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1S2 Darrington Airport is a small municipal airport located in Washington, nestled in a valley in the Cascade Mountain Range. Orbx has modeled this airport for the new Microsoft Flight Simulator, so let’s find out if this airport meets the mark, and is worth picking up.
Background on Darrington
Before we get started, let’s orient ourselves with where Darrington is in the world. Darrington is about 55 miles North-East of downtown Seattle. Darrington is about 30 miles inland into the Cascade Mountain Range. There is a wide valley directly to its west that will lead out to the water, or you can fly through a narrow valley to the north, which will lead you to North Cascades National Park, or Concrete airport. As you can see, there aren’t a lot of airports nearby here, so this airport is great if you are looking for an excuse to explore this region of the PNW.
Purchasing this product is made easy using Orbx Central, just a matter of a few clicks and you have it installed. The product comes out to about $12.00 US Dollars, but you can get a 40% discount if you already own the product for a previous simulator. You also have the option to purchase this product in the sim through the store in Microsoft Flight Simulator for $12.99.
Orbx has built a completely new version of this airport and town, adding landmarks and points of interest all around the area. The texturing and modeling the airport buildings is fantastic, starting with the main building right by airport parking, it looks beautiful. The modeling of the objects near the runway and taxiway is well done and adds a feeling of immersion. The town is great for flying over, and the textures look gorgeous, especially from the distance that one would enjoy in VFR flight. With that being said, the colors from the lumber mill stick out too much, and do not look realistic.
The ground textures of the pavement look good, not great. The runway and taxiway have a very solid pallette, and I would’ve appreciated a bit more coloration, or some visible cracks showing in the pavement to add some depth. The ground around the runway and taxiway looks very nice though, and it is dotted with well done ground vegetation. Additionally, the ground textures outside the airport have been updated. Perhaps most notable is the river near the airport has been revamped.
The runway is sloped, and good care was taken while doing this sloping, as it provides a smooth ride when taking off and landing.
The night lighting of the buildings near the airport is very well done. With that being said, there is a road right next to the taxiway leading to runway 10 that has floating lights. It is pretty distracting when taxiing, and I don’t believe that road is lit up in real life. The town is incredibly well done at night, and is quite enjoyable to fly over.
Flying into this airport in the winter leaves a bit to be desired, the modeled buildings look the same when covered in snow – which I do believe is an SDK limitation, and the runways and taxiways look wet when covered in snow, as opposed to reflecting some snow build up. Additionally, the pavement has very harsh boundaries that really stick out in the snow.
The ground experience at this airport is alright. On the positive side, Orbx has placed a Pitts Special near the parking area, which adds to the homey experience. There are 2 people working on the Pitts. When combining those 2 people, with the ground service people that will be working your own aircraft, that is going to give the feeling of a pretty busy apron – which feels pretty unrealistic for an airport that sees about 6 flight operations per day.
Comparison to Default
In terms of comparing this airport to what default Microsoft flight simulator looks like, I think Orbx has done a fantastic job. To see the difference, take a look at the comparison shots below.
Discrepancies to the Real Airport
With all these points being said, there are a few discrepancies to the real scenery that I need to point out. Some of these are SDK limitations that Orbx doesn’t have the ability to fix yet, but nonetheless, I should point them out to you, the user.
- The runway centerline is dashed in the scenery – it is a straight line in real life
- The aircraft parking spots are yellow in the scenery, but white in real life
- The taxi lines near the main parking aren’t connected
- The size of the runway numbers is larger in real life than it is in the sim. This is an SDK limitation
- The runway edge lights are too far separated from the runway, they should be on the runway edge. This is an SDK limitation
With these points being said, Orbx has a good history of updating their products – I hope they do the same here.
From a performance perspective, this airport will cost you a few frames, you can expect a 5% FPS drop from my experience. These numbers are based on data I collected in the simulator in Dev Mode, and my performance was bottlenecked by my GPU, a GTX 1070 – other users performance may vary.
Intel Core i7 7700K 4.2GHz
NVIDIA GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 Graphics Card
16GB (2 x 8GB) 2400MHz DDR4 Desktop (DT-RAM-0014-x2)
256GB M.2 AHCI 2280 Internal Solid State Drive
This airport sells for about $12, or $7 if you own a previous version of this airport, which I think is great value for what you are getting. If you are someone who plans on flying often in the Pacific Northwest, I would definitely pick this airport up.
- Modeling of buildings and town
- Great value for money
- Solid performance
- Great value for money
- Discrepancies to the real world airport
- Lack of winter modeling
Where are scores?
After listening to your feedback, we have decided that from February 5th 2020, we will no longer implement review scores. We will continue to provide high-quality reviews via our written, video and imagery to help you make an informed decision about a product. You can read more about it on our Review Guidelines Page.