ATW #1: Beirut, Lebanon – Cairo, Egypt

Beirut is the capital and largest city in Lebanon. The city is as good a place as any to start my around the world journey, but I picked the place because it has a very good freeware scenery of it’s international airport, Rafic Hariri International Airport (OLBA), made by Lebor Simulations. The same crew also offers vector scenery for Lebanon which is OK to install if you don’t have ORBX FTX Vector. They had started development of a Beirut X scenery, but after news of its development surfaced in 2013 things have been quiet.

For the first flight I’m heading off to Cairo flying a real world EgyptAir route using the default FSX Boling 737 (copied over from FSX) with FSND FSX-B737 Upgraded Cockpit by Alejandro Rojas Lucena, Garrett Smith, Stephane Verrando & Rob Barendregt, and Egyptair repaint by Paul Davies. I tried several freeware scenery offerings for Egypt and Cairo, but none of them were any good, so I’ll be using the default scenery for this trip.

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Freeware in progress: Sweden & Norway

The Scandinavian freeware scene is currently blooming like never before. With Lockheed Martin breathing new life into our beloved flight simulator series with Prepar3D, developers again feel that their efforts are worthwhile. Great progress has been done to the Norwegian scenery with 10m mesh and a very detailed vector package currently in beta. Add to that, Lennart Arvidsson (and some good helpers), have continued developmend of a detailed scenery for Sweden with custom autogen, landclass and airports. An example of the custom landclass textures (for both Sweden and Norway) is seen in the screenshot below. Visit the swedish flight sim site for more screens of the work in progress: http://www.flightsim.se/forum/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=4729&an=0&page=0#Post4729. It is also worth mentioning that the Scandinavian freeware is being developed with ORBX FTX Global users in mind, and to get the best experience, FTX Global is a requirement.

Lennart

Freeware Excellence: Dino Cattaneo’s Three Musketeers

Dino Cattaneo is probably the best military aircraft designer in the FS community presently. Since releasing his Boeing T-45C Goshawk he has won the heart of every military sim aircraft aphrodisiac out there. He has followed up with two amazing addons, the F-14D Tomcat and F-35 Lightning II. Better yet, an S-3B Viking is in the works! Not only is Dino’s aircraft above most payware addons, he also supports all plaforms (FSX, P3D and P3D v2 – where his F-35 i included as a default aircraft) and makes updates so frequently that one has to wonder if the man ever sleeps. Download his musketeers here (and don’t forget to hit that donate button): http://indiafoxtecho.blogspot.no/

Dino_F-14D

Dino_F-35

Dino_T-45C

Freeware Excellence: High Definition Environment v2 (HDEv2)

There’s no need to buy a payware cloud replacement addon. HDE v2 by Pablo Diaz brings you photo-realistic texture pack for free that will change the aspect of your Clouds (cumulus, stratus, cirrus), sky color, aircraft reflections and ground detail. Beware that this package is for FS9, but the cloud textures will work in FSX. Download here:

http://simviation.com/1/download-file?file=1hdev2-1.zip&fileId=6727

There is however a conversion of the sky textures from FS9 to FSX standard by Danny Glover available here:

http://flyawaysimulation.com/downloads/files/18029/fsx-hde-sky-textures-v20/

Both packages requires manual installation, so backup the files to be replaced first (just make a zip of the textures folder)!

HDEv2

FinlandX – Freeware in a league of its own!

I don’t know if any of you have tried out FinladX, but I wanted to pay my respect to Janne Sinkkonen and Tatu Kantomaa who made this incredible scenery!

FinlandX includes:

  • Custom landclass based on official Finnish Gouvernment data;
  • Custom LOD 9 mesh based on Jonathan de Ferranti amazing data collection;
  • Custom autogen to make buildings look more Finnish;
  • Custom landclass textures of amazing quality for the wilderness areas;
  • Custom iced lakes and iced sea shores;
  • Custom seasonal changes for different parts of the country;
  • Custom rivers, streams, lakes, roads, powerlines, coastlines and railroads.

But that’s not the most amazing part: The landclass is all custom built using automated polygons from official data, hence giving a much more accurate and realistic landclass coverage than the default grid system of FSX can handle. Not only that, but it comes with a super easy installer and changes to textures, autogen etc. only affects Finland and won’t screw up any other part of the FSX scenery. There is no need for texture/seasonal switchers, control panels or centrals. These guys are in a league of their own, and better than most payware developers.

So if you ever want to fly to Finland in FSX go check it out. There is nothing comparable out there (that I know of): http://files.fsnordic.net/?download=2245

 

REVIEW: FSX LANDCLASS BATTLE – FINAL WORDS

Comparing Landclass addons is a labour intensive task. I visited eight areas that I have been to myself and photographed recently. My findings were surprising and I had much hoped for a different conclusion, but here it is:

1) The quality and accuracy of all landclass products and the default scenery can’t be trusted. They are very inconsistent to say the least;

2) Prepar3D has replaced much of  the FSX landclass for Europe, but in terms of accuracy it isn’t necessarily an improvement;

3) Ultimate Terrain X wasn’t as accurate as I had initially thought, still best of the bunch, although it just covers half of Europe;

4) Neither SceneryTech Landclass Europe or Cloud9’s XClass Europe will give you geographic accurate landclass for Europe, but XClass looked better to my eye by a hair. What these landclass products do is add more variety to the default FSX scenery.

So when the time comes to install FTX Global I will do the following:

1) Set up FSX with Ultimate Terrain X and XClass. SceneryTech will be uninstalled.

2) AS for Prepar3D I’d say it does the job just as good as the dedicated landclass products, so they aren’t really needed.

For anyone interested in flying in a geographic accurate simulator world there isn’t really a good product out there. The landclass addons aren’t really needed, and if I had known what I know now I would never had bought SceneryTech or XClass. However, if you don’t care about realism they will add a bit more variety to the drab default FSX landscape and make looking out the window a bit more enjoyable. Looking through the set of screenshots it is apparant that at least one product hits a home run for each area, meaning that realistically it is possible to create a fairly accurate landclass addon even with the restrictions the default scenery grid system and limited selection of textures. The freeware scenery FinlandX shows how it can be done for some countries with a large degree of automation by converting real world data to polygons, hence avoiding the FSX grid system.