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Dominic Smith

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    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Aircraft Review: vFlyteAir Cherokee 140 for X-Plane 12   
    Aircraft Review: vFlyteAir Cherokee 140 for X-Plane 12
     
    By Pete Allnutt

    Introduction
    First introduced in the early 1960s, the Piper PA-28 Series has become a familiar sight in general aviation. Originating as a more economical alternative to the Piper PA-24, the series started with the Cherokee and eventually expanded to include the Archer. Known for its robust single-engine setup, unpressurized cabin, and fixed tricycle landing gear, the PA-28 has been a reliable choice for pilots who value practicality and reliability over aesthetic complexity.

    This review focuses on the Cherokee 140, a model celebrated for its straightforward handling and classic design. vFlyteAir's latest version for X-Plane 12 has been thoughtfully modelled to balance historical accuracy with selected modern enhancements. This rendition not only boosts the aircraft's features but also preserves the timeless appeal that has made it a favourite among pilots for generations.
     
    vFlyteAir’s updated Cherokee includes three instrument panel options to cater to different flying preferences. The default setup features a modern Aspen E5 PFD/MFD instrument combined with a Bendix/King KFC 230 touch-screen autopilot for those who enjoy contemporary avionics. For traditionalists, there's an option with a conventional HSI, and for the purists, a basic VFR panel is available that strips back to essentials, perfect for sharpening basic VFR navigation skills.
     

     
    Purchase and Installation
    The PA-28-140 Cherokee is available for purchase at the X-plane.org store for $29.95. After purchasing, you will receive an order confirmation via email that includes a link to download the aircraft. The download consists of a 590MB file that needs to be unzipped, either into a folder of your choice, or directly into your X-Plane 12 Aircraft folder. 

    Upon first launch, you will be prompted to enter an Activation Code, which is also sent to your email. It’s advisable to keep this code noted, although it can be retrieved from your account on the Store if needed. Included in the package is a documents folder containing four PDF files, including a POH (Pilot’s Operating Handbook), providing detailed operational support. These documents are extremely well written, offering some of the best guidance and information I’ve encountered with an X-Plane product.
     


     
    Updates for the Cherokee are managed via the Skunkcrafts Updater, a stand-alone application increasingly used by developers across X-Plane. While the updater simplifies keeping purchases up to date, it required me to re-authenticate my purchase after installation, a step that, in my opinion, could be more streamlined. Although updates are promptly available, a more detailed changelog in the form of a readme file would help show what changes have been made.  
     

     
    Exterior Model
    The Cherokee is equipped with a selection of twelve high-definition liveries, which includes a Paint Kit for enthusiasts who enjoy customizing their aircraft’s appearance. Each livery boasts top-quality finishes, with wonderful attention to detail that becomes even more apparent upon close inspection. The aircraft features fully implemented Physically Based Rendering (PBR) textures that support realistic 3D rain and ice effects, enhancing both the visual clarity and realism.
     




     
    Each livery boasts top-quality finishes, with meticulous attention to detail that becomes even more apparent upon close inspection. The aircraft features fully implemented Physically Based Rendering (PBR) textures that support realistic 3D rain and ice effects, enhancing both the visual clarity and realism. The cockpit door and the small window for the pilot feature animations that not only function smoothly but are also easy to operate. 
     



     
    Additionally, external features such as chokes and wheel spats can be accessed and controlled through a pop-up menu system, indicated by the Piper logo near the bottom left of the screen.
     

     
    The Piper pop-up menu offers a guided walk-around function, allowing pilots to inspect fuel and oil levels before a flight, ensuring a thorough pre-flight check. 
     



     
    Another option on the pop-up menu is the ability to choose between a male or female pilot, and to show or hide passengers, depending on weight selection.
     


     
    Cockpit and Functionality
    vFlyteAir has supplied three distinct, fully inactive cockpit configurations for different flying preferences. The first option, the Glass Panel, is centred around the Aspen E5 multi-function display, with a dedicated guide provided by vFlyteAir for navigating this modern system. It is paired with the standard X-Plane Garmin G430, though it can be replaced with the RealityXP GNS430 or GTN650 for those who have these upgrades.
     

     
    The second option features an Analog Panel, replacing the E5 with traditional analogue gauges, supported by either a G430 or the optional RealityXP systems.
     

     
    The final option focuses on VFR flying, featuring the basic "six-pack" alongside an audio panel, COM1/NAV1, and a transponder, but without an autopilot. This setup is ideal for pilots focusing on fundamental flying skills.
     


    Each option features high-definition textures that add to the realism, with panels that can vibrate to simulate engine effects if enabled via the pop-up menu. However, a minor disappointment is the static nature of the key fob; having it animated could have significantly enhanced the vibrational effects. Additionally, the needles on the gauges show little to no wobble, which detracts slightly from the realism.
     




    Switching between cockpit panels can be done easily, either on the ground or mid-flight, via the Piper pop-up menu. The menu also allows you to show or hide gauge glass and window glass to adjust for clarity and reduce reflections based on varying lighting conditions.
     

     
    Handling
    As I am not a real-world pilot, my evaluation of the Cherokee 140’s handling is based on my passion for virtual flight and my extensive experience in flight simulators, both civil and military. In my experience, vFlyteAir’s Cherokee 140 ranks as one of the most straightforward aircraft to pilot within X-Plane. Lacking excessive power, it behaves quite docilely during takeoff, making it an excellent choice for novice pilots.
     
    vFlyteAir has incorporated a "Realistic Engine Start" feature, which requires different procedures based on the engine temperature and environmental conditions and which adds an additional layer of complexity to pre-flight preparations. The Piper pop-up menu includes a checklist tab that provides comprehensive guidance for managing all aspects of the flight, including a dedicated checklist for the Realistic Engine Start procedure.
     


     
    During cruise, the aircraft moves at a leisurely pace of just over 100 knots, and it can comfortably stall at speeds below 50 knots with full flaps engaged. Trimming the plane is manageable, which is particularly beneficial for those flying with the VFR-only cockpit or who prefer manual control over using the autopilot.
     


     
    The Cherokee is notably forgiving as it is almost impossible to stall in a traditional sense. Instead, it gently sinks until the nose drops and speed is naturally regained. This aircraft is not designed for aerobatic manoeuvres, focusing on stable and predictable flight characteristics.
     

     
    Night Lighting
    The cockpit lighting proves effective at night, especially the instruments, enhancing visibility during low-light conditions. While the switches are less illuminated, the separate brightness controls for the instruments, panel, and radio stack offer customization options. This feature, however, might be viewed as a drawback for pilots who prefer more uniform lighting across the cockpit. Additionally, the exterior lighting of the aircraft is well executed, casting a realistic glow that significantly enhances night flying. 
     



     
    Sounds
    vFlyteAir's Cherokee utilizes the FMOD 2 sound engine, which is used to excellent effect. Notably, the engine sounds avoid the common pitfall of recognizable looping, creating a more immersive auditory environment. The transition of sounds when moving from inside to outside the aircraft or opening the cabin door is particularly impressive, with each action resulting in a realistic change in volume and direction. In the cockpit, the switches and knobs provide crisp and distinct audible feedback. 
     


     
    Performance
    Throughout my testing of vFlyteAir’s Cherokee, I experienced no performance issues, and observed consistently high frame rates with no noticeable lags or spikes, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience. To give you a clearer picture of my testing environment, X-Plane 12 is installed on an Intel i9 10900K, 32GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA MSI RTX 3090 Suprim X graphics card, all running on Windows 11 Home 64-bit.
     

     
    Conclusion
    Among the numerous PA-28 variants available for X-Plane 12, vFlyteAir's Cherokee distinguishes itself with its exceptional blend of versatility, realism, and user accessibility. Equipped with a range of detailed liveries and customizable cockpit setups, the Cherokee offers a forgiving flight model that appeals to both novice and experienced pilots alike. The realistic sounds and comprehensive documentation further enhance the flying experience, making it as educational as it is enjoyable.
     
    In summing up, the Cherokee 140 by vFlyteAir comes highly recommended. It stands out as an enjoyable and rewarding little flyer, and one which would make an excellent addition to any X-Plane user's hangar.
     
    ________________________
     

     
    Cherokee 140 for X-Plane 12 by vFlyteAir is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    Cherokee 140 for X-Plane 12 by vFlyteAir
    Priced at US$29.95
     
    Features:
    Rebuilt and re-engineered for X-Plane 12 Pop-up interactive Options menu, dynamic Load Manager menu and Check Lists menu Three selectable instrument panel configurations ("glass" panel, analog panel and traditional "trainer" panel) Automatic integrated support for the optional RealityXP GTN 650 plugin or the RealityXP GNS430 plugin Guided, interactive pre-flight walk-around inspection with pop-up check lists. Visually check your fuel and oil levels! Remove wheel chocks and cowl plugs during the walk-around. Selectable pilot gender - copilot will be the opposite gender of the pilot Gauge glass and window glass can be hidden Custom shake and vibration effects - airframe and control surfaces shake when engine is running, when approaching a stall condition and upon touch-down Realistic engine start - if turned ON, requires pilot to follow the Cherokee 140 POH procedures for cold and hot engine startup Passengers can be hidden during flight if desired Automatic support for optional AviTab plugin Selectable wheel pants - if installed, the wheel pants reduce drag slightly Start From Cold & Dark option available on the Options menu Optional transparent yokes - if turned ON, the pilot and copilot yokes appear as see-through for a better view of the instrument panel Custom Tow Bar option - use the Tow Bar to push/pull and turn the airplane into your hanger! Quick Livery Change - quickly select a new livery from the Options menu Dynamic Load Manager menu allows the pilot to select pilot and passengers weights and add or remove fuel. A dynamic Center of Gravity chart shows your current loading. Optional Rear Seat - on the Load Manager menu, click on the rear bench seat to install it and to add a rear passenger Check Lists Menu allows the pilot to view the Piper PA28-140 check lists for all normal phases of flight Pop-up versions of the Aspen E5, Bendix/King KFC 230 autopilot and the AXP 340 transponder available by clicking on the instruments FMOD 2 Sound Effects - spatial 3D sounds and Doppler effects have been re-produced for compatibility with X-Plane 12 PBR textures - re-produced for X-Plane 12 compatibility Full high-resolution textures for all interior and exterior objects 3D Rain and Ice effects Full support for Virtual Reality 12 different liveries included - instrument panel tail number placard is updated with each livery change New updated Paint Kit available Updates are automated using the Skunkcrafts Auto-Updater (available here for free). Requirements
    X-Plane 12  (not for XP11)
    Windows, mac, or Linux
    8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
    Version 12.0 (February 9th 2024)
    Review System Specifications
    Intel i9 10900K – 32GB RAM - NVidia MSI RTX 3090 Suprim X – Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
    __________________________________
    Aircraft Review by Peter Allnutt
    24th May 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 copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions.
     
     

     
  2. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Scenery Review: KDCA Washington Airport & City XP12 by Drzewiecki Design   
    Scenery Review: KDCA Washington Airport & City XP12 by Drzewiecki Design
     
    By DrishalMAC2
     
    Introduction
    Situated in the bustling heart of the nation's capital, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (KDCA) serves as an essential hub for both business and leisure travellers. Located along the scenic banks of the Potomac River, this airport offers a gateway to the iconic landmarks and political intrigue of Washington, D.C.

    KDCA boasts three runways (01/19, 15/33, and 22/4), providing a seamless travel experience with its modern facilities and efficient operations. Its advanced amenities ensure smooth departures and arrivals for various aircraft, from regional jets to larger commercial airliners. Besides its operational capabilities, KDCA also holds historical significance, reflecting the rich heritage of American aviation. Named in honour of Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, the airport serves as a tribute to his legacy and ongoing impact on the country.

    Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., KDCA provides convenient access to the city’s diverse attractions, including the significant monuments of the National Mall and the legislative activity at Capitol Hill. Whether visitors are exploring political landmarks or engaging with local culture, KDCA serves as an efficient and welcoming gateway, reflecting the standards of excellence and innovation characteristic of American aviation.
     
    This is Drzewiecki Designs' first XP12 scenery, which enhances parts of the city and upgrades some nearby buildings with helipads, making them “landable”. This feature is especially appealing for X-Plane users who enjoy flying rotary-wing aircraft.
     

     
    Installation Process
    Once you've downloaded the ZIP file, it's 1.5 GB in size; when extracted, it expands to 3.4 GB. This size is quite reasonable given the extensive content included in this scenery package. The installation process itself is straightforward: upon opening the extracted folder, you'll find three additional folders. Simply drag and drop the "DD Washington City XP12" and "DD KDCA Washington XP12" folders directly into your X-Plane 12 custom scenery folder.

    Documentation
    The download includes four documents. Three of these are installation instructions available in Russian, Polish, and English, and are clearly written and simplify the installation process. The fourth document is a "manual" that provides an overview of the airport, condensed installation instructions, links to relevant charts, a list of scenery features, links to support pages, credits, and a license agreement.
     

    Satellite Imagery
    The satellite imagery directly surrounding the airport is of decent quality, though there are better examples available elsewhere. The package also includes ortho satellite imagery for the entire surrounding area; however, this is of noticeably lower quality. While it improves upon the default textures by X-Plane (what wouldn’t), it would be beneficial to have the option to remove this layer and use our own, self-generated Ortho4XP tiles instead. The lower zoom level of the satellite imagery particularly affects the depiction of the Potomac riverbanks, which appear quite harsh and do not look as impressive, especially when following the DCA river visual approach. In future updates, an option to replace this with self-generated ortho tiles would be highly welcomed.
     



     
    Ground Textures
    The runway textures in this scenery are reasonable, enhanced by additional tire marks to convey a sense of daily use. However, there is a notable issue with texture uniformity across all three runways. For instance, the real runway 15/33, features a mixture of different coloured surfaces, which has not been replicated here. Introducing more distinctive runway textures that reflect these real-life variations would significantly enhance the scenery's authenticity. Additionally, the edges of the runway textures appear quite harsh, so incorporating some kind of transitional texture could greatly improve the overall appearance and integration with the surrounding environment.
     


     
    Similarly, the taxiway textures, while visually appealing, suffer from repetitiveness, with the same texture used across approximately 90% of the airport. This does not accurately reflect the actual variety seen in aerial images, such as those on Google Maps. 
     


    Despite this, the added tire marks and wear and tear effects on these textures do lend a highly authentic look.
     



    Signage and Navigation Aids

    The airport signage in this scenery has been handled quite well, with all the necessary runway and taxiway signs positioned accurately. The signs are sharp and easily legible, which enhances navigational clarity for simmers. Additionally, the Washington (Ident: DCA) VORDME has been included and correctly placed, which is particularly noteworthy and adds a realistic touch to the scenery.
     


     
    GA Terminal and Hangars
    The GA terminal is modelled to a high standard and seamlessly integrates with the main passenger terminal. The GA hangars are also well modelled, with a few having open doors, revealing aircraft inside, and include detailed interiors, including general clutter like ladders, cones, and boxes, adding to the realism. Additionally, banners inside the hangars indicate their specific functions, such as “American Airlines DCA Maintenance” and “Signature Flight Support.”
     


     
    Outside the hangars, there are two corporate jets parked, one of which has its main door open, showing people engaged in conversation. This area also includes the U.S. Coast Guard ramp, where two Coast Guard helicopters are stationed at their designated spots.
     

     
    Terminal 1
    Terminal 1 has been modelled to a high standard, effectively replicating the real structure. However, the textures sometimes appear flat and could benefit from more variation to enhance realism. In contrast, the ground texturing around concourse A is notably well-executed, featuring oil spills and signs of wear and tear that add authenticity to the environment. The various concrete and asphalt textures around this area have been accurately reproduced, confirmed through comparisons with Google Maps images of the actual airport.
     


     
    Much like the exterior, the interior of Terminal 1 is also modelled to a high standard, including detailed elements such as airline signs at each gate, reflecting real-life arrangements. Additionally, numerous 3D figures are positioned throughout the terminal, creating a bustling atmosphere that enhances the view from the cockpit of aircraft at the gates.
     


     
    Terminal 2
    Special attention has been given to Terminal 2, making it instantly recognisable. The exterior is modelled to a higher standard than Terminal 1, with improved texture quality that enhances its appearance. 
     



     
    Inside, Terminal 2 excels at capturing the distinctive atmosphere of DCA with its beautifully recreated roof and glossy floors that contribute to a polished look (pun intended). Each airline is provided with a realistically designed check-in desk area, enhancing the authenticity of the terminal. Although the various shops are represented only as 2D images, this decision is practical, considering that simmers typically spend limited time inside scenery terminals. 
     


     
    The concourses B, C, D, and E have also been replicated to a high standard, featuring beautiful ground textures that add to the overall aesthetic quality.
     

     
    Ground Clutter and 3D People
    The ground clutter around the airport is varied effectively across different stands, contributing to a dynamic and realistic environment that avoids a repetitive "copy and paste" appearance, which is sometimes visible in other payware sceneries. Some of this clutter is airline-specific, featuring items like U.S Airways coaches and Delta baggage carts, although the presence of U.S Airways equipment may not be entirely accurate given the fact that the airline has ceased operations. 
     


     
    Whilst the terminal interiors are nicely populated with numerous 3D people, adding to the bustling atmosphere, the ramp areas show a noticeable lack of ground personnel. This absence detracts from the realism on the airside, where the presence of staff is critical for an authentic airport experience.
     

     
    Night Lighting
    Night lighting is executed exceptionally well, featuring bright white lights around the ramp areas that enhance visibility and ambiance. The taxiway and runway lighting also receive high marks for their clarity and precision, with special attention given to the approach lighting. This is especially notable for the RNAV approach into runway 19, which follows the Potomac River. The approach lights mounted on various bridges along the river are synchronized to flash together, providing a striking visual reference for pilots. Overall, the night lighting is impressive, incorporating several thoughtful details that greatly benefit the night-time flying experience.
     



     
    At night, due to the way the lighting has been applied, the building interiors really come alive. During the day, the lighting comes across as slightly dull, but at night, it is transformed, giving the buildings a vibrant, welcoming glow. The contrast between day and night is quite remarkable.
     



     
    The Capital 
    In addition to the airport, the package extensively covers many of Washington D.C.'s landmarks and a significant portion of the inner city. To the west of the airport, areas known as "Crystal City" and "Pentagon City" are modelled to a high standard, featuring custom buildings that are accurately placed, surpassing the autogen quality provided by simHeaven’s X-World America. 
     

     
    The downtown D.C. area, including iconic landmarks such as The White House, Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, is also included and modelled to the same standards. 
     



     
    In total, the scenery features over a thousand landmark buildings in the vicinity of the airport, each contributing to the authenticity of the package. If you've visited Washington D.C., you’ll certainly enjoy exploring the area; just remember to bring a guide!
     
    Performance Impact
    I'm pleased to report that the scenery is very well optimised, with no noticeable loss in performance on my system (specs below). This is particularly surprising given the extensive detail included in the package and the generally high demands of the Washington D.C. area. 
     


    Conclusion
    Having explored the enhancements to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport by Drzewiecki Designs, it's clear that the improvements to both the airport and the surrounding Washington D.C. area is impressive. The package excels with its detailed rendering of terminals, hangars, and particularly the night lighting along the Potomac River. The accurate depiction of landmarks and key areas such as Crystal City and Downtown DC significantly enriches the overall experience. Although there is room for improvement in texture quality, particularly the supplied orthos, and a more 'populated' ground environment outside of the terminals, these issues do not significantly detract from the overall high quality of the scenery.

    In summary, with its thorough execution and extensive features, this scenery provides substantial value, enhancing the X-Plane 12 flying experience in the nation’s capital.
    ________________________
     

     
    KDCA Washington Airport & City XP12 by Drzewiecki Design is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    KDCA Washington Airport & City XP12
    Priced at $30.00
     
    Features
    A high-quality model of KDCA Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, featuring the up-to-date version with extensive details throughout the whole airport FPS-friendly design, with epic night textures, dynamic lighting and PBR materials Performance-friendly interior modeling at terminal buildings, control towers, and some hangars, static aircraft, advanced night lighting (incl. River Visual and dual PAPI), animated trains Animated jetways, VGDS, marshallers (SAM plugin) Washington D.C. city scenery included, with over a thousand landmark buildings surrounding the airport, ortho coverage and some lite airports Requirements
    X-Plane 12
    Windows, Mac, Linux
    8 GB+ VRAM highly Recommended
    Download size: 1.5 GB
    Current version: 1.1 (March 22 2024)
     
    Review System Specifications
    Windows 10, Intel i5-12400F, 32GB RAM, RTX 3070Ti 
    ________________________
    Scenery Review by DrishalMAC2
    10th May 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).
     

     
     
  3. Like
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from skytitude in Scenery Review: KDCA Washington Airport & City XP12 by Drzewiecki Design   
    Scenery Review: KDCA Washington Airport & City XP12 by Drzewiecki Design
     
    By DrishalMAC2
     
    Introduction
    Situated in the bustling heart of the nation's capital, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (KDCA) serves as an essential hub for both business and leisure travellers. Located along the scenic banks of the Potomac River, this airport offers a gateway to the iconic landmarks and political intrigue of Washington, D.C.

    KDCA boasts three runways (01/19, 15/33, and 22/4), providing a seamless travel experience with its modern facilities and efficient operations. Its advanced amenities ensure smooth departures and arrivals for various aircraft, from regional jets to larger commercial airliners. Besides its operational capabilities, KDCA also holds historical significance, reflecting the rich heritage of American aviation. Named in honour of Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, the airport serves as a tribute to his legacy and ongoing impact on the country.

    Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., KDCA provides convenient access to the city’s diverse attractions, including the significant monuments of the National Mall and the legislative activity at Capitol Hill. Whether visitors are exploring political landmarks or engaging with local culture, KDCA serves as an efficient and welcoming gateway, reflecting the standards of excellence and innovation characteristic of American aviation.
     
    This is Drzewiecki Designs' first XP12 scenery, which enhances parts of the city and upgrades some nearby buildings with helipads, making them “landable”. This feature is especially appealing for X-Plane users who enjoy flying rotary-wing aircraft.
     

     
    Installation Process
    Once you've downloaded the ZIP file, it's 1.5 GB in size; when extracted, it expands to 3.4 GB. This size is quite reasonable given the extensive content included in this scenery package. The installation process itself is straightforward: upon opening the extracted folder, you'll find three additional folders. Simply drag and drop the "DD Washington City XP12" and "DD KDCA Washington XP12" folders directly into your X-Plane 12 custom scenery folder.

    Documentation
    The download includes four documents. Three of these are installation instructions available in Russian, Polish, and English, and are clearly written and simplify the installation process. The fourth document is a "manual" that provides an overview of the airport, condensed installation instructions, links to relevant charts, a list of scenery features, links to support pages, credits, and a license agreement.
     

    Satellite Imagery
    The satellite imagery directly surrounding the airport is of decent quality, though there are better examples available elsewhere. The package also includes ortho satellite imagery for the entire surrounding area; however, this is of noticeably lower quality. While it improves upon the default textures by X-Plane (what wouldn’t), it would be beneficial to have the option to remove this layer and use our own, self-generated Ortho4XP tiles instead. The lower zoom level of the satellite imagery particularly affects the depiction of the Potomac riverbanks, which appear quite harsh and do not look as impressive, especially when following the DCA river visual approach. In future updates, an option to replace this with self-generated ortho tiles would be highly welcomed.
     



     
    Ground Textures
    The runway textures in this scenery are reasonable, enhanced by additional tire marks to convey a sense of daily use. However, there is a notable issue with texture uniformity across all three runways. For instance, the real runway 15/33, features a mixture of different coloured surfaces, which has not been replicated here. Introducing more distinctive runway textures that reflect these real-life variations would significantly enhance the scenery's authenticity. Additionally, the edges of the runway textures appear quite harsh, so incorporating some kind of transitional texture could greatly improve the overall appearance and integration with the surrounding environment.
     


     
    Similarly, the taxiway textures, while visually appealing, suffer from repetitiveness, with the same texture used across approximately 90% of the airport. This does not accurately reflect the actual variety seen in aerial images, such as those on Google Maps. 
     


    Despite this, the added tire marks and wear and tear effects on these textures do lend a highly authentic look.
     



    Signage and Navigation Aids

    The airport signage in this scenery has been handled quite well, with all the necessary runway and taxiway signs positioned accurately. The signs are sharp and easily legible, which enhances navigational clarity for simmers. Additionally, the Washington (Ident: DCA) VORDME has been included and correctly placed, which is particularly noteworthy and adds a realistic touch to the scenery.
     


     
    GA Terminal and Hangars
    The GA terminal is modelled to a high standard and seamlessly integrates with the main passenger terminal. The GA hangars are also well modelled, with a few having open doors, revealing aircraft inside, and include detailed interiors, including general clutter like ladders, cones, and boxes, adding to the realism. Additionally, banners inside the hangars indicate their specific functions, such as “American Airlines DCA Maintenance” and “Signature Flight Support.”
     


     
    Outside the hangars, there are two corporate jets parked, one of which has its main door open, showing people engaged in conversation. This area also includes the U.S. Coast Guard ramp, where two Coast Guard helicopters are stationed at their designated spots.
     

     
    Terminal 1
    Terminal 1 has been modelled to a high standard, effectively replicating the real structure. However, the textures sometimes appear flat and could benefit from more variation to enhance realism. In contrast, the ground texturing around concourse A is notably well-executed, featuring oil spills and signs of wear and tear that add authenticity to the environment. The various concrete and asphalt textures around this area have been accurately reproduced, confirmed through comparisons with Google Maps images of the actual airport.
     


     
    Much like the exterior, the interior of Terminal 1 is also modelled to a high standard, including detailed elements such as airline signs at each gate, reflecting real-life arrangements. Additionally, numerous 3D figures are positioned throughout the terminal, creating a bustling atmosphere that enhances the view from the cockpit of aircraft at the gates.
     


     
    Terminal 2
    Special attention has been given to Terminal 2, making it instantly recognisable. The exterior is modelled to a higher standard than Terminal 1, with improved texture quality that enhances its appearance. 
     



     
    Inside, Terminal 2 excels at capturing the distinctive atmosphere of DCA with its beautifully recreated roof and glossy floors that contribute to a polished look (pun intended). Each airline is provided with a realistically designed check-in desk area, enhancing the authenticity of the terminal. Although the various shops are represented only as 2D images, this decision is practical, considering that simmers typically spend limited time inside scenery terminals. 
     


     
    The concourses B, C, D, and E have also been replicated to a high standard, featuring beautiful ground textures that add to the overall aesthetic quality.
     

     
    Ground Clutter and 3D People
    The ground clutter around the airport is varied effectively across different stands, contributing to a dynamic and realistic environment that avoids a repetitive "copy and paste" appearance, which is sometimes visible in other payware sceneries. Some of this clutter is airline-specific, featuring items like U.S Airways coaches and Delta baggage carts, although the presence of U.S Airways equipment may not be entirely accurate given the fact that the airline has ceased operations. 
     


     
    Whilst the terminal interiors are nicely populated with numerous 3D people, adding to the bustling atmosphere, the ramp areas show a noticeable lack of ground personnel. This absence detracts from the realism on the airside, where the presence of staff is critical for an authentic airport experience.
     

     
    Night Lighting
    Night lighting is executed exceptionally well, featuring bright white lights around the ramp areas that enhance visibility and ambiance. The taxiway and runway lighting also receive high marks for their clarity and precision, with special attention given to the approach lighting. This is especially notable for the RNAV approach into runway 19, which follows the Potomac River. The approach lights mounted on various bridges along the river are synchronized to flash together, providing a striking visual reference for pilots. Overall, the night lighting is impressive, incorporating several thoughtful details that greatly benefit the night-time flying experience.
     



     
    At night, due to the way the lighting has been applied, the building interiors really come alive. During the day, the lighting comes across as slightly dull, but at night, it is transformed, giving the buildings a vibrant, welcoming glow. The contrast between day and night is quite remarkable.
     



     
    The Capital 
    In addition to the airport, the package extensively covers many of Washington D.C.'s landmarks and a significant portion of the inner city. To the west of the airport, areas known as "Crystal City" and "Pentagon City" are modelled to a high standard, featuring custom buildings that are accurately placed, surpassing the autogen quality provided by simHeaven’s X-World America. 
     

     
    The downtown D.C. area, including iconic landmarks such as The White House, Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, is also included and modelled to the same standards. 
     



     
    In total, the scenery features over a thousand landmark buildings in the vicinity of the airport, each contributing to the authenticity of the package. If you've visited Washington D.C., you’ll certainly enjoy exploring the area; just remember to bring a guide!
     
    Performance Impact
    I'm pleased to report that the scenery is very well optimised, with no noticeable loss in performance on my system (specs below). This is particularly surprising given the extensive detail included in the package and the generally high demands of the Washington D.C. area. 
     


    Conclusion
    Having explored the enhancements to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport by Drzewiecki Designs, it's clear that the improvements to both the airport and the surrounding Washington D.C. area is impressive. The package excels with its detailed rendering of terminals, hangars, and particularly the night lighting along the Potomac River. The accurate depiction of landmarks and key areas such as Crystal City and Downtown DC significantly enriches the overall experience. Although there is room for improvement in texture quality, particularly the supplied orthos, and a more 'populated' ground environment outside of the terminals, these issues do not significantly detract from the overall high quality of the scenery.

    In summary, with its thorough execution and extensive features, this scenery provides substantial value, enhancing the X-Plane 12 flying experience in the nation’s capital.
    ________________________
     

     
    KDCA Washington Airport & City XP12 by Drzewiecki Design is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    KDCA Washington Airport & City XP12
    Priced at $30.00
     
    Features
    A high-quality model of KDCA Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, featuring the up-to-date version with extensive details throughout the whole airport FPS-friendly design, with epic night textures, dynamic lighting and PBR materials Performance-friendly interior modeling at terminal buildings, control towers, and some hangars, static aircraft, advanced night lighting (incl. River Visual and dual PAPI), animated trains Animated jetways, VGDS, marshallers (SAM plugin) Washington D.C. city scenery included, with over a thousand landmark buildings surrounding the airport, ortho coverage and some lite airports Requirements
    X-Plane 12
    Windows, Mac, Linux
    8 GB+ VRAM highly Recommended
    Download size: 1.5 GB
    Current version: 1.1 (March 22 2024)
     
    Review System Specifications
    Windows 10, Intel i5-12400F, 32GB RAM, RTX 3070Ti 
    ________________________
    Scenery Review by DrishalMAC2
    10th May 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).
     

     
     
  4. Like
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from skytitude in Scenery Review: LFKF - Figari, Corsica XP12 by FSX3D   
    Scenery Review: LFKF - Figari, Corsica XP12 by FSX3D
     
    By Dominic Smith
     
    Introduction
    Welcome to another scenery review, this time set in the beautiful surroundings of Corsica. Unlike most youngsters, my initial curiosity about Corsica was sparked by an unlikely source, the comic book "Asterix in Corsica". While the story mainly highlighted the island as a unique spot off the coast of Italy and focused on the adventures of Asterix and Obelix, it greatly captured my interest. Since that initial discovery as a child, and despite numerous "unfortunate" geography lessons (my teacher just didn’t have Asterix’s appeal), I have come to appreciate Corsica as a place of considerable natural beauty and historical depth. This appeal extends to both the casual visitor and the avid explorer, although I have yet to visit the island outside of X-Plane.
     

     
    Figari South Corsica Airport, located just 3 km northwest of Figari in the scenic Corse-du-Sud département, serves as a vital hub for accessing this enchanting Mediterranean island. Since opening in 1975, the airport has become Corsica’s third-largest, facilitating connections to major cities via airlines such as Air France, British Airways, easyJet, and Ryanair. Conveniently situated 25 km southwest of Porto-Vecchio, it handles upwards of 639,916 passengers annually. More than just an airport, it serves as a gateway to exploring Corsica’s stunning coasts and ancient mountain villages.
     

     
    Installation & Options
    The main airport download size is 815MB, with an option to install additional photographic scenery tiles of the area, totaling just under 9GB. Although this might seem large at first, the tiles have been created using a reasonably high zoom level, making them a worthwhile addition, especially for users of simHeaven. Alternatively, you can choose to create your own photographic tiles with Ortho4XP. For this purpose, the developer has included patches to ensure the airport aligns correctly, applicable to users of AutoOrtho as well. There's no online activation or third-party wrappers involved, so while the installation process might differ slightly from the norm, it remains relatively straightforward.
     
    Documentation
    The provided documentation is quite comprehensive; it includes text documents detailing the various installation options and a full-colour chart of the main airport along with its layout. Given the relatively low cost of the scenery package, I was quite impressed with what was provided, especially considering that more expensive sceneries often offer less.
     

     
    Initial Impressions
    Upon opting to install the additional photographic tile of the area, I was immediately struck by its quality. The documentation reveals that this imagery was created using zoom level 17 (ZL17) with custom elevations. From the views provided, it was evident that this enhancement significantly surpasses the default textures and mesh included with X-Plane 12. Beyond the undulating hills, the Mediterranean Sea stretches into the distance, presenting a captivating sight even in this virtual setting.
     



     
    Ground Details
    As you descend closer to the ground, the custom orthos remains sharp and clear. This level of detail is particularly beneficial for those who enjoy flying low in general aviation (GA) aircraft. Indeed, if you’re exploring Corsica by air, there really is no better way. However, while the runway textures were sharp and clear, they appeared somewhat clinical. The asphalt's colour was overly intense and seemed unbalanced. Additionally, the transition from asphalt to grass was too abrupt, lacking a smooth blend which could potentially be refined with further development.
     



     
    Taxiway & Apron Textures
    On the flip side, the textures of the taxiways and apron were far more aesthetically pleasing. Here, the asphalt and concrete had a more subdued appearance, which seemed more fitting with their environment. The edges where the asphalt met the grass were well-executed, featuring realistic cracks and wear. Moreover, the presence of rubber marks and oil or chemical stains enhanced the authenticity, contributing significantly to the overall visual appeal.
     


     
    Airport Signage
    One of the features of the scenery I was most impressed with was the custom airport signage, particularly noticeable on the taxiways and apron. The detailed guides for taxiing aircraft are well represented. A comparison with its real-life counterpart on Google Maps shows that the layout is almost identical, which greatly enhances the authenticity of the scenery. Parking areas for both general aviation and business aircraft, as well as helicopter zones, are clearly marked. Closer to the main terminal, the stands are accurately laid out with all the correct markings. Overall, I was very impressed with the signage accuracy and detail.
     



     
    Airport Foliage
    The airport is bordered by several wooded areas that extend right up to the boundaries of the scenery before stopping abruptly. It’s worth noting that with Global Trees installed, this coverage might continue beyond the scenery’s limits; however, I haven't tested this add-on as I do not own the product. However, I did have X-World Europe installed, which might have accounted for the slight increase in tree variations. Situated around the airport buildings, particularly the terminal and control tower, are small shrubs, flowers, and a few mature palm trees. 
     


     
    Main Terminal Building & Surroundings 
    The main terminal at LFKF, while lacking an interior, is well-modelled and effectively represents its real-life counterpart. Along the length of the terminal, bollards and benches contribute to the overall visual appeal, and the texturing on the concrete walls shows a realistic degree of weathering. However, the terminal area lacks airport signs or posters and feels somewhat lifeless, particularly in what should be the busiest part of the airport. There are a few cars lined up for passenger drop-off and collection, but the noticeable absence of passengers diminishes the overall effect. Hopefully, future updates will address this issue, but as it stands, the terminal building, whilst impressively modelled, requires a bit more liveliness to truly come to life.
     



     
    Directly across from the main terminal entrance is the main airport car park, which features a variety of custom-made vehicles. These vehicles are a significant and highly welcomed improvement over the stock models typically included with X-Plane. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of seeing the same old models all the time! The vehicles, all European makes, fit the Corsican setting perfectly and add a touch of authenticity to the scenery.
     


     
    Close to the car park, you'll find several car rental facilities, including Ada, Hertz, Avis, National, and Europcar. These buildings are modest in size but effectively serve their purpose. Given Corsica’s expansive landscapes, renting a car is almost essential for visitors.
     

     
    Additional Airport Structures
    Adjacent to the terminal lies the control tower, which I found to be modelled to a slightly higher standard than the terminal. The control tower's numerous angles and curves lend it a quite unique appearance, and the central staircase is a welcome touch.
     


     
    Next to the control tower is the Terminal Aviation d’Affaires, catering exclusively to business travel. The modelling here matches the high standard of the control tower, with notably good texturing that includes realistic weathering effects. The large glass areas are particularly impressive, although it's a pity there isn’t an interior modelled.
     


     
    A few metres away from the main buildings, there is a small maintenance building, and next to it, a fire station. The fire truck is positioned further up on the apron, perhaps there was some emergency I missed. Nearby, several smaller buildings of various types and a fuel service area contribute to the functional diversity of the airport. Completing the scene is an animated radar dome, faithfully watching over the airport.
     


     
    Night Lighting
    The night lighting at the airport is primarily provided by dynamic lighting from street and airport lamps, which stands in stark contrast to the complete absence of lighting effects from the buildings themselves. This omission is rather disappointing, as it contributes to a rather lifeless atmosphere during nighttime hours. Much like the notable absence of 3D people, I really do hope that the developer will address this issue in future updates.
     


     
    Performance
    Overall, I found the performance at LFKF to be pretty impressive, allowing for all settings to be maxed out, apart from anti-aliasing, while running at 1440p. At this resolution, I managed to maintain roughly sixty frames per second during the day. However, during nighttime hours, there is a noticeable drop, with frame rates dipping to the mid to high thirties. This significant reduction may be more reflective of X-Plane's general performance quirks during certain times of the day, nighttime in particular, rather than a specific issue with the scenery itself. Nonetheless, it's an important consideration for those using lower-end systems, as these performance shifts could impact your experience.
     


     
    Conclusion
    Reflecting on my time at LFKF, it’s clear that the experience was, on the whole, rather enjoyable. The airport features some well-modelled buildings, especially considering its low price point, and an authentic layout which closely matches its real-life counterpart. The addition of the optional ortho tiles significantly enhances the value of this scenery package, offering a level of detail not commonly found in more expensive counterparts. However, it’s not without its shortcomings. The absence of 3D people and the inadequate night lighting stand out as the most notable flaws. Addressing these issues in future updates could transform this from a good to an exceptional scenery package.
     

     
    As it stands, I am happy to recommend LFKF to those who have a fondness for Corsica, and perhaps an affinity for adventure reminiscent of our beloved two Gauls. Just as Asterix and his companions would conclude their adventures with a grand feast, albeit always without the bard, this scenery too promises a delightful exploration, if not a perfect one.
     
    ________________________
     

     
    LFKF -Figari, Corsica XP12 by FSX3D is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    LFKF -Figari, Corsica XP12
    Priced at $14.99
     
    Features
    Ultra detailed car parks, taxiways and track PBR on all objects Ambient occlusion (Objects and ground) Wet track effects Dynamic lighting Animated Radar Pylon Altimeter patch for Ortho4XP Compatibility AutoOrtho Requirements
    X-Plane 12
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    8 GB VRAM Minimum
    Download Size: 815 MB
     
    Review System Specifications
    Intel i5 12400 – 32GB RAM - Nvidia Asus RTX 4070 – Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
     
    __________________________________
     
    Scenery Review by Dominic Smith
    19 April 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).
     

  5. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Scenery Review: LFKF - Figari, Corsica XP12 by FSX3D   
    Scenery Review: LFKF - Figari, Corsica XP12 by FSX3D
     
    By Dominic Smith
     
    Introduction
    Welcome to another scenery review, this time set in the beautiful surroundings of Corsica. Unlike most youngsters, my initial curiosity about Corsica was sparked by an unlikely source, the comic book "Asterix in Corsica". While the story mainly highlighted the island as a unique spot off the coast of Italy and focused on the adventures of Asterix and Obelix, it greatly captured my interest. Since that initial discovery as a child, and despite numerous "unfortunate" geography lessons (my teacher just didn’t have Asterix’s appeal), I have come to appreciate Corsica as a place of considerable natural beauty and historical depth. This appeal extends to both the casual visitor and the avid explorer, although I have yet to visit the island outside of X-Plane.
     

     
    Figari South Corsica Airport, located just 3 km northwest of Figari in the scenic Corse-du-Sud département, serves as a vital hub for accessing this enchanting Mediterranean island. Since opening in 1975, the airport has become Corsica’s third-largest, facilitating connections to major cities via airlines such as Air France, British Airways, easyJet, and Ryanair. Conveniently situated 25 km southwest of Porto-Vecchio, it handles upwards of 639,916 passengers annually. More than just an airport, it serves as a gateway to exploring Corsica’s stunning coasts and ancient mountain villages.
     

     
    Installation & Options
    The main airport download size is 815MB, with an option to install additional photographic scenery tiles of the area, totaling just under 9GB. Although this might seem large at first, the tiles have been created using a reasonably high zoom level, making them a worthwhile addition, especially for users of simHeaven. Alternatively, you can choose to create your own photographic tiles with Ortho4XP. For this purpose, the developer has included patches to ensure the airport aligns correctly, applicable to users of AutoOrtho as well. There's no online activation or third-party wrappers involved, so while the installation process might differ slightly from the norm, it remains relatively straightforward.
     
    Documentation
    The provided documentation is quite comprehensive; it includes text documents detailing the various installation options and a full-colour chart of the main airport along with its layout. Given the relatively low cost of the scenery package, I was quite impressed with what was provided, especially considering that more expensive sceneries often offer less.
     

     
    Initial Impressions
    Upon opting to install the additional photographic tile of the area, I was immediately struck by its quality. The documentation reveals that this imagery was created using zoom level 17 (ZL17) with custom elevations. From the views provided, it was evident that this enhancement significantly surpasses the default textures and mesh included with X-Plane 12. Beyond the undulating hills, the Mediterranean Sea stretches into the distance, presenting a captivating sight even in this virtual setting.
     



     
    Ground Details
    As you descend closer to the ground, the custom orthos remains sharp and clear. This level of detail is particularly beneficial for those who enjoy flying low in general aviation (GA) aircraft. Indeed, if you’re exploring Corsica by air, there really is no better way. However, while the runway textures were sharp and clear, they appeared somewhat clinical. The asphalt's colour was overly intense and seemed unbalanced. Additionally, the transition from asphalt to grass was too abrupt, lacking a smooth blend which could potentially be refined with further development.
     



     
    Taxiway & Apron Textures
    On the flip side, the textures of the taxiways and apron were far more aesthetically pleasing. Here, the asphalt and concrete had a more subdued appearance, which seemed more fitting with their environment. The edges where the asphalt met the grass were well-executed, featuring realistic cracks and wear. Moreover, the presence of rubber marks and oil or chemical stains enhanced the authenticity, contributing significantly to the overall visual appeal.
     


     
    Airport Signage
    One of the features of the scenery I was most impressed with was the custom airport signage, particularly noticeable on the taxiways and apron. The detailed guides for taxiing aircraft are well represented. A comparison with its real-life counterpart on Google Maps shows that the layout is almost identical, which greatly enhances the authenticity of the scenery. Parking areas for both general aviation and business aircraft, as well as helicopter zones, are clearly marked. Closer to the main terminal, the stands are accurately laid out with all the correct markings. Overall, I was very impressed with the signage accuracy and detail.
     



     
    Airport Foliage
    The airport is bordered by several wooded areas that extend right up to the boundaries of the scenery before stopping abruptly. It’s worth noting that with Global Trees installed, this coverage might continue beyond the scenery’s limits; however, I haven't tested this add-on as I do not own the product. However, I did have X-World Europe installed, which might have accounted for the slight increase in tree variations. Situated around the airport buildings, particularly the terminal and control tower, are small shrubs, flowers, and a few mature palm trees. 
     


     
    Main Terminal Building & Surroundings 
    The main terminal at LFKF, while lacking an interior, is well-modelled and effectively represents its real-life counterpart. Along the length of the terminal, bollards and benches contribute to the overall visual appeal, and the texturing on the concrete walls shows a realistic degree of weathering. However, the terminal area lacks airport signs or posters and feels somewhat lifeless, particularly in what should be the busiest part of the airport. There are a few cars lined up for passenger drop-off and collection, but the noticeable absence of passengers diminishes the overall effect. Hopefully, future updates will address this issue, but as it stands, the terminal building, whilst impressively modelled, requires a bit more liveliness to truly come to life.
     



     
    Directly across from the main terminal entrance is the main airport car park, which features a variety of custom-made vehicles. These vehicles are a significant and highly welcomed improvement over the stock models typically included with X-Plane. I don’t know about you, but I get tired of seeing the same old models all the time! The vehicles, all European makes, fit the Corsican setting perfectly and add a touch of authenticity to the scenery.
     


     
    Close to the car park, you'll find several car rental facilities, including Ada, Hertz, Avis, National, and Europcar. These buildings are modest in size but effectively serve their purpose. Given Corsica’s expansive landscapes, renting a car is almost essential for visitors.
     

     
    Additional Airport Structures
    Adjacent to the terminal lies the control tower, which I found to be modelled to a slightly higher standard than the terminal. The control tower's numerous angles and curves lend it a quite unique appearance, and the central staircase is a welcome touch.
     


     
    Next to the control tower is the Terminal Aviation d’Affaires, catering exclusively to business travel. The modelling here matches the high standard of the control tower, with notably good texturing that includes realistic weathering effects. The large glass areas are particularly impressive, although it's a pity there isn’t an interior modelled.
     


     
    A few metres away from the main buildings, there is a small maintenance building, and next to it, a fire station. The fire truck is positioned further up on the apron, perhaps there was some emergency I missed. Nearby, several smaller buildings of various types and a fuel service area contribute to the functional diversity of the airport. Completing the scene is an animated radar dome, faithfully watching over the airport.
     


     
    Night Lighting
    The night lighting at the airport is primarily provided by dynamic lighting from street and airport lamps, which stands in stark contrast to the complete absence of lighting effects from the buildings themselves. This omission is rather disappointing, as it contributes to a rather lifeless atmosphere during nighttime hours. Much like the notable absence of 3D people, I really do hope that the developer will address this issue in future updates.
     


     
    Performance
    Overall, I found the performance at LFKF to be pretty impressive, allowing for all settings to be maxed out, apart from anti-aliasing, while running at 1440p. At this resolution, I managed to maintain roughly sixty frames per second during the day. However, during nighttime hours, there is a noticeable drop, with frame rates dipping to the mid to high thirties. This significant reduction may be more reflective of X-Plane's general performance quirks during certain times of the day, nighttime in particular, rather than a specific issue with the scenery itself. Nonetheless, it's an important consideration for those using lower-end systems, as these performance shifts could impact your experience.
     


     
    Conclusion
    Reflecting on my time at LFKF, it’s clear that the experience was, on the whole, rather enjoyable. The airport features some well-modelled buildings, especially considering its low price point, and an authentic layout which closely matches its real-life counterpart. The addition of the optional ortho tiles significantly enhances the value of this scenery package, offering a level of detail not commonly found in more expensive counterparts. However, it’s not without its shortcomings. The absence of 3D people and the inadequate night lighting stand out as the most notable flaws. Addressing these issues in future updates could transform this from a good to an exceptional scenery package.
     

     
    As it stands, I am happy to recommend LFKF to those who have a fondness for Corsica, and perhaps an affinity for adventure reminiscent of our beloved two Gauls. Just as Asterix and his companions would conclude their adventures with a grand feast, albeit always without the bard, this scenery too promises a delightful exploration, if not a perfect one.
     
    ________________________
     

     
    LFKF -Figari, Corsica XP12 by FSX3D is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    LFKF -Figari, Corsica XP12
    Priced at $14.99
     
    Features
    Ultra detailed car parks, taxiways and track PBR on all objects Ambient occlusion (Objects and ground) Wet track effects Dynamic lighting Animated Radar Pylon Altimeter patch for Ortho4XP Compatibility AutoOrtho Requirements
    X-Plane 12
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    8 GB VRAM Minimum
    Download Size: 815 MB
     
    Review System Specifications
    Intel i5 12400 – 32GB RAM - Nvidia Asus RTX 4070 – Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
     
    __________________________________
     
    Scenery Review by Dominic Smith
    19 April 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).
     

  6. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Aircraft Plugin Review: Reality Expansion Pack for DHC-2 Beaver by Simcoders   
    Aircraft Plugin Review: Reality Expansion Pack for DHC-2 Beaver by Simcoders

    By Michael Hayward

    Introduction
    The de Havilland DHC-2 "Beaver" is a well-loved high-wing propeller aircraft that was produced in Canada from 1947–1967. With over 1,600 units produced, many continue to grace the skies today, demonstrating exceptional performance in rugged terrains and on water with the addition of floats.

    In 2020, Thranda released their rendition of the DHC-2 for X-Plane, later updating it for X-Plane 12 compatibility. This model has garnered praise for its attention to detail and realism, as highlighted in Stephen’s thoroughly detailed review.

    This review takes a closer examination of the Reality Expansion Pack (REP) by SimCoders for the Thranda DHC-2. This enhancement introduces a plethora of features and adjustments that elevate the aircraft’s realism beyond its original release. It includes a virtual economy system and improved flight checks, offering a more immersive flying experience.

    Having had some experience with the aircraft prior to the expansion pack, I am keen to explore the depth of enhancements SimCoders has integrated. Let's delve deeper, shall we?

    Installation
    It's a tricky installation, because you are installing a package (REP) on top of another package (Thranda DC-2). Then have to blend them together. Note that you will need the original DHC-2 Beaver - DGS Series XP12 Package to install this Add-On. First you will need to duplicate the Thranda DC2 aircraft to create a secondary aircraft file folder...
     
    When downloaded in the REP Package, there are two Folders, a read-me installation pdf and a REP user Manual.
     

    One folder "Into-aircraft-main-folder" goes into the main DC-3 Beaver root folder. It will ask you to overwrite two files...
     

     
    Second install folder is the "Into-aircraft-plugins-folder" which is put in the Thranda DC-2 Plugins folder.
     

     
    On Startup of the REP-Thranda DC-2, you will be asked to authorise (Enable) two items, both the original Thranda DC-2 Aircraft, and the separate REP Pack...  this is done via the REP Pack menu in the Plugins folder.... "Enable package"
     

     
    Then the REP Installation process is completed.
     

     
    When installed the REP Menus are accessed via both the side quick "Pop-out Menu", and the more detailed menu in the "Plugins Menu".
     

     
    The Pop-out Menu has Six Options; Show Checklists, Show Fuel Management, Toggle Walkaround Mode, Toggle Low Mode, Toggle Maintenance report and Engine autostart...  these items are reflected in the Plugin Menu. 
     
    Added options in the Plugin Menu include; Settings, Wear out to (Brand New, Privately Owned - New, Privately Owned - Old, Flying Club), Check Fuel Price at airport, Toggle Static Elements, Disable Package and About.

     Key Features Overview
    SimCoders have introduced several key enhancements to the Thranda DHC-2 with their expansion pack, each designed to deepen the simulation experience.

    A hallmark of X-Plane is its ability to replicate realistic flight dynamics, significantly influenced by the aircraft’s airfoil shape. In this expansion, considerable effort has been invested in refining the DHC-2’s flight behaviour. This includes modifications to stall speeds, climb and cruise speeds, weight distribution, and balance, as well as enhancements to taxiing behaviour, contributing to a more authentic feeling, both on the ground and in the air.

    Included in the expansion is an economy system that allows pilots to accumulate virtual currency through completed flights. This currency can then be allocated towards fuel purchases and aircraft maintenance, enriching the Beaver experience with an added layer of strategy and management.

    Another notable feature is an enriched walkaround system, enabling pilots to conduct thorough pre-flight inspections outside the aircraft, enhancing the realism of pre-flight preparations.

    A significant overhaul detailed by SimCoders is the re-engineering of the engine system. By replacing the default engine with a custom-designed alternative, they introduce a range of factors for pilots to consider and manage. This, along with modifications to the electrical systems and battery configurations, will be discussed further in this review.

    Additional improvements include simulation state changes, maintenance protocols, and pilot behaviour adjustments, all aiming to mirror the lifelike intricacies of operating a DHC-2.

    These enhancements collectively serve to elevate the simulation experience, introducing a variety of real-world considerations into virtual flight that offer a comprehensive and educational exploration into the mechanics of flight.
     


    Flight and Ground Dynamics
    We begin by exploring the enhanced flight and ground dynamics of the DHC-2 Beaver. 
     

     
    Flying the Beaver is relatively straightforward, offering a smooth experience when airborne and requiring minimal pilot intervention once properly trimmed. A comfortable cruise speed is approximately 125 knots, though it's capable of reaching 140 knots at full throttle, with the propellers set to high RPM and the mixture at maximum rich. These performance figures align closely with the real aircraft, which is documented to cruise at 124 knots at 5,000 feet and can achieve a maximum cruise speed of 137 knots under ideal conditions.
     


    The aircraft's climb and descent profiles have been carefully adjusted to mirror those of the actual Beaver, with an average climb rate of about 1,000 feet per minute. Its maximum cruising altitude is noted to be 18,000 feet, adhering to the US standard for altimeters. Note the "Tips" in the REP banner, they guide you through areas that are the best to fly and maintain the Beaver in flight.

    Maintenance of your aircraft is key, as parts wear down over time, directly impacting fuel efficiency and flight performance. For instance, a clogged fuel filter will manifest as reduced fuel flow on the gauges, limiting engine power. Consequently, pilots must manage their aircraft's condition and flight performance proactively to extend its operational lifespan.
     


    The development team at SimCoders, comprised of pilots with real-world experience possibly even with the DHC-2 itself, has dedicated substantial effort to ensure the flight dynamics are as true to life as possible.

    The Beaver is equipped with five ground configurations: standard tires, tundra tires, skis, floats, and amphibious floats, each altering its separate distinctive handling characteristics. With tires, it operates as a taildragger, incorporating a redesigned suspension system for smoother navigation across soft terrain. Pilots are cautioned against oversteering, as locking the wheel can lead to abrupt stops.

    Water operations offer a distinct and enjoyable challenge, as the Beaver handles well on calm waters, but adverse weather can necessitate skilled corrective manoeuvres to maintain control.



    Engine and Systems Complexity
    A standout feature of the SimCoders DHC-2 Beaver expansion is the overhaul of the engine function and logic. Rather than refining the existing Thranda engine, SimCoders dismantled it to construct an entirely new engine, integrating this with their unique maintenance and damage model.

    This reimagined engine now accurately reflects the performance of the Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior, the powerplant used in the aircraft. Enhancements even extend to the propeller animations, offering more realistic visuals through subtle vibrations and speed fluctuations with engine and throttle adjustments.

    With the introduction of a new engine comes a detailed startup procedure. While it's technically possible to initiate a cold start, it's ill-advised due to potential wear on the engine and the need for precise priming to get it running. Instead, SimCoders added a preheater option to warm the engine chamber for a smoother start, negating the need for priming. This attention to detail includes the low-tension booster coil, critical for initiating fuel combustion during engine startup. If you don't want to do this, then there is the "Autostart" feature that does the tricky work for you...  the startup procedure is shown in a banner top of your screen, and the startup process is extremely authentic including exhaust effects.
     


    Fuel and oil dynamics are more sophisticated, with temperature variations influencing fuel viscosity. This affects how easily fuel can be pumped through the system, highlighting the challenges of cold starts and the potential for fuel flooding if the engine is shut down shortly after starting. These issues can be identified during pre-flight inspections and addressed through maintenance.
     


    Pilots must also pay close attention to the avionics state during engine startups and shutdowns to avoid damaging the systems. I learned this lesson the hard way, failing to notice my attitude indicator was inoperative after takeoff, leading to unintended banks and, subsequently, a costly virtual repair.

    These intricacies significantly enrich the experience, demanding more attentive micromanagement from pilots to maintain safe and efficient aircraft operation.

    Economic and Custom Systems
    SimCoders introduces an economy panel for the DHC-2 Beaver, drawing parallels to virtual airlines where good flying earns points and promotions, but here, it's all about the financial health of your aircraft. This feature, while optional, adds an additional intriguing dimension to the experience, allowing pilots to manage the economic aspects of aircraft operation.

    Damaged a gauge? That’ll hit your wallet. A broken flap and its linkage might just make you consider remortgaging your virtual home! The more damage your aircraft sustains, the more you’ll find yourself investing in repairs. And it doesn’t stop at repairs; even refuelling the Beaver costs, with fuel prices fluctuating based on your global location. On the lookout for savings? Word on the street is that Venezuela offers the world's most budget-friendly fuel prices! 

    The economic system is designed to integrate seamlessly with well-known virtual airline platforms like FSEconomy and X-CPL-Pilot, enhancing the experience for pilots already engaged in virtual aviation careers. And you have to access, or create an "Aircraft Key" to use the Economy System...
     


    Another enjoyable feature is the towing system. Although straightforward, it provides a practical method for aircraft positioning on the ground. Pilots can secure the aircraft when parked and then manoeuvre it using the joystick, offering a user-friendly and realistic ground handling experience.
     


    Additionally, the Beaver is fully compatible with VR, inviting pilots to immerse themselves in a highly realistic virtual cockpit and environment, enhancing the overall experience of flying the Beaver in X-Plane.

    Interactive Walkaround and Maintenance
    SimCoders’ pièce de résistance in their DHC-2 Beaver expansion is the comprehensive damage engine and maintenance panel.
     
    Operating an aircraft that has been flying for over sixty years, requires special care and attention, especially as a lot of the technology used is now dated. SimCoders emphasizes the necessity for correct pilot procedures to prevent wear and tear. An early lesson I learned is the importance of deactivating avionics during engine startups and shutdowns to avoid system failures. With the economy feature activated, repairs come with a price tag, proportional to the damage extent. The risk of overstressing parts to the point of affecting flight surfaces and potential failure highlights the significance of careful handling. Indeed, a malfunctioning Beaver is an unwelcome scenario for any pilot.
    On the ground, pilots can generate and review a maintenance report detailing the aircraft's condition, including the state of engine cylinders, oil, filters, and pumps. Over time, these components degrade, presenting the pilot with repair decisions to maintain optimal performance.

    A notable addition is the virtual walkaround, allowing pilots to exit the cockpit and conduct a thorough visual inspection prior to flight. This interactive feature includes a checklist for assessing potential wing damage, ensuring engine components are intact, confirming cylinder integrity, and verifying the pitot tube is clear. Successfully completing these checks ensures the aircraft is flight ready.
     


    This system not only emphasizes the necessity of maintaining operational safety but also introduces the realistic challenges and expenses associated with aircraft ownership. As systems wear and potentially fail, constant vigilance over your Beaver's condition is crucial for sustained operation.


    Conclusion
    Embarking on the journey with the Thranda Design DHC-2 Beaver, supplemented by the SimCoders Enhancement Pack REP, which introduces a captivating complexity to piloting this beloved aircraft. The addition places a significant emphasis on engine performance and maintenance management, transforming routine flights into a series of informed decisions and actions.

    The degradation of components serves as a constant reminder of the aircraft’s demands, underscoring the importance of thorough management and adherence to operational protocols. Piloting the Beaver not only becomes an exercise in flying skills but also in vigilance and preventive care, ensuring longevity and reliability.

    This enhancement pack enriches the original aircraft with a deeply immersive engine simulation, where even minor variations in engine startup procedures can influence the entire flight experience. This level of detail demands a more nuanced understanding and appreciation of the aircraft’s operational characteristics.

    Adding to the complexity is the virtual economy feature, which introduces financial decision-making into the mix. Pilots must carefully manage their virtual funds, prioritizing repairs and maintenance to ensure the aircraft remains airworthy, while also navigating the compromises of system management.

    To benefit from this comprehensive enhancement pack, pilots must have the Thranda DHC-2 Beaver for X-Plane 12 in their collection, as it is not backward compatible with X-Plane 11. For enthusiasts of the golden age of aviation who desire a hands-on, intricate flying experience, this enhancement pack is an invaluable addition, offering a richly detailed and rewarding challenge.
     
    ______________________________________
     

     
    The...   Reality Expansion Pack REP for DHC-2 Beaver XP12 by Simcoders is available from the Org store here:
     
    Reality Expansion Pack for DHC-2 Beaver XP12
    On sale: $US19.99 US$13.99
    You Save:$6.00(30%)
     
    Features:
    Ultra Realistic Flight & Ground Dynamics
    Realistic stall speeds & behavior Correct climb speeds Realistic cruise speeds Real World Weight & Balance Realistic taxi behavior with realistic spring-loaded/free-castoring tailwheel Complex Damages System Triggered by the pilot actions Based on real world data Target every system in the aircraft Meant to teach you how to correctly manage an airplane Economic System
    Can be enabled/disabled on the fly Earn virtual money when you fly Use virtual money to buy fuel and do maintenance/repairs Realistic fuel prices around the World Fully compatible with FSEconomy and X-CPL-Pilot More info at https://www.simcoders.com/reality-expansion-pack/economy Custom Towing System
    Driven by the joystick/steering wheel Realistic point of view (POV) Interacts with tie-down and brakes Interactive Walkaround
    Cockpit checks Lights checks Engine soft cover removal Aileron, rudder, elevator and flaps check Tire check and choks removal Tie-down removal Pitot tube check Engine cowl check Floats and water rudder check Realistic Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior Engine Logic
    100% Custom engine model Realistic power output for given manifold pressure/RPM settings Realistic propeller animations as never seen before on X-Plane Realistic booster coil Switch between conventional and Bendix-Stromberg pressure carburetor (with automatic mixture) Correct fuel consumption Oil System: 1. Realistic oil viscosity 2. Interchangeable oil type 3. Oil pump failures 4. Realistic oil filter Fuel System: 1. Realistic wobble pump 2. Realistic fuel pressure behavior 3. Realistic fuel filter 4. Realistic primer Starter Realistic startup procedure Automatic startup procedure for newbies Realistic engine temperatures Fuel Flooding simulation The engine parts wear down when not managed correctly Engine Preheater
    The engine may be warmed up upon start with the provided electrical heater Once activated, the electrical heater runs even when you close the simulator Realistic Landing Gear
    The landing gear is damaged by hard landings The brakes and tires are damaged if not managed correctly The steering wheel acts like the real one. Spring loaded under 35° of turn, then free castoring. Electrical & Avionics System
    Realistic Battery The avionics are damaged if on when the engine starts/shuts down Native Virtual Reality Support
    Complete support of new X-Plane SDK 3.0 Menu visible in VR Windows visible in VR Learn with the in-flight tips A non invasive tip with a suggestion about the conduct of the flight is shown when you are not flying the airplane properly A non invasive tip with a suggestion on how to recover the problem is shown when you damage the airplane Custom simulation of Hypoxia
    Tunnel vision Hard breathing Popup Kneeboard
    Normal operations checklist Emergency operations checklist Reference tables (speed, fuel consumption etc.) May be shown/hidden with mouse gestures Simulation state saving
    Every single switch and lever position restores its position when you reload the aircraft The battery may discharge if you leave it on and then close X-Plane The engine restores its cylinders and oil temperature basing on the elapsed time between restarts Maintenance Hangar
    Engine maintenance tab Electrical systems maintenance tab Landing gear, brakes & tires tab Instruments tab Economic System tab HeadShake Integration
    REP drives HeadShake to simulate the correct vibrations of the Wasp Junior engine Developed with love
    Coded by real pilots Very easy on FPS Written in C++ with no compromises  
    Requirements:
    This is an add-on to the DHC-2 Beaver - DGS Series XP12. It will not work on the Thranda DHC-2 Beaver XP11 or any other aircraft.
    X-Plane 12 (not for XP11)
    Current version: XP 12 - 4.8.2 (February 10th, 2024)
    Customers who own the Reality Expansion Pack for DHC-2 Beaver XP11, can get the new XP12 version for 30% off. Coupon code can be found in the original invoice.
     
    Reviewers System:
    Windows 10 Professional
    AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Processor
    32GB RAM
    Palit GeForce RTX™ 3080 GamingPro
     
    Scenery Review by Michael Hayward 
    2nd April 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) 
     

  7. Like
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Busair in Aircraft Update Review: Boeing 757 Professional Global package v2.6.12 by FlightFactor/VMax   
    Aircraft Update Review: Boeing 757 Professional Global package v2.6.12 by FlightFactor/VMax
     
    By DrishalMAC2
     
    Introduction
     
    The Boeing 757, a twin-engine marvel with a narrow body, represents an enduring legacy in commercial aviation. Launched in the early 1980s, this adaptable aircraft was the result of Boeing's dedication to addressing the industry's growing demands for a medium-haul mainstay. With its distinctive narrow fuselage and potent twin engines, the Boeing 757 rapidly gained a reputation for its efficiency and flexibility across a variety of routes.

    Engineered to span the divide between short and medium-haul flights, the Boeing 757 has become essential for airlines in search of a dependable, fuel-efficient solution for both domestic and transatlantic trips. Despite the arrival of newer models, the Boeing 757 continues to enchant aviation aficionados and professionals, representing a time when innovation met practicality in an iconic design.

    In this review, I revisit the FlightFactor 757, previously reviewed by Stephen way in X-Plane 10, this time within X-Plane 12. My goal is to offer a balanced examination of how this well-regarded model has adapted to the advancements and features of X-Plane 12. Join me as we explore the updated performance, features, and overall experience it delivers, assessing its fidelity to the real-world aircraft's legacy and its place in the virtual aviation world.
     

     
    Installation
    Installing the FF 757 is remarkably straightforward. Firstly, download the file from the X-Plane.org store, unzip it, and then place it in the X-Plane/Aircraft directory. When you load the aircraft for the first time, you'll be prompted to enter your licence key, which can be found in the “My Account” section of the X-Plane.org store. After you've reloaded the simulator, you can start enjoying your brand new 757! Updating the aircraft is just as easy; you have the option to download the update from the store and drag and drop the files into the aircraft folder, or alternatively, you can download and install X-Updater and use it to update the aircraft. Personally, I find X-Updater to be the preferred method as it's very quick and straightforward.
     
    Documentation
    The FlightFactor 757 Global package is accompanied by ten distinct PDF documents relating to the aircraft. These encompass a variety of resources such as the "752 Checklist v1.1 Double side," "752 Checklist v1.1 Full Page," the extensive "757 FCOM," "757 Remote CDU Manual," "757-300 performance," supplementary "FCOM FPDS," "FMS (All Variants)," and three versions of the manual including "Manual," "ManualFPDS," and "ManualVR." These documents are incredibly detailed and informative, with the "757 FCOM" document alone surpassing 1,000 pages in length! Indeed, you've read that correctly…a staggering 1,000 pages!
     

     
    About FlightFactor
    FlightFactor continues to offer regular updates and enhancements for their 757/767 and A320neo models. While the A350 remains supported, updates for it are issued less frequently. The 757 and 767 models are notably similar, both in terms of quality and flight experience (in real-world aviation, they share the same Type Rating). FlightFactor is also working on the eagerly awaited Boeing 777 V2, expected to be released later this year. This upcoming version is highly anticipated to establish a new benchmark for payware aircraft in X-Plane 12.

    Versions and Variants
    The X-Plane.org store offers several packages of the 757, each catering to different preferences and requirements:
    Boeing 757 Professional, which focuses on the 757-200 model. Boeing 757 Extended, encompassing the 757-200, 757-300, 757-SF Cargo, and 757-C32 variants. Boeing 757 Global Pack, a comprehensive collection that includes all variants alongside a modern avionics package. For the purposes of this review, we will concentrate on the Global Pack, as, in terms of quality, all variants are remarkably similar. Included with the Global Pack are a total of fifteen liveries, which includes a blank paint kit. These liveries are mostly specific to the passenger, freighter, or C32 versions of the aircraft, representing a generous selection that encompasses several of the primary 757 operators.
     





     
    It’s worth noting that upon loading the aircraft, a popup will emerge, offering options to configure aspects such as the aircraft’s engines and winglets.
     

     
    Updates
    Recent months have seen significant updates to the aircraft, enhancing both its performance and realism in X-Plane 12. Notable among these improvements is the refinement of spoilers and flaps drag in version 2.6.9, aimed at achieving greater accuracy and optimisation for X-Plane 12. Moreover, version 2.6.10 addressed the "slow flight controls" issue, a problem that emerged with the comprehensive X-Plane 12 overhaul introduced in update 2.6.6. FlightFactor has also been fine-tuning the engine performance and lighting, further optimising these elements for X-Plane 12.

    In addition, "Apple Silicon native support" was recently introduced, alongside fixes for multiple bugs, including the "default view and fuel issues in the -300 variant" and a "possible engine shutdown" bug. These updates underscore FlightFactor's commitment to the continuous improvement of this aircraft. Furthermore, with update 2.6.10, the dependency on "libGLU" was eliminated, streamlining the software's operation. This series of updates highlights the FlightFactor team's dedication and ongoing efforts to enhance and refine the aircraft. 
     
    Current version at time of writing is 2.6.12, which adds/addresses the following: 
    Added an ability to enable/disable LuaJIT from the tablet Added BUS ISOLATED eicas messages Fixed RAT door LIT texture issue Fixed cockpit windows de-ice feature (xp12) Fixed possible unexpected ILS freq/crs changing without your input Fixed CG calculation in the tablet (xp12) Fixed the RAT beacon color Fixed the stab in 200, RF and C-32 Small fixes for de-ice systems Small fixes for brake press indication Got rid of libGLU dependency in FF_Effects plugin Retuned fuel flow Exterior Modelling
    The exterior modelling of the 757 is nicely executed, with the aircraft being accurately depicted within X-Plane 12. While it may not boast the highest level of detail, it is certainly more than satisfactory, especially when taking into account the aircraft's size and the potential impact on performance. 
     

     
     
    The landing gear and engines are exceptionally well-modelled, standing out as particularly high-quality elements. However, there are areas that could benefit from further refinement, such as the roof where the SATCOMs are situated, which appears to require a slight visual
    improvement.
     



     
    Exterior Texturing
    The exterior texturing of the aircraft is generally satisfactory, with most essential details captured, though some textures display a lower resolution, even when the “texture quality” setting in X-Plane is maximized. The engines, for instance, feature exceptionally sharp manufacturer logos, including those of Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney. Similarly, warning labels and text maintain a high level of clarity. However, textures depicting panel edges, bolts, and signs of wear such as dirt and scratches are of markedly lower quality, detracting from the overall immersive experience. This inconsistency extends to the fuselage, where although text on the doors is crisp and clear, other elements like panel edges and bolts suffer from low resolution. While parts of the landing gear textures are well executed, others fall short of this standard. In conclusion, the exterior visuals are acceptable, especially considering that the majority of the time is spent in the cockpit, engaged in flight. In saying that, there is considerable room for improvement to enhance the visual fidelity and immersion of the model.
     



     
    Interior Modelling
    The cockpit's interior modelling is impressively executed, with every knob, switch, and lever accurately rendered to reflect the real Boeing 757 flight deck's high level of detail. The overhead panel, with its switches and buttons, looks particularly well modelled, as does the Flight Management Computer (FMC). The yoke, tiller, and throttle levers are also nicely modelled, though, when compared to actual photographs of the flight deck, the yoke appears somewhat smaller than its real-world counterpart.
     



     
    In the passenger variants, the seat modelling is nicely done, presenting a nice level of detail. However, the rest of the cabin does not maintain this standard; the galley is notably featureless, and the modelling of the overhead lights and seat buttons is lacking. Interestingly, the rear galley exhibits slightly more detail than the forward galley, which seems slightly strange. 
     



     
    The C32 variant boasts a unique interior cabin that mirrors a Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), with the general modelling quality on par with the passenger variants. A feature which stands out is the command room, which is exquisitely detailed and offers a high degree of authenticity.
     


     
    As for the freighter variant, it features a simplified forward galley, but access to the cargo hold from the interior is not modelled. The cargo hold can only be viewed using the “free look” camera mode. Although the cargo hold's modelling is basic, it adequately represents such a space. Given the primary focus on the cockpit (which has evidently received the bulk of attention and effort) the lack of intricate detail in the cargo hold does not significantly detract from the overall experience.
     

     
    Interior Texturing
    Within the cockpit, the texturing, in my view, falls somewhat short, as the textures appear "flat" and lack the nuanced details of wear and tear one might expect. While the textures on switches and knobs are consistent and accurate, they do not convey a sense of the aircraft having been frequently used. Essentially, the cockpit looks almost brand new, apart from some slight weathering, which, for an aircraft that is getting on in years, seems like a missed opportunity in which to introduce some signs of wear, such as peeling paint. However, the colour accuracy, when compared to real-world images of the Boeing 757 flight deck, is pretty much spot on.

    On the positive side, the sharpness and legibility of text within the cockpit are outstanding features. The jump-seat texture is also notably sharp and detailed. Furthermore, the lighting on the overhead panel buttons is well executed, contributing to a more immersive experience. The inclusion of dirt and scratches on the displays adds a layer of realism, with the extent of wear adjustable via three settings in the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), a feature we'll explore in greater detail later.
     

     
    The cabin textures in the passenger variant mirror some of the cockpit's limitations. The carpet's deep blue hue adds a touch of appeal, yet the side panels, overhead bins, and walls suffer from somewhat flat textures, occasionally appearing less detailed. The seat textures fare slightly better, offering more clarity, though this diminishes upon closer inspection. Given its price point, one might expect more refined interior textures, but considering the model's age and the pace of X-Plane’s development, some leniency may be warranted. 
     

     
    Night Lighting
    The night lighting, both inside the cockpit and externally, is very nicely done. The colours and brightness levels are spot on, creating a highly immersive nocturnal flying experience. It's worth noting that I have a particular fondness for operating this aircraft at night, primarily due to the exceptional quality of the night lighting. Among the noteworthy features are the dynamic reflections on the windscreen, which vary according to the cockpit lighting's intensity.
     



     
    Similarly, the cabin lighting, which is entirely adjustable from the cockpit, enhances the overall ambiance. The cabin, in my opinion, appears significantly more appealing under the night lighting, contributing to the allure of nocturnal flights. Furthermore, the cabin lighting is visible from the exterior views, with its appearance altering in response to the cabin lights' brightness settings. 
     


     
    The lighting system has received considerable refinement in recent updates, a fact that is clearly reflected in the outstanding quality of the night lighting.
     


     
    Flight Model
    The flight models across the 757 fleet are impressively realised, with variations that reflect the differences in engine types and the distinct characteristics between the 757-200 and the longer 757-300. The flight model captures a satisfyingly heavy feel, appropriate for an aircraft of its size, yet remains keenly responsive to pilot inputs. Despite the absence of a fly-by-wire (FBW) system for the primary flight controls: though FBW is employed for certain control surfaces like the spoilers, the connection between pilot and aircraft feels direct and intuitive, enhancing the flying experience.
     


     
    FlightFactor has excelled in simulating the ground physics of the 757, making taxiing a straightforward and responsive task, whether using the rudder or tiller for navigation. The 757's reputation for being overpowered is accurately depicted in the FlightFactor 757. Advancing the thrust levers, particularly with the Rolls Royce RB211 engines, results in remarkable acceleration, capturing the aircraft's real-world performance perfectly. A fully laden 757 demonstrates a realistically extended take-off roll, adhering to expectations.
     


     
    Recent updates have significantly refined the flight model, addressing previous issues related to bugs and sluggish response times. Efforts to update the simulation of flap and speedbrake drag have resulted in enhanced accuracy, bringing the virtual experience ever closer to the realities of flying the actual aircraft.
     


     
    Sounds
    The default sound package of the aircraft is generally acceptable. The simulation of switches and rotary knobs in the cockpit is notably well done, delivering satisfyingly crisp auditory feedback. However, this level of detail and depth doesn’t extend to all sound aspects, such as the air conditioning and Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) noises, which fall short in terms of depth and variation. A notable absence of bass contributes to these sounds feeling somewhat flat and lacking in interest.

    The engine sounds differentiate adequately between the Pratt and Whitney and Rolls Royce engines, although, like the air conditioning and APU, the interior engine sounds could benefit from a richer bass presence. Conversely, the exterior engine sounds are more robust, offering a substantial depth and a significant amount of bass, though they are quite loud in their default setting. Thankfully, sound levels can be adjusted within the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), allowing for a more tailored auditory experience. The flyby sounds are also decent, aligning with the standard of default X-Plane aircraft sounds.
     

     
    Ambient noises, such as those of a bustling airport, can be heard in exterior views when the aircraft is in a cold and dark state. Personally, I find this addition slightly strange, detracting rather than enhancing the realism. Furthermore, the persistent interjections from the flight attendant regarding issues like cabin temperature, while aiming for realism, may not be universally appreciated. The option to disable this feature would be a beneficial addition for those who find it more intrusive than immersive. Moreover, the aircraft features an extensive selection of Passenger Announcement (PA) options, yet these PA sounds lack authenticity, bearing a resemblance to synthetic text-to-speech outputs rather than genuine in-flight announcements.

    Performance
    On my setup, the performance impact of operating the 757 is noticeably more pronounced than with any of the Toliss aircraft, which are renowned for their exceptional optimization. Specifically, I experience a reduction in frames per second (fps) by approximately 20% to 30% on average compared to the Toliss fleet and the default A330. Additionally, the 757 appears to demand more VRAM than the Toliss models and the default A330. An analysis using the plugin admin reveals that the 757's SASL plugin is a significant factor, accounting for nearly 20% of the performance load as depicted in the "performance pie chart." This indicates a clear need for an overhaul of the SASL's performance to enhance overall efficiency.
     

     
    Despite these performance challenges, I haven't experienced any stuttering issues, even when flying into more demanding airports like EGLL (London Heathrow) or KLAX (Los Angeles International). This suggests that while there is a tangible impact on performance, it may not critically affect users capable of running the default A330 at a reasonable fps. Nonetheless, improving the performance of the 757 remains an area in need of attention to ensure it aligns more closely with the high standards of efficiency seen in other aircraft within X-Plane.
     


     
    Systems
    The systems on the 757, while not as intricate as those found on Airbus aircraft, still present a level of complexity and accuracy expected from a Boeing model. The engine pages, Primary Flight Display (PFD), and Navigation Display (ND) are well-executed, displaying all the requisite information one would anticipate from such an aircraft. However, I would hesitate to categorize the systems as "Study Level," primarily due to the basic nature of the failure simulation. Some failures, for instance, either fail to activate or have no discernible impact on the aircraft's operation. A case in point is an attempted simulation of an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) engine failure, where the APU merely switched off without triggering an auditory warning like the Master Caution. The sole indication of the failure was an "APU Fail" message on the Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS) display.
     

     
    Additionally, the Electrical Bus (BUS) system, although generally accurate, suffers from a frustrating bug. Occasionally, when the APU or Ground Power Unit (GPU) is disconnected, the BUS Ties unexpectedly switch to the "Isolate" position rather than remaining in "Auto." This deviation from expected behaviour has, on several occasions, led to the aircraft shutting down during pushback, despite the APU and its generator being operational and connected to the BUS. On a positive note, the terrain and weather radar systems perform commendably, offering accuracy and reliability that significantly aid navigation in challenging weather conditions or when flying in proximity to hazardous terrain.
     

     
    EFB (Electronic Flight Bag)
    The EFB featured in this aircraft boasts a comprehensive array of options and functionalities, accessible either through the X-Plane “Plugins” menu or by interacting with the tablet within the cockpit. Engaging the tablet brings up the EFB as a 2D window. The "General" page presents some basic settings, including a master volume slider, providing a straightforward interface for adjusting essential parameters.
     

     
    The “Operations – Ground” page facilitates interaction with various ground services and the management of the aircraft’s weight and balance. Although it lacks a dedicated Weight and Balance chart, the "Optimise CG" button proves invaluable for adjusting the centre of gravity according to different load configurations. Loading the aircraft requires precise coordination of ground services and the opening of specific doors, a process that, while occasionally cumbersome, enhances realism. On the “Operations – Aircraft” page, users can manage door controls, adjust certain settings, and select engines. It's important to note that engine swaps are not possible once the aircraft is operational.
     

     
    The "Options" page, along with its subpages, offers an extensive selection of adjustable settings, ranging from auditory cues to visual effects. This section also provides the opportunity to install the "Modern Avionics" pack, assuming ownership. Further details on this upgrade will be discussed later in the review.
     



     
    The “Failures page” allows for the simulation of various system failures, designed with user-friendliness in mind, reminiscent of an installation wizard. This feature enables pilots to prepare for and respond to potential issues in a controlled environment.
    Insert failures page
     

     
    Lastly, the "In-Flight" page includes functionalities for activating Passenger Announcements (PAs), accessing navigational charts, and utilising a checklist feature that simulates the presence of a first officer, enhancing the realism and immersion of the flight experience.
     

     
    Modern Avionics Upgrade
    The "Modern Avionics Upgrade" package integrates well, offering a nuanced enhancement for simmers seeking a bit of diversity. It brings new operational dynamics and functionalities, but also a learning curve and the need for adaptation. The package is particularly appealing for those looking to engage with contemporary flight scenarios or enhance their proficiency with advanced systems, acting as a bridge to more modern aviation technologies. However, its value truly lies in the simmer's readiness to explore the aircraft's systems more deeply and to increase the authenticity of their flights. The upgrade is a valuable tool for those willing to invest the effort to fully appreciate its benefits.
     

     
    Conclusion
    In summing up, FlightFactor’s model stands as a commendable and accurate portrayal of the Boeing 757 and its principal variants. The ability to operate flights ranging from commercial passenger services to cargo hauls and even transporting senior political officials adds a unique and engaging dimension to each flight, ensuring a fresh and challenging experience. Despite the need for enhancements in visual and auditory fidelity, the systems and flight model are robust, offering a high-quality simulation of the Boeing 757, that will satisfy aviation enthusiasts and serious simmers alike.
     

     
    FlightFactor's commitment to continuous improvement is evident in their regular updates, giving users confidence that existing bugs will be addressed in due course, following the precedent set by previous fixes. While a visual overhaul is on the wishlist, the existing framework provides a solid representation of this nimble passenger jet. Performance optimisation is another area for potential enhancement; however, the current state remains functional and does not detract significantly from the overall experience.
     
    The price point may seem steep, especially considering the aircraft's age within X-Plane’s marketplace, but it's important to remember that the “Global Pack” offers substantial value.  This package includes four distinct aircraft variants along with the “Modern Avionics package,” making it a comprehensive choice for those looking to extensively explore the capabilities and variations of the Boeing 757.
     
    ________________________
     

     
    Boeing 757 version 2 Professional Global Package by FlightFactor is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    Boeing 757 version 2 Professional Global Package
    Priced at $119.00
     
    Features
    Supports both X-Plane 12 (fully updated) and X-Plane 11 
    The FPDS variant contains High resolution (768 x 1024 pixels) XGA multi-color LCD flat panel display with integrated standard six – FULL glass cockpit All digital electronics with improved accuracy, dependability and responsiveness DCP with Speed Reference Settings Minimum Selection (Radio or Baro) Units Selection Integrated Barometric Altimeter Setting Flight Path Vector Meters Altimeter The Boeing 757 Professional Extended includes 3 variants of the 757:
    757-200 Passenger 757-200SF Cargo 757-300  Each plane is available with two different engine configurations (P&W and RR).
    Officially licensed by the Boeing © Corporation Accurate dimensions based on drawings supplied by Boeing © Support for X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12 Suitable for beginners- Tutorial modes and auto procedures Great for advanced users - Complex systems are simulated Includes both Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney engine types  VR Compatible Flight model
    Accurate flight model, as close as it gets to real performance. Tested by real pilots. Dynamic and customizable center of gravity that depends on actual cargo, passenger placement and burning fuel in flight. Fully Functional Professional FMS and EFIS System
    Custom designed Flight Management Computer, integrated with other plane systems. Terminal procedures from updatable database. Two independent analogue instrument sets for captain and first officer. Two independently simulated EFIS (EADI/EHSI configuration) for captain and first officer. Dual-FMS with two independently working CDUs. Working instrument comparators. Triple IRS and triple symbol generator systems with realistic instrument source switching. Dual air-data computers with custom failure modes and source switching. Independent 2 nav and an ils receivers. Realistic inertial and radio position updating, you can see the individual inaccuracies of those systems. Triple-channel autopilot with realistic dependencies. Fail operational and fail passive autoland with mode degradations based on system failures. Load company routes generated by Professional Flight Planner X (or other compatible programs) directly into the FMC. FMC can be used on external touchscreen or tablet, optimized for the Retina iPad. Custom cockpit interaction system
    Adjustable modes for cockpit interaction, you chose what to use for clicks Different cockpit interaction modes, with mouse wheel and right button support In-cockpit tooltips from the manual - you click on the button and see portions of the manual on display In-cockpit life datarefs for cockpit building  Options
    A very flexible architecture: You chose the set up Different options for many avionics instruments including two types of FMC. Options to composite your own EICAS, EADI and EHSI displays. Most of the options that the real 757 fleet has are included. Many additional options for sounds, cockpit interaction, effects etc. Interactive Checklists, Procedures, and auto-helper (Exclusive feature)
    Full electronic interactive checklists and procedures with automatic action detection. Automatic mode helper that performs all the actions for you. You just CHECK the items. A tutorial which shows the user what to do and when. An option to have a visual aid on what and when to do in procedures. Custom Systems and Failure model
    Detailed and deep simulation of almost every system in the real aircraft. Custom air and pressure system. Electrical system with all AC and DC busses modelled - see which system depends on which bus. Hydraulic system that uses a little fluid when treated correctly and a lot of fluid if used incorrectly. Multistage custom failure system - over 200 more failures than X-Plane. (Exclusive feature) Ability to fix failure by following proper procedure. Persistent failure and maintenance system - Aircraft wear and misuse will carry over to your next flight.  Warning system and radars (Exclusive feature)
    Fully functional GPWS with all the modes the real plane has. Fully functional terrain radar, with custom database (just like the real plane), a look-ahead warning system and many other features. Weather radar that works like the real thing. Including tilt and gain functions, ground clutter, turbulence detection and windshear prediction. 3D Modeling
    Accurate dimensions based on exterior drawings provided by Boeing. Very detailed exterior modelling with high resolution textures. Very high resolution 3D cockpit with every switch functional. Spatial rain simulation with high detail. Very detailed passenger cabin graphics including galleys. Additional graphic features: real working oxygen masks both in cockpit and cabin, dynamic window blinds that react to sunlight etc. New and improved wingflex. Special effects (Exclusive features)
    Multilayer dynamic reflections on all glass objects. Glow effects on screens Reflective metal and plastic objects in the cockpit. Glossy exterior that reflects the outside. XP weather enhancements like custom windshear. Custom Sounds (Exclusive features)
    Two sound packs by BSS for both engines. Several hundred custom sounds. In-cockpit custom sounds. Switches with individual sounds. Many individual system sound inside and outside. Airport environment sounds. Cabin sounds. 3D stereo sound system for engines. In flight cabin announcements. Interactive communication with the cabin crew (reporting misconfigurations and passenger comfort problems). On Screen menus (Exclusive features)
    An iPad-like menu popping-up from the cockpit. Custom pages for loading/unloading fuel, cargo and passengers, customizing the CG, calling for pushback and performing maintenance. Ability to customize the plane with winglets, special effects level, wingflex level and set other options to be saved or default. Ground equipment and door pages. Failure monitoring menu. Extra objects and equipment
    Working push-back truck - Fully controllable with your joystick. Passenger bus and stairs or optional gate configuration (passengers can be loaded from gate instead of bus). Fuel truck, de-Icing truck, GPU, ground-start units both visible and fully functional with airplane systems. Other ground equipment. Liveries
     7 default liveries included in the package: Air France, American, Boeing House, Jet2.com, Lufthansa, Thomson, VA X-Airways  About 50 additional liveries are available separately.  SmartCopilot Compatible
    Download the SmartCopilot files here Requirements
    X-Plane 12, X-Plane 11.50+
    Windows 10+, Mac OS 10.15+ (Intel or Apple Silicon) or Linux 14.04 LTS or compatible, 64 bit mode Disk Space: 4 GB X-Plane 12:
    Minimum: CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9, or equivalent RAM: 16 GB Video Card: a Vulkan 1.3-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 6 GB VRAM Recommended: CPU: Intel Core intel i5-12600K or Ryzen 5 3500 or better RAM: 32 GB Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 8-12 GB VRAM  (GeForce RTX 2070 or better, or similar from AMD) X-Plane 11:
    Minimum: CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with at least 4 cores, or AMD equivalent RAM: 16 GB Video Card: a DirectX 11-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 4 GB VRAM Recommended: CPU: Intel Core i5 8600k or Ryzen 5 3500 or better RAM: 32 GB Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 8 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better, or similar from AMD) Review System Specifications
    Windows 10, Intel i5-12400F, 32GB RAM, RTX 3070Ti 
    ________________________
    Aircraft Update Review by DrishalMAC2
    31st 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).
     

     
     
     
     
  8. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Aircraft Update Review: Boeing 757 Professional Global package v2.6.12 by FlightFactor/VMax   
    Aircraft Update Review: Boeing 757 Professional Global package v2.6.12 by FlightFactor/VMax
     
    By DrishalMAC2
     
    Introduction
     
    The Boeing 757, a twin-engine marvel with a narrow body, represents an enduring legacy in commercial aviation. Launched in the early 1980s, this adaptable aircraft was the result of Boeing's dedication to addressing the industry's growing demands for a medium-haul mainstay. With its distinctive narrow fuselage and potent twin engines, the Boeing 757 rapidly gained a reputation for its efficiency and flexibility across a variety of routes.

    Engineered to span the divide between short and medium-haul flights, the Boeing 757 has become essential for airlines in search of a dependable, fuel-efficient solution for both domestic and transatlantic trips. Despite the arrival of newer models, the Boeing 757 continues to enchant aviation aficionados and professionals, representing a time when innovation met practicality in an iconic design.

    In this review, I revisit the FlightFactor 757, previously reviewed by Stephen way in X-Plane 10, this time within X-Plane 12. My goal is to offer a balanced examination of how this well-regarded model has adapted to the advancements and features of X-Plane 12. Join me as we explore the updated performance, features, and overall experience it delivers, assessing its fidelity to the real-world aircraft's legacy and its place in the virtual aviation world.
     

     
    Installation
    Installing the FF 757 is remarkably straightforward. Firstly, download the file from the X-Plane.org store, unzip it, and then place it in the X-Plane/Aircraft directory. When you load the aircraft for the first time, you'll be prompted to enter your licence key, which can be found in the “My Account” section of the X-Plane.org store. After you've reloaded the simulator, you can start enjoying your brand new 757! Updating the aircraft is just as easy; you have the option to download the update from the store and drag and drop the files into the aircraft folder, or alternatively, you can download and install X-Updater and use it to update the aircraft. Personally, I find X-Updater to be the preferred method as it's very quick and straightforward.
     
    Documentation
    The FlightFactor 757 Global package is accompanied by ten distinct PDF documents relating to the aircraft. These encompass a variety of resources such as the "752 Checklist v1.1 Double side," "752 Checklist v1.1 Full Page," the extensive "757 FCOM," "757 Remote CDU Manual," "757-300 performance," supplementary "FCOM FPDS," "FMS (All Variants)," and three versions of the manual including "Manual," "ManualFPDS," and "ManualVR." These documents are incredibly detailed and informative, with the "757 FCOM" document alone surpassing 1,000 pages in length! Indeed, you've read that correctly…a staggering 1,000 pages!
     

     
    About FlightFactor
    FlightFactor continues to offer regular updates and enhancements for their 757/767 and A320neo models. While the A350 remains supported, updates for it are issued less frequently. The 757 and 767 models are notably similar, both in terms of quality and flight experience (in real-world aviation, they share the same Type Rating). FlightFactor is also working on the eagerly awaited Boeing 777 V2, expected to be released later this year. This upcoming version is highly anticipated to establish a new benchmark for payware aircraft in X-Plane 12.

    Versions and Variants
    The X-Plane.org store offers several packages of the 757, each catering to different preferences and requirements:
    Boeing 757 Professional, which focuses on the 757-200 model. Boeing 757 Extended, encompassing the 757-200, 757-300, 757-SF Cargo, and 757-C32 variants. Boeing 757 Global Pack, a comprehensive collection that includes all variants alongside a modern avionics package. For the purposes of this review, we will concentrate on the Global Pack, as, in terms of quality, all variants are remarkably similar. Included with the Global Pack are a total of fifteen liveries, which includes a blank paint kit. These liveries are mostly specific to the passenger, freighter, or C32 versions of the aircraft, representing a generous selection that encompasses several of the primary 757 operators.
     





     
    It’s worth noting that upon loading the aircraft, a popup will emerge, offering options to configure aspects such as the aircraft’s engines and winglets.
     

     
    Updates
    Recent months have seen significant updates to the aircraft, enhancing both its performance and realism in X-Plane 12. Notable among these improvements is the refinement of spoilers and flaps drag in version 2.6.9, aimed at achieving greater accuracy and optimisation for X-Plane 12. Moreover, version 2.6.10 addressed the "slow flight controls" issue, a problem that emerged with the comprehensive X-Plane 12 overhaul introduced in update 2.6.6. FlightFactor has also been fine-tuning the engine performance and lighting, further optimising these elements for X-Plane 12.

    In addition, "Apple Silicon native support" was recently introduced, alongside fixes for multiple bugs, including the "default view and fuel issues in the -300 variant" and a "possible engine shutdown" bug. These updates underscore FlightFactor's commitment to the continuous improvement of this aircraft. Furthermore, with update 2.6.10, the dependency on "libGLU" was eliminated, streamlining the software's operation. This series of updates highlights the FlightFactor team's dedication and ongoing efforts to enhance and refine the aircraft. 
     
    Current version at time of writing is 2.6.12, which adds/addresses the following: 
    Added an ability to enable/disable LuaJIT from the tablet Added BUS ISOLATED eicas messages Fixed RAT door LIT texture issue Fixed cockpit windows de-ice feature (xp12) Fixed possible unexpected ILS freq/crs changing without your input Fixed CG calculation in the tablet (xp12) Fixed the RAT beacon color Fixed the stab in 200, RF and C-32 Small fixes for de-ice systems Small fixes for brake press indication Got rid of libGLU dependency in FF_Effects plugin Retuned fuel flow Exterior Modelling
    The exterior modelling of the 757 is nicely executed, with the aircraft being accurately depicted within X-Plane 12. While it may not boast the highest level of detail, it is certainly more than satisfactory, especially when taking into account the aircraft's size and the potential impact on performance. 
     

     
     
    The landing gear and engines are exceptionally well-modelled, standing out as particularly high-quality elements. However, there are areas that could benefit from further refinement, such as the roof where the SATCOMs are situated, which appears to require a slight visual
    improvement.
     



     
    Exterior Texturing
    The exterior texturing of the aircraft is generally satisfactory, with most essential details captured, though some textures display a lower resolution, even when the “texture quality” setting in X-Plane is maximized. The engines, for instance, feature exceptionally sharp manufacturer logos, including those of Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney. Similarly, warning labels and text maintain a high level of clarity. However, textures depicting panel edges, bolts, and signs of wear such as dirt and scratches are of markedly lower quality, detracting from the overall immersive experience. This inconsistency extends to the fuselage, where although text on the doors is crisp and clear, other elements like panel edges and bolts suffer from low resolution. While parts of the landing gear textures are well executed, others fall short of this standard. In conclusion, the exterior visuals are acceptable, especially considering that the majority of the time is spent in the cockpit, engaged in flight. In saying that, there is considerable room for improvement to enhance the visual fidelity and immersion of the model.
     



     
    Interior Modelling
    The cockpit's interior modelling is impressively executed, with every knob, switch, and lever accurately rendered to reflect the real Boeing 757 flight deck's high level of detail. The overhead panel, with its switches and buttons, looks particularly well modelled, as does the Flight Management Computer (FMC). The yoke, tiller, and throttle levers are also nicely modelled, though, when compared to actual photographs of the flight deck, the yoke appears somewhat smaller than its real-world counterpart.
     



     
    In the passenger variants, the seat modelling is nicely done, presenting a nice level of detail. However, the rest of the cabin does not maintain this standard; the galley is notably featureless, and the modelling of the overhead lights and seat buttons is lacking. Interestingly, the rear galley exhibits slightly more detail than the forward galley, which seems slightly strange. 
     



     
    The C32 variant boasts a unique interior cabin that mirrors a Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), with the general modelling quality on par with the passenger variants. A feature which stands out is the command room, which is exquisitely detailed and offers a high degree of authenticity.
     


     
    As for the freighter variant, it features a simplified forward galley, but access to the cargo hold from the interior is not modelled. The cargo hold can only be viewed using the “free look” camera mode. Although the cargo hold's modelling is basic, it adequately represents such a space. Given the primary focus on the cockpit (which has evidently received the bulk of attention and effort) the lack of intricate detail in the cargo hold does not significantly detract from the overall experience.
     

     
    Interior Texturing
    Within the cockpit, the texturing, in my view, falls somewhat short, as the textures appear "flat" and lack the nuanced details of wear and tear one might expect. While the textures on switches and knobs are consistent and accurate, they do not convey a sense of the aircraft having been frequently used. Essentially, the cockpit looks almost brand new, apart from some slight weathering, which, for an aircraft that is getting on in years, seems like a missed opportunity in which to introduce some signs of wear, such as peeling paint. However, the colour accuracy, when compared to real-world images of the Boeing 757 flight deck, is pretty much spot on.

    On the positive side, the sharpness and legibility of text within the cockpit are outstanding features. The jump-seat texture is also notably sharp and detailed. Furthermore, the lighting on the overhead panel buttons is well executed, contributing to a more immersive experience. The inclusion of dirt and scratches on the displays adds a layer of realism, with the extent of wear adjustable via three settings in the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), a feature we'll explore in greater detail later.
     

     
    The cabin textures in the passenger variant mirror some of the cockpit's limitations. The carpet's deep blue hue adds a touch of appeal, yet the side panels, overhead bins, and walls suffer from somewhat flat textures, occasionally appearing less detailed. The seat textures fare slightly better, offering more clarity, though this diminishes upon closer inspection. Given its price point, one might expect more refined interior textures, but considering the model's age and the pace of X-Plane’s development, some leniency may be warranted. 
     

     
    Night Lighting
    The night lighting, both inside the cockpit and externally, is very nicely done. The colours and brightness levels are spot on, creating a highly immersive nocturnal flying experience. It's worth noting that I have a particular fondness for operating this aircraft at night, primarily due to the exceptional quality of the night lighting. Among the noteworthy features are the dynamic reflections on the windscreen, which vary according to the cockpit lighting's intensity.
     



     
    Similarly, the cabin lighting, which is entirely adjustable from the cockpit, enhances the overall ambiance. The cabin, in my opinion, appears significantly more appealing under the night lighting, contributing to the allure of nocturnal flights. Furthermore, the cabin lighting is visible from the exterior views, with its appearance altering in response to the cabin lights' brightness settings. 
     


     
    The lighting system has received considerable refinement in recent updates, a fact that is clearly reflected in the outstanding quality of the night lighting.
     


     
    Flight Model
    The flight models across the 757 fleet are impressively realised, with variations that reflect the differences in engine types and the distinct characteristics between the 757-200 and the longer 757-300. The flight model captures a satisfyingly heavy feel, appropriate for an aircraft of its size, yet remains keenly responsive to pilot inputs. Despite the absence of a fly-by-wire (FBW) system for the primary flight controls: though FBW is employed for certain control surfaces like the spoilers, the connection between pilot and aircraft feels direct and intuitive, enhancing the flying experience.
     


     
    FlightFactor has excelled in simulating the ground physics of the 757, making taxiing a straightforward and responsive task, whether using the rudder or tiller for navigation. The 757's reputation for being overpowered is accurately depicted in the FlightFactor 757. Advancing the thrust levers, particularly with the Rolls Royce RB211 engines, results in remarkable acceleration, capturing the aircraft's real-world performance perfectly. A fully laden 757 demonstrates a realistically extended take-off roll, adhering to expectations.
     


     
    Recent updates have significantly refined the flight model, addressing previous issues related to bugs and sluggish response times. Efforts to update the simulation of flap and speedbrake drag have resulted in enhanced accuracy, bringing the virtual experience ever closer to the realities of flying the actual aircraft.
     


     
    Sounds
    The default sound package of the aircraft is generally acceptable. The simulation of switches and rotary knobs in the cockpit is notably well done, delivering satisfyingly crisp auditory feedback. However, this level of detail and depth doesn’t extend to all sound aspects, such as the air conditioning and Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) noises, which fall short in terms of depth and variation. A notable absence of bass contributes to these sounds feeling somewhat flat and lacking in interest.

    The engine sounds differentiate adequately between the Pratt and Whitney and Rolls Royce engines, although, like the air conditioning and APU, the interior engine sounds could benefit from a richer bass presence. Conversely, the exterior engine sounds are more robust, offering a substantial depth and a significant amount of bass, though they are quite loud in their default setting. Thankfully, sound levels can be adjusted within the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), allowing for a more tailored auditory experience. The flyby sounds are also decent, aligning with the standard of default X-Plane aircraft sounds.
     

     
    Ambient noises, such as those of a bustling airport, can be heard in exterior views when the aircraft is in a cold and dark state. Personally, I find this addition slightly strange, detracting rather than enhancing the realism. Furthermore, the persistent interjections from the flight attendant regarding issues like cabin temperature, while aiming for realism, may not be universally appreciated. The option to disable this feature would be a beneficial addition for those who find it more intrusive than immersive. Moreover, the aircraft features an extensive selection of Passenger Announcement (PA) options, yet these PA sounds lack authenticity, bearing a resemblance to synthetic text-to-speech outputs rather than genuine in-flight announcements.

    Performance
    On my setup, the performance impact of operating the 757 is noticeably more pronounced than with any of the Toliss aircraft, which are renowned for their exceptional optimization. Specifically, I experience a reduction in frames per second (fps) by approximately 20% to 30% on average compared to the Toliss fleet and the default A330. Additionally, the 757 appears to demand more VRAM than the Toliss models and the default A330. An analysis using the plugin admin reveals that the 757's SASL plugin is a significant factor, accounting for nearly 20% of the performance load as depicted in the "performance pie chart." This indicates a clear need for an overhaul of the SASL's performance to enhance overall efficiency.
     

     
    Despite these performance challenges, I haven't experienced any stuttering issues, even when flying into more demanding airports like EGLL (London Heathrow) or KLAX (Los Angeles International). This suggests that while there is a tangible impact on performance, it may not critically affect users capable of running the default A330 at a reasonable fps. Nonetheless, improving the performance of the 757 remains an area in need of attention to ensure it aligns more closely with the high standards of efficiency seen in other aircraft within X-Plane.
     


     
    Systems
    The systems on the 757, while not as intricate as those found on Airbus aircraft, still present a level of complexity and accuracy expected from a Boeing model. The engine pages, Primary Flight Display (PFD), and Navigation Display (ND) are well-executed, displaying all the requisite information one would anticipate from such an aircraft. However, I would hesitate to categorize the systems as "Study Level," primarily due to the basic nature of the failure simulation. Some failures, for instance, either fail to activate or have no discernible impact on the aircraft's operation. A case in point is an attempted simulation of an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) engine failure, where the APU merely switched off without triggering an auditory warning like the Master Caution. The sole indication of the failure was an "APU Fail" message on the Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS) display.
     

     
    Additionally, the Electrical Bus (BUS) system, although generally accurate, suffers from a frustrating bug. Occasionally, when the APU or Ground Power Unit (GPU) is disconnected, the BUS Ties unexpectedly switch to the "Isolate" position rather than remaining in "Auto." This deviation from expected behaviour has, on several occasions, led to the aircraft shutting down during pushback, despite the APU and its generator being operational and connected to the BUS. On a positive note, the terrain and weather radar systems perform commendably, offering accuracy and reliability that significantly aid navigation in challenging weather conditions or when flying in proximity to hazardous terrain.
     

     
    EFB (Electronic Flight Bag)
    The EFB featured in this aircraft boasts a comprehensive array of options and functionalities, accessible either through the X-Plane “Plugins” menu or by interacting with the tablet within the cockpit. Engaging the tablet brings up the EFB as a 2D window. The "General" page presents some basic settings, including a master volume slider, providing a straightforward interface for adjusting essential parameters.
     

     
    The “Operations – Ground” page facilitates interaction with various ground services and the management of the aircraft’s weight and balance. Although it lacks a dedicated Weight and Balance chart, the "Optimise CG" button proves invaluable for adjusting the centre of gravity according to different load configurations. Loading the aircraft requires precise coordination of ground services and the opening of specific doors, a process that, while occasionally cumbersome, enhances realism. On the “Operations – Aircraft” page, users can manage door controls, adjust certain settings, and select engines. It's important to note that engine swaps are not possible once the aircraft is operational.
     

     
    The "Options" page, along with its subpages, offers an extensive selection of adjustable settings, ranging from auditory cues to visual effects. This section also provides the opportunity to install the "Modern Avionics" pack, assuming ownership. Further details on this upgrade will be discussed later in the review.
     



     
    The “Failures page” allows for the simulation of various system failures, designed with user-friendliness in mind, reminiscent of an installation wizard. This feature enables pilots to prepare for and respond to potential issues in a controlled environment.
    Insert failures page
     

     
    Lastly, the "In-Flight" page includes functionalities for activating Passenger Announcements (PAs), accessing navigational charts, and utilising a checklist feature that simulates the presence of a first officer, enhancing the realism and immersion of the flight experience.
     

     
    Modern Avionics Upgrade
    The "Modern Avionics Upgrade" package integrates well, offering a nuanced enhancement for simmers seeking a bit of diversity. It brings new operational dynamics and functionalities, but also a learning curve and the need for adaptation. The package is particularly appealing for those looking to engage with contemporary flight scenarios or enhance their proficiency with advanced systems, acting as a bridge to more modern aviation technologies. However, its value truly lies in the simmer's readiness to explore the aircraft's systems more deeply and to increase the authenticity of their flights. The upgrade is a valuable tool for those willing to invest the effort to fully appreciate its benefits.
     

     
    Conclusion
    In summing up, FlightFactor’s model stands as a commendable and accurate portrayal of the Boeing 757 and its principal variants. The ability to operate flights ranging from commercial passenger services to cargo hauls and even transporting senior political officials adds a unique and engaging dimension to each flight, ensuring a fresh and challenging experience. Despite the need for enhancements in visual and auditory fidelity, the systems and flight model are robust, offering a high-quality simulation of the Boeing 757, that will satisfy aviation enthusiasts and serious simmers alike.
     

     
    FlightFactor's commitment to continuous improvement is evident in their regular updates, giving users confidence that existing bugs will be addressed in due course, following the precedent set by previous fixes. While a visual overhaul is on the wishlist, the existing framework provides a solid representation of this nimble passenger jet. Performance optimisation is another area for potential enhancement; however, the current state remains functional and does not detract significantly from the overall experience.
     
    The price point may seem steep, especially considering the aircraft's age within X-Plane’s marketplace, but it's important to remember that the “Global Pack” offers substantial value.  This package includes four distinct aircraft variants along with the “Modern Avionics package,” making it a comprehensive choice for those looking to extensively explore the capabilities and variations of the Boeing 757.
     
    ________________________
     

     
    Boeing 757 version 2 Professional Global Package by FlightFactor is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    Boeing 757 version 2 Professional Global Package
    Priced at $119.00
     
    Features
    Supports both X-Plane 12 (fully updated) and X-Plane 11 
    The FPDS variant contains High resolution (768 x 1024 pixels) XGA multi-color LCD flat panel display with integrated standard six – FULL glass cockpit All digital electronics with improved accuracy, dependability and responsiveness DCP with Speed Reference Settings Minimum Selection (Radio or Baro) Units Selection Integrated Barometric Altimeter Setting Flight Path Vector Meters Altimeter The Boeing 757 Professional Extended includes 3 variants of the 757:
    757-200 Passenger 757-200SF Cargo 757-300  Each plane is available with two different engine configurations (P&W and RR).
    Officially licensed by the Boeing © Corporation Accurate dimensions based on drawings supplied by Boeing © Support for X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12 Suitable for beginners- Tutorial modes and auto procedures Great for advanced users - Complex systems are simulated Includes both Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney engine types  VR Compatible Flight model
    Accurate flight model, as close as it gets to real performance. Tested by real pilots. Dynamic and customizable center of gravity that depends on actual cargo, passenger placement and burning fuel in flight. Fully Functional Professional FMS and EFIS System
    Custom designed Flight Management Computer, integrated with other plane systems. Terminal procedures from updatable database. Two independent analogue instrument sets for captain and first officer. Two independently simulated EFIS (EADI/EHSI configuration) for captain and first officer. Dual-FMS with two independently working CDUs. Working instrument comparators. Triple IRS and triple symbol generator systems with realistic instrument source switching. Dual air-data computers with custom failure modes and source switching. Independent 2 nav and an ils receivers. Realistic inertial and radio position updating, you can see the individual inaccuracies of those systems. Triple-channel autopilot with realistic dependencies. Fail operational and fail passive autoland with mode degradations based on system failures. Load company routes generated by Professional Flight Planner X (or other compatible programs) directly into the FMC. FMC can be used on external touchscreen or tablet, optimized for the Retina iPad. Custom cockpit interaction system
    Adjustable modes for cockpit interaction, you chose what to use for clicks Different cockpit interaction modes, with mouse wheel and right button support In-cockpit tooltips from the manual - you click on the button and see portions of the manual on display In-cockpit life datarefs for cockpit building  Options
    A very flexible architecture: You chose the set up Different options for many avionics instruments including two types of FMC. Options to composite your own EICAS, EADI and EHSI displays. Most of the options that the real 757 fleet has are included. Many additional options for sounds, cockpit interaction, effects etc. Interactive Checklists, Procedures, and auto-helper (Exclusive feature)
    Full electronic interactive checklists and procedures with automatic action detection. Automatic mode helper that performs all the actions for you. You just CHECK the items. A tutorial which shows the user what to do and when. An option to have a visual aid on what and when to do in procedures. Custom Systems and Failure model
    Detailed and deep simulation of almost every system in the real aircraft. Custom air and pressure system. Electrical system with all AC and DC busses modelled - see which system depends on which bus. Hydraulic system that uses a little fluid when treated correctly and a lot of fluid if used incorrectly. Multistage custom failure system - over 200 more failures than X-Plane. (Exclusive feature) Ability to fix failure by following proper procedure. Persistent failure and maintenance system - Aircraft wear and misuse will carry over to your next flight.  Warning system and radars (Exclusive feature)
    Fully functional GPWS with all the modes the real plane has. Fully functional terrain radar, with custom database (just like the real plane), a look-ahead warning system and many other features. Weather radar that works like the real thing. Including tilt and gain functions, ground clutter, turbulence detection and windshear prediction. 3D Modeling
    Accurate dimensions based on exterior drawings provided by Boeing. Very detailed exterior modelling with high resolution textures. Very high resolution 3D cockpit with every switch functional. Spatial rain simulation with high detail. Very detailed passenger cabin graphics including galleys. Additional graphic features: real working oxygen masks both in cockpit and cabin, dynamic window blinds that react to sunlight etc. New and improved wingflex. Special effects (Exclusive features)
    Multilayer dynamic reflections on all glass objects. Glow effects on screens Reflective metal and plastic objects in the cockpit. Glossy exterior that reflects the outside. XP weather enhancements like custom windshear. Custom Sounds (Exclusive features)
    Two sound packs by BSS for both engines. Several hundred custom sounds. In-cockpit custom sounds. Switches with individual sounds. Many individual system sound inside and outside. Airport environment sounds. Cabin sounds. 3D stereo sound system for engines. In flight cabin announcements. Interactive communication with the cabin crew (reporting misconfigurations and passenger comfort problems). On Screen menus (Exclusive features)
    An iPad-like menu popping-up from the cockpit. Custom pages for loading/unloading fuel, cargo and passengers, customizing the CG, calling for pushback and performing maintenance. Ability to customize the plane with winglets, special effects level, wingflex level and set other options to be saved or default. Ground equipment and door pages. Failure monitoring menu. Extra objects and equipment
    Working push-back truck - Fully controllable with your joystick. Passenger bus and stairs or optional gate configuration (passengers can be loaded from gate instead of bus). Fuel truck, de-Icing truck, GPU, ground-start units both visible and fully functional with airplane systems. Other ground equipment. Liveries
     7 default liveries included in the package: Air France, American, Boeing House, Jet2.com, Lufthansa, Thomson, VA X-Airways  About 50 additional liveries are available separately.  SmartCopilot Compatible
    Download the SmartCopilot files here Requirements
    X-Plane 12, X-Plane 11.50+
    Windows 10+, Mac OS 10.15+ (Intel or Apple Silicon) or Linux 14.04 LTS or compatible, 64 bit mode Disk Space: 4 GB X-Plane 12:
    Minimum: CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9, or equivalent RAM: 16 GB Video Card: a Vulkan 1.3-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 6 GB VRAM Recommended: CPU: Intel Core intel i5-12600K or Ryzen 5 3500 or better RAM: 32 GB Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 8-12 GB VRAM  (GeForce RTX 2070 or better, or similar from AMD) X-Plane 11:
    Minimum: CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with at least 4 cores, or AMD equivalent RAM: 16 GB Video Card: a DirectX 11-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 4 GB VRAM Recommended: CPU: Intel Core i5 8600k or Ryzen 5 3500 or better RAM: 32 GB Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 8 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better, or similar from AMD) Review System Specifications
    Windows 10, Intel i5-12400F, 32GB RAM, RTX 3070Ti 
    ________________________
    Aircraft Update Review by DrishalMAC2
    31st 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).
     

     
     
     
     
  9. Like
    Dominic Smith reacted to skytitude in Scenery Review: X01 - Everglades Airpark, Florida by Skytitude   
    Thank you Felicity for an awesome review of Everglades.
    As i remember i did ortho's this way because the satellite has captured too much annoying shadows on higher resolution photos.
    I will take a look on how I can improve the integrated ortho's terrain in Everglades.
    My appreciated for honest review and your time, this is very useful.
  10. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from skytitude in Scenery Review: PAPG - Petersburg James A Johnson Airport by Northern Sky Studio   
    Scenery Review: PAPG - Petersburg James A Johnson Airport by Northern Sky Studio
     
    By DrishalMAC2
     
    Introduction
    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
     
    Installation
    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.

    Documentation
    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. 
     


     
    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.
     



     
    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.
     


     
    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.
     


     
    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.
     



     
    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.
     



     
    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.  
     


     
    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.
     



     
    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.
     


     
    Performance
    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. 
     

     
    Conclusion
    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
     
    Features
    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 Requirements
    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).
     

  11. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from skytitude in Scenery Review: X01 - Everglades Airpark, Florida by Skytitude   
    Scenery Review: X01 - Everglades Airpark, Florida by Skytitude
     
    By Felicity Smith
     
    Introduction
    As a young girl, I remember rushing home after school to immerse myself in the adventures of Mark, his dad, and Gentle Ben, gliding effortlessly on their airboat through the Everglades in the television series 'Gentle Ben.' Those reruns transported me to a world filled with simplicity and joy, a feeling I’ve cherished into adulthood. So, when Everglades Airpark popped up on the Org store, and hubby suggested I take a look, I thought, why not!

    Everglades Airpark, located a mile southwest of Everglades City in Collier County, Florida, is more than just a hub for aviation activities; it's a portal to the expansive 10,000 islands that dot the region. Yes, an astounding 10,000! This strategic position offers virtual pilots a scenic base that perfectly captures the essence and beauty of the Everglades. 
     

     
    Installation and Documentation
    Users are provided with two zip files, one tailored for X-Plane 12 and the other for X-Plane 11, to ensure compatibility regardless of the version they are using. The files are compact, with the download size being just over 160MB and expanding slightly to around 170MB once extracted. The installation process involves simply transferring the two folders into your Custom Scenery folder, making it as straightforward as preparing for takeoff. Documentation comes in the form of a modest text document. It's simple yet effective, providing all the essential information needed for installation. 

    First Impressions
    My first flight over Everglades Airpark in X-Plane was truly eye-opening. For those who haven't had the opportunity to visit this part of the world, the expansive view of countless islands and mangroves is striking. The scenery offers depth with its myriad of islands and islets, presenting a rich tapestry for exploration. While it's uncertain if every single island has been individually modeled, the contrast to X-Plane's more generic landscapes is notable. The enhancements made to the bathymetry data through the edited mesh significantly smooth out the dips and rises in water surfaces that X-Plane sometimes exhibits. This adjustment leads to a more realistic experience, especially noticeable when flying at low altitudes, by mitigating the visual disruptions caused by these inconsistencies
     
    As you fly over the airpark, the detailing becomes even more apparent. A custom photographic overlay enhances the realism of the airport and its surroundings, making aspects such as the runway and the nearby Chokoloskee Bay appear more lifelike. Furthermore, the overlay extends over the water, effectively using different shades of blue to indicate variations in water depth.
     



     
    Everglades Airpark
    Approaching Everglades Airpark reveals that its charm lies in the subtle details rather than grandiosity. The developer has achieved a near perfect balance with the custom foliage, including shrubs, trees, and 3D grass, which are distributed in a way that creates a scene that is neither barren nor overcrowded. Combined with X-Plane's ambient nature sounds, the setting attains an immersive quality that is both pleasing and authentic.
     



     
    The runway itself features textures that realistically reflect wear and tear. The addition of what appears to be windblown sand across areas of the runway further enhances its visual fidelity and acknowledges the airpark's proximity to the coastline. Runway markings, as you would expect, are minimal, displaying only the essential numbers and the airport’s frequency, which underscores the airpark's practical, no-frills ethos.
     


     
    In terms of structures, the airpark reflects its real-world counterpart’s modesty with just a few buildings. The main hangar, serving as a shelter for small single-engine GA aircraft, and the main ticket office, which modestly functions beyond what might typically be called a terminal, are notable for their modelling. The inclusion of 3D figures around the ticket office adds a touch of life to the scenery, a detail that enhances realism. A parking area, a small water tower, and various pieces of airport clutter fill out the scene. While the airpark does not boast a wide range of structures, each element is thoughtfully placed, enriching the overall experience without overstimulating the senses.
     

     
    Everglades City
    Northward from the airpark, one encounters Everglades City, a charmingly small community that, despite its name, is home to fewer than four hundred residents. The city’s layout, with its orderly grid of streets, hosts a variety of residential and commercial structures. These are integrated into the scenery with a photographic overlay that, while not achieving razor-sharp clarity, marks a modest step up from the default textures provided by X-Plane. The waterfront, with its array of docks and jetties complemented by a selection of default boats, melds surprisingly well into the surroundings. 
     



     
    Chokoloskee Island
    Chokoloskee Island, situated further south and connected to the mainland by a three-mile-long causeway, adds a serene element to the scenery. Its numerous buildings and static caravans, integrated using a photographic overlay, had the potential to be a standout feature. Unfortunately, the use of low-resolution imagery here undermines this potential. Given the relatively small size of the download package, it seems there was an opportunity for the developers to incorporate higher resolution textures without a significant increase in file size. At a time when users are generally receptive to downloading larger files for enhanced realism, the decision to keep the file size modest may limit the visual fidelity of these areas. Upgrading to higher resolution textures could have notably improved the immersive quality of Chokoloskee Island, transforming it into a more engaging part of the Everglades Airpark experience. The present resolution, particularly at lower altitudes, detracts from the scenery's potential to fully captivate virtual pilots with the natural beauty and detailed landscape that this unique region deserves.
     


     
    Night Lighting
    The night lighting at Everglades Airpark, though modest, captures the essence of what you'd expect from a small general aviation airport such as this. It's not so much about the dazzle but the fit, and in this case, the lighting strikes a pleasant balance. The gentle illumination of the main office building, coupled with the streetlights weaving through Everglades City, creates a serene and realistic nocturnal setting. It’s subtle, yet thoughtfully implemented, providing just enough light to navigate without overpowering the quiet beauty of the surrounding area.
     


     
    Performance
    Given that my computer is typically more engaged with games like “Hogwarts Legacy” and “Age of Empires” rather than the highly detailed and demanding environment of X-Plane 12, I approached this scenery with a measure of apprehension. To my pleasant surprise, the performance across Everglades Airpark was impressively smooth. The only moment I encountered a slight slowdown was when X-Plane 12’s default trees, especially animated ones in windy conditions, began to accumulate, leading to a minor drop in frame rates. However, for those who, like me, find the trees from X-Plane 11 more than satisfactory, switching back to these in the graphics menu is an option. Overall, the scenery performed excellently, free from stutter and maintaining a good performance level throughout. 
     


     
    Conclusion
    In reviewing Everglades Airpark, I've found an experience that captures the simplicity and authenticity of the real Everglades, albeit on a somewhat modest scale. The scenery shines in depicting the main airport and its immediate vicinity, with its upgraded mesh, realistically modelled main airport building, and a genuine sense of place that truly embodies the spirit of this distinctive location.

    However, there is room for improvement, particularly the lower-resolution overlays in the urban settings near the airport. While these aspects don’t entirely detract from the overall enjoyment, they do present a clear avenue for enhancement that could elevate the scenery to more closely match the vividness and detail of its real-world inspiration.
     

     
    Weighing the scenery’s modest intentions against its successes, it stands out as a rewarding exploration for those captivated by the charm of the Everglades. With an accessible price point, it offers a compelling option for virtual pilots in search of new adventures, set within a context that doesn't aim for overwhelming grandeur but rather a heartfelt tribute to a beloved region.
     
    ________________________
     

     
    X01 - Everglades Airpark, Florida by Skytitude is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    Everglades Airpark
    Priced at $12.95
     
    Features
    Complete and accurate representation of Everglades Airpark Highly Detailed areas of Everglades City, Chokoloskee Island and ten thousand Islands for greater VFR Custom Materials and Surfaces with Physical-Based Rendering Effect (PBR) Wet Surfaces Using New X-Plane 12 Weather Technology Spectacular Buildings and Objects with Realistic Night Lighting High Density Hand-Placed Forests and Plants Custom 3D Grass Using New X-Plane 12 Vegetation Technology Accurately Built Large Surrounding Area with Thousands of Hand-Placed Objects Edited mesh for +25-082 tile, a lot of bathymetry data problems fixed Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    Download Size: 163 MB
    Current version: XP 12 1.0 (Jan 24th, 2024)
     
    Review System Specifications
    AMD R5 2600 – 16GB RAM - Nvidia RTX 2060 – Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
     
    __________________________________
     
    Scenery Review by Felicity Smith
    15th 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).
     
    =
     
     
  12. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Scenery Review: PAPG - Petersburg James A Johnson Airport by Northern Sky Studio   
    Scenery Review: PAPG - Petersburg James A Johnson Airport by Northern Sky Studio
     
    By DrishalMAC2
     
    Introduction
    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
     
    Installation
    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.

    Documentation
    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. 
     


     
    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.
     



     
    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.
     


     
    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.
     


     
    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.
     



     
    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.
     



     
    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.  
     


     
    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.
     



     
    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.
     


     
    Performance
    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. 
     

     
    Conclusion
    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
     
    Features
    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 Requirements
    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).
     

  13. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Scenery Review: X01 - Everglades Airpark, Florida by Skytitude   
    Scenery Review: X01 - Everglades Airpark, Florida by Skytitude
     
    By Felicity Smith
     
    Introduction
    As a young girl, I remember rushing home after school to immerse myself in the adventures of Mark, his dad, and Gentle Ben, gliding effortlessly on their airboat through the Everglades in the television series 'Gentle Ben.' Those reruns transported me to a world filled with simplicity and joy, a feeling I’ve cherished into adulthood. So, when Everglades Airpark popped up on the Org store, and hubby suggested I take a look, I thought, why not!

    Everglades Airpark, located a mile southwest of Everglades City in Collier County, Florida, is more than just a hub for aviation activities; it's a portal to the expansive 10,000 islands that dot the region. Yes, an astounding 10,000! This strategic position offers virtual pilots a scenic base that perfectly captures the essence and beauty of the Everglades. 
     

     
    Installation and Documentation
    Users are provided with two zip files, one tailored for X-Plane 12 and the other for X-Plane 11, to ensure compatibility regardless of the version they are using. The files are compact, with the download size being just over 160MB and expanding slightly to around 170MB once extracted. The installation process involves simply transferring the two folders into your Custom Scenery folder, making it as straightforward as preparing for takeoff. Documentation comes in the form of a modest text document. It's simple yet effective, providing all the essential information needed for installation. 

    First Impressions
    My first flight over Everglades Airpark in X-Plane was truly eye-opening. For those who haven't had the opportunity to visit this part of the world, the expansive view of countless islands and mangroves is striking. The scenery offers depth with its myriad of islands and islets, presenting a rich tapestry for exploration. While it's uncertain if every single island has been individually modeled, the contrast to X-Plane's more generic landscapes is notable. The enhancements made to the bathymetry data through the edited mesh significantly smooth out the dips and rises in water surfaces that X-Plane sometimes exhibits. This adjustment leads to a more realistic experience, especially noticeable when flying at low altitudes, by mitigating the visual disruptions caused by these inconsistencies
     
    As you fly over the airpark, the detailing becomes even more apparent. A custom photographic overlay enhances the realism of the airport and its surroundings, making aspects such as the runway and the nearby Chokoloskee Bay appear more lifelike. Furthermore, the overlay extends over the water, effectively using different shades of blue to indicate variations in water depth.
     



     
    Everglades Airpark
    Approaching Everglades Airpark reveals that its charm lies in the subtle details rather than grandiosity. The developer has achieved a near perfect balance with the custom foliage, including shrubs, trees, and 3D grass, which are distributed in a way that creates a scene that is neither barren nor overcrowded. Combined with X-Plane's ambient nature sounds, the setting attains an immersive quality that is both pleasing and authentic.
     



     
    The runway itself features textures that realistically reflect wear and tear. The addition of what appears to be windblown sand across areas of the runway further enhances its visual fidelity and acknowledges the airpark's proximity to the coastline. Runway markings, as you would expect, are minimal, displaying only the essential numbers and the airport’s frequency, which underscores the airpark's practical, no-frills ethos.
     


     
    In terms of structures, the airpark reflects its real-world counterpart’s modesty with just a few buildings. The main hangar, serving as a shelter for small single-engine GA aircraft, and the main ticket office, which modestly functions beyond what might typically be called a terminal, are notable for their modelling. The inclusion of 3D figures around the ticket office adds a touch of life to the scenery, a detail that enhances realism. A parking area, a small water tower, and various pieces of airport clutter fill out the scene. While the airpark does not boast a wide range of structures, each element is thoughtfully placed, enriching the overall experience without overstimulating the senses.
     

     
    Everglades City
    Northward from the airpark, one encounters Everglades City, a charmingly small community that, despite its name, is home to fewer than four hundred residents. The city’s layout, with its orderly grid of streets, hosts a variety of residential and commercial structures. These are integrated into the scenery with a photographic overlay that, while not achieving razor-sharp clarity, marks a modest step up from the default textures provided by X-Plane. The waterfront, with its array of docks and jetties complemented by a selection of default boats, melds surprisingly well into the surroundings. 
     



     
    Chokoloskee Island
    Chokoloskee Island, situated further south and connected to the mainland by a three-mile-long causeway, adds a serene element to the scenery. Its numerous buildings and static caravans, integrated using a photographic overlay, had the potential to be a standout feature. Unfortunately, the use of low-resolution imagery here undermines this potential. Given the relatively small size of the download package, it seems there was an opportunity for the developers to incorporate higher resolution textures without a significant increase in file size. At a time when users are generally receptive to downloading larger files for enhanced realism, the decision to keep the file size modest may limit the visual fidelity of these areas. Upgrading to higher resolution textures could have notably improved the immersive quality of Chokoloskee Island, transforming it into a more engaging part of the Everglades Airpark experience. The present resolution, particularly at lower altitudes, detracts from the scenery's potential to fully captivate virtual pilots with the natural beauty and detailed landscape that this unique region deserves.
     


     
    Night Lighting
    The night lighting at Everglades Airpark, though modest, captures the essence of what you'd expect from a small general aviation airport such as this. It's not so much about the dazzle but the fit, and in this case, the lighting strikes a pleasant balance. The gentle illumination of the main office building, coupled with the streetlights weaving through Everglades City, creates a serene and realistic nocturnal setting. It’s subtle, yet thoughtfully implemented, providing just enough light to navigate without overpowering the quiet beauty of the surrounding area.
     


     
    Performance
    Given that my computer is typically more engaged with games like “Hogwarts Legacy” and “Age of Empires” rather than the highly detailed and demanding environment of X-Plane 12, I approached this scenery with a measure of apprehension. To my pleasant surprise, the performance across Everglades Airpark was impressively smooth. The only moment I encountered a slight slowdown was when X-Plane 12’s default trees, especially animated ones in windy conditions, began to accumulate, leading to a minor drop in frame rates. However, for those who, like me, find the trees from X-Plane 11 more than satisfactory, switching back to these in the graphics menu is an option. Overall, the scenery performed excellently, free from stutter and maintaining a good performance level throughout. 
     


     
    Conclusion
    In reviewing Everglades Airpark, I've found an experience that captures the simplicity and authenticity of the real Everglades, albeit on a somewhat modest scale. The scenery shines in depicting the main airport and its immediate vicinity, with its upgraded mesh, realistically modelled main airport building, and a genuine sense of place that truly embodies the spirit of this distinctive location.

    However, there is room for improvement, particularly the lower-resolution overlays in the urban settings near the airport. While these aspects don’t entirely detract from the overall enjoyment, they do present a clear avenue for enhancement that could elevate the scenery to more closely match the vividness and detail of its real-world inspiration.
     

     
    Weighing the scenery’s modest intentions against its successes, it stands out as a rewarding exploration for those captivated by the charm of the Everglades. With an accessible price point, it offers a compelling option for virtual pilots in search of new adventures, set within a context that doesn't aim for overwhelming grandeur but rather a heartfelt tribute to a beloved region.
     
    ________________________
     

     
    X01 - Everglades Airpark, Florida by Skytitude is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    Everglades Airpark
    Priced at $12.95
     
    Features
    Complete and accurate representation of Everglades Airpark Highly Detailed areas of Everglades City, Chokoloskee Island and ten thousand Islands for greater VFR Custom Materials and Surfaces with Physical-Based Rendering Effect (PBR) Wet Surfaces Using New X-Plane 12 Weather Technology Spectacular Buildings and Objects with Realistic Night Lighting High Density Hand-Placed Forests and Plants Custom 3D Grass Using New X-Plane 12 Vegetation Technology Accurately Built Large Surrounding Area with Thousands of Hand-Placed Objects Edited mesh for +25-082 tile, a lot of bathymetry data problems fixed Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    Download Size: 163 MB
    Current version: XP 12 1.0 (Jan 24th, 2024)
     
    Review System Specifications
    AMD R5 2600 – 16GB RAM - Nvidia RTX 2060 – Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
     
    __________________________________
     
    Scenery Review by Felicity Smith
    15th 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).
     
    =
     
     
  14. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Scenery Review: RJBB-Kansai International Airport by Darkblue Scenery   
    Scenery Review: RJBB-Kansai International Airport by Darkblue Scenery
     
    By Michael Hayward
     
    Introduction
    Kansai International Airport serves as the primary gateway to the Greater Osaka Area in Japan. This remarkable airport, inaugurated 30 years ago, is uniquely situated on an island made from reclaimed land, lying 5 km offshore from Honshu. Its near-sea-level elevation of just five meters is particularly noteworthy. In the previous year, it impressively handled close to twenty-eight million passenger movements.

    Darkblue Scenery, originating from China, are a modest-sized developer within the X-Plane community. Their portfolio includes a total of five airports, with Kansai being their most recent venture. As newcomers to the scene, they have ambitiously aimed to offer a diverse array of popular, yet distinct airports focused on East Asia for the platform. With an open mind about the possibilities that a new developer might bring to the bustling airports of X-Plane, let's embark on this exploration and see what Darkblue Scenery has in store!

    What/Where is Kansai International Airport?
    As noted earlier, Kansai International Airport was inaugurated in September 1994, conceived as a solution to the overcrowding at Itami Airport. Surrounded by a densely populated area, Itami had no room for expansion, necessitating a larger hub for the region. The construction of Kansai's man-made island began in 1987, completing in just two years, with terminal and other facilities ready five years thereafter.

    Kansai International has received several Skytrax awards, acknowledging its service excellence. These awards include best airport staff in Asia and the world, best baggage reclaim, and recognition for having the longest airport terminal globally, extending 1.1 miles from end to end. Situated in a region prone to natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons, Japan faced a severe test in 1995. The Great Hanshin Earthquake, with its epicentre only 20km away, resulted in over 6,000 deaths and extensive infrastructure damage. Remarkably, the terminal and island airport withstood the disaster without sustaining damage, a testament to its resilient design.
     

     
    Installation
    Upon purchasing from the X-Plane.org store, you will receive a download link for the scenery. The download process is swift, resulting in a zip file that encompasses not only the scenery but also an extra file ensuring compatibility with X-Plane 11, which is always nice to see.
    The package comes with a concise instruction’s pamphlet available in English, Japanese, and Chinese. This guide details the installation steps and provides specific directions for XP11 users on replacing the Earth nav data to ensure the scenery runs smoothly on the older platform.

    Structures and Facilities 
    Kansai International Airport is distinguished by its unique location on two artificial islands. The first airport island spans approximately 510 hectares, hosting Terminal 1, while the second airport island, slightly larger, covers approximately 545 hectares and accommodates Terminal 2. Together, these islands combine for a total area of 1,055 hectares (2,600 acres). They are interconnected by a taxiway bridge, facilitating seamless operations between the two terminals. Access from the mainland is streamlined by a 3km bridge that connects to Rinku Town, ensuring straightforward entry and departure for passengers. 
     



     
    Terminal 1
    Darkblue Scenery has invested considerable effort in accurately rendering Terminal 1 of Kansai International Airport, achieving impressive visual fidelity. This main passenger terminal, a sprawling four-story structure, highlights an innovative airfoil-shaped roof designed to enhance air circulation within. Constructed with steel and extensive glass exteriors, it provides expansive views of the airport's surroundings. The terminal's architecture brilliantly utilizes X-Plane 12's Physically Based Rendering (PBR) technology, capturing the nuanced shifts in daylight and the stunning hues of sunrise and sunset, thus enriching the simulation experience with its detailed and dynamic appearance.
     



     
    Terminal 2
    In contrast, Terminal 2 features a more utilitarian design, embodying simplicity and cost-effectiveness with its single-story layout. This approach notably forgoes the need for elevators, aligning with the terminal's focus on streamlined operations. While the modelling of Terminal 2 may appear simpler compared to the grandeur of Terminal 1, this distinction reflects the real-life architectural choices, emphasizing functionality and efficiency. Despite its straightforward design, Terminal 2 is a vital component of the airport, serving as a hub for low-cost carriers and enhancing the airport's capacity to accommodate diverse passenger needs.
     



     
    The airport layout is thoughtfully designed to accommodate a variety of aircraft sizes, with jet bridges at each gate and larger stands equipped for multiple aircraft doors. This design is a nod to the era when both JAL and ANA operated Boeing 747s for domestic routes and underscores the airport's capacity for handling significant international traffic. 
     
    Inside Terminal 1, the modelling is straightforward yet functional, featuring elements like walkways and benches that span the terminal's considerable length. While not the most intricate interior encountered, its design thoughtfully balances visual quality with performance. It provides sufficient detail to appreciate the airport's expansive scale from a broader perspective, without the need for an in-depth exploration.
     


     
    Transportation options within the airport are effectively implemented, featuring shuttle trains and buses to facilitate movement between terminals, alongside a city train that extends across the bridge to the mainland. For those who prefer, there's also the option to walk between terminals. Personally, the convenience of the bus or train seems more appealing for navigating the expansive airport grounds.
     


     
    The island housing Terminal 1 also accommodates cargo and maintenance facilities, administrative buildings, and offices, highlighting the airport's significant contribution to local cargo trade. These sections are accurately modelled to reflect their real-world counterparts, including an open hangar for aircraft parking. The vast scale of this operational hub within the airport is impressive, subtly reminding you of its unique location five kilometres offshore.
     



     
    The intricate network of roads and railways connecting the terminals and mainland is accurately depicted, enhancing the realism with dynamic road traffic. Additionally, the inclusion of a solar farm alongside the southern runway highlights the attention to detail, with each panel oriented for optimal sunlight exposure. The textures employed throughout the scenery are notably high in quality, with 4k resolution enhancing the clarity and legibility of building details and signage.
     

     
    Whilst there's room for improvement in the detailing of the terminal roof, the overall design is coherent and thoughtfully applied. Darkblue Scenery has put forth a commendable effort in depicting Kansai International Airport, delivering a rich and engaging experience through carefully created textures and models that span the entirety of the airport's layout.
     

     
    Taxiways and Runway 
    Kansai International Airport's two runways, 06R/24L and 06L/24R, are thoughtfully integrated into the airport's layout, connected to the terminal buildings through a central pair of main taxiways and further supported by several smaller spurs. This well-designed infrastructure facilitates smooth and efficient movement throughout the airport. 
     


     
    The runway ground textures at Kansai International Airport, like those of the terminal, are rendered in 4k resolution, significantly aiding navigation. However, it's important to point out that although the custom runway, taxiway, and general ground textures exhibit this high 4K resolution, the photographic ortho imagery for the wider airport area might not meet the same standard, often appearing somewhat muddy in comparison. Upgrading the ortho imagery to a higher resolution here would help improve the visual quality of the scenery, thereby making the scenery more immersive and engaging. 


     
    The use of bump mapping introduces a subtle depth to the concrete surfaces, capturing the effects of years of exposure to water and aviation fluids. This results in a variety of marks and stains on the originally smooth, grey concrete, contributing to a realistic portrayal of wear and tear. This effect not only enhances visual depth but also adds character to the airport environment. Painted surfaces on the ground receive special treatment with a slight sheen, thanks to PBR technology. This is carefully balanced, avoiding an over polished look, and instead mimics the subtle lustre of newly painted surfaces.
     



     
    Night Effects
    Nighttime at Kansai International Airport highlights the considerable effort Darkblue Scenery has put into their work, with their commitment becoming particularly evident after dusk. The runway lights transform the approach into a vivid guide through the darkness, prominently marking the airport against the ocean's expanse. This design ensures the airport stands out as a beacon on its island, a feature further enhanced by the taxiways' green central lights. These lights provide essential guidance to pilots navigating to their gates, especially useful amidst Japan's often unpredictable weather.
     


     
    Each parking stand is effectively illuminated, thanks to strategically placed floodlights near each jetbridge, complemented by ambient light emanating from the terminal buildings. This implementation of X-Plane 12's dynamic lighting enhances the visual appeal significantly, creating a scene that is both visually striking and authentic. The airport's lighting envelopes the infrastructure and pathways to the mainland in a soft orange halogen glow. The careful placement of each light source enhances the visual appeal, creating a nighttime ambiance that's both vibrant and welcoming, even in the absence of bustling crowds.
     


     
     
    While the terminal's lighting is both bright and extensive, it doesn't fully shine through the transparent textured glass windows as ideally expected. This shortfall is slightly disappointing, particularly given the careful placement of spotlights within the departure lounge, an effect that regrettably does not project well to an observer from the cockpit. However, an ambient orange glow from the terminal's service vehicle underpass subtly conveys the internal dynamics.
     
    Additionally, the use of older lighting techniques, such as baked-on lit textures, is noticeable, particularly in the office windows. This approach, while historically effective, presents a stark contrast to the more dynamic lighting used elsewhere, highlighting a mix of lighting styles within the airport's design. The maintenance facilities continue to contribute to the airport's nighttime allure, with industrial areas enveloped in stark white light. The hangar, bathed in light from roof-mounted spotlights, emphasizes the operational scale and significance of these zones.
     


     
    Performance
    Performance-wise, Kansai International Airport proved to be impressively smooth, holding up well even when faced with challenging weather scenarios. The only instance of a noticeable decrease in frame rates occurred during night operations, which may have been influenced, in part, by the presence of Traffic Global. 
     


     
    Opinion and Closing Remarks
    Discovering Darkblue Scenery's work on Kansai International Airport has indeed been an eye-opener. Approaching this review with an open mind, I've been thoroughly impressed by the quality and detail embedded within the scenery. The evident effort and careful planning that has gone into recreating KIX, positions it among the finest Japanese sceneries available for X-Plane 12. 
     
    While there are few negatives to highlight, it's worth mentioning that the photographic ortho used, albeit a nice addition, could benefit from a higher resolution to maintain quality upon closer inspection. Additionally, the use of baked lit textures on some major buildings, while functional, does reminisce about earlier days of X-Plane design. These points, hopeful for attention in future updates, are minor when considering the overall excellence of the scenery.
     

     
    For flight simmers seeking a detailed and carefully modeled airport without a hefty price tag, Darkblue Scenery's Kansai International Airport, priced at an accessible $16.99, stands out as an excellent choice. This scenery not only showcases the developer's remarkable capability but also ignites anticipation for future creations. With a keen eye on areas ripe for enhancement, I remain genuinely excited to witness the ongoing evolution of their offerings.
     
    ______________________________________
     

     
    RJBB-Kansai International Airport by Darkblue Scenery is available from the Org store here:
     
    RJBB-Kansai International Airport
    Priced at US$16.99
     
    Features:
    4K textures. Whole island owned detail modeled buildings which restored from reality. Customized ground markings and taxiway signs. Customized lights. Customized taxiway and runway texture. Interior for some buildings include Terminal 1 and train station. Accurate taxiway and runway according to the newest AIRAC data. Extremely FPS friendly. Requirements:
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
    (XP11 has been tested and could run without error, as this scenery is fully designed for XP12, some users may experience few jetways offset in XP11.)
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    8 GB VRAM Minimum
    Download Size: 810 MB
     
    Reviewers System:
    Windows 10 Professional
    AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Processor
    32GB RAM
    Palit GeForce RTX™ 3080 GamingPro
     
    Scenery Review by Michael Hayward 
    29th February 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) 
     

     
  15. Like
    Dominic Smith reacted to Kiwiflyer in Scenery Review: LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island XP 12 by Cami De Bellis   
    Through your enchanting scenery Cami, I feel the warmth of this sun-kissed location, like stepping off a flight, taking breath, then, meandering through town, down to the glistening water's edge, across castor sugar sands, and finding that perfect, family run Ristorante, seated outside, with a cool breeze, sipping a life-giving granita, savouring the freshest local cuisine, all while watching the sun set lazily across shimmering tranquil seas.
     
    Am I dreaming?
     
    Not anymore. Thanks to you Cami, for transporting this Kiwi to distant shores and your stunning atmospheric render, and to you Dom for your beguiling review. I feel like I've just had a holiday. In-fact, now I can, anytime!
     
    Now... where's my suitcase?lol
     
    Nigel
  16. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Cami De Bellis in Scenery Review: LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island XP 12 by Cami De Bellis   
    Scenery Review: LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island XP 12 by Cami De Bellis
     
    By Dominic Smith
     
    Introduction
    Lampedusa, the largest of the Italian Pelagie Islands in the Mediterranean, stands as Italy's southernmost point, closer to Tunisia than mainland Italy. Spanning 20.2 km2, it is home to approximately 6,000 residents. Lampedusa Airport, situated merely a few hundred meters from the town centre, boasts a 5,889ft asphalt runway and experiences peak traffic during summer, catering to medium-sized aircraft like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

    Cami De Bellis' rendition of Lampedusa Island and its airport, alongside Linosa Island, showcases her hallmark attention to detail. This scenery features highly accurate representations of Lampedusa Island, its associated airport, Linosa Island, over 160 custom objects, and custom terrain mesh by Maps2XPlane. The package offers high-resolution textures in both 2K and 4K, native 3D characters and vehicles, two heliports, and much more, providing an immersive experience for users.

    As some of you may be aware, I am a great admirer of Cami's work, as her sceneries are superbly detailed, embodying a unique personal touch that distinctly marks her creations as special. There's something about the way Cami infuses her projects with her own essence, though it's hard to pinpoint exactly what, that elevates them above the ordinary.
     

     
    Installation
    The scenery is purchasable from the Org store at $18.90 and is notably large, with a download size of 2.8GB and an extraction size of 4.7GB. This size is substantial in comparison to many other sceneries, due in part to the mesh and ortho coverage. Within the package, there are three folders that should be transferred to the Custom Scenery folder within X-Plane. The naming convention of these folders eliminates the need for adjustments to the scenery_packs.ini file, simplifying the setup. Furthermore, the absence of any requirement for keys or activation streamlines the installation process, making it exceptionally straightforward.

    Documentation
    The documentation is comprised of two PDF files: one dedicated to installation and the other, aptly named "Tips & Tricks," offers guidance on maximizing the scenery's potential and highlights specific features. Both documents are well-composed, with a clear layout, making them invaluable resources to review before launching X-Plane. Admittedly, like many, I was too eager to explore the scenery after being captivated by the screenshots on the store page and so bypassed the initial read-through, so it’s straight to hell for me! 
     

    Aerial View
    The aerial view of the island evokes strong memories of a journey I once made to a remote Greek island, characterised by its semi-arid, garrigue landscape. The custom mesh expertly highlights the topographical diversity of the area. The western side features deep gorges, contrasting with the shallow valleys and sandy beaches of the eastern part. The entire northern coastline boasts cliffs, offering a mix of gently sloping cliffs on the east and stark, vertical cliffs on the west, catering to a variety of adventures. The custom orthoimagery of the island is outstanding, providing clear, crisp visuals free from common anomalies like cloud cover. This is a notable achievement, especially for anyone familiar with the challenges of creating ortho sceneries marred by 2D cloud textures. 
     



     
    Upon descending, the imagery retains its clarity, a testament to the high resolution used. Additionally, the custom autogen, leveraging Cami’s CDB Library assets, effectively represents the island's buildings, enhancing the overall realism and immersion.
     


     
    Airport and Taxiways
    The main runway and taxiway textures for both asphalt and concrete surfaces are custom made and demonstrate a high level of detail. The exposure to the elements from the surrounding Mediterranean has been artfully captured with a significant degree of weathering visible through cracks and pits. Tire marks on these surfaces add to the realism, with the concrete showing particularly impressive evidence of aircraft manoeuvres. These details, though small, significantly enhance the authenticity of the experience.
     



     
    Signage and Foliage
    The careful placement of foliage around the runway and taxiway adds depth without being a burden on system resources, striking a balance that complements the detailed orthoimagery. While the airport's signage is limited due to its size, what is present is thoughtfully executed, with clear apron demarcations and weathering effects on the ground, enhancing the visual fidelity of the airport environment.
     

     
    Main Terminal and Buildings
    For users familiar with Cami De Bellis's previous works, the detail in the main airport terminal and its associated buildings in this scenery won't disappoint. The terminal, while lacking an interior, showcases remarkable modelling and texturing, including local artwork that adds a unique touch.
     



     
    A particular standout feature is the lively 3D characters, including a dog, and custom passenger vehicles that populate the airport. These are all nicely modelled and contribute to bringing the airport to life. 
     



     
    Adjacent to the terminal, you'll find the control tower, hangar, additional passenger facilities, and fire station, all mirroring the high standard of modelling and texturing work we’ve come to expect from Cami. The area is bustling with ground clutter, such as bins, pallets, cones, and several airport vehicles, all contributing to the realism.
     



     
    The main car park at the airport entrance utilises a custom texture rather than a standard ortho, achieving a seamless integration with the surrounding scenery. This method avoids the common pitfalls of flat 2D cars and texture anomalies, creating a cohesive look. The car park's design, including the dividing walls and vegetation, and the non-default, atmospheric vehicles, add greatly to the atmosphere. 
     



     
    On the airport's perimeter, a building, likely a motel or hotel for passengers, echoes the airport's architectural theme. It features numerous AC units and solar panels on its roof, again showing the attention to detail.
     


     
    Lampedusa 
    Venturing beyond the airport leads to the town of Lampedusa, where Cami’s custom autogen, utilising her CDB Library assets, truly shines. While it doesn't encompass every structure, the selection present beautifully captures the essence of this charming oasis. The beach scene was a personal highlight for me, featuring palm trees, deckchairs, and animated 3D characters enjoying their surroundings; a delightful scene that reminded me that I could do with a holiday!
     


     
    The bay area is dotted with small boats and a few jetties, predominantly for leisure, though a larger dock facilitates commercial operations. This blend of recreational and business elements adds a realistic layer to the portrayal of the town, further demonstrating Cami's careful attention to detail and her ability to create immersive environments.
     



     
    Further Afield
    Heading westward, the landscape transitions to a sparser housing distribution amidst more pronounced terrain, featuring numerous gorges. Yet, the attention to detail remains undiminished. Midway across the island, another beach scene greets you, alive with 3D characters revelling in the sunshine. The combined effect of custom objects with the enhanced mesh and custom ortho keeps the exploration engaging.
     


     
    At the island's far western extremity, where the cliffs become dramatically steep and the gorges deepen, we find the first of the additional helipads, just slightly before the radar station. It's here that Lampedusa's radar station emerges, its military essence underscored by the presence of soldiers and a vigilant guard dog. This setting, evocative of a scene straight out of a high-stakes drama, brings to mind the wise words of Walter White, aka Heisenberg, from "Breaking Bad": “tread lightly.”
     


     
    Linosa Island
    Located twenty-five miles north of Lampedusa Airport, Linosa Island spans 5.45 square kilometres and boasts a volcanic heritage. Its landscape is dominated by a series of craters, with Monte Vulcano standing as the tallest at 195 metres. The island's volcanic terrain is vividly brought to life with custom mesh and texturing, offering perhaps a more dramatic scenery of the already impressive Lampedusa.
     


     
    The harbours are thoughtfully modeled, although one appeared to lack vessels, a detail that, if added, could further enrich the scenery's authenticity in future updates. Just up from the tranquil harbour, the landscape reveals the second additional helipad, strategically positioned yet discreet, enhancing the island's accessibility without disrupting its peaceful charm. Cami's custom autogen,  brings to life the sparse settlements, lending a serene depth to the island's allure, highlighting its status as a quietly detailed haven far removed from the hustle and bustle of more commercial destinations.
     



     
    Night Lighting
    As dusk turns to night, the airport comes alive with an elaborate light display. The runway, terminal, surrounding buildings, and car park are all bathed in a brilliant glow. Beyond the airport, the autogen lighting and the lighthouse at the island's northern tip, ensures that the night is alive with light, contributing to the immersive experience.
     



     
    Performance
    During testing, I experienced no performance issues, with frame rates remaining high and stable across all areas, despite my system being midrange. This speaks volumes about the optimization of the scenery, providing an exceptional experience without compromising on detail.
     


     
    Conclusion
    Exploring Cami De Bellis' Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island scenery was an absolute delight, evoking fond memories of my visit to Greece. The rich foundation laid by the detailed mesh and photographic textures, combined with Cami's superb 3D modeling and texturing work, brings this scenery to life in a way that is both captivating and deeply immersive. The addition of animated 3D people and custom autogen only adds to the charm of this lovely little scenery package. It's not just the visual detail that impresses; the stability of performance despite the complexity of textures and objects ensures a seamless simulation experience. The inclusion of Linosa Island, with its distinctive volcanic landscape and quaint settlements, further elevates the overall appeal of the package. This scenery package is a testament to Cami De Bellis' exceptional skill in creating immersive X-Plane environments that are rich in detail and offer an unparalleled exploration experience, all at an asking price that represents significant value.
     

     
    In conclusion, for those in search of a scenery that not only embodies the atmospheric and realistic charm of Italy's southern islands but also offers a compelling escape into their serene beauty, Cami’s latest work might just be the perfect addition to your X-Plane collection, serving as the perfect excuse for a wonderful getaway.
     
    ________________________
     

     
    LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island by Cami De Bellis is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island
    Priced at $18.90
     
    Features
    Highly accurate scenery for LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island with all   buildings modeled.  Over 160 custom objects all with Ambient Occlusion  Custom Terrain Mesh for the entire island of Lampedusa and Linosa by Maps2XPlane  Custom Overlay/Autogen Scenery based on CDB assets by Maps2XPlane"  Photo real textures on buildings, vehicles, trees…  Photorealistic ground textures based on a satellite image 50 cm.  Detailed airport objects and GSE vehicles   Custom textured taxiways, runways, and apron   Custom surrounding buildings   Custom airport lights HD  Custom Overlay    High-resolution building textures – all in 2K and 4K   Excellent night effects   World Traffic 3 compatible  Native characters and vehicles created specially   Ground traffic   The terrain mesh is complemented with custom overlays: dense vegetation and country-typical autogen, as well as custom road networks with dynamic traffic.  Two heliports, for those fans of helicopters. One at the beautiful Linosa Island, and the other on the US Loran Station Base.  Requirements
    X-Plane 12 (not for XP 11)
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
    Download Size: 2.7 GB
    Current version 1.0 (January 11th, 2024)
     
    Review System Specifications
    Intel i5 10400 – 32GB RAM - Nvidia Asus RTX 3060 – Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
     
    __________________________________
     
    Scenery Review by Dominic Smith
    23rd February 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).
     

     
     
  17. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Scenery Review: LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island XP 12 by Cami De Bellis   
    Scenery Review: LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island XP 12 by Cami De Bellis
     
    By Dominic Smith
     
    Introduction
    Lampedusa, the largest of the Italian Pelagie Islands in the Mediterranean, stands as Italy's southernmost point, closer to Tunisia than mainland Italy. Spanning 20.2 km2, it is home to approximately 6,000 residents. Lampedusa Airport, situated merely a few hundred meters from the town centre, boasts a 5,889ft asphalt runway and experiences peak traffic during summer, catering to medium-sized aircraft like the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

    Cami De Bellis' rendition of Lampedusa Island and its airport, alongside Linosa Island, showcases her hallmark attention to detail. This scenery features highly accurate representations of Lampedusa Island, its associated airport, Linosa Island, over 160 custom objects, and custom terrain mesh by Maps2XPlane. The package offers high-resolution textures in both 2K and 4K, native 3D characters and vehicles, two heliports, and much more, providing an immersive experience for users.

    As some of you may be aware, I am a great admirer of Cami's work, as her sceneries are superbly detailed, embodying a unique personal touch that distinctly marks her creations as special. There's something about the way Cami infuses her projects with her own essence, though it's hard to pinpoint exactly what, that elevates them above the ordinary.
     

     
    Installation
    The scenery is purchasable from the Org store at $18.90 and is notably large, with a download size of 2.8GB and an extraction size of 4.7GB. This size is substantial in comparison to many other sceneries, due in part to the mesh and ortho coverage. Within the package, there are three folders that should be transferred to the Custom Scenery folder within X-Plane. The naming convention of these folders eliminates the need for adjustments to the scenery_packs.ini file, simplifying the setup. Furthermore, the absence of any requirement for keys or activation streamlines the installation process, making it exceptionally straightforward.

    Documentation
    The documentation is comprised of two PDF files: one dedicated to installation and the other, aptly named "Tips & Tricks," offers guidance on maximizing the scenery's potential and highlights specific features. Both documents are well-composed, with a clear layout, making them invaluable resources to review before launching X-Plane. Admittedly, like many, I was too eager to explore the scenery after being captivated by the screenshots on the store page and so bypassed the initial read-through, so it’s straight to hell for me! 
     

    Aerial View
    The aerial view of the island evokes strong memories of a journey I once made to a remote Greek island, characterised by its semi-arid, garrigue landscape. The custom mesh expertly highlights the topographical diversity of the area. The western side features deep gorges, contrasting with the shallow valleys and sandy beaches of the eastern part. The entire northern coastline boasts cliffs, offering a mix of gently sloping cliffs on the east and stark, vertical cliffs on the west, catering to a variety of adventures. The custom orthoimagery of the island is outstanding, providing clear, crisp visuals free from common anomalies like cloud cover. This is a notable achievement, especially for anyone familiar with the challenges of creating ortho sceneries marred by 2D cloud textures. 
     



     
    Upon descending, the imagery retains its clarity, a testament to the high resolution used. Additionally, the custom autogen, leveraging Cami’s CDB Library assets, effectively represents the island's buildings, enhancing the overall realism and immersion.
     


     
    Airport and Taxiways
    The main runway and taxiway textures for both asphalt and concrete surfaces are custom made and demonstrate a high level of detail. The exposure to the elements from the surrounding Mediterranean has been artfully captured with a significant degree of weathering visible through cracks and pits. Tire marks on these surfaces add to the realism, with the concrete showing particularly impressive evidence of aircraft manoeuvres. These details, though small, significantly enhance the authenticity of the experience.
     



     
    Signage and Foliage
    The careful placement of foliage around the runway and taxiway adds depth without being a burden on system resources, striking a balance that complements the detailed orthoimagery. While the airport's signage is limited due to its size, what is present is thoughtfully executed, with clear apron demarcations and weathering effects on the ground, enhancing the visual fidelity of the airport environment.
     

     
    Main Terminal and Buildings
    For users familiar with Cami De Bellis's previous works, the detail in the main airport terminal and its associated buildings in this scenery won't disappoint. The terminal, while lacking an interior, showcases remarkable modelling and texturing, including local artwork that adds a unique touch.
     



     
    A particular standout feature is the lively 3D characters, including a dog, and custom passenger vehicles that populate the airport. These are all nicely modelled and contribute to bringing the airport to life. 
     



     
    Adjacent to the terminal, you'll find the control tower, hangar, additional passenger facilities, and fire station, all mirroring the high standard of modelling and texturing work we’ve come to expect from Cami. The area is bustling with ground clutter, such as bins, pallets, cones, and several airport vehicles, all contributing to the realism.
     



     
    The main car park at the airport entrance utilises a custom texture rather than a standard ortho, achieving a seamless integration with the surrounding scenery. This method avoids the common pitfalls of flat 2D cars and texture anomalies, creating a cohesive look. The car park's design, including the dividing walls and vegetation, and the non-default, atmospheric vehicles, add greatly to the atmosphere. 
     



     
    On the airport's perimeter, a building, likely a motel or hotel for passengers, echoes the airport's architectural theme. It features numerous AC units and solar panels on its roof, again showing the attention to detail.
     


     
    Lampedusa 
    Venturing beyond the airport leads to the town of Lampedusa, where Cami’s custom autogen, utilising her CDB Library assets, truly shines. While it doesn't encompass every structure, the selection present beautifully captures the essence of this charming oasis. The beach scene was a personal highlight for me, featuring palm trees, deckchairs, and animated 3D characters enjoying their surroundings; a delightful scene that reminded me that I could do with a holiday!
     


     
    The bay area is dotted with small boats and a few jetties, predominantly for leisure, though a larger dock facilitates commercial operations. This blend of recreational and business elements adds a realistic layer to the portrayal of the town, further demonstrating Cami's careful attention to detail and her ability to create immersive environments.
     



     
    Further Afield
    Heading westward, the landscape transitions to a sparser housing distribution amidst more pronounced terrain, featuring numerous gorges. Yet, the attention to detail remains undiminished. Midway across the island, another beach scene greets you, alive with 3D characters revelling in the sunshine. The combined effect of custom objects with the enhanced mesh and custom ortho keeps the exploration engaging.
     


     
    At the island's far western extremity, where the cliffs become dramatically steep and the gorges deepen, we find the first of the additional helipads, just slightly before the radar station. It's here that Lampedusa's radar station emerges, its military essence underscored by the presence of soldiers and a vigilant guard dog. This setting, evocative of a scene straight out of a high-stakes drama, brings to mind the wise words of Walter White, aka Heisenberg, from "Breaking Bad": “tread lightly.”
     


     
    Linosa Island
    Located twenty-five miles north of Lampedusa Airport, Linosa Island spans 5.45 square kilometres and boasts a volcanic heritage. Its landscape is dominated by a series of craters, with Monte Vulcano standing as the tallest at 195 metres. The island's volcanic terrain is vividly brought to life with custom mesh and texturing, offering perhaps a more dramatic scenery of the already impressive Lampedusa.
     


     
    The harbours are thoughtfully modeled, although one appeared to lack vessels, a detail that, if added, could further enrich the scenery's authenticity in future updates. Just up from the tranquil harbour, the landscape reveals the second additional helipad, strategically positioned yet discreet, enhancing the island's accessibility without disrupting its peaceful charm. Cami's custom autogen,  brings to life the sparse settlements, lending a serene depth to the island's allure, highlighting its status as a quietly detailed haven far removed from the hustle and bustle of more commercial destinations.
     



     
    Night Lighting
    As dusk turns to night, the airport comes alive with an elaborate light display. The runway, terminal, surrounding buildings, and car park are all bathed in a brilliant glow. Beyond the airport, the autogen lighting and the lighthouse at the island's northern tip, ensures that the night is alive with light, contributing to the immersive experience.
     



     
    Performance
    During testing, I experienced no performance issues, with frame rates remaining high and stable across all areas, despite my system being midrange. This speaks volumes about the optimization of the scenery, providing an exceptional experience without compromising on detail.
     


     
    Conclusion
    Exploring Cami De Bellis' Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island scenery was an absolute delight, evoking fond memories of my visit to Greece. The rich foundation laid by the detailed mesh and photographic textures, combined with Cami's superb 3D modeling and texturing work, brings this scenery to life in a way that is both captivating and deeply immersive. The addition of animated 3D people and custom autogen only adds to the charm of this lovely little scenery package. It's not just the visual detail that impresses; the stability of performance despite the complexity of textures and objects ensures a seamless simulation experience. The inclusion of Linosa Island, with its distinctive volcanic landscape and quaint settlements, further elevates the overall appeal of the package. This scenery package is a testament to Cami De Bellis' exceptional skill in creating immersive X-Plane environments that are rich in detail and offer an unparalleled exploration experience, all at an asking price that represents significant value.
     

     
    In conclusion, for those in search of a scenery that not only embodies the atmospheric and realistic charm of Italy's southern islands but also offers a compelling escape into their serene beauty, Cami’s latest work might just be the perfect addition to your X-Plane collection, serving as the perfect excuse for a wonderful getaway.
     
    ________________________
     

     
    LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island by Cami De Bellis is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island
    Priced at $18.90
     
    Features
    Highly accurate scenery for LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island with all   buildings modeled.  Over 160 custom objects all with Ambient Occlusion  Custom Terrain Mesh for the entire island of Lampedusa and Linosa by Maps2XPlane  Custom Overlay/Autogen Scenery based on CDB assets by Maps2XPlane"  Photo real textures on buildings, vehicles, trees…  Photorealistic ground textures based on a satellite image 50 cm.  Detailed airport objects and GSE vehicles   Custom textured taxiways, runways, and apron   Custom surrounding buildings   Custom airport lights HD  Custom Overlay    High-resolution building textures – all in 2K and 4K   Excellent night effects   World Traffic 3 compatible  Native characters and vehicles created specially   Ground traffic   The terrain mesh is complemented with custom overlays: dense vegetation and country-typical autogen, as well as custom road networks with dynamic traffic.  Two heliports, for those fans of helicopters. One at the beautiful Linosa Island, and the other on the US Loran Station Base.  Requirements
    X-Plane 12 (not for XP 11)
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
    Download Size: 2.7 GB
    Current version 1.0 (January 11th, 2024)
     
    Review System Specifications
    Intel i5 10400 – 32GB RAM - Nvidia Asus RTX 3060 – Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
     
    __________________________________
     
    Scenery Review by Dominic Smith
    23rd February 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).
     

     
     
  18. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Scenery Review: EGCC - Manchester International Airport by Taimodels   
    Scenery Review: EGCC - Manchester International Airport by Taimodels
     
    By DrishalMAC2
     
    Introduction
    Manchester Airport, located in Ringway, Manchester, England, is approximately nine miles south-west of the city centre. As of 2019, it stood as the third busiest airport in the United Kingdom by passenger numbers, and notably, the busiest outside of London. Boasting two parallel runways each measuring 3,048 meters (10,000 feet), the airport is well-equipped with an extensive array of over a hundred aircraft stands. It features three passenger terminals alongside a cargo terminal, establishing itself as a crucial hub for both domestic and international flights. Over the years, Manchester Airport has transitioned from a modest regional airfield, to one of the UK's premier aviation gateways.

    This latest release from TaiModels is said to incorporate state-of-the-art features that significantly enhance both the visual and functional aspects of the airport, whilst promising at the same time, unmatched performance. Let's embark on a journey to the North West of England and evaluate how this scenery stands up.
     

     
    Installation
    The download package for this scenery is quite substantial, with a zipped file size of 1.9GB and an unzipped size of 3.88GB. This is notably larger compared to TaiModels' ENGM or EGLL sceneries. The reason behind this size is the extensive detail included in the package. To install, you should first unzip the file and then transfer the airport and mesh files into your X-Plane Custom Scenery folder. It might be necessary to tweak your scenery_packs.ini file to ensure the mesh file sits below the airport entry. However, I found that the naming convention used by TaiModels meant the scenery worked seamlessly right after installation. Also, part of the download is a folder labelled “OPTION,” which offers the choice of a flattened airport version. Opting for this version removes the underground tunnel, a feature that is particularly recommended for those not using the custom mesh file.
     
    Ortho4XP Patch
    The scenery package includes highly detailed Zoom-Level (ZL) 21 Ortho imagery for the vicinity of the airport. However, for those who prefer to use their personalized ortho imagery across the entire tile, traditionally, the custom mesh could complicate this due to potential visual discrepancies. Thankfully, the included manual offers a solution through a link to an ortho patch file. This patch enables the creation of an Ortho4XP tile that incorporates the custom mesh with your own Ortho4XP imagery. The instructions provided are straightforward, making the integration process relatively simple. Having used this patch to generate an Ortho4XP tile myself, I can attest to its effectiveness in blending the airport seamlessly with comprehensive ortho coverage, all the while maintaining the integrity of the custom mesh. However, for the purpose of this written review, all screenshots will show the scenery in its standard form. 
     

     
    Documentation
    The PDF documentation accompanying this scenery package is concise yet sufficiently clear and straightforward. It covers essential installation instructions for the scenery itself and the required SAM library, also including the previously mentioned link to the Ortho4XP patch. Despite being brief, its clarity ensures users can follow the necessary steps without confusion. However, it's worth noting the absence of airport charts or detailed information about the airport, which I feel represents a missed opportunity. 
     

     
    Aerial Perspective
    TaiModels' rendition of Manchester Airport includes comprehensive coverage of ortho imagery, extending just beyond the airport's boundaries. This level of detail is a significant improvement over many other payware scenery packages I have experienced of late. The imagery is of high quality and integrates seamlessly with personal Ortho4XP tiles generated for the area. 
     



     
    Runway & Taxiway Texture Quality
    Descending closer to ground level, the precision of the runway's Physically Based Rendering (PBR) textures becomes apparent. These textures, which include a variety of asphalt and concrete types, are particularly detailed with signs of wear, such as tire marks, cracks, and oil or fuel stains. The developer's careful placement of varied texture types works well and significantly enhances the realism of the airport's surfaces. 
     



     
    Signage & Foliage
    The airport and its taxiways are enhanced with a generous amount of 3D grass, which not only heightens the visual appeal with its careful placement but also impresses with its performance. Quite often, the overuse of grass can detract from its performance; however, this scenery manages to maintain high frame rates at most times of the day, at least on my system. The taxiway signs are rendered with high-quality textures, maintaining their clarity even when viewed up close, a noticeable improvement over the default signs provided by Laminar Research. Additionally, the accuracy and sharpness of the taxiway ground textures are commendable, with a detailed comparison to Google Maps validating their placement. Notably, the inclusion of playful elements like the "I Love MCR" slogan on the apron adds a touch of authenticity and character.
     


     
    Airport Buildings
    Venturing beyond the runways and taxiways reveals various areas of interest, including a children’s play area, a fire practice zone equipped with a mock-up aircraft, and several other noteworthy buildings. 
     


     
    The parking facilities, which include both ground-level lots and intricately modelled 3D multi-story car parks, are populated with numerous 3D modelled vehicles. This attention to detail, avoiding the use of 2D flat vehicle textures, significantly enhances the realism and immersion of the scenery. Adjacent to the main terminal buildings, the Ibis, Holiday Inn, Radisson Blu, and Crowne Plaza hotels are depicted with a high level of detail and accuracy.
     



     
    The inclusion of the airport’s railway station, aptly named "The Station," illustrates the benefits of the custom mesh. The station, like the previously mentioned hotels, is also modelled to a high standard, enriching the airport's overall authenticity without over embellishment. 
     

     
    Terminal Buildings 
    The terminal buildings at Manchester Airport, comprising Terminals 1, 2, and 3, are interconnected through a combination of the Skylink and a covered walkway. TaiModels has created a wonderful recreation of all three terminals, blending exceptional 3D modelling with attention to detail. The inclusion of large glass sections and intricately modelled features like AC vents and railings highlights their commitment to realism. All three terminals are further enhanced by PBR texturing, although their placement on a relatively low-resolution ortho tile might be seen as a minor drawback when viewed up close. While accurate, one could argue that custom ground textures might have offered an aesthetic upgrade, albeit potentially at the expense of geographical accuracy.
     

     
    Terminal 1
    Catering to airlines operating both scheduled and charter flights to European and other international destinations, Terminal 1 stands as the airport's second largest. Inaugurated in 1962 by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, it serves as a base for easyJet, among others.
     

     
    Terminal 2
    Opened in 1993, Terminal 2 is utilised by a diverse group of airlines for charter and scheduled services to numerous destinations across Europe and globally.
     



     
    Terminal 3
    Inaugurated in 1989 by Diana, Princess of Wales, Terminal 3 initially served as a domestic hub before its expansion and rebranding in May 1998. It has undergone several name changes prior to its current designation.
     



     
    World Freight Terminal
    The World Freight Terminal, operational since 1986, caters to cargo flights and cargo transported on passenger services. This area is equipped with large warehouses, pallets, and trucks, and one can envisage its bustling activity, especially during peak times like Christmas, mirroring the vibrancy of the passenger terminals.
     


     
    Terminal Interiors 
    The interior designs of all three terminals at Manchester Airport have been thoughtfully included, with Terminal 1 presenting the least detail. Despite this, the level of detail in Terminal 1 remains commendable and is appreciable even from the exterior. Terminals 2 and 3, on the other hand, boast significantly more detailed interiors across larger areas, offering visually pleasing environments. The modelling across these terminals strikes a careful balance, offering a reasonable amount of detail without venturing into excessive complexity that could potentially impair performance in terms of frame rates.

    One notable area for potential improvement would be the inclusion of 3D people models. Despite this omission, the overall execution of the terminal interiors is impressive, with careful attention to maintaining a balance between detail and performance, ensuring that the visual appeal does not come at the expense of usability.
     



     
    Hangars & Maintenance Facilities 
    Exploring beyond the passenger terminals of Manchester Airport reveals a variety of hangars and maintenance facilities. These include hangars initially designated for Thomas Cook, which, following the airline's cessation of operations, should technically be referred to as "STS" hangars. Additionally, facilities for Air Livery, Jet2.com, and other maintenance services are present. A noteworthy highlight is the presence of vintage aircraft on static display, such as the Nimrod and VC10, which add a historical dimension to the airport's modern infrastructure.
     



     
    Ground Clutter & Animated Features
    The scenery includes animated baggage carts, pushback trucks, and a variety of other vehicles typical of a bustling international airport. The random assortment of vehicles and equipment at each gate effectively avoids a repetitive "copy and paste" appearance, contributing to a dynamic and authentic environment. When combined with third-party add-ons like Traffic Global, the airport's atmosphere is significantly enriched, mirroring the lively ambiance of a real-world airport. The integration of the SAM plugin for jetways and the implementation of a Visual Docking Guidance System (VDGS) at selected gates, further increases the realism. 
     



     
    Night lighting
    The custom night lighting employed at Manchester Airport is well-executed, ensuring that the main runways, taxiway lights, and gates are adequately illuminated for operations after dark. The lighting effectively enhances visibility, contributing to a realistic night-time flying experience. 
     


     
    The illumination of all three terminals, alongside the expansive array of maintenance buildings and hangars, contributes significantly to the scenery, introducing an additional layer of realism that enhances the visual appeal and atmospheric depth, especially during evening and nighttime scenarios.
     


     
    Performance
    Given the intricate level of detail incorporated into many parts of this scenery by TaiModels, the performance it delivers is exceptionally high. In my personal testing, I noticed only a slight reduction in frames per second (FPS) when operating larger widebody aircraft, a factor more attributable to the aircraft model and my computer's specifications than to the scenery itself. This indicates that the developers have invested significant effort in optimising the scenery for a broad range of PC capabilities, ensuring smooth and stutter-free performance across different aircraft types.

    The performance is even more remarkable when flying lighter General Aviation (GA) aircraft, such as the default Cessna 172. In these cases, I experienced no FPS drops at all, suggesting an optimisation level that surpasses even the default Manchester Airport scenery, resulting in improved FPS. This level of optimisation is a testament to TaiModels' commitment to delivering high-quality scenery that enhances the experience without compromising on performance, making it accessible to users with varying hardware setups.
     

     
    Issues / Improvements
    TaiModels' Manchester Airport impresses with its stunning visuals, yet like all sceneries, it's not without minor issues. Notably, without the ortho patch and elevation fixes, users might see a black texture on the airport's north side, a problem solved by applying these fixes. Additionally, the lack of people in the terminals and the outdated reference to the Thomas Cook hangar, which should now be labeled as "STS" following the airline's closure, slightly reduces the scenery's authenticity. Moreover, the documentation could be richer, including airport charts and a historical overview for direct access, enhancing the package's value. Despite these minor issues, it's clear that TaiModels has invested considerable effort into creating an immersive experience, and with their track record of updates, there's every reason to believe these areas will see enhancement in future versions.
     


    Conclusion
    In summing up, TaiModels' rendition of EGCC Manchester Airport is a fantastic package that offers exceptional value for both X-Plane 12 and 11 users. This scenery excels in delivering a highly immersive experience, underpinned by robust visuals and performance that together, create a compelling virtual environment. While the package does include minor issues as mentioned previously, these elements do not mar the overall excellence of the scenery. Instead, they highlight areas for enhancement in subsequent updates, suggesting a pathway towards an even more refined and lifelike representation of Manchester Airport. 

    For those ready to embark on their next virtual journey, TaiModels' Manchester Airport offers a compelling starting point, one which is poised to enrich any X-Plane user's experience with its detailed realism and immersive environment.
     
    ________________________
     
     
     
    ________________________
     
     

     
    EGCC- Manchester Int'l Airport by TaiModels is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    EGCC- Manchester Int'l Airport
    Priced at $27.00
     
    Features
    Hyper-Detailed models SAM amination jetways High quality PBR textures on objects and ground for superb reflections High performance Completed autogen around the airport Ground traffic plugins (car and truck) Compatible with XP11 and XP12 - Both versions included Includes weather texture in X-Plane 12 Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 - Both Versions Included
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    8 GB VRAM Minimum 
    Download Size: 2 GB
    __________________________________
     
    Scenery Review by DrishalMAC2
    16th February 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).
     

     
     
  19. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Aircraft Review: de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo by X-Hangar   
    Aircraft Review: de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo by X-Hangar
     
    By Dominic Smith

    Introduction
    Well, I’m back again with a new model from X-Hangar, this time, the venerable DHC-5 Buffalo. This robust and versatile transport aircraft, with its unique charm and capabilities, is the latest to have captured my attention, especially as it’s from a developer whose work I greatly enjoy.

    The DHC-5 Buffalo, a successor to the DHC-4 Caribou, was developed by De Havilland Canada and first took flight in the 1960s. Designed to meet the demanding requirements of military and civilian operations alike, the Buffalo distinguished itself with its STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) capabilities, allowing it to operate in diverse and challenging environments. Over the years, it has served various roles, from troop transport and cargo delivery to search and rescue operations, demonstrating its versatility and reliability.

    X-Hangar's DHC-5 Buffalo, much like the DHC-4 Caribou reviewed previously, showcases the developer's commitment to delivering immersive and accurate flight models accessible to a broad spectrum of simmers. The model comes packed with features that not only bolster its authenticity but also user interaction. Highlights include a carefully modelled 3D cockpit, operational windows, doors, and cargo ramp, realistic rain effects and wipers, two load configurations (passenger or cargo), detailed 3D pilot and passenger figures, a PDF manual, and a huge range of international liveries.
     

     
    Documentation
    Staying true to X-Hangar's approach of creating both comprehensive and user-friendly aircraft models, the Buffalo comes with a nicely detailed 19-page PDF manual, which provides a thorough overview of the Buffalo's operational features and cockpit layout. The manual not only explains the aircraft’s functionality but also includes detailed information on how to operate the aircraft through all phases of flight. The documentation is extremely well-written and includes numerous images which clearly illustrate key aspects of the aircraft's cockpit and operation.

    Installation
    The installation process for the DHC-5 Buffalo is straightforward, mirroring the simplicity and user-friendliness characteristic of other X-Hangar offerings, such as the previously reviewed Caribou. Once purchased, users simply download the provided zip file which contains both X-Plane 12 and 11 variants. When extracted, it’s just a simple case of placing the appropriate folder directly into the 'Aircraft' folder of their X-Plane installation. The procedure is devoid of complicated steps, eliminating the need for navigating through perplexing instructions or dealing with third-party software wrappers. A key highlight is the absence of online activation requirements, emphasizing X-Hangar's user-centric approach: once you've made your purchase, the aircraft is unequivocally yours. This ensures a seamless integration into your X-Plane setup, allowing you to take to the skies with the Buffalo without any unnecessary delays or technical hurdles.

    Exterior
    X-Hangar's rendition of the DHC-5 Buffalo, akin to their DHC-4 Caribou, embodies a robust and functional design that mirrors the real-world aircraft's versatility in both military and civilian operations across the globe. Designed to tackle the challenges of demanding environments and heavy loads, often operating from short and poorly surfaced airstrips, the model captures this essence beautifully.

    The model's exterior features the short, stout fuselage, high wings, and twin turboprop engines, closely resembling those of the DHC-4 Caribou, albeit slightly larger and with more power engines. The texturing on the exterior is particularly commendable, with liveries that closely resemble those of actual aircraft, enhancing the model's authenticity. Notably, the textures on the Buffalo show a refinement over those seen on the Caribou, with an improvement in the metallic sheen, making the liveries appear more realistic, although still retaining a certain stylistic charm that contributes to the model's appeal.
     





     
    The exterior of the Buffalo is visually appealing, striking a good balance between realism and artistic interpretation. While it may not achieve the photorealistic quality of some more expensive models, X-Hangar's Buffalo stands out as a faithful representation of the aircraft's exterior. The addition of interactive features, such as the operational doors, windows, rear loading ramp, plus an X-Hangar tent and truck, further enriches the user experience, offering a comprehensive and enjoyable portrayal of the iconic Buffalo. 
     

     
    Interior
    The cockpit of X-Hangar's Buffalo is a testament to the developer's ability to balance functionality with visual appeal, subtly enhancing upon the precedent set by the Caribou. It presents a layout that's not only practical but also enriched with the distinctive charm that's become synonymous with X-Hangar's designs. The main panel in front of the pilot houses the essential six flight instruments alongside the Century 41 autopilot, establishing a solid foundation for flight operations. The centre console is thoughtfully allocated to engine gauges and includes a Garmin 530 GPS unit, equipped with a pop-out feature for ease of use. Engine fire controls are strategically placed just above this area for quick access in emergency situations.

    The space between the two pilot seats is home to the crucial radio controls, ensuring that communication is always within reach. Above, the overhead panel integrates throttle and prop pitch controls, flaps, and ignition switches, thoughtfully arranged to break up the expansive glass area, adding to the cockpit's functional aesthetics.
     

     
    Despite the inherent complexity of a cockpit designed in the 1960s, X-Hangar has managed to render all instruments, gauges, and switches with clarity and precision. Although a closer inspection might reveal a slight loss in sharpness, this minor limitation does not detract from the overall quality of the texturing, which remains consistent throughout the aircraft. This commitment to detail ensures that, despite its age, the Buffalo's cockpit is both a visually appealing and highly functional space, reflective of the aircraft's storied history and X-Hangar's dedication to authenticity.
     

     
    Stepping into the cabin, and you're presented with a choice that adds a unique layer of versatility to the Buffalo experience: seats filled with passengers or, with a simple click on the “fold all seats for cargo layout” option in the kneepad, classic vehicles from yesteryears. The ability to switch between a passenger layout and a cargo configuration not only showcases the Buffalo's adaptability but also injects a nice does of variety to the model. 
     

     
    Sounds
    The included sounds of X-Hangar's Buffalo do not use the FMOD sound system, a choice I find refreshing in a landscape where FMOD is often hastily considered a standard. Despite this, the auditory experience delivered is more than satisfactory, with the engine sounds being particularly pleasing. Whilst it's difficult to show sounds in a written review, the video below gives a good likeness to what the turboprops sound like in the X-Hangar model.
     

     
    Flight Characteristics
    After acquainting myself with the Buffalo's details, I was keen to experience its performance in the air, selecting Juneau International Airport in Alaska as my departure point, a location that's been a favourite of mine since acquiring the Inside Passage and Final Frontier packages from Tom Curtis back in the X-Plane 9 days.

    From the outset, the Buffalo's ground handling, in much the same way as the Caribou, impressed me with its responsiveness, making taxiing to the runway an enjoyable experience. As I initiated takeoff and advanced the throttles, the aircraft propelled forward, revealing the abundant power in the GE T64 turboprops. In what seemed like mere moments, true to its STOL design, the Buffalo effortlessly ascended, setting the stage for a captivating tour around Juneau.
     

     
    Once airborne, the increased thrust from the twin turboprops was immediately noticeable, offering a significant boost in performance over the DHC-4. This extra thrust was particularly apparent during the cruise phase, allowing the aircraft to maintain altitude with ease. While I refrained from executing what some might term 'enthusiastic manoeuvres', I did conduct a few stall tests. The Buffalo behaved predictably in these situations, exhibiting only a minor wing dip before recovery, aligning with expectations for an aircraft of its class and design.
     

     
    Approaching Juneau for the return, the Buffalo's low-speed handling merits became increasingly apparent. The final approach and touchdown called for a few delicate touches of correction due to the wind, but here again, the aircraft handled these with ease. 
     

     
    Performance
    The performance of the DHC-5 Buffalo mirrors that of other X-Hangar models, showcasing an exceptional consideration for hardware requirements. Much like their previous, the Buffalo ensures that even those without the latest and greatest PC setups can still enjoy a rich, immersive experience. This approach allows simmers the flexibility to add detailed scenery or experiment with changeable weather conditions, without having to worry about overtaxing their systems. It's this level of thoughtfulness in design that makes flying the Buffalo not just a visually satisfying experience, but also a smooth and accessible one for a wide range of X-Plane users.
     

     
    Conclusion
    The DHC-5 Buffalo by X-Hangar, much like its predecessor, the Caribou, seamlessly integrates nostalgia with practicality. It shines in performance, demonstrating X-Hangar's commitment to producing highly enjoyable models that perform extremely well across a broad spectrum of PC hardware without compromising on immersion. Opting out of the race for 4K textures, it instead boasts authentic sounds and an impressive array of liveries, all contributing to its unique charm.
     

     
    For simmers aiming to diversify their collection with a historically rich aircraft, the Buffalo distinguishes itself as an exceptional pick, ready for adventures that few others in its class can match.
     
    ________________________
     

     
    The de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo by X-Hangar is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo
    Priced at US$22.95
     
    Features
    For both X-Plane 12 and 11 3D cockpit VR cockpit Rain and wipers Opening windows Opening doors Opening ramp Yoke hides with keyboard key or press of a button on the panel Steerable yoke in both 3d and VR Pilot figures Passenger figures Static models Chocks and remove before flight flags Menu to hide co-pilot and other options Two different loads: Passenger or Cargo Cargo or passenger load displays according to load (more with more weight and less with less weight) Many international liveries Layers for painting your own livery Garmin 540 GPS with pop out or press buttons Autopilot Century 41 Checklist in .txt format to use in the Sim User manual in .pdf format to help fly in X-Plane FSE file included to fly Flight Sim Economy Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac, or Linux 8 GB VRAM Minimum Download Size: 311 Mb  
    Review System Specifications
    Intel i5 10400 – 32GB RAM - Nvidia Asus RTX 3060 – Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
    __________________________________
     
    Aircraft Review by Dominic Smith
    9th February 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).
     
     

     
     
  20. Like
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Busair in Scenery Review: KONT - Ontario International Airport XP12 by VerticalSim   
    Scenery Review: KONT - Ontario International Airport XP12 by VerticalSim
     
    By Dennis Powell 
     
    Introduction
    Evoking memories of a 60s TV show, one might recall the phrase, “California is the place you ought to be. Swimming pools, movie stars.” Yet, a short journey east of Hollywood's dazzle takes us to Ontario, California. This area, less heralded but equally intriguing, hosts a sprawling suburban expanse and an airport that serves as a serene counterpart to the ever-busy LAX.

    Developed by VerticaliSm, Ontario International Airport emerges as a noteworthy addition to their portfolio. Situated as a gateway to Southern California's adventures, it offers an experience distinct from the frenetic pace of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The locale is steeped in suburban authenticity, replete with residential areas and the kind of small-scale industrial backdrop one might anticipate in a community adjacent to, yet distinctly apart from, Los Angeles. Encircled by mountains to the east and the undulating hills of Los Angeles to the west, KONT positions itself intriguingly, but how does it fare as an X-Plane destination? Well, that's what we're here to uncover.
     
     

     
    Installation
    Installing this scenery package is a breeze. The process involves a simple download of the 1.6GB package, unzipping the folder, and then transferring the uncompressed scenery folder into your Custom Scenery directory. It's straightforward: no complicated licensing, no codes to enter, no hassle at all. Just a quick click, drag, and drop, and you're all set to dive into this scenery experience.
     
    On a side note, while the store's description suggests that the gates require SAM3, I've found the package operates smoothly without it. Despite removing the SAM suite due to its impact on my system's performance, I faced no issues with the gates. However, it's worth noting that you'll miss out on the marshaller's guidance into the gate, which could be a consideration for those who fly airliners

    Documentation
    This scenery package includes a PDF that efficiently details setup, installation procedures, and any special features you might need to know about. In addition to the installation guide, the PDF offers an overview and some other handy pieces of information. For those interested, it also contains a link to the latest version of the SAM suite. 
     
    The provided documentation is straightforward and includes necessary information about SAM3 compatibility. As previously mentioned, while I choose to fly without the SAM suite due to its effect on my system's performance, those with more robust systems might find it adds to their experience. And don't worry about being overwhelmed by the PDF, as it's a concise six pages. You’ll find it short, sweet, and refreshingly straightforward, sparing your hair from turning grey as you read.
     

     
    Exploration Walkthrough
    Situated in a semi-arid desert basin just east of Los Angeles, the airport is encircled by mountains to the east and rolling hills to the west, north, and south. The surrounding area is peppered with autogen, primarily suburban housing and light industry. Warehouses are a common sight as you approach, and the light industrial zone to the east of the airport forms part of the scenery.
     

     
    The local vegetation is quintessentially Southern Californian: scrub brush and palm trees, with a smattering of deciduous trees for shade. The airport features two parallel runways running east to west: 8L/26R, stretching 12,197 feet, and the slightly shorter 8R/26L at 10,200 feet. Both runways boast comprehensive centreline lighting.
     

     
    However, the ground texture, based on ortho photos, is where the scenery slightly falters. These photos retain time-specific shadows and include numerous 2D-rendered parked cars in the lots and conspicuous 2D junk piles around the airport. This aspect is the only notable shortcoming, but considering the airport's price point, it's a minor quibble.
     

     
    The runway and taxiway textures use transparent textures as their base, with custom polygons for the pavement. This technique, a holdover from X-Plane 11, ensures intricate taxi routes but precludes AI aircraft generation and landing at the airport. However, those familiar with World Editor can easily rectify this.
     

     
    The 3D modeling of the main terminal buildings is notably detailed, capturing the essence of their real-world counterparts with a high degree of accuracy. The terminals feature angular roofs with sharply angled glass elements, plus subtle curve that adds to the realistic portrayal. 
     

     
    Smaller structures such as maintenance buildings and hangars are also accurately rendered, matching online photos, though lacking interior details. The exteriors, however, are painstakingly modelled, contributing to the airport's ambiance.
     

     
    The airport is abundant in clutter: 3D parked cars, ramp equipment, baggage trains, static aircraft, and notably, a Boeing 727 by a cargo hangar, a fixture in many satellite images. Also, present are power poles, dumpsters, bollards, concrete barriers, cargo containers, and custom signage.
     

     
    The gates, rendered using SAM, are not functional on my setup due to the absence of the SAM plugin, a decision influenced by its impact on my system's performance. Many gates are labelled with airline names like Southwest, Delta, and JetBlue. While not all gates are marked, it’s easy to discern airline allocations. A noticeable omission, however, is the presence of people, an increasingly common feature in payware airports that adds a vibrant, lively atmosphere.
     

     
    Night Lighting
    The night lighting at Ontario is particularly noteworthy. Surrounded by a brightly lit suburban area, accentuated by its proximity to several freeways, the airport itself doesn't overly stand out at night. Yet, it is sufficiently illuminated to be identifiable as an airport.
     

     
    The runways are equipped with the standard centreline, edge, and approach lights expected of a busy international airport. A unique feature that caught my attention were the taxi lights. Unlike the runway lights, which are strung in lines, these taxi lights appear custom-made and hand-placed, creating an impressive density and detail on the ground. Additionally, there's a significant cluster of wig wag lights at the points where various taxiways converge near the runways. The main terminal ramps are well lit, achieving a balance between visibility and subtlety.
     

     
    In contrast to some sceneries where you might notice a shift in lighting intensity from twilight to full darkness, Ontario’s lighting remains steady and constant. There’s no abrupt increase in brightness as the night deepens. Given the significant light pollution from the surrounding autogen, the airport's lighting is executed with just the right touch, noticeable but not overwhelming, perfectly complementing its environment.
     

     
    Performance Impact
    This airport marks my second venture with the recently acquired Nvidia RTX 2060, and during my exploration, frame rates consistently hovered in the mid to upper twenties. Pinpointing the exact cause of these low frame rates is a bit challenging. It could be attributed to the airport itself or potentially the extensive autogen in the surrounding area. However, given that my settings for autogen and vegetation are cranked to the max, I’m guessing I’m CPU, rather than GPU limited. 

    What I can confidently report is that, despite the lower frame rates, the overall flying experience remained smooth. There were no hitches, hesitations, or scenery skips noted. During my testing of the scenery, I used the JRX Bell 407, which might have influenced the frame rates I observed. However, it's still too early to conclude if this particular model is a significant resource hog, as I haven't had enough time to thoroughly test its impact. It's a well-known fact though, that certain aircraft can be more demanding on frame rates than others. For those with a reasonably modern computer setup and a robust graphics card, this airport should not pose significant performance issues. Additionally, for those utilizing AutoOrthoXP and X-World America by simHeaven, you'll be happy to hear that VerticalSim's Ontario integrates almost seamlessly into the wider area. 
     

     
    Conclusion
    Overall, Ontario by VerticaliSim presents a solid and well-executed scenery, effectively capturing the essence of its real-life counterpart. The numerous buildings are modelled with care, each one enhanced by a high level of texturing detail. The use of transparent textures for runways, taxiways, and ramps means an absence of AI aircraft, but this isn’t a major issue. For those desiring AI activity, it's an easily rectifiable point. At a price of just $15.99, this minor limitation doesn't detract significantly from the overall value.

    The only real niggle is with the ortho photos. The retention of shadows and 2D objects could have been addressed prior to their use, and in certain areas, the 2D vegetation isn't completely masked by 3D counterparts. These aspects, while minor, might slightly distract pilots who prefer low altitude flying. However, the photos do ensure accurate runway and parking lot markings.
     
    For heavy metal simmers, VerticalSim's Ontario is an excellent choice. It offers an escape from the congestion of LAX and serves as a gateway to explore the varied landscapes of Southern California: from the coast to the mountains, and yes, even those swimming pools and movie stars the classic 60's TV show alluded to.
     
    Dennis Powell, Sunset Arts LTD.
     
    ________________________
     

     
    KONT - Ontario International Airport XP12 by VerticalSim is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    KONT - Ontario International Airport XP12
    Priced at US$15.99
     
    Features:
    Brand new XP12 weather maps Accurate cargo ramps 2023 Airport Layout HDR Lighting PBR on nearly all materials Moving vehicle traffic Traffic AI Routing SAM Jetways Usage of LOD’s for optimization Requirements
    X-Plane 12 - (not for XP11)
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
    Version 1.0 (January 12th, 2024)
     
    Review System Specifications
    Windows 10 Intel i5-6600K 16GB RAM RTX 2060 with 12GB VRAM
     
    __________________________________
     
    Scenery Review by Dennis Powell
    31st January 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).
     

     
     
  21. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Scenery Review: KONT - Ontario International Airport XP12 by VerticalSim   
    Scenery Review: KONT - Ontario International Airport XP12 by VerticalSim
     
    By Dennis Powell 
     
    Introduction
    Evoking memories of a 60s TV show, one might recall the phrase, “California is the place you ought to be. Swimming pools, movie stars.” Yet, a short journey east of Hollywood's dazzle takes us to Ontario, California. This area, less heralded but equally intriguing, hosts a sprawling suburban expanse and an airport that serves as a serene counterpart to the ever-busy LAX.

    Developed by VerticaliSm, Ontario International Airport emerges as a noteworthy addition to their portfolio. Situated as a gateway to Southern California's adventures, it offers an experience distinct from the frenetic pace of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The locale is steeped in suburban authenticity, replete with residential areas and the kind of small-scale industrial backdrop one might anticipate in a community adjacent to, yet distinctly apart from, Los Angeles. Encircled by mountains to the east and the undulating hills of Los Angeles to the west, KONT positions itself intriguingly, but how does it fare as an X-Plane destination? Well, that's what we're here to uncover.
     
     

     
    Installation
    Installing this scenery package is a breeze. The process involves a simple download of the 1.6GB package, unzipping the folder, and then transferring the uncompressed scenery folder into your Custom Scenery directory. It's straightforward: no complicated licensing, no codes to enter, no hassle at all. Just a quick click, drag, and drop, and you're all set to dive into this scenery experience.
     
    On a side note, while the store's description suggests that the gates require SAM3, I've found the package operates smoothly without it. Despite removing the SAM suite due to its impact on my system's performance, I faced no issues with the gates. However, it's worth noting that you'll miss out on the marshaller's guidance into the gate, which could be a consideration for those who fly airliners

    Documentation
    This scenery package includes a PDF that efficiently details setup, installation procedures, and any special features you might need to know about. In addition to the installation guide, the PDF offers an overview and some other handy pieces of information. For those interested, it also contains a link to the latest version of the SAM suite. 
     
    The provided documentation is straightforward and includes necessary information about SAM3 compatibility. As previously mentioned, while I choose to fly without the SAM suite due to its effect on my system's performance, those with more robust systems might find it adds to their experience. And don't worry about being overwhelmed by the PDF, as it's a concise six pages. You’ll find it short, sweet, and refreshingly straightforward, sparing your hair from turning grey as you read.
     

     
    Exploration Walkthrough
    Situated in a semi-arid desert basin just east of Los Angeles, the airport is encircled by mountains to the east and rolling hills to the west, north, and south. The surrounding area is peppered with autogen, primarily suburban housing and light industry. Warehouses are a common sight as you approach, and the light industrial zone to the east of the airport forms part of the scenery.
     

     
    The local vegetation is quintessentially Southern Californian: scrub brush and palm trees, with a smattering of deciduous trees for shade. The airport features two parallel runways running east to west: 8L/26R, stretching 12,197 feet, and the slightly shorter 8R/26L at 10,200 feet. Both runways boast comprehensive centreline lighting.
     

     
    However, the ground texture, based on ortho photos, is where the scenery slightly falters. These photos retain time-specific shadows and include numerous 2D-rendered parked cars in the lots and conspicuous 2D junk piles around the airport. This aspect is the only notable shortcoming, but considering the airport's price point, it's a minor quibble.
     

     
    The runway and taxiway textures use transparent textures as their base, with custom polygons for the pavement. This technique, a holdover from X-Plane 11, ensures intricate taxi routes but precludes AI aircraft generation and landing at the airport. However, those familiar with World Editor can easily rectify this.
     

     
    The 3D modeling of the main terminal buildings is notably detailed, capturing the essence of their real-world counterparts with a high degree of accuracy. The terminals feature angular roofs with sharply angled glass elements, plus subtle curve that adds to the realistic portrayal. 
     

     
    Smaller structures such as maintenance buildings and hangars are also accurately rendered, matching online photos, though lacking interior details. The exteriors, however, are painstakingly modelled, contributing to the airport's ambiance.
     

     
    The airport is abundant in clutter: 3D parked cars, ramp equipment, baggage trains, static aircraft, and notably, a Boeing 727 by a cargo hangar, a fixture in many satellite images. Also, present are power poles, dumpsters, bollards, concrete barriers, cargo containers, and custom signage.
     

     
    The gates, rendered using SAM, are not functional on my setup due to the absence of the SAM plugin, a decision influenced by its impact on my system's performance. Many gates are labelled with airline names like Southwest, Delta, and JetBlue. While not all gates are marked, it’s easy to discern airline allocations. A noticeable omission, however, is the presence of people, an increasingly common feature in payware airports that adds a vibrant, lively atmosphere.
     

     
    Night Lighting
    The night lighting at Ontario is particularly noteworthy. Surrounded by a brightly lit suburban area, accentuated by its proximity to several freeways, the airport itself doesn't overly stand out at night. Yet, it is sufficiently illuminated to be identifiable as an airport.
     

     
    The runways are equipped with the standard centreline, edge, and approach lights expected of a busy international airport. A unique feature that caught my attention were the taxi lights. Unlike the runway lights, which are strung in lines, these taxi lights appear custom-made and hand-placed, creating an impressive density and detail on the ground. Additionally, there's a significant cluster of wig wag lights at the points where various taxiways converge near the runways. The main terminal ramps are well lit, achieving a balance between visibility and subtlety.
     

     
    In contrast to some sceneries where you might notice a shift in lighting intensity from twilight to full darkness, Ontario’s lighting remains steady and constant. There’s no abrupt increase in brightness as the night deepens. Given the significant light pollution from the surrounding autogen, the airport's lighting is executed with just the right touch, noticeable but not overwhelming, perfectly complementing its environment.
     

     
    Performance Impact
    This airport marks my second venture with the recently acquired Nvidia RTX 2060, and during my exploration, frame rates consistently hovered in the mid to upper twenties. Pinpointing the exact cause of these low frame rates is a bit challenging. It could be attributed to the airport itself or potentially the extensive autogen in the surrounding area. However, given that my settings for autogen and vegetation are cranked to the max, I’m guessing I’m CPU, rather than GPU limited. 

    What I can confidently report is that, despite the lower frame rates, the overall flying experience remained smooth. There were no hitches, hesitations, or scenery skips noted. During my testing of the scenery, I used the JRX Bell 407, which might have influenced the frame rates I observed. However, it's still too early to conclude if this particular model is a significant resource hog, as I haven't had enough time to thoroughly test its impact. It's a well-known fact though, that certain aircraft can be more demanding on frame rates than others. For those with a reasonably modern computer setup and a robust graphics card, this airport should not pose significant performance issues. Additionally, for those utilizing AutoOrthoXP and X-World America by simHeaven, you'll be happy to hear that VerticalSim's Ontario integrates almost seamlessly into the wider area. 
     

     
    Conclusion
    Overall, Ontario by VerticaliSim presents a solid and well-executed scenery, effectively capturing the essence of its real-life counterpart. The numerous buildings are modelled with care, each one enhanced by a high level of texturing detail. The use of transparent textures for runways, taxiways, and ramps means an absence of AI aircraft, but this isn’t a major issue. For those desiring AI activity, it's an easily rectifiable point. At a price of just $15.99, this minor limitation doesn't detract significantly from the overall value.

    The only real niggle is with the ortho photos. The retention of shadows and 2D objects could have been addressed prior to their use, and in certain areas, the 2D vegetation isn't completely masked by 3D counterparts. These aspects, while minor, might slightly distract pilots who prefer low altitude flying. However, the photos do ensure accurate runway and parking lot markings.
     
    For heavy metal simmers, VerticalSim's Ontario is an excellent choice. It offers an escape from the congestion of LAX and serves as a gateway to explore the varied landscapes of Southern California: from the coast to the mountains, and yes, even those swimming pools and movie stars the classic 60's TV show alluded to.
     
    Dennis Powell, Sunset Arts LTD.
     
    ________________________
     

     
    KONT - Ontario International Airport XP12 by VerticalSim is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    KONT - Ontario International Airport XP12
    Priced at US$15.99
     
    Features:
    Brand new XP12 weather maps Accurate cargo ramps 2023 Airport Layout HDR Lighting PBR on nearly all materials Moving vehicle traffic Traffic AI Routing SAM Jetways Usage of LOD’s for optimization Requirements
    X-Plane 12 - (not for XP11)
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
    Version 1.0 (January 12th, 2024)
     
    Review System Specifications
    Windows 10 Intel i5-6600K 16GB RAM RTX 2060 with 12GB VRAM
     
    __________________________________
     
    Scenery Review by Dennis Powell
    31st January 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).
     

     
     
  22. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Scenery Review: Dortmund XP by Aerosoft   
    Scenery Review: Dortmund XP by Aerosoft 
     
    By Michael Hayward
     
    Introduction
    Dortmund Airport, a regional hub in the Rhein-Ruhr region of Germany, welcomes over 1.2 million passengers yearly. Flights from Dortmund Airport are operated by a range of seven airlines, including low-cost carriers and regional operators. These airlines connect Dortmund to key destinations across Europe, offering routes to major cities like London, Paris, and Milan, as well as popular holiday destinations in the Mediterranean and beyond. 
     
    Since its inception in 1925, the airport began with flights to Paris and gradually expanded its routes over the ensuing years. During the tumultuous period of 1939-1945, commonly referred to as the great European disagreement, it was repurposed as a German Air Base, later transitioning to RAF control. While Dortmund Airport may be smaller in size compared to its regional counterparts, Dusseldorf and Cologne Bonn Airports, it plays a significant role in enhancing the city's connectivity. Serving as a vital link, it efficiently bridges Dortmund to the broader European network, offering an array of flight options that cater to both business and leisure travelers.
     

     
    Aerosoft, a household name in the flight simming community, boasts over two decades of experience in developing high-calibre add-ons for X-Plane. Their portfolio, featuring successes like Heathrow, Manchester, and Toulouse, sets high expectations for any new release. In this review, we will explore how their latest creation, Dortmund Airport, available for both X-Plane 11 and 12, and see how it measures up to these lofty standards. 

    Installation & Documentation
    Upon purchase, you'll receive an installation key for redemption via Aerosoft One. This all-encompassing package, designed for use across various flight simulator platforms, facilitates not only updates but also allows configuration adjustments within the scenery. It serves as a convenient central hub for all your Aerosoft products, representing a significant advancement over the previous Aerosoft Launcher. The installation includes a comprehensive 20-page manual, available in both German and English. It details the airport's facilities and provides a glimpse into the history of Dortmund Airport and the surrounding region. A brief look of this manual is recommended for a deeper understanding of the airport you'll be using.
     

     
    Airport Layout
    Viewing Dortmund Airport from above reveals a straightforward layout. It features a single runway, 06/24, accompanied by a terminal parking area, a helipad, and business jet facilities, all interconnected by a main taxiway. This simplicity makes it an exceptionally easy airport to navigate.
     

     
    The ground markings are diverse, ranging from standard yellow taxi lines to chequered service roads, and even include distinct lanes for turnback and pushback parking spots. A notable aspect appreciated by many low-cost airlines at smaller airports like Dortmund is the design that allows aircraft to turn around at the gate. This feature not only saves space but also reduces reliance on pushback tugs, enabling planes to dispatch independently without the need for a ground marshal.
     

     
    Subtle weathering effects in the parking areas, such as liquid stains and minor cracks in the concrete, contribute to the airport's lived-in feel, avoiding the sterility of uniformly pristine surfaces. The recently renovated parking area stands out with its lighter grey shade, contrasting with the older sections of the taxiways and runway.
     

     
    Signage & Foliage
    The taxiway markers at Dortmund Airport stand out for their clarity, both during the day and at night, ensuring easy navigation. Additionally, the airport's abundant foliage is strategically placed, contributing positively to the overall ambiance and visual appeal.
     

     
    Structures & Facilities
    The main airport terminal is modelled with a reasonable amount of accuracy, presenting an impressive view from both airside and landside. Dortmund may not boast the world's most beautiful airport, but its modern terminal, reconstructed between 1998 and 2000, certainly has a distinctive appearance. Unlike some sceneries that feature fully modelled interiors or window transparency, Aerosoft has chosen photo textures for the terminal's exterior, which achieves a realistic effect, albeit without interior visibility. Whilst it works for the most part, I felt some of the texturing could have been better. It's quite satisfactory overall, but a future update could potentially enhance these aspects.
     

     
    Beyond the terminal, the attention to airside details is impressive. Situated to the south of the terminal are the helipad, business jet, and maintenance facilities, located on a slightly elevated terrain. Aerosoft has skilfully adjusted the ground mesh here, adding to the overall authenticity. The blast chamber, with its 200° of soundproof blast fencing for engine testing, is a particularly noteworthy detail.
     

     
    Surrounding Area
    Aerosoft has not only focused on Dortmund Airport but has also significantly enhanced the surrounding area, including a detailed recreation of Dortmund city. This is complemented by high-quality orthophotos, rendered at an impressive 50cm per pixel resolution.

    As you head towards the city centre, a recreation of the railway station and numerous city landmarks and buildings comes into view. Although these may not match the airport's terminal in resolution, the use of photo textures ensures each building is recreated with high fidelity. This attention to detail is particularly striking when flying low or gazing out of an airplane window during approach.
     

     
    In my experience, some sceneries either neglect city details or, on rare occasions, overshadow the airport itself. Here, however, there's a commendable balance between the airport and its surroundings. While it may not totally rival the satellite imagery and photogrammetry of Microsoft Flight Simulator, the hand-modelled towers in many respects offer a more appealing visual experience. 
     

     
    Additionally, Aerosoft has modelled the local gliding airfield, DE-0182 Engsen-Opherdicke. Whilst it’s a relatively modest setup with a few hangars, a club room, and some glider equipment, it's a charming addition to the scenery. This airfield is certainly worth exploring, especially for gliding enthusiasts or those looking for a nearby short field for leisurely flights over the city in a Cessna.
     

     
    Night Lighting
    The night lighting at Dortmund Airport is particularly noteworthy. The taxiways are lined with the standard blue edge and green centre lights, which provide a clear and vivid guidance system. This becomes even more prominent during night approaches, with the runway lights standing out impressively.
     
    Each gate area is illuminated by overhead floodlights that effectively brighten the surroundings. These lights make excellent use of X-Plane 12’s advanced lighting engine, creating a realistic and visually appealing environment. Their effectiveness is especially appreciated during preparations for flights after dusk, as they ensure the aircraft parking area is well-lit and visibly distinct.
     

     
    Performance
    The performance at both Dortmund's main airport and the surrounding city was consistently smooth, even under challenging weather conditions. I was impressed by the absence of any noticeable frame rate drops, which is particularly commendable given the density of objects and details within the scenery.
     

     
    Opinion & Closing Remarks
    In conclusion, Aerosoft's Dortmund scenery is a commendable effort, especially considering its coverage, though there's room for improvement, particularly in the detailing of the main terminal area. The buildings, while visually appealing, could benefit from additional refinement, perhaps with some enhancements to the interiors, even if not to the extent of full-scale recreations seen in other sceneries.

    On a positive note, Dortmund excels in its performance impact, proving to be incredibly FPS-friendly. The low-poly design of the buildings ensures minimal effect on frame rates, making it an ideal choice for those with lower-spec systems. The recreation of the city region and the included glider field are welcomed additions, adding significant depth and vibrancy to the package. Priced at $22.99, this scenery offers good value, especially when compared to more expensive, top-end airport sceneries. It represents a cost-effective option without compromising quality.

    Overall, while there's scope for additional enhancements, Dortmund stands out as a solid mid-tier Aerosoft airport and makes for a worthwhile addition for those looking to enrich their X-Plane 12 experience, particularly with the picturesque city views during approach and departure.
     
    ______________________________________
     

     
    Dortmund XP by Aerosoft is available from the Org store here:
     
    Dortmund XP
    Priced at US$22.99
     
    Features:
    Both XP12 and XP11 versions included Detailed rendition of the airport and its surroundings, incl. landmark objects Photo realistic ground textures based on aerial images (50cm/px) All airport buildings and facilities True-to-original navigation aids (ILS, VOR/DME, NDB, ATIS) Excellent night effects True-to-original runway and taxiway lighting Detailed 3D city model of Dortmund incl. colour-corrected 60cm/px aerial image covering the entire city area Authentic rendition of the airfield Hengsen-Opherdicke incl. colour-corrected 30cm/px aerial image The aerial images for Hengsen-Opherdicke can be turned off Autogen covering the area of the aerial image, corrected by hand Animated wind objects: wind turbines and windsocks specific to Hengsen-Opherdicke as well as the helipad the Hospital Centre North Ship traffic at the Dortmund-Ems Canal when using the Seatraffic plug-in by Marginal/Jonathan Harris Volumetric grass, toggleable PBR-based reflecting water surfaces Backup library – runs without add-ons Requirements:
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 (both versions supported)
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
     8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
    Download Size: 4 Gb
    Current version: 1.0 (XP12, November 21st, 2023)
     
    Reviewers System:
    Windows 10 Professional
    AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Processor
    32GB RAM
    Palit GeForce RTX™ 3080 GamingPro
     
    Scenery Review by Michael Hayward 
    26th January 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) 
     

     
  23. Like
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Busair in Aircraft Review: X-Hangar Lockheed C-130 Hercules   
    Aircraft Review: X-Hangar Lockheed C-130 Hercules

    By David York

    Introduction
    The Lockheed C-130 Hercules, an iconic American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft, was designed and built by Lockheed, and is renowned for being the longest continuously produced military aircraft for over 60 years. 

    I recall initially mistaking the Air America movie's aircraft for the Hercules, with Mel Gibson seemingly playing a supporting role to the airplane. The confusion was understandable, given the quick shots and my incorrect engine count. The C-130, with its four engines, shares a resemblance to the Fairchild C-123 Provider, which is a derivative of the Chase XCG-20 Avitruc. My familiarity with this magnificent airplane grew when my in-laws lived near the runway at CFB Trenton.

    On 2 February 1951, the United States Air Force issued a General Operating Requirement (GOR) for a new transport aircraft. This was to replace the aging WW2 era piston-engined transports. The Request for Proposal (RFP) was quite specific, listing the need to accommodate ninety-two passengers, seventy-two combat troops, or sixty-four paratroopers. The cargo compartment had precise dimensions, 41 ft long, 9 ft high, and 10 ft wide, and a turboprop powerplant was specified, as jet engines at the time did not meet the necessary tactical requirements. The C-130 was designed for versatility, capable of operating on short and rudimentary runways. Its range of 1,100 nautical miles made it suitable for a variety of missions.

    Kelly Johnson, initially not a fan of the design due to his preference for more combative aircraft, eventually came to appreciate the C-130. Willis Hawkins, the lead designer, suggested that Johnson's eventual acceptance might have been influenced by the C-130’s adaptability for various roles, including as a cruise missile launcher.

    The Hercules has been adapted for numerous roles such as a gunship, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refuelling, maritime patrol, and aerial firefighting. It remains the primary tactical airlifter for many military forces globally, with over forty variants and civilian versions like the Lockheed L-100, operated by more than sixty nations.
     
     

     
    X-Plane Model
    The package for the C-130 model is thoughtfully designed for compatibility with both X-Plane versions 11 and 12. It's bundled in a way that facilitates an upgrade path for those using version 11, which is less demanding on VRAM. My setup includes an AMD 8-core FX processor, 16GB RAM, and an AMD Radeon RX570 series display card. With 4 GB of VRAM, it manages decently, though there are occasional slowdowns.
     
    Installation Procedure
    The installation of the C-130 Hercules package requires a few straightforward steps:
    Begin by unzipping the main package to obtain two separate zips: c130_12.zip and c130_11.zip, for X-Plane versions 12 and 11 respectively. Choose the version you need and unzip it into your preferred subdirectory within the <Aircraft> directory of the respective X-Plane version. Once you start X-Plane, the program automatically detects the new aircraft and adds it to your <New Flight> menu. You’re now ready to fly! The C-130 manual is located in the C-130H Hercules\Docs\manual x-plane\ sub-directory. It's recommended to review this manual early on, as it details extra features and helps familiarize you with the aircraft's cockpit, which can initially appear quite complex. You should also take a moment to look over the checklists available in the pop-up.

    For those interested in using the XFSE plugin:
    Install XFSE if it’s not already set up. A basic xfse-alias.txt file is included. Refer to the FSEconomy add-on manual for setup instructions. Documentation
    The manual for X-Hangar's C-130 is quite comprehensive, providing a solid overview of the model's features and a helpful guide to the flight deck and panel layouts. The manual is well-illustrated, including performance charts from the original aircraft's Pilot's Operating Manual (POM), giving a practical insight into optimal aircraft operation. From personal experience, I usually dive right into flying before consulting the manual (typical of many, I suppose!). However, I've found that an early perusal of the manual significantly flattens the learning curve and reveals many nuances that might otherwise be missed.
     

    Exterior
    The Hercules' shoulder-wing design might initially surprise those accustomed to more sleeker looking aircraft, but it highlights the craft's functionality over showmanship, and X-Hangar's model captures this robust spirit well. The level of detail is commendable, from the textures to the overall structure, though it lacks specific liveries like RAAF, RCAF, or UK allies. However, the provided blank livery templates offer a chance for personal customization.
     





     
    The minute details like antennae, propellers, and doors are well modelled, adding to the realism. This realism is further accentuated when you open the crew and cargo doors, revealing the intricacies of ground handling equipment, a vital aspect of the Hercules' operations.
     

     
    The airdrop animation is a notable feature, though I personally miss the inclusion of the Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System (LAPES), a system I've often seen in Canada. Despite this, X-Hangar's selection of features for the model is astute. The model uses Blender-based particles for exhaust and other systems, enhancing realism, especially with the airdropped cargo descending by parachute.
     

     
    The inclusion of the L-100-30 build, a stretched version of the C-130 with six-bladed propellers, is executed with the same attention to detail, showcasing the model's versatility and commitment to realism.
     





     
    Interior
    Recalling a special occasion when I once sat in a C-130 pilot seat, I can't help but compare that memory to X-Hangar's rendition of the cockpit. While it doesn't match my memory exactly, they've done a solid job without resorting to full photorealism. 
     

     
    For those of you looking for a bit of modernity, the L-100 stretch model features an option for a digital panel, which is a nice addition.
     

     
    In the C-130H, the clipboard pops up when the square red button is pressed, offering functionalities like showing or hiding the crew, JATO selection, and airdrop details. The control yokes are toggled as usual with the ‘Y’ key.
     


    The absence of high-degree photorealism might be a downside for some, as well as the lack of interactivity with every button or switch, but personally, I'm not at all disappointed. The panel and cockpit are well-designed, filled with controls, albeit with some non-functional elements like the microwave in the kitchen behind the flight engineer's station. It’s these small details that add charm, even if you can't leave the water running.
     

     
    Opening the crew door, descending the ladder, and then opening the passage door, reveals the cargo hold. Initially, I found myself walking through the fuselage wall until I figured out how these doors functioned. Remember to close all doors and ramps, or you might find yourself with unexpected airborne companions like a cargo crate and lift truck. It’s unclear if the weight of the lift truck is factored into the plane's gross weight, though the regular cargo weight is included when selected from the weapons menu.
     

     
    Flight Dynamics
    While I've never flown a C-130 and am not a licensed pilot, I've explored its unique characteristics based on available information. Willis Hawkins, in an interview with Lockheed's Code One Magazine, mentioned the C-130's resistance to stalling. He recounted an attempt to stall it, which led to a flip rather than a stall of the main wing, possibly due to the six-bladed props' effects on the wing's boundary layer.
     

     
    Curiously, I tested this on X-Hangar’s model. At 10,000 feet, as I slowed down, the stall alarm activated, but the wings seemed to keep flying, even with the four-bladed props. With the L-100-30's six-bladed props, I didn’t experience the reported “unstallability” but rather a gradual descent.
     

     
    This simulation is remarkably forgiving, making it the first plane I've successfully landed on my first attempt. Its handling is stable, smooth, and relaxed. I even took a virtual flight from CFB Trenton to Niagara Falls International, enjoying the XP-12 view and exploring the plane in flight.
     

     
    Sounds
    The alarms and alerts have custom sounds, but the engine, prop, and wind noises are the default turboprop sounds from X-Plane. While they work adequately, the unique sound of the Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines would have been a treat. However, obtaining specific engine sounds, especially in FMOD format, is challenging, so I respect X-Hangar's decision to keep the model affordable.
     
    Night Lighting
    The night lighting of the model is functional, following a tried-and-tested method. It effectively illuminates the interior, creating an appropriate ambiance for night operations. While it doesn't employ the latest lighting effects, it ensures a dependable and solid experience in line with the Hercules' reliable nature.
     



     
    Performance
    In my experience with X-Plane 12 on my somewhat dated hardware, frame rates were around 22-30 fps, so generally smooth but with occasional flutter during high-speed, low-altitude passes. However, it's important to note that these performance metrics are largely influenced by my hardware capabilities, and users with more up-to-date systems can expect improved performance. In X-Plane 11, the model performed slightly better on my setup, achieving 28-37 fps with fewer instances of freezing, particularly when accessing the map window. Given the model's detailed custom objects, which surpass those in X-Hangar's Caribou model, longer load times and avoidance of multitasking in XP-12 were necessary on my system to maintain stability. 
     

     
    Conclusion
    I've always loved the Hercules, and this X-Hangar model is the best rendition I've flown, making it a worthwhile purchase even by my Scottish, thrifty standards. The cargo handling effects might not be my favourite, but the JATO option and overall art and animation are top-notch. When you look out and see a lift-truck flying alongside because you forgot to close the crew door, it's both amusing and a testament to the model's detail. The cockpit, while not overloaded with interactive features, perfectly suits my flying style. This model is enjoyable and realistic, a great fit for both X-Plane 11 and 12 users.
     

     
    Whether you're on a budget or equipped with a high-end system, this model will not disappoint. The more demanding simmers might long for additional features, but there's plenty to enjoy here. Overall, the C-130 is a superb addition to X-Hangar’s fleet
     
    ________________________
     

     
    C-130H Hercules by X-Hangar is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    C-130H Hercules
    Priced at $27.95
     
    Features
    Two separate versions to fly for both v11 and v12 Two separate .zip files Both a digital Instrument panel and analog Working wipers in v12 Rain on the glass for v11 (limited to win Vulkan) and v12 Much improved landing and taxi lights in v12 3D modeled crew  Working cargo door Working crew door X-Plane FMS for v11 and v12 with pop up panel or press 3d buttons X-Plane Garmin 530 with pop up panel or press 3d buttons Many interchangeable international liveries  Both civil and military liveries Easy to paint liveries with the blank included Checklist in .txt format for use in the sim PDF manual to help familiarize yourself with the aircraft Static elements Cargo automatically loads with added weight to the aircraft Animated parts Option to use and display JATO rockets (fun for shorter take off). FSE file included Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
    Download Size: 595 MB
    Current Version: 12.07 (November 14th, 2023)
     
    Review System Specifications
    AMD FX-8350 - 16GB - AMD Radeon RTX 570 8GB - Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
     
    __________________________________
     
    Aircraft Review by David York
    11th January 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).
     

     
  24. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Aircraft Review: SR-71-TB Project by VSKYLABS for X-Plane 12   
    Aircraft Review: SR-71-TB Project by VSKYLABS for X-PLane 12

    By Michael Hayward

    Introduction 
    The Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a mainstay in the US Air Force for three decades, was renowned for its high-speed, long-distance reconnaissance capabilities. Constructed by Lockheed Martin in the 1960s, it initially took shape as the YF-12, then the A-12, serving as a successor to the older and slower U-2. The Blackbird was created under the stringent secrecy of Lockheed Martin’s Clarence “Kelly” Johnson as part of the “Skunk Works” programme. It was publicly unveiled by President Johnson during his 1964 election campaign.

    In this review, we delve into the intricacies of the recently released model from VSKYLABS, a developer acclaimed for their meticulously detailed recreations of both military and civilian aircraft, as well as helicopters, for X-Plane. VSKYLABS, with their reputation for intense detail and realism, offers a plethora of features in this model, which I aim to explore comprehensively. Boasting full VR compatibility and an intricate FMOD sound system, this add-on presents us with a wealth of details to examine. Let’s dive in, shall we?
     

     
    Installation & Manuals 
    The installation process for the SR-71 adheres to the standard procedure for most X-Plane models. Upon purchase, you receive a zip file containing the model. Run the installer, direct it to your simulator folder, and the aircraft will be ready in your virtual hangar.
     
    Alongside the aircraft, you gain access to a comprehensive, 982-page 'declassified' document. Initially, this manual may seem daunting, but it becomes more approachable with familiarity. For those seeking additional support, VSKYLABS maintains a dedicated SR-71 support forum at the .org. This forum serves as a professional support hub and a growing knowledge base for the SR-71, continuously expanding to cater to user needs.

    Within this support forum, you'll find several 'EXPLAINED' topics. These are designed for on-the-go information and instructions, including various 'Cheat-Sheets' to enhance user-friendliness. Initially, navigating through the SR-71 manual might feel like a heavy task, but these resources are structured to ease users into it, gradually transforming it into an easy read. The SR-71, with its complexity, invites you to delve deeper into its intricacies, and these additional resources, including the forum and 'EXPLAINED' topics, are invaluable for learning the ropes.
     

     
    Exterior Modelling & Visuals 
    Right from the outset, it's clear that VSKYLABS has invested considerable effort in accurately recreating the SR-71, ensuring it mirrors its real-world counterpart. The model boasts a sleek, black, pointed body, supported by a rear delta wing, and is powered by two Pratt & Whitney J58 engines with vertical stabilisers on top.
     

     
    This aerodynamic design enabled it to surpass the speeds and altitudes of nearly all contemporary fighter jets, while remaining undetected by most aircraft radar and defence systems. Its capability to penetrate deep into foreign territories, including the USSR, for reconnaissance was unparalleled. Attention to detail is evident in the flight surface animations.
     

     
    Close inspection reveals intricate detailing around the landing gear extension, engine movements, and lighting. Particularly noteworthy is the operation of the afterburners, complete with trailing shock diamonds, adding to the realism.
     

     
    As for liveries, there are three options available. The aircraft's surface features weathering effects, giving all three a “lived-in”, brushed appearance, further enhanced by X-Plane’s PBR rendering. Bump mapping is judiciously used around different panel gaps to add depth and texture. The textures are rendered in ultra-high resolution, with 8k and 4k options, allowing for fine detailing on the body, as well as subtle weathering effects. These nuances bring a sense of realism and age to the aircraft, making it a standout within the X-Plane world. The SR-71 is not just a model; it's a visually stunning representation that is as much a joy to behold from a high-altitude perspective as it is up close.
     

     
    Interior & Environmental Systems 
    Mastering the cockpit of the SR-71 is a formidable task. Initially, the plethora of switches, gauges, and buttons scattered across the panels can seem overwhelming. Having reviewed and flown a significant number of jets from the mid-50s and 60s on platforms like X-Plane, Microsoft Flight Simulator, and DCS: World, the SR-71 still presents a unique challenge, comparable perhaps only to the Space Shuttle in its complexity.

    The aircraft is replete with a myriad of systems, ranging from aircraft functionality and engine controls to pressurisation and life support. It's difficult to know where to start. In this regard, I strongly advise consulting the manual or watching YouTube playthroughs to visually grasp the necessary steps for flight. I often emphasize in my jetliner reviews that practice is key to mastering the flows, but in the SR-71's case, I find myself repeatedly heeding my own advice to avoid getting lost in the cockpit.
     

     
    While it might seem that the exterior overshadows the interior, the sheer volume of activity within the cockpit argues otherwise. It's so densely packed and 'busy' that focusing on any gauge requires full attention to the plane's operation. Forward visibility is limited due to the large window framing, necessary to withstand the intense pressure and airflow. This requires some adjustment, especially in VR, where you might find yourself sitting slightly off-centre or tilting your head for a better view. Every gauge is meticulously modelled in 3D, offering depth and functionality. The central console is a labyrinth of systems and gauges, all designed to be fully functional within the simulator.
     

     
    Like the exterior, the cockpit benefits from full 4K textures, complete with weathering effects that add realism and a sense of history to the interior. Every detail has been included to ensure the cockpit looks authentic from every angle. While it's easy to get lost in the complexity, with practice, the intricacies of flying and managing the aircraft's systems become more manageable.
     

     
    Flight Controls & Instruments
    The fidelity with which the control system of the SR-71 has been recreated within X-Plane 12 is remarkable, and much of this is owed to the expertise of former SR-71 pilot BC Thomas. A legend in the Blackbird community, Thomas, with over 1,000 flight hours in the aircraft, has provided invaluable technical support to VSKYLABS in the development of this model.
     

     
    In flight, the SR-71 demands a delicate touch. Pilots will often find themselves fine-tuning control sensitivity curves. At altitudes of 80,000 feet and speeds reaching Mach 3.5, the slightest movement of the joystick can result in a course deviation of several hundred miles. Even a minor bank or roll at such speeds can dramatically alter your trajectory. Mastering the SR-71 is about understanding and adapting to these subtle control inputs.
     

     
    The aircraft's behaviour changes significantly during descent. From being a supremely agile, high-speed vehicle slicing through the sky, it transforms into a much heavier, more cumbersome machine at lower altitudes and speeds. This is a common trait among aircraft designed for high-speed stability – their performance characteristics vary greatly with speed.
     

     
    An interesting anecdote about the SR-71's recruitment process highlights the immense responsibility bestowed upon its pilots. Reportedly, the key question asked was, “are you married?”, symbolizing the need for a sense of responsibility and stability. This also hinted at a strategic consideration: married pilots were perceived as less likely to defect to the USSR with such a valuable asset. The SR-71 is at its best at high altitudes and speeds. While takeoff and landing require a period of adjustment, once airborne and with the afterburners engaged, the exhilaration of flying the SR-71 comes to the fore. It's a thrilling experience that combines technical mastery with the sheer joy of high-speed, high-altitude flight.
     

     
    Systems 
    VSKYLABS’ SR-71 is equipped with an array of systems and switches, offering a comprehensive virtual experience. We've already discussed some cockpit functions, such as the afterburners and fuel systems, but there's much more to explore. A key feature is the functioning autopilot system, located on the right-hand side of the cockpit. It includes standard controls like heading, altitude, and pitch, but also a unique KEAS bleed and hold function. This system is crucial for managing aircraft pitch during high-altitude climbs as you accelerate from Mach 2.6 to 3.0. The autopilot is complemented by a default X-Plane FMS, facilitating easier navigation compared to the ANS, which requires manual coordinate inputs for flight plan formation.
     

     
    VSKYLABS has also integrated an air-to-air refuelling feature. For this operation, you need to stabilize your aircraft in the cruise corridor of the tanker plane (26,000-30,000ft) and reduce speed to around three hundred knots. The autopilot is invaluable here for maintaining stability. When you request refuelling, a green indicator light and an audio cue are activated, featuring real radio recordings of air refuelling processes provided by BC Thomas. A KC-135 tanker then spawns above, connecting to your fuel probe for refuelling. It’s crucial to fill your tanks completely to prevent air from entering the system, as this could ignite when afterburners are activated.
     

     
    VSKYLABS is committed to the long-term development of this model, with plans for numerous future updates. These include a manual control for the pressurisation schedule and overhauls of the electrical and hydraulics systems. Additionally, they plan to introduce interactive pressure suit support systems, a unique feature that allows direct interaction with the pilot's wellbeing during flight. With the current level of detail in the SR-71 model, these upcoming features promise to add even more depth and realism, and as such, this is a project I’m excited to follow closely, as it continues to evolve.
     

     
    Night Lighting
    The night lighting is executed with exceptional attention to detail, both inside and out. The cockpit comes to life after dark with an array of adjustable dials, allowing precise control over the intensity of side panel illumination as well as gauge and switch lighting. This functionality not only adds to the realism but also enhances the pilot's experience during night flights. Externally, the aircraft is equipped with tail, taxi, and positional lights, all performing flawlessly. Under the right conditions, the SR-71 takes on a rather imposing and menacing appearance in the dark, embodying the intrigue and awe that this legendary aircraft inspires.
     

     
    Conclusion 
    In summary, the experience of flying the SR-71 has been nothing short of extraordinary! Soaring at 85,000 feet and cruising at speeds surpassing Mach 3, one truly appreciates the thrill of speed and the finesse required to pilot this engineering wonder. The SR-71 is a top-tier add-on that astounds in its visual, tactile, and auditory fidelity. It’s a must-try for anyone with an affinity for high-speed flight or a keen interest in detailed military systems. While there is a learning curve, the sense of achievement and enjoyment you gain after mastering the aircraft's nuances is immense.  The authenticity of this recreation owes much to the technical guidance from a real SR-71 pilot, coupled with VSKYLABS’s expertise, evidenced by their background with the USAF F4 Phantom. This collaboration has resulted in a remarkably accurate representations of one of the most iconic military spy jets in history.
     

     
    The commitment to long-term support further enhances the appeal of this add-on, which at $37, is exceptional value. With advanced systems and updates in the pipeline, users can look forward to an evolving and deepening simulation experience. VSKYLABS has thoughtfully included a log within the aircraft's file structure to keep users informed of new developments. With more enhancements on the horizon, I highly recommend keeping a close eye on future updates from VSKYLABS for the SR-71 Blackbird. The journey with this aircraft is set to become even more captivating!
     
    ______________________________________
     

     
    SR-71-TB Project by VSKYLABS is available from the Org store here:
     
    SR-71-TB Project by VSKYLABS
    Priced at US$37.00
     
    Features:
    Early Access phase - The project is being updated rapidly VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project - Utilizing X-Plane 12 cutting edge systems and flight dynamics models Highly engineered SR-71A flight dynamics and propulsion systems (including spikes and bypasses simulation) Authentic SR-71A SAS/Autopilot (including all authentic modes of operation, KEAS bleed and with extended usability using on-board FMS as replacement of the SR-71 ANS). Authentic SR-71A performance and handling characteristics Highly accurate climb and cruise profiles Air-refueling (including tanker visualization and authentic radio recording of SR-71 during air-refueling session - courtesy of B.C. Thomas!). Deep systems simulation (including TAB injection and counters, automatic fuel scheduling, nitrogen pressurization of the fuel tanks, surf-limiter, stick shaker/pusher and much more!) D-21 Mach 3 Drone (currently as a piggy-bag payload, takes part in the physics. In later versions it will have launch capabilities) AG-330 Starters simulation for authentic start-up procedure Comprehensive FMOD sounds Designed for VR (optimized for 2-d) The project is under constant development - future updates are free to all existing customers Full Simulation scope and update log are available here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/forums/topic/297854-vsl-sr71-tb-simulation-scope-and-update-log/ Highly responsive, professional support in the VSKYLABS Special contribution:  BC Thomas is the famous, high Time SR-71 Pilot
    During the air-refueling sequence in the simulation, an authentic SR-71 air-refueling radio recording is being initiated, adding immersion and excitement! The audio recording was implemented into the VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': SR-71-TB following Mr. BC Thomas approval. BC Thomas is the famous, high Time SR-71 Pilot who spent 1,217 hrs and 18 min in the cockpit of the legendary SR-71!
     
    Requirements:
    X-Plane 12 (not for XP11)
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    8GB VRAM Minimum
    Current Version: 1.05 (January 2nd, 2024)
    Download Size: 424 MB 
     
    Reviewers System:
    Windows 10 Professional
    AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Processor
    32GB RAM
    Palit GeForce RTX™ 3080 GamingPro
     
    Aircraft Review by Michael Hayward 
    17th January 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) 
     

  25. Thanks
    Dominic Smith got a reaction from Kiwiflyer in Aircraft Review: X-Hangar Lockheed C-130 Hercules   
    Aircraft Review: X-Hangar Lockheed C-130 Hercules

    By David York

    Introduction
    The Lockheed C-130 Hercules, an iconic American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft, was designed and built by Lockheed, and is renowned for being the longest continuously produced military aircraft for over 60 years. 

    I recall initially mistaking the Air America movie's aircraft for the Hercules, with Mel Gibson seemingly playing a supporting role to the airplane. The confusion was understandable, given the quick shots and my incorrect engine count. The C-130, with its four engines, shares a resemblance to the Fairchild C-123 Provider, which is a derivative of the Chase XCG-20 Avitruc. My familiarity with this magnificent airplane grew when my in-laws lived near the runway at CFB Trenton.

    On 2 February 1951, the United States Air Force issued a General Operating Requirement (GOR) for a new transport aircraft. This was to replace the aging WW2 era piston-engined transports. The Request for Proposal (RFP) was quite specific, listing the need to accommodate ninety-two passengers, seventy-two combat troops, or sixty-four paratroopers. The cargo compartment had precise dimensions, 41 ft long, 9 ft high, and 10 ft wide, and a turboprop powerplant was specified, as jet engines at the time did not meet the necessary tactical requirements. The C-130 was designed for versatility, capable of operating on short and rudimentary runways. Its range of 1,100 nautical miles made it suitable for a variety of missions.

    Kelly Johnson, initially not a fan of the design due to his preference for more combative aircraft, eventually came to appreciate the C-130. Willis Hawkins, the lead designer, suggested that Johnson's eventual acceptance might have been influenced by the C-130’s adaptability for various roles, including as a cruise missile launcher.

    The Hercules has been adapted for numerous roles such as a gunship, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refuelling, maritime patrol, and aerial firefighting. It remains the primary tactical airlifter for many military forces globally, with over forty variants and civilian versions like the Lockheed L-100, operated by more than sixty nations.
     
     

     
    X-Plane Model
    The package for the C-130 model is thoughtfully designed for compatibility with both X-Plane versions 11 and 12. It's bundled in a way that facilitates an upgrade path for those using version 11, which is less demanding on VRAM. My setup includes an AMD 8-core FX processor, 16GB RAM, and an AMD Radeon RX570 series display card. With 4 GB of VRAM, it manages decently, though there are occasional slowdowns.
     
    Installation Procedure
    The installation of the C-130 Hercules package requires a few straightforward steps:
    Begin by unzipping the main package to obtain two separate zips: c130_12.zip and c130_11.zip, for X-Plane versions 12 and 11 respectively. Choose the version you need and unzip it into your preferred subdirectory within the <Aircraft> directory of the respective X-Plane version. Once you start X-Plane, the program automatically detects the new aircraft and adds it to your <New Flight> menu. You’re now ready to fly! The C-130 manual is located in the C-130H Hercules\Docs\manual x-plane\ sub-directory. It's recommended to review this manual early on, as it details extra features and helps familiarize you with the aircraft's cockpit, which can initially appear quite complex. You should also take a moment to look over the checklists available in the pop-up.

    For those interested in using the XFSE plugin:
    Install XFSE if it’s not already set up. A basic xfse-alias.txt file is included. Refer to the FSEconomy add-on manual for setup instructions. Documentation
    The manual for X-Hangar's C-130 is quite comprehensive, providing a solid overview of the model's features and a helpful guide to the flight deck and panel layouts. The manual is well-illustrated, including performance charts from the original aircraft's Pilot's Operating Manual (POM), giving a practical insight into optimal aircraft operation. From personal experience, I usually dive right into flying before consulting the manual (typical of many, I suppose!). However, I've found that an early perusal of the manual significantly flattens the learning curve and reveals many nuances that might otherwise be missed.
     

    Exterior
    The Hercules' shoulder-wing design might initially surprise those accustomed to more sleeker looking aircraft, but it highlights the craft's functionality over showmanship, and X-Hangar's model captures this robust spirit well. The level of detail is commendable, from the textures to the overall structure, though it lacks specific liveries like RAAF, RCAF, or UK allies. However, the provided blank livery templates offer a chance for personal customization.
     





     
    The minute details like antennae, propellers, and doors are well modelled, adding to the realism. This realism is further accentuated when you open the crew and cargo doors, revealing the intricacies of ground handling equipment, a vital aspect of the Hercules' operations.
     

     
    The airdrop animation is a notable feature, though I personally miss the inclusion of the Low Altitude Parachute Extraction System (LAPES), a system I've often seen in Canada. Despite this, X-Hangar's selection of features for the model is astute. The model uses Blender-based particles for exhaust and other systems, enhancing realism, especially with the airdropped cargo descending by parachute.
     

     
    The inclusion of the L-100-30 build, a stretched version of the C-130 with six-bladed propellers, is executed with the same attention to detail, showcasing the model's versatility and commitment to realism.
     





     
    Interior
    Recalling a special occasion when I once sat in a C-130 pilot seat, I can't help but compare that memory to X-Hangar's rendition of the cockpit. While it doesn't match my memory exactly, they've done a solid job without resorting to full photorealism. 
     

     
    For those of you looking for a bit of modernity, the L-100 stretch model features an option for a digital panel, which is a nice addition.
     

     
    In the C-130H, the clipboard pops up when the square red button is pressed, offering functionalities like showing or hiding the crew, JATO selection, and airdrop details. The control yokes are toggled as usual with the ‘Y’ key.
     


    The absence of high-degree photorealism might be a downside for some, as well as the lack of interactivity with every button or switch, but personally, I'm not at all disappointed. The panel and cockpit are well-designed, filled with controls, albeit with some non-functional elements like the microwave in the kitchen behind the flight engineer's station. It’s these small details that add charm, even if you can't leave the water running.
     

     
    Opening the crew door, descending the ladder, and then opening the passage door, reveals the cargo hold. Initially, I found myself walking through the fuselage wall until I figured out how these doors functioned. Remember to close all doors and ramps, or you might find yourself with unexpected airborne companions like a cargo crate and lift truck. It’s unclear if the weight of the lift truck is factored into the plane's gross weight, though the regular cargo weight is included when selected from the weapons menu.
     

     
    Flight Dynamics
    While I've never flown a C-130 and am not a licensed pilot, I've explored its unique characteristics based on available information. Willis Hawkins, in an interview with Lockheed's Code One Magazine, mentioned the C-130's resistance to stalling. He recounted an attempt to stall it, which led to a flip rather than a stall of the main wing, possibly due to the six-bladed props' effects on the wing's boundary layer.
     

     
    Curiously, I tested this on X-Hangar’s model. At 10,000 feet, as I slowed down, the stall alarm activated, but the wings seemed to keep flying, even with the four-bladed props. With the L-100-30's six-bladed props, I didn’t experience the reported “unstallability” but rather a gradual descent.
     

     
    This simulation is remarkably forgiving, making it the first plane I've successfully landed on my first attempt. Its handling is stable, smooth, and relaxed. I even took a virtual flight from CFB Trenton to Niagara Falls International, enjoying the XP-12 view and exploring the plane in flight.
     

     
    Sounds
    The alarms and alerts have custom sounds, but the engine, prop, and wind noises are the default turboprop sounds from X-Plane. While they work adequately, the unique sound of the Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines would have been a treat. However, obtaining specific engine sounds, especially in FMOD format, is challenging, so I respect X-Hangar's decision to keep the model affordable.
     
    Night Lighting
    The night lighting of the model is functional, following a tried-and-tested method. It effectively illuminates the interior, creating an appropriate ambiance for night operations. While it doesn't employ the latest lighting effects, it ensures a dependable and solid experience in line with the Hercules' reliable nature.
     



     
    Performance
    In my experience with X-Plane 12 on my somewhat dated hardware, frame rates were around 22-30 fps, so generally smooth but with occasional flutter during high-speed, low-altitude passes. However, it's important to note that these performance metrics are largely influenced by my hardware capabilities, and users with more up-to-date systems can expect improved performance. In X-Plane 11, the model performed slightly better on my setup, achieving 28-37 fps with fewer instances of freezing, particularly when accessing the map window. Given the model's detailed custom objects, which surpass those in X-Hangar's Caribou model, longer load times and avoidance of multitasking in XP-12 were necessary on my system to maintain stability. 
     

     
    Conclusion
    I've always loved the Hercules, and this X-Hangar model is the best rendition I've flown, making it a worthwhile purchase even by my Scottish, thrifty standards. The cargo handling effects might not be my favourite, but the JATO option and overall art and animation are top-notch. When you look out and see a lift-truck flying alongside because you forgot to close the crew door, it's both amusing and a testament to the model's detail. The cockpit, while not overloaded with interactive features, perfectly suits my flying style. This model is enjoyable and realistic, a great fit for both X-Plane 11 and 12 users.
     

     
    Whether you're on a budget or equipped with a high-end system, this model will not disappoint. The more demanding simmers might long for additional features, but there's plenty to enjoy here. Overall, the C-130 is a superb addition to X-Hangar’s fleet
     
    ________________________
     

     
    C-130H Hercules by X-Hangar is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:
     
    C-130H Hercules
    Priced at $27.95
     
    Features
    Two separate versions to fly for both v11 and v12 Two separate .zip files Both a digital Instrument panel and analog Working wipers in v12 Rain on the glass for v11 (limited to win Vulkan) and v12 Much improved landing and taxi lights in v12 3D modeled crew  Working cargo door Working crew door X-Plane FMS for v11 and v12 with pop up panel or press 3d buttons X-Plane Garmin 530 with pop up panel or press 3d buttons Many interchangeable international liveries  Both civil and military liveries Easy to paint liveries with the blank included Checklist in .txt format for use in the sim PDF manual to help familiarize yourself with the aircraft Static elements Cargo automatically loads with added weight to the aircraft Animated parts Option to use and display JATO rockets (fun for shorter take off). FSE file included Requirements
    X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
    Windows, Mac, or Linux
    4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
    Download Size: 595 MB
    Current Version: 12.07 (November 14th, 2023)
     
    Review System Specifications
    AMD FX-8350 - 16GB - AMD Radeon RTX 570 8GB - Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
     
    __________________________________
     
    Aircraft Review by David York
    11th January 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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