Jump to content

Scenery Review : Golden Gate, KSFO and South Bay by Tom Curtis

Recommended Posts


Scenery Review : Golden Gate, KSFO and South Bay by Tom Curtis
Tom Curtis's Golden Gate package of which includes KSFO (San Francisco International and Oakland International) now has two extra expansion packages of "South Bay" and "San Carlos" also added into the whole bay area package.
First note is that this is a huge scenery. It now has eight airports listed in all:

KSFO - San Francisco International airport and gateway to the Pacific Rim

KOAK - Metropolitan Oakland International Airport

KSJC -  Mineta San Jose International Airport

KHWD - Hayward Executive Airport

KPAO - Palo Alto Airport  - General Aviation

KHAF - Half Moon Bay - General Aviation

KSQL - San Carlos Airport

GG01 - Clipper Cove, Located on Treasure Island

And also GUQ Moffett Field also has a few items of note as well

More items includes:

Golden Gate Bridge, Oakland Bay Bridges, San Mateo Bridge and the Dumbarton Railroad bridges.  Alcatraz Prison and the Nike Missile Site Museum. A few San Francisco landmarks are also visible like the Transamerica Tower.


Maps by Google

So where would you start?...  Well my interest in this package was noted by a video. It is the "PilotsEYE" series of the first service by Lufthansa of the Airbus A380 on the Frankfurt - San Francisco route. What is interesting in the video is that it shows you all the landmarks and viewpoint in the landing and docking at Gate 101B at San Francisco International Airport:

This being X-Plane I wanted to run that route and simulate that landing... Peter's Aircraft wonderful Lufthansa Airbus A380 allows you to easily indulge in your own fantasy.



The point of this is that if the scenery works in this context then the scenery is good...  Make no doubt as the Tom Curtis KSFO delivers here in spades, views and the background match the video to perfection. Frame-Rate was impressive at 24frames...  not a lot of margin I admit, but this is serious scenery and Peter Hagar's A380 is no lightweight either - so the user number here is impressive.
KSFO - San Francisco International Airport

San Francisco International Airport



10L/28R (11,870) 3,618m Asphalt
10R/28L (10,602) 3,231m Asphalt
1R/19L (8,648) 2,636m Asphalt
1L/19R (7,500) 2,286 Asphalt

Elevation AMSL 13 ft / 4 m

San Francisco International Airport (IATA: SFO, ICAO: KSFO) is an international airport 13 miles (21 km) south of downtown San Francisco, California. The airport opened on May 7, It was named Mills Field Municipal Airport until 1931, when it became San Francisco Municipal Airport. "Municipal" was replaced by "International" in 1955.



The KSFO scenery is excellent in scale, There so much detail here it is overwhelming. So the best way to view it is to show the different



The odd thing to note here is the International Terminal is at the front (lower) and the domestic termnial is at the rear (upper). So we will start with the domestic arms and then show the International.

Terminal One post-2-0-14666100-1377325312_thumb.jpg Gates 20 - 36

Boarding Area B


Terminal One post-2-0-20236100-1377325320_thumb.jpg Gates 40 - 48

Boarding Area C


Terminal Two post-2-0-40875400-1377325328_thumb.jpg Gates 50 - 59

Boarding Area D (formally the Central Terminal)


Terminal Three post-2-0-97675400-1377325335_thumb.jpg Gates 60 - 67

Boarding Area E (Now Closed)


Terminal Three post-2-0-13743000-1377325342_thumb.jpg Gates 68 - 90

Boarding Area F


 International Terminal post-2-0-76829200-1377325356_thumb.jpg Gates    A1 - A12

Boarding Area A


International Terminal post-2-0-41256700-1377325349_thumb.jpg Gates G91 - G102
Boarding Area G


All the main terminal infrastructure is excellent with almost every gate filled with ramp equipment or parked aircraft, One aircraft is an animation that pushes back and then returns to the gate. The parked aircraft textures are a little washy (even on a high texture setting).. . but otherwise it can't be faulted. (A note the United B747 at the United Terminal 3 gate is not in the correct position as in the scenery. I moved it so I could park a large aircraft next to the B747 original gate position).
All ramp and taxiway markings are exceptional... taxiing around the terminals with the linage and runway signs is as perfect as you will ever need them.





Tom is very good at night lighting and the SFO airport is excellent, The buildings have a slight whiteness about them but that is not really an issue here. All gates are well lit and the terminal windows are exceptional.



Highlights away from the central area is the American Airlines Hanger and the United Airlines maintenance base. Both areas are excellent with great signage in both day and the night.
There are a huge amount of offices, warehouses and the Coast Guard station situated around mostly the Northern boundary, nothing is missing here...  as every building is accounted for. There is a small (for) FedEx cargo base and fuel depot and the only few items to note is the high rail line stops abruptly?, and a few of the underlying photo textures are a little washed out... I would like to have a few working (animated) gates and I understand that SFO now has a new control tower? - but again these are minor issues.


Tom notes the ATC has been set up to run correctly....  As scenery with KSFO you can't fault it.
KOAK - Metropolitan Oakland International Airport

Almost directly across the bay from KSFO is Oakland International Airport.



The approach to KOAK runway 11 is excellent with this scenery package, You cross over all the Oakland Bay Bridges with San Francisco City on your right (The Golden Gate bridge is viewable in the distance) and a few city icons are visible with the default autogen filling in the rest of the view... If you take away these few items like the bridges and the city icons you would certainly notice what makes a great scenery and what does not. It cannot be stressed more than here as this is the small difference of what makes this outstanding package work. Airports set out alone can not deliver the whole experience.

Oakland International Airport (IATA: OAK, ICAO: KOAK) (Metropolitan Oakland International Airport) is a public airport five miles south of downtown Oakland, in Alameda County, California. Oakland is the focus city for Southwest Airlines and Allegiant Air. As of July 2013, Southwest has 108 daily departures on peak-travel days of the week.Alaska Airlines combined with sister-carrier Horizon Air is in distant 2nd with as many as 12 flights.

The city of Oakland looked into the construction of an airport starting in 1925. In 1927 the announcement of the Dole prize for a flight from California to Hawaii provided the incentive to purchase 680 acres in April 1927 for the airport.The 7,020 foot long runway was the longest in the world at the time, and built in just 21 days to meet the Dole race start. The airport was dedicated by Charles Lindbergh September 17. In its early days, because of its long runway enabling safe takeoff rolls for fuel-heavy aircraft, Oakland was the departing point of several historic flights, including Charles Kingsford Smith's historic US-Australia flight in 1928, and Amelia Earhart's final flight in 1937. Earhart departed from this airport when she made her final ill-fated voyage, intending to return there after circumnavigating the globe.

Oakland International Airport



11/29 (10,000) 3,048m Asphalt

9R/27L (6,212) 1,893m Asphalt

9L/27R (5,454) 1,662m Asphalt

15/33 (3,372) 1,028m Asphalt
Elevation AMSL 9 ft / 3 m

The airport is split into two separate areas by runways 9R/27L and 9L/27R with the commercial Airport to the south along side RWY 11/29 and the executive and general aviation areas to the north. FedEx has a large facility here which is almost in the central position of the airport. A very large maintenance building is a big part of the airport as well.




Oakland has Two terminals - One and Two.


Terminal 1 has 17 gates (1, 3, 4–7, 8-8A, 9-9A, 10–12, 14-14A, 15, 17) and is also used for International services.



Terminal 2 has 13 gates (20–32) (mostly Southwest Airlines and Allegiant Air)


Detailing is excellent... all gates are covered with full ramp equipment. All the glass work is excellent and totally realistic. All taxi and runway linage is again of high quality as with noted at SFO.


The Private executive and GA area is well covered as well.


With items for the Business Jet Center, Kaiser Air and Flight schools Alameda Aero Club, Lou Fields Aviation, Oakland Flyer and Oakland Aircraft Maintenance other noted are Aerial Advertising Services, Oakland Aviation Museum, formerly Western Aerospace Museum and Pacific Aerial Surveys.

Only slight eyesore is front of the main terminals is that there is a bit of washed out area with no real carpark.


Night-Lighting is the same as SFO...  Excellent.   All the terminals are very well lit and the night textures are outstanding.



The FedEx facility (above) is the standout in the area and the Executive and GA area (below) is very good as well with great lit signage.


Oakland International Airport is a great supplement to the main San Francisco International... It has the same quality, but it is ideal for your Private Jet/GA movements and LLC (Low Cost Carrier) operations.  With OAK I had no Frame-Rate issues (28-30fr).

KSJC -  Mineta San Jose International Airport

Despite San Jose being the largest city in the Bay Area, SJC is the smallest of the three Bay Area airline airports (8.4 million annual passengers in 2011), with less than a quarter of the passengers of San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and fewer passengers than Oakland International Airport (OAK). Like Oakland airport it attracts Bay Area residents who find SFO too distant from their homes. SJC is noted as a "downtown airport", unlike SFO and OAK which are on opposite shores of San Francisco Bay. SJC's convenient location near downtown San Jose has drawbacks: it is surrounded by the city and had little room for expansion. The proximity to downtown causes limits on building heights in downtown San Jose as by FAA rules.

Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport  is a city-owned public airport in San Jose, Santa Clara County, California. It is named for San Jose native Norman Yoshio Mineta.

Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport



12L/30R (11,000) 3,353m Concrete

12R/30L (11,000) 3,353m Concrete

11/29 (4,599) 1,402m Asphalt
Elevation AMSL 62 ft / 19 m





Although there are two terminals. They are set out in one long lineup.


With Terminal A which has 16 gates: 1–16.  and Terminal B which has the North Concourse of Terminal B which has 12 gates: 17–28. A planned South Concourse has now been built as the other Terminal B, but it is to be noted that here in this scenery it is the older version and not the new curved building designed by Gensler... 

Across the runways are the General Aviation areas and the Control Tower.


This area is well detailed with hangars and excellent aircraft parking. All the parking and taxi linage is exceptional.

Night-Lighting at KSJC is again exceptional...



The lighting around the terminals is expertly done.  With this you will find SJC is as good with detail as the other two major airports. The surrounding OSM (Open Street Map) traffic is excellent here as the airport is heavily boxed in, so the traffic swarms around you as you approach or takeoff.  I found SJC hit my frame-rate more heavier that SFO and OAK, my guess it is the heavier laid out default autogen. As it dropped down into the on the line 19's and 18's frames. Flying into SFO above SJC in the A380, caused a little stutter as well... but again the A380 is a very heavy file.

That is the three very large airports in this package...  we will now briefly look at the other smaller Executive and General Aviation airports and one large Ex-Flyingboat base that are dotted all around the bay area.

KHWD - Hayward Executive Airport

Hayward Executive Airport is just 8 miles south of Oakland International.

Hayward Executive Airport



10R/28L (5,694) 1,736m Asphalt

10L/28R (3,107) 947m Asphalt

Helipad : H1 (110) 34m Asphalt

Elevation AMSL 52 ft / 16 m

Hayward Executive Airport is a city owned public airport two miles west of downtown Hayward, in Alameda County, California, United States.

The airport was built in 1942 during World War II for use as a fighter base as an auxiliary field to Chico Army Air Field and was originally named "Hayward Army Airfield". The primary aircraft stationed at the field were Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter aircraft. This post may have also been named "Russell City Army Air Field" for the unincorporated area outside of the Hayward city limits where it was located. In April 1947 the War Assets Administration quit-claimed the airfield, comprising some 690 acres (279 ha) and related buildings and equipment, to the City of Hayward. The airfield was then renamed the Hayward Municipal Airport. On May 1, 1980 the California Air National Guard units at Hayward were reassigned to NAS Moffett Field.

It looks like an Ex-Army Field because that is what it was, mostly today it is a storage airport for small aircraft although the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) have offices here.





Tom has done a good representation of Hayward. The control Tower area with a large parking ramp is very good with waving flags and other great details...  but mostly this airport is all about storage hangers, and all the various different types are represented, Night-Lighting is again very good with great spill lighting on the hangers and the Control Tower/Terminal windows.

KPAO - Palo Alto Airport  - General Aviation

Palo Alto Airport of Santa Clara County is a small general aviation strip on the western edge of the bay.

Palo Alto Airport of Santa Clara County



13/31 (2,443) 745m Asphalt

Elevation AMSL 7 ft / 2 m

Facilities at this busy towered airport include multiple aircraft repair shops and a staffed terminal including West Valley Flight Club, Advanced Flyers, Peninsula Avionics, Sundance Flying Club, Stanford Flying Club, Rossi Aircraft, and Palo Alto Fuel Service.





A small airport but it is filled to the brim with detail. Great small control tower and the entrance gate with a carpark is excellent (more flags!). The parking ramp is well completed and the night-lighting is simply excellent (mainly on the hanger down lights and signage). The Abundant Air Cafe, the Golf Course and the popular Ming's Restaurant are all represented...  The Restaurant looks great at night down by the water....

KHAF - Half Moon Bay - General Aviation

Out on the Pacific Ocean coast is KHAF - Half Moon Bay. (IATA: HAF, ICAO: KHAF) is a county-owned public use airport in San Mateo County.

The Half Moon Bay Airport is located approximately 20 miles south of San Francisco. It was constructed by the California State Highway Department for the U.S. Army in 1942 as an auxiliary airfield for Salinas Army Air Base.

On 1 June 1945, the War Department issued a five year permit to the U.S. Navy to operate the Site as "Outlying Field, Half Moon Bay". Half Moon Bay field became an outlying field for Naval Air Station Moffett Field, to furnish facilities for utility aircraft providing target towing service for the Anti-Aircraft Training Center, Point Montara, California.

Following the end of World War II, San Mateo County acquired the airport from the Navy in 1947. The airport has served a variety of roles over the years and is currently an important business, transportation and emergency service asset to the community.  Half Moon Bay Airport provides a variety of emergency service and response functions including: Air ambulance and Medivac flights; law enforcement and homeland security patrols and Coast Guard sea-rescue operations.

KHAF - Half Moon Bay



12/30 (5,000ft) 1,524m Asphalt/Concrete





A well represented general aviation airport that is great for training or a fly around the coast go-to destination, the detail at the airport is again very good with the famous 3-Zero Cafe front and centre. The cafe looks really great at night with great detailing. Rusting hanger roofs show attention to detail and plenty of ramp parking and GA aircraft.

KSQL - San Carlos Airport

San Carlos Airport is a county-owned public use airport in San Mateo County. It is located two nautical miles (3.7 km) northeast of the of San Carlos.The FAA's National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) classifies San Carlos as a reliever airport for San Francisco International Airport. The airport is home to Civil Air Patrol West Bay Composite Squadron 192. Adjacent to the airport is the famous Hiller Air Museum.

San Carlos Airport



12/30 (2,600ft) 792m Asphalt

Elevation AMSL 5 ft / 2 m

The San Carlos Airport is home to over 30 aviation related businesses. Facilities at KSQL include: Zanette Aviation Insurance, West Valley Flying Club, Bel-Air Aviation, Air West Aircraft Engines, Diamond Aviation, and the newly opened San Carlos Flight Center and most are represented here in this scenery. The Hiller Museum is prominently noted with a great (lit at night) sign.





The standout item is the "Sky Kitchen Cafe" which has been wonderfully reproduced... There is supreme detailing in the rows of parked buses and of course the aviation museum with the Flying Tigers B747 forward fuselage sitting on the building.

The OSM (Open Street Map) traffic is exceptional here as well giving the airport a great buzz. Night-lighting is very good as well with great signage and window textures.

GG01 - Clipper Cove, Located on Treasure Island

Treasure Island was planned for and used as an airport for Pan American World Airways flying boats. And the area was noted as Clipper Cove. Treasure Island itself is artificial island in the San Francisco Bay between San Francisco and Oakland.





The original Pan American terminal is still there and well reproduced here and the two old aircraft Hangars 2 (Building 2) and Hangar 3 (Building 3) are also present. Today the hangars are used as Film Studio sound stages.

The overwhelming feeling at Clipper Cove is of course the towering Oakland Bay Bridges. Would this scenery have the same clout and authenticity if these bridges had not been created by Tom Curtis...  again as noted earlier before...  I doubt that. They look splendid in this setting.

Other items to note in the scenery are:

GUQ Moffett Field. Tom here has created the iconic (Airship) hangars of which you note as you turn around to the southern SFO approaches. (an airship flies over Clipper Cove!)


The city area has a few buildings like the Transamerica Tower. Alcatraz Island is here as well.


And last but not least is the famous red San Francisco Golden Gate bridge. great in the daylight, but excellent at night...  The only slightly visual item is all the bridges at night have a strange pattern on them. My guess it is to represent traffic but it doesn't work...



This scenery is big...  huge in scale! It took almost 150 images to put this review together and I haven't touched everything in absolute detail. I could easily double the amount of images here and still not cover the full size of this package.

So value is the big question?  The Golden Gate + South Bay scenery is listed as US$34.95 of which for scenery is high price. But that would be missing the whole point. If you listed just KSFO as say US$19.95 (well worth that price) then all the rest (7 airports) of the Golden Gate scenery would cost you only an extra US15.00 and looking at it that way it is excellent value.

Tom Curtis is one of the very best designers of these packages for X-Plane, and this is one of of his very best. The quality of the work here is simply outstanding. And the night textures and lighting are first rate. And it also needs to be specially noted is that the frame-rate is highly usable for such a huge amount of scenery in a relatively small area. Only slight negative is the photo underlay textures. They are not very detailed and the textures look washed out and flatten out the scenery unless you can run X-Plane in the very highest texture resolution setting of "Extreme Res".

So the point is can you not have this scenery in your collection. The answer is simply no. This package is so complete (and I doubt that Tom hasn't finished yet) that not to have this scenery as a destination or to use as part of your North American network is simply doing yourself and X-Plane a disservice as it is one of the most complete city sceneries available for X-Plane at this moment. I will admit it is not total perfection because the scale here does not allow that. But like all of the very best scenery the Golden Gate + South Bay package is one of the very best investments you can do for yourself and for a lot of use with a wide variety of versatile flying around North America in X-Plane.


TheScenery Review : Golden Gate , KSFO and South Bay by Tom Curtis is available now from the New X-Plane.org Store :

Golden Gate KSFO + South Bay

Price is US$34.95


KSFO - San Francisco International Airport
KSJC - Mineta San Jose International Airport
KSQL - San Carlos Airport
KOAK - Metropolitan Oakland International
KPAO - Palo Alto Airport - General Aviation - 18 miles south of KSFO
KHAF - Half Moon Bay Airport - 10 miles west of KSFO
KHWD - Hayward Executive Airport - 8 miles south of KOAK
GG01 - Clipper Cove Located on Treasure Island

All airports include :

All gates and terminal
Global Night Lightning
Custom ATC
Frame rate friendly

Golden Gate Bridge

Detailed model of the world's most famous bridge

Alcatraz Island

The 'Rock'. Used to be home of a federal jail until 1963

Other landmarks

All of the piers and other structures along the shoreline from AT&T (Baseball) Park all the way to the Presidio near the Golden Gate bridge.
Transamerica Tower located downtown San Francisco
Nike Missile Site Museum

Bay bridges

Oakland Bay Bridge, San Mateo Bridge and the Dumbarton Railroad bridge

Developer Site : Scenery4XP


Documents and Installation :
Download: 84mb : Installed as GOLDEN_GATE+SOUTH_BAY_150_XP-10 (295.00mb), and four animation files noted Banner Tow (1.5mb), GG Bridge (634kb), San Meteo Bridge (641mb) and SF Bay Bridge (639mb)

Tom Curtis provides a full set of instructions on how to install the scenery under: "OPEN FIRST!" Golden_Gate+South_Bay_Open_Me.

Internet is required for installation instructions as it is an address HTML link.

GOLDEN_GATE+SOUTH_BAY_150_XP-10 is the main scenery file and four other files are noted under GND_TRAFFIC are - GG Bridge, Banner Tow, San Meteo Bridge and SF Bay Bridge are all to be installed in the "Custom Scenery" Folder (These are bridge traffic animations).

Supplied also is the "Red Flag" flag animation plugin. Folder "CustomSBDatarefs004" is installed in the X-Plane Resources/Plugin Folder.


Technical Requirements:

X-Plane 10 (any edition). - This scenery is now compatible with X-Plane 9
Windows XP or Windows Vista or Windows 7 / 8 (32 or 64 bit) or MAC OS 10.7 or Linux
1Gb VRAM - 2Gb VRAM Recommended.


Scenery Review by Stephen Dutton

24th August 2013

Copyright©2015: X-Plane Reviews

Review System Specifications:

Computer System:    

- 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27” - 6 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3 - ATI Radeon HD 4850 512mb


- Mac OS MountainLion 10.8.2 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.22 (final) - ExtremeSceneryMAXX


- Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle


Airbus A380 - by Peter's Aircraft available at the (Lufthansa Airbus A380) X-Plane.OrgStore $54.95


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Mario Donick

Thanks for this review.


I want to point out that the texture quality can look much better than visible here on the screenshots in "extreme" texture resolution (and with all of Tom Curtis' sceneries, "extreme" is still not so memory intense as it would be with other developers sceneries, so give it a try).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Will do thanks Mario


Thanks for this review.


I want to point out that the texture quality can look much better than visible here on the screenshots in "extreme" texture resolution (and with all of Tom Curtis' sceneries, "extreme" is still not so memory intense as it would be with other developers sceneries, so give it a try).

Will do thanks Mario.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First of all, please allow me start out with an overall comment about this entire forum....

WOW, I'm impressed with the work you guys have done in a relatively short timespan. After a friend suggested that I check out your site, I took the time read most of your reviews (not just the reviews of my scenery). The depth of your reviews is phenomenal. I especially like the way you add a little history about the airport, or aircraft you are reviewing. Your screenshots are well chosen also. They add a great deal to the review and allow the reader to get a feel for what the product will look like on their system.

Overall, GREAT JOB with the forum. With your permission I'll link to your forum on my web pages and various forums that I run. I'll also pass on your site to my friends. While this is my first post here, it won't be my last.

Tom Curtis

[ Howdy ]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

Can I run this ok on Intel i3 imac with 256MB graphics?  

Hummm....  you would be pushing it with only 256mb in the graphic department? But I checked my settings on what could be run.




It comes in at 219.65mb..  and I was getting 41fr at those render settings at SFO. The aircraft file was light(ish). But note I am running this on an i5 "27"


Lineball I would say?


It is very efficient scenery, my thoughts would be if you are thinking of upgrading your computer in a year or so then take the plunge and it should run at a compromise quite well. but you will need to up that 256mb graphic soon anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Can remove the static aircraft?


Aircraft are stored in a separate "aircraft" folder, so yes you can, but one out all out is deal, personally the airports are not overcrowded, Tom Curtis defines a nice balance between a few and a lot of static. SD

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...
  • 1 year later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...