It’s the worlds fifth busiest airport, has 6 runways to serve traffic from literally every wind direction, serves one of the worlds biggest air fleets and recently celebrated its 100th birthday. Obviously I’m talking about Schiphol airport. It’s been almost two years since FlyTampa announced a new project on their forums which was quickly recognised as the famous airport. After some much anticipated previews, many questions about the progress and sometimes even doubts whether the airport would still release, it’s finally here.
The year was 1962, we were doing The Twist, and the world was watching as President Kennedy lead the United States in the worsening Vietnam war. The Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, KY took delivery of what was then designated as the HU-1A. This Bell turbine-single engine helicopter was meant for evaluation only. Despite this, the Army quickly re-designated it the UH-1A and deployed nearly 7,000 to Vietnam.
Of course, we now know them as the ‘Huey’ (a nickname from the original HU designation) family of helicopters. The Huey defined helicopter for most people, known for the distinctive thumping noise made by the rotor disk. Unfortunately, the Huey has gained infamy as a symbol of US involvement in southeast Asia. Young men with very little training flew the platform into battles supporting ground troops and giving ‘magic carpet rides’. This often lead to disastrous results. The combined armed forces, and Air America, lost over 5,000 of the aircraft.
When Orbx announced that they would be bringing Catalina Airport and the entirety of Catalina Island, I think I heard the entire aviation community in California jumping in excitement. Why? This is one of the most popular general aviation airports in the state. Maybe it’s thanks to its lush green forestation or its challenging airport due to the high altitude. Whatever the reason may be, Orbx have given Simmers the chance to try out their skills and fly to this beautiful island.
As a standalone product to the Orbx library, it’s a welcome change to not have to rely on other products to get the most from the product. As a result all 22 miles of Santa Catalina are beautifully rendered and full of life, all without any hit on performance. Unsurprising really as it’s a small island in the distance.
Hammerfest. You can’t go more north before you start going south again. Okay, that isn’t completely true but Hammerfest is often considered to be one of the most northern cities. The small town got a water airport in 1933 and thus Hammerfest airport was ‘born’, even though consisting of nothing more than buoy where passengers were carried to by boat. Nowadays the airport is a lot bigger and not on the water anymore, too. And who’d have guessed: the small airport of Hammerfest is actually the third busiest airport in Norway.
Now it hasn’t been too long ago since Orbx (and developer Finni Hansen in particular) decided to treat us with this small, yet beautiful airport. So lets get into the details with this FSElite review!
Hammerfest has a very short runway with a curve in it, making for a challenging but very fun approach. Due to technical issues most developers stay away from making curved runways, but I’ll get back on that in a bit. Other than that, ENHF comes with a lot of details and features. The airport features full interior modeling, the entire cityscape of Hammerfest, automatic seasonal textures, HD textures of the surrounding area, custom effects, custom AI vehicles and the Orbx Flow technologies. These features all sound very cool and I assure you that they are and look great, but they are what we have come to expect from Orbx by now. No bonus points there, but definitely worth mentioning!
The installation of Hammerfest couldn’t be any more straight forward. Simply purchase the product from Orbx Direct and start downloading it. Did that go too fast for you? Buy it, download it. That’s all there is to it. Hammerfest comes with a Control Panel but there aren’t too many options. You can opt to disable or enable the people flow and choose to disable or enable the custom effects coming from chimneys. Nothing too fancy, but it’s nice to have at least these two options. Oh and when you love Orbx’ Norway region as much as I do and you might just so happen to run the Airports of Norway package (not by Orbx), make sure to disable Hammerfest. I was a dummy and forgot about this the first time, running into all kinds of elevation issues.
Amazing. What can I say more? Orbx Hammerfest just simply performs amazing. Now that may be partially due to its size and the simple lack of anything in the region other than the town itself. But even so, Finni Hansen has spend a lot of work creating the entire town and region with a lot of detail, buildings and objects and my FPS is through the roof while VAS usage remains low.
I already mentioned them above, but I’m gonna dive into some of them a little deeper. The features that make Hammerfest so special. Starting off with the full interior modelling. Wanna wait in the departure hall while enjoying a coffee? Check. Wanna join the ATC controller in guiding in other airplanes? Check. And while you’re at it, join a fireman maintaining his equipment or have a chat with the guys over in the Bristow hangar maintaining the helicopters there. Or get on a computer in an empty office. All possible. Although I personally don’t spend too much time looking at interiors, it is definitely a nice to have and even better when you can keep the performance this friendly.
The curved runway works like a charm, too! I’ve not had any issues with landing on it or departing from it. I did notice some small bumps when leaving or entering the runway, but nothing really bad and it didn’t cause me major issues. Now the issue with curved runways has often been that AI can’t land any planes on it. This issue still persists and the runway will swallow these planes without mercy. But depending on your AI package you won’t even get any AI aircraft here, so I wouldn’t say it’s too much of an issue.
One more feature I’d like to touch upon is the night lighting. Hammerfest is so far up north that the sun never rises during winter times, so good lighting is of the essence. Hammerfest looks amazing by night. The runway and terminal building lighting is on point, you can see street lights in the city and there are beautiful effects on the oil refinery where a big flame and smoke come from the flare stack.
So far all seems fine with this airport and definitely worth your money, right? Well, nothing is perfect and neither is Hammerfest. Although two very minor issues, I’ll still mention them. First of all, the runway markings are white. According to all data I could find these should be yellow. And I am not sure who chose the font for the runway signage, but I’m willing to take a bet and say that these shouldn’t be with the Comic Sans font (Finni, if I’m wrong about this then please let me know). Is the airport now worth your money? Well… yes and no. Orbx puts this airport under their ‘Gold Tier’, making the price $32.95AUD. And although everything works and looks absolutely great, Hammerfest is rather small. Now the developers have spared no expense at putting in as much details as possible and making it seem as big as they can, but there is no denying it. Within 5 minutes of flying you already can’t see Hammerfest anymore. And flying around the entire area to take a look at all the details can be done in about the same time. There just isn’t very much here. It doesn’t matter that it’s small, but I am not sure if the price is completely justifiable for this product. The fact that FTX Norway is a requirement for this product doesn’t make this a better deal either.
Update: Finni contacted us about the two small issues with the scenery. Turns out that all airports in Norway are using white runway markings as of recent. As for the taxiway signage: using Comic Sans was the closest he could get to replicating the actual font.
Features - 9/10
Performance - 10/10
Presentation - 9/10
Value - 7/10
Orbx have done an outstanding job with Hammerfest. The performance is amazing, the details are amazing, everything looks amazing and the curved runway is a particularly cool feature. If you are an avid flyer in the Norwegian region, this airport is definitely something to take a look at. However the airport and surrounding region are, although packed with details, fairly small and the price is on a rather high side.
Aberdeen is an airport I’ve been waiting to be developed for what feels like a lifetime and I was overjoyed when UK2000 finally announced it. Aberdeen Dyce as its formerly known is a major industrial hub for the Scottish offshore oil industry with the majority of its traffic being helicopter traffic by Bond, Bristow CHC-Scotia and NHV Helicopters.
With that being said it is also a destination for many domestic and international carriers. Notable operators include easyJet, British Airways, Aer Lingus, Flybe and Eastern along with other scheduled carriers and during the summer months charter services by Tui and Thomas Cook to name a few. Aberdeen is of particular interest to me due to its relatively short runway and its at times challenging weather conditions that frequent the north eastern coast of Scotland.
Aberdeen is available to purchase through UK2000 website and as with all products by this developer a full try before you buy demo is available giving the consumer the opportunity to see if its really a scenery for you. As if there was any doubt. I believe UK2000’s pricing structure to be the most realistic in terms of quality vs. cost. The download takes moments and comes in the form of a zip file with installation via an executable. In typical UK2000 fashion its very straight forward and any kinks can soon be straightened out by taking a look at their forums for support.
The Southern Coastline of Spain has been missing this key Spanish City for many years now, but however we can finally say that Aerosoft Malaga X has been released and FSElite is enthralled to be able to review it!
Malaga is the fourth busiest airport in Spain after Madrid, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca. It is an important airport for Spanish tourism as it is the main international airport serving the Costa del Sol. It is 5.0 miles from the city of Malaga and the airport has flight connections to over 60 countries worldwide. In addition to this over 14.4 million passengers passed through it in 2015. The airport operates with three terminals. and offer a wide variety of destinations from these terminals the airport provides a daily link with twenty cities in Spain and over one hundred cities in Europe. Direct flights also operate to Africa, the Middle East and also to North America in the summer season. For all you virtual Air Europa, Vueling, Norwegian and Ryanair pilots this is a key airport you need as they are all based at Malaga. Other airlines with a large amount of destinations from LEMG include easyJet, Thomson, Jet2 and AirBerlin.
Milan Malpensa Airport is the biggest airport that can be found within the Milan metropolitan area of Northern Italy. It is accompanied by two other airports which are Milan Linate and Milan Bergamo, both of which do not reach Malpensa in terms of size and passenger numbers. The airport itself is located 30 miles North West of the actual city of Milan near to the Ticino River. In the year of 2015 the airport handled some eighteen and a half million passengers to all corners of the world. These numbers brought it to be the 29th busiest airport in Europe. Surprisingly it even handles more traffic than Rome Fiumicino in terms of passengers, freight and cargo. On average the airport handles 435,000 tons of freight annually.
The airport comes in the form of the regular Aerosoft installer package which requires you simply to enter in an email and serial number. Configuration options are basic and the only apparent option you can change is whether you wish for the jetways to move with SODE or by simply pressing Ctrl+J. If you want the best experience of using the jetways then I would highly recommend choosing the SODE option as it aligns the jetways more accurately and doesn’t send the jet way half way through the fuselage. In order for the SODE jetways to work you must install SODE externally from the scenery.
Going onto the topic of performance I am not too sure what to think. It seems to be a common trend at large airports created by Aerosoft that the performance seems to lack. This is in the respect of both FPS and VAS. Although not as bad as some other Aerosoft airport such as Heathrow or Frankfurt it still is not good. I am lucky enough to have a good system so performance does not tend to be a problem for me but if you are on lower end systems then I would recommend thinking about purchasing it before you go out and buy it. The worst thing to do is to buy an addon that you then can’t use due to performance.
Raleigh is a relatively small city that is situated in the state of and is the capital of North Carolina. It can be found on the Eastern seaboard and is about a 40 minute flight from Washington Dulles and little over an hour from John F Kennedy in New York. The airport that serves the city is know as Raleigh Durham which serves a variety of destinations around the USA and some routes crossing the Atlantic to airports such as London Heathrow. In 2015, ten million passengers passed through the airport. The airport itself has been in existence since 1943 with the now non-existent Eastern Airways being the maiden operator from the new airport. The first passenger terminal was created from the remaining parts of some army barracks that were built on the outskirts of Raleigh. The airport itself nowadays contains two passenger terminals with a large cargo terminal serving the likes of UPS and FedEx.
The scenery comes in the form of the normal LatinVFR installer that is very simple to use with only having to put a simple serial number in. Sadly there is no configurator tool for the airport but with the airport not containing too much detail there is not much need for such tool. The only options that I think would be useful to have in a configurator would be to configure grass textures and apron lighting.
JustSim’s Klagenfurt was provided free of charge to FSElite for the purpose of reviewing for the community.
When JustSim announced Klagenfurt my immediate thoughts were fantastic: another Austrian scenery to add to my collection. Granted I had absolutely no idea where it was located, but another winter wonderland nonetheless. I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say that I was a little dubious of the quality based on previous releases which seemed rushed. Much to my surprise I was taken aback by the quality, and JustSim have really excelled and I personally think these kind of airports and areas are where the developers true talents lie.
Orbx FTX Germany North was provided free of charge to FSElite for the purpose of reviewing for the community.
Orbx have been known for their quality ever since their conception many years ago. Starting off with a few small Australian airports and then moving quickly onto more impressive and detailed international aerodromes. When they mastered airports, attention was turned into creating not only airports world-wide for Flight Sim, but they would retexture the entire world, improve landclass for entire continents and release regions packs based on entire countries. Orbx have certainly earned their reputation amongst the community for providing a degree of realism no other developer has been able to master. Not only that, but their entire catalogue is just one giant ecosystem with the intention of the entire Flight Sim world being the Orbx world.
With a huge proportion of Flight Simmers originating from Germany, it came as no surprise to see Orbx focus their attention on the region. Of course, that’s not the only reason as Germany is home to many historical landmarks and cities. Not unlike previous products, Orbx have ensured that no detail has been left out, and have decided to split Germany into “North” and “South.” A controversial decision amongst some, but we have to remember that Germany North alone covers 70,653 square miles of the country. We’ve seen it before with Orbx where a region is so massive, that they break it down into smaller section. Look at New Zealand, the UK and even their original Australia packs. So whilst it essentially means that the whole of Germany will cost you ‘double,’ it gives flexibility for the user, ensures that the product is ready for “half” earlier and ensures that Orbx stays in business to continue to provide the content for us. The real question is, is “half now, half later” the right thing for you as a customer?