• Review: Orbx 2W3 Swanson Airport for X-Plane 11

    Review: Orbx 2W3 Swanson Airport for X-Plane 11

    By Shawn Weigelt

    Orbx - 2W3 Swanson Airport

    Well, here we are, at least a month since my last review for FlightSim.Com. The Covid 19 pandemic continues on, and the world still battles for a vaccine. The term "new normal" has become cliche for those of us living through self-quarantine and government imposed stay-at-home orders. For me, the view from the inside of my four walls is starting to get really old as I long for social contact and a return to how things used to be, despite by staunchly introverted nature. Fortunately, extra time spent with family and a chance to take stock in the things that really matter has been a welcome blessing through all of this. When I'm not playing board games with my kids, tending to my vegetable garden (a surprisingly refreshing new hobby of mine), or playing on the X-Box, I find myself perched in front of my computer, flying around in X-Plane 11's skies.

    Orbx - 2W3 Swanson Airport     Orbx - 2W3 Swanson Airport

    Recently, I have been on a bit of an Orbx kick (if it hasn't been painfully obvious), and I have been completely enamored with and immersed in the recent airport products that I've had the privilege to test and review. Most recently, I reviewed KBVS Skagit Regional Airport and absolutely fell in love with it. I didn't have high hopes initially that I would like Skagit as much as I have, but I was pleasantly surprised and have flown in and out of the airport quite a bit lately. As I've said, my Orbx kick has been alive and well of late, so when my good buddy Dom Smith asked if I'd be interested in taking on another Orbx scenery review, I jumped at the opportunity.

    2W3 Swanson Airport is yet another offering from the scenery specialists at Orbx set in scenic Washington State. As Washington is my adopted home state, I admit that I'm partial to any scenery available for it that allows me to fly over familiar territory. Washington has a lot to offer in terms of gorgeous scenery combined with large and small airports with lots of character. 2W3 Swanson Airport certainly falls into this category.

    Orbx - 2W3 Swanson Airport     Orbx - 2W3 Swanson Airport

    Swanson Airport is located within the small town of Eatonville, which is a typical "small town America" kind of place. Having driven through Eatonville many times, I can attest that it is a bit of a "blink and you'll miss it" kind of town. It is far enough removed from the greater Tacoma area to avoid the hustle and bustle, but close enough so that trips into the city aren't hardships. When one takes a closer look, however, it is easy see the "Americana" charm of Eatonville shining through. Swanson Airport has a very similar character to it as the town it's located in...quaint and unassuming but with lots of hidden charm. The best thing about Swanson airport, in my opinion, is that it is situated at the Western edge of Mt. Rainier's foothills, and is a perfect launching point for scenic flights around Washington's tallest peak.

    Orbx's rendition of 2W3 Swanson Airport is a relatively old file for FSX and P3D that has been ported over for X-Plane 11 users. I'm sure a lot more goes into the whole process than the term "ported over" implies, but I'll leave that to others with more technical expertise than I possess. I'll just continue to be thankful that X-Plane users aren't being left out of the sweet Orbx goodness!

    Orbx - 2W3 Swanson Airport     Orbx - 2W3 Swanson Airport

    Compared with relatively new Orbx files like Tacoma Narrows and Anacortes, Swanson is definitely one of their older offerings. This fact initially gave me pause when I considered taking on the review, because I knew that the construction modeled along the southeast edge of the runway was not going to be up to date with reality. Still, I resolved to review the airport anyway, and critique the file based on the more permanent features of the airfield.

    As I've already stated, Swanson really is a quaint and unassuming little airport that is, surprisingly, open to the public. I say "surprisingly" because the runway is flanked on both sides by houses and looks more like a small private "airpark" than a public airport. Swanson's single runway 16/34 is 2,990 feet long by only 36 feet wide. This small size does not leave pilots with a large margin of error when it comes to approaches made too fast or in crosswind conditions. It also restricts the airport's use to light General Aviation aircraft. According to 2017 data I gleaned from AirNav.com, Swanson Airport has 13 aircraft based at the field (12 single engine, and 1 ultralight), and averages 134 aircraft operations per week. Yeah, there's really not much to Swanson Airport, but that's what makes it so great!

    Orbx - 2W3 Swanson Airport     Orbx - 2W3 Swanson Airport

    When I received my review copy of 2W3 from Orbx, I was able to easily download it utilizing their Orbx Central tool. This not only downloaded the scenery package to my iMac, but it installed it within my X-Plane 11 custom scenery file without any input from me. The whole process is completely seamless and carefree and makes me wish that every third party developer made it this easy. Again, this is just another shining example of the fine work and attention to detail the Orbx team puts into everything they do, that has me continually coming back for more.

    Much in the same way as I started my KBVS Skagit Regional testing and evaluation, I decided to fly to Swanson Airport from a nearby field rather than start out there. I really enjoyed doing that with Skagit and found it helpful to take in the surrounding scenery and mesh as it blended in with the Orbx TrueEarth US Washington HD I have kept as a permanent fixture on my copy of X-Plane 11.

    Tags: 2w3, orbx, swanson

    1 Comment
    1. btwallis's Avatar
      btwallis -
      One of my favourite's from Orbx.
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