpg

 

Over the top of the plateau and your height is reduced very quickly and you only have to drop about 1500ft to be in the right landing altitude. Any visual or navigation markers are hard to see up here? I had the runway course set, but there is nothing really to line up with except using a couple of crevasses that are part of the Canyon as an visual approach cue, the actual approach to RWY 35 is very tricky as well. Here there is long slope that finishes just prior to the threshold, and you want to lift the nose because you are heading in at the wrong angle and do so and your then floating too high and too fast. I have not once yet touched down close to the start of the runway but mostly a third of the way down... Its just tricky to get right. If getting up to and landing at 1G4 was hard enough, I found it really hard to line up to when returning to KBVU. For any visual cues on my second run of the day I created a GPS route on the GNS430 to give me better bearings, many expert pilots would scoff at such band aid flying, but it is harder than it looks, or you will easily fly into a range just trying to find the runway with the wind in your face. So up here (and down at Boulder City Muni) until you are totally familiar with the areas you will need some planning or guidance.

1G4 - Grand Canyon West airport is located 60 miles (97 km) northwest of Peach Springs, in Mohave County, Arizona.

 

GCW 13.jpgGCW 14.jpg

 

If there was anywhere that looks like an extended parking lot for aircraft then 1G4 is it...

 

1G4 1.jpg1G4 2.jpg1G4 4.jpg1G4 8.jpg

 

There are more landing pads here than what the U.S. Marines will ever need, even on a war footing! If you want to try your skills at picking and choosing landing approaches you will have a field day, personally I think you could fly here over a week and still not have to land in the same place twice. So for vertical flight then this is your home away from home.

 

1G4 3.jpg1G4 5.jpg1G4 6.jpg1G4 7.jpg

 

But 1G$ Is what it is, which is a tourism processing centre, "ship, em in and ship them out" and take the cash out of them in the process. But as a perspective of flying in a simulator then 1G4 is an excellent destination. Tom Curtis has done an excellent scenery here and very well done it is too and authentic. I love the good clean parking areas and most are marked for the type of aircraft they represent (B1900, B205... ) and great refueling positions if you are working or passing through.

The reason for 1G4's existence is east by 4 miles....

 

Grand Canyon Skywalk

 

GCSW 1.jpgGCSW 2.jpg

GCSW 3.jpgGCSW 4.jpg

GCSW 5.jpgGCSW 6.jpg

 

Hualapai Indian tribe have created a tourism attraction called the Grand Canyon Skywalk at Grand Canyon West. That is situated at 4,770 ft (1,450 m) and the elevation of the Colorado River in the base of the canyon as 1,160 ft (350 m) below.

 

Skywalk width is 65 feet (20 m). The Skywalk length extending out from the post supports closest to the canyon wall is 70 feet (21 m). The outer and inner 32-inch-wide (810 mm) by 72-inch-deep (1,800 mm) bridge box beams are supported by eight 32-by-32-inch (810 mm × 810 mm) box posts having four posts on each side of the visitor’s center, once completed. The eight posts are anchored in pairs into four large concrete footings that are in turn anchored to the bedrock by ninety-six 2 1⁄2-inch-diameter (64 mm) high strength steel threaded rod rock anchors grouted 46 feet (14 m) deep into the rock.

 

Naturally there has been a lot of vocal action from environmental groups and former National Park officials, who have expressed concerns about the project's obtrusiveness in the natural environment, considering it a defacement of a national treasure.

The skywalk attracts a reported 370,000 visitors out of 5 Million that visits the Grand Canyon National Park every year. Already more plans are for a complex to include a museum, movie theater, VIP lounge, gift shop, and several restaurants including a high-end restaurant called The Skywalk Café which is a catalyst for a more larger 9,000-acre (36 km2) development to be called Grand Canyon West; it would open up a 100-mile (160 km) stretch along the canyon's South Rim and include hotels, restaurants, a golf course, casinos, and a cable to ferry visitors from the canyon rim to the Colorado River...  In other words a mini Las Vegas in the Canyon. (wikipedia)

From an environmental point of view we don't have those issues in a simulator, so we can enjoy Tom Curtis's work with abandon. And here is another great visual addon to our flying, interactive as well as there is a large helicopter pad to use there as well. Overall the building and design is excellent and no doubt perfect for low swoops to entertain the crowds below, it is a great landmark as well as we will see.

 

KGCN - Grand Canyon National Park Airport

 

Grand Canyon National Park Airport

IATA: GCN – ICAO: KGCN – FAA LID: GCN

3/21 8,999ft (2,743m) Asphalt

Elevation AMSL 6,609 ft / 2,014 m

 

Officially this scenery is not part of Tom Curtis's Glitter Gulch package, but well worth installing to have the full dynamic of flying around the Grand Canyon National Park area. Since its release a few years ago KGCN has been on my route list quite heavily as it is perfectly positioned for flights over the canyon and certainly far better now with connections to Tom Curtis's Boulder City scenery and 1G4.

 

The airport is at Tusayan, Arizona which is part of the Grand Canyon village (South Rim) or main the township for the Canyon(s).

You need a slightly bigger machine to get there and the 1900D was perfect for the job.

 

KGCN 1.jpgKGCN 2.jpgKGCN 3.jpgKGCN 4.jpg

 

A more powerful machine can climb far faster and easier than the C208B. It does not take long to reach 12,000ft and power over the Canyon. In the distance is Tom Curtis's Las Vegas buildings and they certainly stand out even from this point of view. Very quickly you also cover the ground over the Grand Canyon Skywalk and 1G4 Grand Canyon West, so you can see the significant contribution it makes to this area for flying.

 

KGCN 5.jpgKGCN 6.jpg

 

A reason for this flight is to again note the sensational scenery you fly through around here, it draws you back many, many times and is never boring to fly over.

 

KGCN 7.jpgKGCN 8.jpg

KGCN 9.jpgKGCN 10.jpg

KGCN 11.jpgKGCN 12.jpg

 

Myb's KGCN scenery is excellent and was "final scenery #3" in the WED Contest. Here I completed three "go and return" flights from KBVU to KGCN and still could have filled in a few more round trips...  but you wouldn't now be reading this if I had.

Also part of the "Glitter Gulch" package is:

 

KLAS - McCarran International Airport

 

KLAS Terminal Overview.jpg KLAS Terminal Overview West.jpg

 

KLAS Concourse A.jpg KLAS Concourse B.jpg

 

 KLAS Concourse C.jpg KLAS Concourse D.jpg

 

KLAS gates detail.jpg KLAS Terminal detail.jpg

 

Sin City (Las Vegas)

 

KLAS Strip.jpg KLAS Strip detail.jpg

 

KHND - Henderson Executive Airport

 

Henderson OV.jpg Henderson OV Runways.jpg

 

Henderson Terminal.jpg Henderson Terminal Rear.jpg

 

Henderson Maverick.jpg Henderson Maverick ramp.jpg

 

 

KLSV - Nellis AFB

 

Bombardier_KLSV North 1.jpg Bombardier_KLSV North 2.jpg

 

Bombardier_KLSV North 3.jpg Bombardier_KLSV North 4.jpg

 

Bombardier_KLSV North 5.jpg Bombardier_KLSV North 6.jpg

 

Bombardier_KLSV North 7.jpg Bombardier_KLSV North 8.jpg

 

Summary

Tom Curtis's sceneries have always been great investments. You get not just only the airports (and usually a lot of them) but all the other small things like bridges or significant landmarks that makes these sceneries a whole package, and that is what they are...  The complete package.

The sceneries are also a work in progress, not when you purchase the scenery is it installed and completed, but there is always another upgrade coming and in "Glitter Gulch's' case this is the fifth updated, so they just get better and better. So for value they are simply excellent.

Any negatives? not a lot. Some static aircraft are a bit poor in the object and texture quality and the under lying photo plates can be a little jarring and washed out even in high render resolution settings, but the building textures are usually first rate.

This update of the package is as noted focused on the "Aviation Tourism" aspect of the Las Vegas area. It gives you the bases to fly from and the icons of the Hoover Dam and Tillman Bridge with the Grand Canyon Skywalk to fly over or deliver tourists (and their money) in rotary or fixed-wing form.

Yes I loved it, mainly because I already love flying around this area, but this update really opens up that aspect even more than ever.

Great Package, Great Value and Great flying...  so what more do you want.

 

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Features

 

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Yes! the "Glitter Gulch" scenery by Scenery4xp (Tom Curtis) is now Available from the X-Plane.OrgStore : KLAS - GLITTER GULCH

Price is  US$24.95
 
If you already have purchased Scenery4XP "Glitter Gulch" then the v1.5 update is free. Just go to your account on the X-Plane .Org Store and check into your account for the v1.4 download.

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Features
This scenery pack includes faithful reproductions of the following airports:

  • KLAS - McCarran International Airport
  • KHND - Henderson Executive Airport
  • KLSV - Nellis AFB
  • KBVN - Boulder City Muni
  • 1G4 - Grand Canyon West
  • Traffic animated on the KLAS Airport
  • Autogates to Concourses C, D and E at KLAS
  • 24 Las Vegas Skyline buildings and a Ferris Wheel
  • Hoover Dam and Tillman Bridge
  • Grand Canyon Skywalk

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Installation :   Download is 169.10meg to an expanded 395.60meg that is required to be inserted into your "Custom Scenery" Folder.

Notes: Any older "Glitter Gulch area sceneries must be removed In another folder are the plugins that are required for the animations in the scenery in "AutoGate" and "CustomSBDatarefs004" and HANGER OPS ( Courtesy of Shade Tree Micro Aviation ) which animates various hanger doors and other objects. These items are to be inserted into the Resources/Plugins folder in X-Plane unless you have the latest versions already installed. All details are supplied in the OPEN ME! Folder.

Documents :  Supplied are all the plugins for the effects animations and livery textures for RotorSim EC135 Helicopter (the old version? but the livery still works on the EC-135 v3 I fly here with a little editing), X-Hanger's DH-6 Twin Otter (Grand Canyon/Scenic), old versions of the DH-6, (Grand Canyon/Scenic) and the F16-C Fighting Falcon (for use with Nellis AFB).

Requirements : Windows XP, MAC, Linux - X-Plane 10.30+ (any edition). 32 and 64bit compatible - 4GB RAM/512 MB VRAM (1GB VRAM Recommended)

Current version: 1.5 (last updated July 7th 2015)

Developer Support Site : http://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?showforum=123

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Update Review by Stephen Dutton

14th July 2015

Copyright©2015: X-Plane Reviews

 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System:     - 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”- 9 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3 - ATI Radeon HD 6970M 2048 mb- Seagate 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Mac OS Yosemite 10.10.1 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.35 (final)

Addons - Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Scenery or Aircraft

- KGCN - Grand Canyon National Park Airport by MYB (http://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?app=downloads&showfile=19688) - Free

- Cessna 208B Grand Caravan by Carenado (http://store.x-plane.org/C208B-Grand-Caravan-HD-Series_p_148.html) - US$29.95

- Beechcraft B1900 by Carenado (http://store.x-plane.org/B1900-HD-Series_p_323.html) - US$34.95

 

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BCM central 2.jpg

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