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Views From The Canyon

Rejected Takeoff

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The fringes of the hurricane from Florida spun across the mid-south last Monday, drenching us at evening rush hour. About 5 minutes after I got home and fired up the box to check e-mail, a near-by transformer went sizzle-pop and the prospects of an unpowered evening flashed across my brain as everything went quiet and dark.

Adapted to the loss with a 90-second walk across the street to my son's home where we had dinner and watched about half of the Battlestar Galactica pilot on DVD. By then power was restored to the home front and FS life resumed.

With fingers crossed, I engaged Tile Proxy and began a flight at Taos, NM (KSKX). I didn't visit the airport when we vacationed out there a couple of years ago, but there was some awesome scenery along the way and I wondered how well it would look with photo scenery. Quite nice, in fact.

The Rio Grande flows past Taos having dug a signifcant canyon through the plain along there and carved (or found) its way through the hills just to the south. Impressive place to drive through; it's known as the Grand Canyon of the Rio Grande. Somehow, I never thought of this famous river beyond the context of "the border with Mexico"; never thought about where it came from. It was a bit of a surprise to see it in a canyon context.

Reporting on places that others might also be interested in seeing from the virtual skies of Flight Simulator will be one of the more frequent offerings in my commentary. I spend most of my FS time as an aerial tourist, VFR-ing my way back and forth across the country.

I think what got me started was the release of USA Roads for FS9. This allowed one to do pilotage with nothing more than good road maps and I started exploring right then and have never looked back. One day I realized that some of the roads I was following were highlighted on the maps...duh! the publishers had marked scenic routes already and scenic almost always involved TERRAIN: mountains, hills, canyons - something more to see than wide vistas of "FLAT". But not all terrain is accessible to cars and one way to find some of those areas is noticing where the contour lines bunch together on a contour map. I found them online first using the NASA World Wind viewer and Google Maps also has a terrain view mode. This comes in especially handy while using the GMap utility linked to FSX. I still use the FSMMovingMap a lot because it doesn't depend on continual internet connectivity. Though the maps are getting 'dated' they're good enough for most purposes and can be edited with notes etc. I'm not quite up to 'adding user content' to Google Earth yet to document my travels, but that day will come.

More from the Taos area another time.


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  1. kin3's Avatar
    I noticed that you use Tile Proxy. I tried it once and it was very slow. I have a pretty good machine, also on FSX. How is your performance with it? I might have done something wrong or was flying to low, I don't know. Tell me how you use it etc. Thanks kin3
  2. llivaudais's Avatar
    well, first off, I'm a newbie to Tile Proxy and still experimenting with every flight. I'd like to think that once the source images are collected and the scenery tiles made, perhaps some processing power will be freed up and the actual finished tiles will load at a usable rate. As a rule of thumb, I fly the ultralight in the 40-50kt range. The .ini file has max_lod set at 17 (30cm resolution); all the services are ranged from 9 to 17; the sim resolution is 60cm and I do have to pause from time to time to give the tiles time to load. Sometime if it seems very slow I 'drift' along in slew mode at 40kts. Right now, this is less about flying than seeing if the photo scenery tiles are worth the trouble; for the most part, I'm liking what I'm seeing. This is ultimate eye candy for me and speed is NOT an issue (yet).

    This whole thing was sorta prompted by the Colorado photo scenery for FS9 that I finally tried. Even at 4.7m, I'd say it was useful and I think I'd elect to take the whole world at that resolution if it were available (in FS9).

    In FSX, however, the bar has been raised. I keep scenery resolution at 60cm most of the time and I am usually within 500' of the surface. I'd rather fly slow (between and under trees) at 60cm than faster at 1m.

    Asking for 30cm source images might be insane, but I'd like to know what's the best it can do on my machine.

    Cpu is running at stock 3G. I put 4G of DDR2 1066 in it (timing 5-5-5-15 at 2.1v) with the 3GB switch so the system reports that I have 3.25G usable memory. Video runs quite warm but with an extra fan on it, so far nothing has 'exploded'.

    At some point I'll change the sim resolution to 1m and see if I can fly a little faster. I really don't know this early in the trial if I'll keep it or not but it's so 'next step' that keeping it is more likely. If I gotta fly faster I can always fly without it.

    I hope this gives you a little more perspective.
  3. Rocknicehunter's Avatar
    When we were in northern NM a few years ago, we didn't make it as far north as Taos, but agree about the scenery. There isn't much about the southwestern US I don't like, geology-wise.

    I agree on following scenic routes. The key to find even better views while flying is to find an interesting area along the scenic route and get away from the roads. The really cool places are where ground vehicles can't get but air vehicles can!
  4. Planyroo's Avatar
    Stories like these one are inspiring me to start piloting, I think I need to stop with buying essays online and start getting it done, thank you for sharing.