• Interview With Charles Macelli

    Interview With Charles Macelli aka Prospero246

    Conducted by Dominic Smith

    Charles, when did you first start developing for flight simulators and what got you interested in it?

    I would say just under a year ago. Compared to the real pros in the business, I am just entering the toddler stage, shakily trying to find my balance. But I am getting steadier on my feet as time goes on. After several decades of rapture with Microsoft Flight Simulator, I finally made the change over to X-Plane. I discovered that unlike other flight simulators which are dominated largely by commercial companies, X-Plane had an astonishing wealth of payware-quality freeware, especially regarding sceneries. Finding out why this was so was simple: easily accessible and relatively uncomplicated, designing tools.

    Could you tell us about the nature of your sceneries and how they are created?

    I use WED (X-Plane's World Editor) to mainly fill the X-Plane shortage of smaller 3D airports, mainly in Canada. Most of the larger airports have by now been very adequately modeled by other scenery designers, both freeware and commercial. However, there remains a need for the smaller, run of the mill airports which are the backbone to any country, most especially one as large as Canada.

    Out of all the sceneries you have designed, which one do you consider your best or most popular work?

    Strangely enough, even though I have completed close to 60 airports, my personal best has been Malta International Airport, LMML, which due to its size and spread, was a real challenge that took many weeks to complete. There have been several commercial, and some freeware, renditions of this airport, mainly for FSX. The problem is, I was born only a bus ride away from this airport and having lived on the island of Malta until the end of my university years, I knew the island intimately. So, like any old curmudgeon, I have never been totally happy with any of the sceneries I came across. Some came close but even those were outdated by the "recent" major changes to the airport. This was a project that I just needed to do, mainly for my own satisfaction.

    Malta Airport>     Malta Airport

    However, if we go by the number of downloads, the most popular so far seems to have been Chilliwack Airport (CYCW), by around a hundred downloads. This is surprising to me because I did not take significantly longer to finish this scenery than I did most of the others. However, the natural beauty of this region of Canada cannot be denied and this may account for the scenery's popularity and need.


    Charles, when developing a scenery, what aspect of it do you find the most challenging?

    The fact that I only create sceneries that would be acceptable for inclusion in future releases of X-Plane makes any project very challenging. This is because making what are called "Lego" buildings, I am restricted to using a single library of art assets, that of Laminar Research. While the library has been steadily increasing with every new version of X-Plane, there are still a great deal of important structures and items that are missing. A recent addition to the library was the Terminal Kit which has proved invaluable in creating buildings that are as identical to the originals as possible:


    This kit has "redesigned" my own approach to airport design and allowed me to create better sceneries than when I started just a year ago.

    However great the addition of this kit has been though, the actual art assets for creating smaller airports has not increased significantly since I started creating sceneries.

    My suspicion is that the first time intrepid user of any flight sim is more likely than not, to jump into the cockpit of a Boeing 747 or an F-16 without ever taking a single lesson in a Cessna 170. The creators of X-Plane in their infinite wisdom must have come to the same conclusion because I suspect (and I may be wrong, of course) the library has been designed with the idea of mega or very large and modern airports in mind where these aircraft can function.

    Many smaller or medium size airfields in Canada for example, still contain Quonset huts and other WW2 hangars with curved roofs. There are also rickety shed like buildings with slanted roofs and a unique aura of slow dilapidation that is hard to model because of the conspicuously missing art assets at present. This makes it a challenge for the designer who then resorts to blending two or more different buildings to create a semblance of a single one.

    Unavailable Quonset hut type buildings     Building blends

    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Many thanks Charles; I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you!

      The work you do for the X-Plane community is fantastic, so thank you for sharing!

      Keep up the great work!

    1. lavochkin's Avatar
      lavochkin -
      Very nice. Thank-you Mr. Macelli. Great job, Dom.
    1. kinglear246's Avatar
      kinglear246 -
      Quote Originally Posted by lavochkin View Post
      Very nice. Thank-you Mr. Macelli. Great job, Dom.
      You're welcome. Appreciate the comment.
    1. Sean McLeod's Avatar
      Sean McLeod -
      Great interview! Nice to learn about the people behind the screen-names who create great content for X-Plane! It is interesting that CYCW Chilliwack Airport appears to be the most popular download; I am partial to the airport, myself, as it's where I learned to fly my first aircraft and earned my glider licence.
    1. btwallis's Avatar
      btwallis -
      Bravo, I have several of his sceneries. I love the fact that XP has WED and that makes the possibility for folks to keep making freeware airports and how this can be incorporated into the Gateway for inclusion into default XP....its all ingenious.
    1. yubi's Avatar
      yubi -
      Nice work Charles. As a Quebec resident, I appreciate your attention to this region. Unfortunately, I have too much invested in FSX sceneries to move on for some time yet.... I'd love to see [if possible], a quality version, as your's are , of St. Hubert Airport and maybe the new Champlain Bridge at Montreal for FSX.....Just Wishing....
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