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Impression Review : PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport, Alaska by NorthernSkyStudio

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Impression Review : PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport, Alaska by NorthernSkyStudio


Northern Exposure...  It is very nice to get a lovely new aircraft, but you also need the realistic environment to get the best out of your overall simulation satisfaction. Hence the excellent Thranda DHC-2 Beaver, but you can't fly a tundra tyred DHC-2 into LAX now could you. These rugged Beavers are more appropriate to the wild's of Alaska. So it is in a perfect timing that NorthernSkyStudio's have just released their PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport. More perfect is the position of Kenai to the main Alaskan gateway of PANC or Anchorage, as the Kenai airport is situated just "as the crow flies", which is about 65 miles or 104 kilometers west..... damn perfect.


Mid-winter up here and the daylight is scarce, and the air is very moody...  but I leave Lake Hood and fly over the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and set my compass to 210º, in going west down the very long Cook Inlet.


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The land to your left is the Kenai Peninsula, and the name comes after "Kenaitze" or "Kenaitze Indian Tribe". The peninsula is 150 miles (240 km) long however we are only going halfway that distance. At the East Foreland Lighthouse Reserve, Nikiski, you turn south...


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...  it is pretty easy to pick out Kanai, as you just look out for the first major estuary that is the Kenai River.


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Again finding PAEN-Kenai Municpal airport is again very easy visually as it stands out in a large clearing as part of the city...


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... as a vista the city is really well done, and very much like the Stewart and Bella Coola sceneries in detail (but not to the highly-detailed house to house reproduction), but authentic it is. I am running notably the SFD Global custom housing, but it does fit in very well here.


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Across the airfield and it feels really and highly realistic...  impressed.


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Most of the buildings south of the airfield are custom to match the Kenai city layout, and dominated by large shopping centres, like the Kenai Shpping centre and the Walmart Supercentre, and both are visible and recreated here.


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The Kenai water treatment plant is visible (water tanks are however too tall), but the iconic Kenai Holy Assumption Orthodox Church is missing....


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Another circuit allows a full flypast of the airfield. There are three runways here. The main asphalt central runway, 2L/20R - 7,855ft, (2,394m), a very small gravel runway 2R/20L 1,980ft (604m) and a long water way concourse 2W/20W 4,600ft (1,402m).


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The gravel runway south is hard to see with no navigation or approach aids, the waterway northwest was a massive disappointment, in it all being filled in? Why would do a scenery of PAEN and not include the water landing area? You are however given an option on the water landing zone in the form of two zOthro4XP downloads... it is a 6.65gb download (see below).


I decide to fly down a chunk of the long RWY 20, than do a slow taxi at the other end, RWY 20 also has the only ILS approach (108.9mhz IENA) to the airfield.


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Very impressed with the ground textures, great detail and good navigation signage, textures also come with excellent burnt-in ambient occlusion, and so they reflect very nicely in the low sunlight angles... but there is no 3d grass, well only bits of fauna here and there?


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Kenai Municipal Airport


PAEN Chart.jpg

2L/20R - 7,855ft, (2,394m) Asphalt

2R/20L 1,980ft (604m) Gravel

2W/20W 4,600ft (1,402m) Water

Elevation AMSL 99 ft / 30 m


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PAEN - Kenai Terminal.jpg

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The Kenai Municipal single terminal has just been renovated (in 2020), and the darker grey cladding has replaced the older grey wooden look, so you can give the terminal look a pass in it all looking quite clean. Overall the modeling is good, with great glass reflections, but there is no internal detail.


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The terminal needs a little more surrounding detail, there are flower beds and more trees than shown here around the entrance, so the terminal looks a bit isolated, the scenery relies on just the ortho-textures for the carpark and ground detail, again it just passes and areas up here in the far north are more and quite windswept with the heavy snow that falls for long periods and in creating a rustic ground feeling.


There is the option to change the terminal to the older version that was replaced only this year in 2020 at ENA...  the change is provided in the Scenery folder via two changeable "Earth Nav Data" files listed as "Old" and "New" (terminals).


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In many ways the older Kenai terminal is far better than the slick darker new version. It has that Alaskan wilderness, ruggedness feel that is missing from the newly built building. Detailing is also far, far better as well surrounding the terminal (but still no flower beds?)


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Highlight is the rooftop observation room, with connecting roof corridor, it is really well done and I love the detail created here.


PAEN/ENA is a noted "Cold Temperature Restricted Airport" and there are procedure restrictions. Airport activity is 58% air taxi, 32% general aviation, 8% military, and 3% scheduled commercial, so there are only two parking stands in front of the terminal for the scheduled services, and a large H-Pad. At this time there were 61 aircraft based at this airport: 88.5% single-engine and 11.5% multi-engine.


The entrance sign is there as is also the real T33 "Shooting Star" on a stand, but the three flags behind the airport sign are missing, so are the US and Alaskan flags by the terminal entrance.


PAEN - Kenai Terminal 7.jpgPAEN - Kenai Terminal 8.jpg


To cater for the high volume air taxi and charter air traffic at ENA, there are a lot of general aviation stands and parking (known as "Transient Aircraft Parking"), with one apron adjacent to south of the terminal (eight stands) and another for long term on the south boundary.


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The richest man in Kenai must be Ron, his heavy equipment rental business dominates all the advertising in the city, and his holding yard is represented here, and strangely positioned right next to the airport "know anyone who has a grader to clear the snow off the runway?"


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The northern area is well done...


PAEN - Kenai North 1.jpg


...    with the most visible objects being the twin communication dishes...  they are set out behind the blue wooden field control tower.


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Field control tower is very well done with lovely detail, and has a nice grass base. Tower view is set perfectly as well, just slightly above and clear of any obstructions. Next to the control tower is the airport's fire station, again the building is very well represented.


PAEN - Kenai North 6.jpgPAEN - Kenai North 7.jpg


East is the already noted commercial area of Kenai, the Kenai Shopping centre, with Home Depot and Safeway tenants, the Walmart Supercentre which has a U-Haul Moving & Storage of Kenai facility is also set behind.


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There is not a lot of extreme detail here, it works, but not in a walkabout way and see the city sort of aspect. A few more visual details would have been nice, like the important missing Holy Assumption Orthodox Church and even the McDonalds opposite the Home Depot is missing. A lot of the buildings are basic buildings with flat graphics set out all around them... basic.


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Overall though it works, if you don't look for too much real rich detail.


Ground Textures

As noted the ground textures and signage wear is very good at PAEN, plenty of surface variations and great cracked (snow/tundra) wear detail.


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There is some really nice 3d grass with flowers, but sparsely used, but when laid out it is really great (like around the base of the tower and some patches mid-field), but there are too many empty areas that would have benefited as well from this grass effect, and so the field areas overall feel open and bland.


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z_Ortho Textures

There is as noted the option to use two (very large) z-Ortho textures to create that water based landing strip. The problem is that the X-Plane default textures fill in the water as grass (remember the Botany Bay fiasco), and can't be fixed, so NorthernSky has had to find a solution to the problem, and this is it with custom created z_Ortho textures.


PAEN - Kenai z_Ortho 3.jpgPAEN - Kenai z_Ortho 4.jpgPAEN - Kenai z_Ortho 5.jpg


The idea does work, but also not either...  yes the option does create a extremely nice water landing strip, but the z_Ortho textures also strips away the trees and fauna, and then in creating a flat open vista, the join to the scenery (treeless) to the tree line is also highly noticeable, but in taking away that tree coverage, you also takeaway the biggest visual benefit in using the scenery, so you gain the waterway, but lose almost everything else at the same time. (as a note I have asked the developer in if a fix is available or coming on this matter), but for now, I would recommend the default version (with the trees).


PAEN - Kenai z_Ortho 1.jpgPAEN - Kenai z_Ortho 2.jpg



Overall the lighting is workmanlike, but there are areas that it does shine (no pun intended)... In context approach, runway and taxi lighting is basic, with no centreline guidance, but I doubt there would be any up here anyway out in the wilds of Alaska.


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NorthernSkyStudio's relies very heavily on using the external lighting sources, so window or inner lighting is really non-existent here...


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...  where used, the drop down lighting is very good and so is the terminal signage, but overall the buildings don't shine.


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Same with the Kenai commercial areas, with a lot of external lights, but the stores are dark and also come with no lit logo lighting that renders it all a bit closed up and dark.


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Kenai City is situated just 65 miles or 104 kilometers west of Anchorage, and a remote Alaskan wilderness outpost. This is the second scenery in this part of the world for NorthernSkyStudio's after their earlier PAKT - Ketchikan International.


First impressions of PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport is really, really good, but look closer and you are let down by some of the smaller details. It is important to note that this scenery is available at only US$14.95, and in that context it is an absolutely sensational bargain.


The missing waterway runway is an important issue here if you want to use a waterborne airport in the wilds of Alaska, the solution is that it fixes one issue, but creates a more bland and inferior visual vista at the same time?


The intimate details of Kenai are also missing, in the important Orthodox church(s), McDonalds, and other main landmarks that would make the city standout from the air visually in a VFR reference. Building lighting is all external, with no window or internal lighting (odd as their PAKT - Ketchikan was very good with it's terminal lighting), and the airport traffic as good as it is, is all default vehicles of SAS logos (In Alaska?)


Ground textures are very good, but the grass layout is sporadic, where done it is however very good, other details like the flower beds and missing flags and flagpoles, sort of build up a picture of what really could have been, but what you actually have.


Frustration, comes from sceneries like NorthernSkyStudio and their PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport in Alaska. Frustration in that everything is in place here to create an absolute brilliant and  high-quality scenery to be only let down by just simple omissions and detail, this is a worthy US$19.95 scenery that could have reached a far higher score and even far better reward for the obvious work created here...


You get a bargain certainly at that US$15 price point, but myself I would have rather paid US$20 and had it all...   and that fixed extra wet runway.



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Yes!...  PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport, Alaska by NorthernSkyStudios is Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :


PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport, Alaska

Price is US$14.95


  • The most detailed replica of airport buildings and vehicles
  • Custom surroundings 
  • Custom approach and airport lights
  • PBR materials
  • Shading and occlusion (texture baking) effects on all airport buildings
  • High resolution building textures
  • Excellent performance
  • Realistic glass reflections
  • World Traffic compatible


Requirements :

X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 705 MB
Current and Review version : 1.0 (December 4th 2020)
Installation is the airport folder must be set above Global Airports in the .INI order
  • PAEN_Northern_Sky_Studio
  • zOrthoXP4
  • zOrtho4XP_+60-152


Two very large extra z_Orthos, are also provided in a separate download (see installation manual), and don't forget to adjust your .INI order so they go to bottom of the order to override the default textures.

  • zOrtho4XP_+60-152
  • zOrtho4XP_+60-151


There are several options...  You can also have the choice of the new or old terminal (updated 2020) and there is provided an apt.dat folder to change from one terminal to the other. WorldTraffic is supported and the ground routes are supplied with the scenery... for Traffic Global I got no activity at the airport? 

Extras and Documents:
  • PAEN Installation manual



Scenery Review by Stephen Dutton

22nd December 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 v11.51r3

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

Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00

Scenery or Aircraft

- DHC-2 Beaver DGS Series by Thranda Design (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$34.95


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  • Stephen changed the title to Impression Review : PAEN - Kenai Municipal Airport, Alaska by NorthernSkyStudio

Familiar ground.  In January of 1974 I made the opening announcement "Kenai tower is now in operation".  At the time I was on loan from Merrill tower in Anchorage and the new chief had been a supervisor at Merrill.  It wasn't blue then and the airport was a lot less than it appears now.


Here's me, spring of '74, in front of the new tower with my little Clipper.



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