• British Columbia Mesh Scenery

    BC Mesh Scenery

    By John Dale (28 April 2003)

    I am most excited to be able to put together a review of some freeware scenery recently produced. Some commercial products really do not warrant the price they sell at and many aircraft in particular are better constructed by freeware artists. This product is an example of freeware dedication.

    This download, by a British Columbia resident, covers the whole Province of B.C. I cannot begin to imagine the amount of painstaking work to assemble these free downloads. This package by Holger Sandmann of Vernon, British Columbia covers the whole of the very mountainous British Columbia scenery. It is released in several packages due to size and you can choose the LOD7 package or the LOD9 package, or the whole lot and cover all of British Columbia. You will then need to download a patch (BCMESHP1.ZIP), which Holger painstakingly produced (with help I believe) to correct a problem with data interpretation. A lot of lakes ended up with the wrong altitude of water level. In many cases this was due to the numerous dams throughout B.C. but there are other reasons associated with FS2002.

    What this scenery achieves is a rounding out and filling in of detail in the whole province that makes visual flying so realistic that I have been happily using this package to assist in planning my "real life" aviation tours within B.C. The packages vary from 76m resolution to 300m resolution. To see the optimal effect of these textures in this mesh the whole review is online, and it can be seen at http://www.flynorth.com under reviews.

    This scenery package which will provide many hours of stunning visual scenery to those just wishing to experience the beauty and thrills of flying around B.C. I have never experienced anything quite like this experience in flightsimming scenery programs, except perhaps for the original Kai Tak excitement. Admittedly it is the area I have flown in for 30+ years but that speaks all the better to the accuracy it achieves. My favorite area is the lower mainland area with Russel Dirk's Fraser Valley landclass replacement (FVLC.ZIP). The resolution here in this LOD9 package is 67m. The first four images are in the lower mainland, i.e. the Fraser Valley, near Chilliwack airport. All four views are flying west and the left hand side contains all the ones with Holger Sandmann's mesh scenery resolution applied. On the right is stock FS2002. The contour differences are what need examining. They are sometimes subtle but add just that extra element of reality to a pilot used to these "hills".

       

       

    The next comparisons are by Agassiz. This is just about 5-10 miles west of the last images.
       
    Following that is a picture of the Fraser Canyon just south of Lilloet.

    We then shoot up north in a Cessna Caravan to the Haines Junction area, near Alaska. Here even though the resolution is a bit less you can still see the comparison between Holger's scenery and the plain Jane FS2002. Some of these images could have been taken out of a plane, with a regular camera, they are so impressive.

       
    Again in these two pictures we see just that closer approximation to reality which is so heartening to pilots and makes me think I am right back up there, only in a Caravan this time.
       
    Again dropping back down to Nakusp...

    ...near my hometown of Nelson, we see the subtle nature of the better resolution looking north up the Arrow Lakes.

       
    Looking north up Arrow Lakes, you can pick up the barefaced rock more clearly on Holger's mesh and the distinction between treed areas and lesser growth. Note the way the escarpments show up more clearly, they are not all filled in by trees and the mountain peaks are bare of trees as well, which approximates the real peaks in most places.

    One of Holger's images captures well the difference between stock FS2002 and the LOD7 and LOD9 detail. This image of downtown Vancouver was from his collection.

    The last 3-comparison image shows a default FS2002 image of Yale Creek in southern B.C. followed by a LOD9 texture improvement, followed by one of Holger's own photos when surveying the area. His own job takes him around by air a great deal, with Forestry.

    With only the possibility of reproducing a few images here, I cannot do justice to the scenery improvement achieved. Downloading this free scenery will give you many hours of pleasure as you fly around beautiful British Columbia. For student pilots or pilots wanting to gain confidence at flying around B.C., the additional reality in this package makes the purchase and use of FS2002 well worthwhile. To all the dedicated flightsimmers I can only say, "it's free and it's great". There are rumors in the air of commercial packages being constructed, possibly at even better resolution but this is the best there is at present and at the best price. Keep up the good work, Holger.

    PROS

    • Wonderful addition to B.C. Scenery
    • Free.

    CONS

    • Somewhat complex to install in stages
    • The additional needed "Flatten" files are not easy to install.

    Test System

    • AMD Athlon 1.4 GHz
    • 64 Mbs GeForce 4 MX 420
    • 512 RAM

    John Dale
    jrdale@netidea.com

    Download the BC mesh scenery.

    Dr. John Dale has been flying in Canada for 32 years and currently flies a Cessna 210 and organizes tours to the Yukon and Alaska in the summer. Check http://www.flynorth.com for details.