• Review: Turbulent Designs Big Bear Airport

    Turbulent Designs Big Bear Airport

    By Michael Hayward

    With Dovetail Games Flight Sim World in full development, Turbulent Designs was given the opportunity to work on the simulator's scenery SDK with the aim of making the tools work as efficiently as possible, while at the same, attempting to set a benchmark in FSW scenery design. In this review, I will be taking an in-depth look at Turbulent Designs Big Bear Airport for FSW, and give an opinion on how effective it is at recreating its real life counterpart.

    Big Bear for FSW     Big Bear for FSW

    What/Where Is It?

    Big Bear Airport is located in the San Bernardino Mountains in California, USA. To the airport's west is Big Bear Lake, to the south and east are residential communities.

    The town of Big Bear itself is fairly average in size and is surrounded by the lush wilderness of California. Because of this, there is lots to explore when taking to the air!


    Installation of this scenery was pretty much as easy as it gets, in that, once purchased from the Steam Store, the add-on is automatically added to your account. With this done, check the box indicated, and the scenery automatically installs into the simulator. Purchasing the airport from the Dovetail store is a similar affair, the only difference being that you have to activate this key via Steam.


    You are provided with a series of PDF documents, including charts that assist with both IFR and VFR flight rules.

    Big Bear for FSW     Big Bear for FSW

    Structures and Facilities

    Big Bear Airport is classed as a small public airport. Located at the north end of the runway are a number of hangars and aircraft storage units - to the south, a small terminal building (used for small commercial aircraft). Other than that, services at the airport are quite sparse.

    Even though the building count might be low, the quality of each one is done to a very high standard, with small details on each hangar and building visible. These suit the environment well and bring the airport to life - one thing that Turbulent Designs are renowned for!

    There is one thing in this scenery however that I'm not a major fan of, and that's the static aircraft found at the airport. While I believe the aim of this was to add to the atmosphere, I feel that the aircraft used, look a little out of place and don't completely match either the rest of the scenery or the simulator aircraft. Other simmers however do like this feature, so it's simply a matter of taste. The package also includes a large VFR scenery that surrounds the airport, but I will talk more about that later on in the article.

    Big Bear for FSW     Big Bear for FSW

    Taxiways And Runway

    The center of the airport holds a paved runway, with taxiways and parking available on either side of the runway.

    High-resolution textures allow for a realistic ground environment, including weathering (cracks and bumps) on the tarmac, high-resolution taxiway signs, and ground markings that were easy to understand and follow.

    One small extra the developers have added to the airport, is the addition of 3D grass. This really helps make the ground come alive, and works a lot better than using a simple flat grass texture for effect. By employing this technique, it helps give the airport a little more depth when on the ground. You'll be glad to know that frame rates didn't suffer either, which was a nice bonus!

    Night Effects

    At night the scenery looks good. The runway lights are bright and stand out as they should. Taxi lights also look good and are highly effective - helping to guide your aircraft to its designated parking spot. This also works well in low visibility conditions, giving you the extra assurance that you've taxied down the correct ramp.

    Big Bear for FSW     Big Bear for FSW

    Turbulent Designs have also found a good balance when it comes to the brightness of the airport lights, in that runway lights are brighter than your average airport, but not to the point where they become distracting.

    This is an area which is set to be improved on in the near future, with Dovetail Games actively working on their simulator lighting. With PBR (Particle-Based Rendering) materials set to become a reality soon also, this will make reflections and the smallest of details stand out within the simulator.

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