• CFB Cold Lake X From Team SDB

    Cold Lake Alberta for FSX by Team SDB

    By Bill Stack (28 November 2009)


    Screen shots by Team SDB



    CFB Cold Lake (CYOD) is a military airbase in northeastern Alberta, Canada, about half way between the province's northern and southern borders, near its border with Saskatchewan, and near the city and lake of the same name. The city's population is approximately 11,000. The lake straddles the Alberta/Saskatchewan border. The area's economy depends on the airbase and oil and gas exploration.

    The airbase's military and civilian operations are controlled by Canada Department of National Defense. The military base was developed during the 1950s because of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. It is one of two in Canada where the CF-18 Hornet fighter/interceptor are based. Every year, the airbase hosts military forces from around the world for Exercise Maple Flag, a training exercise where pilots and support staff of NATO allies can take advantage of the Air Weapons Range and relatively open rural air space, according to Wikipedia.

    Civilian passenger and cargo services are provided through the Medley terminal near the eastern end of runway 04/22. Considered an airport of entry, the airport is staffed by the Canada Border Services Agency. Unscheduled civilian air traffic uses the Cold Lake Regional Airport.

    Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield trained as a fighter pilot on CF-5s and CF-18s at CFB Cold Lake, according to About.com.

    Team SDB consists of Mike Dews, Scenic Design, Yorkshire, England; Robert Baum "AI Guru," British Columbia, Canada; and Frank Safranek, Master Aircraft Painter, California, U.S.A. "We came together when we all published through Alphasim.Ltd.," Mr. Dews explained. The company has also produced several other sceneries, including Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, Bien Hoa AFB, South Vietnam (c. 1967), and RAF Pocklington.

    This area was chosen because Mr. Baum is a Canadian and "it seemed a nice one to do," Mr. Dews explained.



    Source: Bill Stack

    Source: Bill Stack

    Source: Wikipedia

    Cold Lake Location




    Major Features

    Team SDB touts the following features in its product description:

    • Runway, taxiways, and night lighting are enhanced

    • Buildings include aircraft hangars, accommodations, and floodlights

    • Numerous AI and static aircraft are parked around the base

    • All AI aircraft taxi, take-off, and touch and go

    • Navaids include ILS and DME




    PURCHASE FEATURES

    Instant download from the Pilot Shop

    YES

    Installation program

    YES

    License key required

    NO

    Copyright Acknowledgment Required

    YES

    Uninstall program included

    YES

    Manual included

    NO

    Instructions included

    YES




    Visual Features

    The scenery enhancement appears to be realistic compared to Jeppesen Sim Charts and the satellite photo from Wikipedia.

    • Buildings are where they should be and appear approximately the correct sizes.

    • Airport runways, taxiways, and aprons are more realistic than the very basic FSX default depictions.

    • Night effects are good within the simulator's limits. FSX does not depict objects at night realistically, and some objects look like plastic boxes illuminated from within, but scenery developers must deal with the objects that come with the scenery-design packages.

    • According to Wikipedia, the airbase is one of two in Canada where the CF-18 Hornet fighter/interceptor are based, but I found no CF-18 Hornets in this scenery. According to a text file available at the end of the installation process and deposited in the Cold Lake scenery folder, an AI version of this aircraft is downloadable from the Military AI Works web site. A web address is provided. No static version is available.

    • All enhancements are at the airbase.



    Team SDB
    FSX
    Team SDB
    FSX
    Team SDB
    FSX
    Team SDB
    FSX
    Team SDB
    FSX

    Comparisons

    Screen shots by Bill Stack



    Technical Features

    • FSX Acceleration is not required. (Objects requiring FSX Acceleration do not appear without it, but that doesn't apply to this scenery.)

    • The developer recommends no special display settings in the scenery instructions. All scenery objects displayed properly with default FSX settings, but I didn't see any AI aircraft moving about the airfield or airspaces until I raised my Traffic settings. In response to my question, Mr. Dews replied as follows: "Touch and Go AI are always set to 10 percent. The settings are 'scaled' to allow for slower systems, the higher the system specifications, the higher the setting."

    • Frame rates are good, even when display settings are FSX default. I flew all around the airbase with frame rates set at default and unlimited. They were in the 20s when near the scenery objects and 30s elsewhere.

    • The installation program deposits the files into a dedicated folder within the Addon Scenery folder, which is more useful than depositing them directly into the catch-all "Addon Scenery" folder.


    Tornado F.3 Luftwaffe

    Airport Equipment

    Airport Equipment

    Radar Dome

    Object Details

    Screen shots by Bill Stack




    Nice Features

    Installation into dedicated folders is welcomed. Some addon sceneries are installed into catch-all folders, which makes their files indistinguishable from other scenery files.

    The inclusion of AI aircraft is a nice touch. We not only can see normal airport operations on the ground and aloft, we must stay clear of other aircraft on the ground and in the air.

    The developer's prompt reply to my questions is a good sign for users who need assistance or offer comments.


    Night Scenes

    Screen shots by Bill Stack




    More Information

    Information and maps of Cold Lake Alberta can be found on Wikipedia.

    Good satellite photos are available from Google Maps.

    Information about Cold Lake is available at the Cold Lake web site.


    Screen Shots

    My comparative screen shots were made with FSX display settings on default because no special settings were recommended. While Team SDB's scenery was active, I slewed to a good vantage point and snapped a shot, then I moved to another vantage point and/or airport and snapped another shot. After all the Team SDB shots were made, I deactivated the scenery and slewed to the exact vantage points and reshot the views with FSX default scenery. As a result, all screen shots are exactly of the same views.


    Summary

    As my comparative screen shots show, this scenery enhancement makes using this remote yet significant airport more realistic for flight simmers who like remote areas and/or militarily significant airbases. Simulating the training exercises that are common here would be fun. There are enough static and moving objects for realism without cluttering the area with objects that diminish simulator performance. The price is right, too.


    Bill Stack



    Learn More About Team SDB's Cold Lake Alberta Scenery


    Bill Stack is author of several books about flight simulation, a regular author in flight-sim magazines, and a contributor to Flight Sim Com. His website is www.topskills.com


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