• Review: Orbx Tacoma Narrows

    Review: Orbx Tacoma Narrows

    By Shawn Weigelt

    Orbx - KTIW Tacoma Narrows

    The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? Confession time: I'm addicted to Orbx scenery. My shamelessly gushing reviews of their TrueEarth US Washington HD regional package and Darrington, Anacortes, and Israel's Farm airports should leave no doubt that I'm a huge fan of their work. As a Washington State resident for the last decade and an avid X-Plane user, I have been wonderfully spoiled with the opportunity to own these amazing scenery packages that make my adopted home state come to life in exacting detail. Orbx's newest Washington Airport, KTIW Tacoma Narrows, however, has redefined how I fly in X-Plane 11. You see, this is my home airport and my customary launching point from almost every flight I take in X-Plane 11. Those of you who have read my airplane reviews will well know my predilection for conducting test flights from KTIW's runway.

    Orbx - KTIW Tacoma Narrows     Orbx - KTIW Tacoma Narrows

    Despite its name and the fact that it services the greater Tacoma region, KTIW is technically on the Gig Harbor side of the Tacoma Narrows, the city I live in. Gig Harbor is a wonderful little city in which to live, and while it has grown significantly in the last twenty years or so, it still has a small town feel despite its close proximity to Tacoma, Washington's third most populous city.

    I frequent Tacoma Narrows Airport in the real world, not to fly, unfortunately, but to watch the traffic from the convenient public observation deck and to grab an occasional bite to eat at The Hub restaurant with my family. I love all things General Aviation, and with an average of 146 air operations per day (according to airnav.com), KTIW is a great place to spot airplanes from Piper Cubs to Gulfstreams.

    Orbx - KTIW Tacoma Narrows     Orbx - KTIW Tacoma Narrows

    Orbx's KTIW Tacoma Narrows airport was released prior to the Holiday season, but the hectic nature of this time of year kept me from having much time with the product initially, despite my excitement for it. Once the dust settled after Christmas, however, I was able to dive right in and get started on the review.

    With X-Plane 11.41 loaded up, and my current favorite airplane, Just Flight's Piper Tomahawk, ready to go, Tacoma Narrows Airport materialized on my computer screen and took my breath away. I was incredibly impressed with the screen shots I had perused prior to receiving my review copy of the file, but I was still not prepared for the visceral reaction this scenery package was about to give me. I believe that in order to fully, properly appreciate a custom scenery package, one must have been to the real world place at least once. My intimate familiarity with Tacoma Narrows Airport definitely worked in my favor when I first beheld the scenery package. The immediate sense of recognition came from the photo-realism and precise modeling of the building on the field. I am not exaggerating when I tell you, dear reader that the buildings at KTIW look perfect to my eye and are properly placed and proportionally accurate. As the primary fixed feature of any airport, the importance of accurately modeled and textured buildings should take precedence when designing any custom scenery package.

    Orbx - KTIW Tacoma Narrows     Orbx - KTIW Tacoma Narrows

    With my trusty Piper Tomahawk parked on the ramp in front of The Hub restaurant, my giddy excitement got the better of me and I quickly jabbed the "C" key on my iMac keyboard and began "hovering" over the airfield and drinking in the details in earnest. Starting from midfield, I cruised north of the tower slightly and examined the public observation deck and picnic area. This was eerily well done and immediately recognizable to me. One minor detail that the Orbx team missed, however, is the complete lack of fencing on the westerly side of the deck that prevents the public from just walking onto the ramp. Also conspicuously missing was the car gate immediately between the tower and observation/picnic area. Is this a big deal? Absolutely not. As someone who is fairly qualified to review this product, however, I feel the need to be completely honest and open in my review. I'll definitely highlight the good points, but I'll also not shy away from revealing areas of the product that could have been better.

    Orbx - KTIW Tacoma Narrows     Orbx - KTIW Tacoma Narrows

    Continuing north past the relatively newly rebuilt (in the real world) Narrows Aviation hangar, I continued to examine the buildings with a fine-toothed comb. Everything along my northerly route looked amazing and I couldn't help but appreciate the impeccably textured pavement (replete with what appeared to be seams from when the ramp was repaved in the real world) and precise lines and parking "T's" along the way. The two odd octagonal hangars looked picture perfect and are a huge improvement over the too tall, turn of the century looking redbrick textured monstrosities found in X-Plane 11's default KTIW.

    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Excellent review Shawn...this scenery is a must have!!

      Many thanks

    1. raymengel's Avatar
      raymengel -
      Thanks for the review and I hope that one day I will be able to add KTIW to my collection of Orbx scenery.

      BTW: As a teen during the 1960's I did most of my flight training out of Tacoma Industrial Airport via what was known then as "Tide Air". I received my Private & Commercial pilot's license along with my Instrument rating. After graduating from high school my first job was working for Tide Air at TIW. I sure enjoyed it.
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