• Review: Orbx Washington Airports

    Review: Orbx Washington Airports

    By Shawn Weigelt


    I guess you can call me a "scenery snob." What can I say? I really like high quality scenery and as one who formerly dabbled in creating freeware World Editor scenery for X-Plane 9 and 10, I have a good grasp of what goes into it. Utilizing scenery libraries containing object and texture files painstakingly created by others within the X-Plane community is not really that difficult once you get the hang of the workflow. Actually, the whole process becomes quite like a flight simulation version of Minecraft or Legos. Though I spent many hours doing it, building airports in WED never really felt like significant work to me. Rather, it became a lot of fun trying to figure out what buildings from which library to place where, and how to draw the edges of the taxiways and paint on the tarmac in order to most plausibly match a real world airport. The key word here is "plausible."

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    Default scenery in X-Plane is decent but not great. Custom-made freeware files, on the other hand, edited by members of the community, vary wildly in quality levels. These range from projects that were obviously rushed and bear only passing resemblance to the real place, to the extremely ambitious and meticulously crafted projects that make you wonder "how is this freeware?" If you doubt that high-end freeware scenery exists for X-Plane, I would encourage you to check out the work done by MisterX6, Freddy De Pues, and Cami De Bellis to name only a few. When I was building scenery, I always shot for this upper tier of the quality spectrum, but my skills with creating custom objects in SketchUp were non-existent and I could never figure out ortho-imagery. Alas, near photoreal airport creation eluded me and I eventually gave it up for...what was it again? Oh yeah, writing reviews for FlightSim.Com!

    X-Plane 11 currently has some very scenery packages available for purchase to those users wanting to visually upgrade some areas of the world beyond what the default and community airports have to offer. While I have often perused this content on various web stores, I have never found something that I really wanted enough to make me want to fork over the cash. The main reason for my hesitance to buy is twofold. One: most of the payware airport packages represented very large international airports in regions of the world where I never fly. Two: none of them were made by Orbx.

    I am not ashamed when I tell you that on more than one occasion I have browsed the Orbx web site looking longingly at the Pacific Northwest airports created for FSX and P3D wondering if I had invested all this money on the wrong flight simulator. Seriously, is there anything worse than wanting what you can't have?

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    Well, life went on and I continued flying in X-Plane and made do with the boring old, uninspired default airports that all look way too similar. Where was the variety? Where was the spice that would make flying into my favorite destinations actually enjoyable? Finally, following closely on the heels of the release of Orbx TrueEarth US Washington, some of their popular Washington airports have been made available for us long suffering X-Plane 11 users! Here I take a look at three absolute beauties: 1S2 Darrington Municipal Airport, 74S Anacortes Airport, and WA56 Israel's Farm Airport. Will they perform as good as they look? Do they hold up to scrutiny when compared to images of the real places? Do they enhance the flight simulation experience enough to earn your hard earned money? Let's find out!

    1 Comment
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Great review Shawn! Israel's Farm was the very first Washington airport I purchased from Orbx, and it has remained a favourite ever since.
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