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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A Free Trip Around the World

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Freeware: P-3C Orion AI Aircraft by JAI, RNoAF repaint by Ray Parker, ENZV airport scenery by Andrew Thomsen and RNoAF Orion AI flightplan by yours truly.

This blog has gotten little attention lately, but family obligations have left me with little time to sim, and even less to blog the last couple of years. That isn’t going to change any time soon, but I’m starting a project that will give the blog a tad more focus for the next few months.

I’ll be doing a trip around the virtual globe using mostly freeware addons in Prepar3D v3.1. It would have been fun to use freeware only, but there are a few basic payware addons that I can’t live without:

  • ORBX FTX Global
  • ORBX FTX Global Vector
  • ORBX FTX Open LC Europe
  • Pilot’s FS Global Real Weather
  • REX Soft Clouds
  • FSUIPC

I rarely buy any payware these days (and I’ll get more into why later), but the above mentioned addons get my full support for a few good reasons. ORBX, Pilot’s, REX and FSUIPC have been in business for a long time. They make high quality addons that are simple to install and use, but most of all, they have been both willing and able to support Prepar3D while still maintaining compatibility with older versions of the ESP-based simulators.

It would have been nice if some of the functionality and graphic enhancements these addons offer were baked into Prepar3D as stock features. However, Lockheed Martin have shown very little interest in doing so and instead seem to focus and encourage third party developments for their simulator platform. Let’s face it, there have been only minor changes and improvements of geographical data (vector, mesh and land class), airport and navaid data, autogen and landclass textures and objects, ATC and AI traffic since Prepar3D 1.0 was released five years ago.

Buckle up! First flight starts tonight…

Does Addon Mesh Matter?

Here’s a quick comparison of three mesh products I’ve been using in Prepar3D v3.1: FS Global 2008, FS Genesis World Terrain Mesh X and the freeware FreeMesh X Global. It would have been nice to have the latest and greatest FS Global mesh from Pilot’s, but I can’t afford it, so sorry, it’s not part of the comparison. Screenshots are from Antonio Nariño Airport (IATA: PSO, ICAO: SKPS). Landclass is by SceneryTech and not the default P3D landclass.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXECFuWzokQ

At first, FS Genesis looked a tad more accurate than Pilot’s FS Global 2008 when comparing the mesh to the Google Earth image. But, when looking at some real life footage (see link to youtube-video above) from the area, it becomes clear that in fact Freemesh X is the clear and undisputed winner. So it seems in the world of mesh products you can have the cake and eat it too. Anyway,  here are the screenshots in HD, so judge for yourself:

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Default Preapr3D v3.1 Mesh
Prepar3D-FreemeshX
FreeMesh X Global 1.05
Prepar3D-FSGenesis
FS Genesis World Mesh X
Prepar3D-FSGlobal2008
Pilot’s FS Global 2008
Prepar3DvsGoogleEarth
Google Earth

P3D Diary: Devils Lake Fire Rings

This is a small Easter Egg (for the lack of a better term) inherited from FSX. Take off from Devils Lake Regional Airport (KDVL) and head north 355° and you’ll get to the four barnstorming fire rings that lies west of Cavanaugh Lake. The exact position is N48°14.57′ W98°54.38′.

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Default scenery (wrong and inaccurate landclass for the area)

Sadly the default scenery has little to offer. It looks nothing like the real life area and doesn’t reflect the rural and scarely populated prarie that surrounds Devils Lake. If you have the old SceneryTech landclass addon it will do the area a lot more justice.

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SceneryTech landclass (much better an accurate use of landclass, and more accurate representation of villages and towns)

Why Microsoft’s ACES team chose to put these fire rings just north of Devils Lake is a mystery. Whatever the reason, I’d like to pay a tribute to all the folks that have been hit hard by the massive flood problems that continues to threaten many of the farms surrounding the lake. If you’d like to do a short flight as you explore the fire rings, take off from KDVL, fly through the rings, then head up for a T&G at Anderson Private Airport (NA10) – a nice big grass strip, then land at Cando Municipal (9D7). I used the default Alabeo Extra 300, but a good old fashioned barnstormer would be just as suitable.

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/

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