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Review: PIS – Atolls of Tuvalu

In FSX there are several “neglected” scenery areas where the geography is a little sparse, the Atolls of Tuvalu is one of these areas and the developers of PNG/Raw Grit have redressed that with this remarkable piece of software.  It covers most of the Atolls of Tuvalu, and includes airfields, seaplane docks and helipads.  This is bush flying at its best with white sand beaches, crashing waves, abundant tropical trees, local vegetation, tons of  custom objects, lots of background noise, animated animals and birds and AI ships aplenty.  Tuvalu is approximately 2500nm NE of Australia or approx 2000nm SW of Hawaii and the nearest country that has flights into Tuvalu is Fiji, so let us hope that PIS will model this next.  Although most of the airfields are at sea level it is still a great place to navigate, and it is ideal for VFR flying.  Every time you open this scenery you will discover something new.

Atolls of Tuvalu – The Elliceian Review. (or for the obtuse a Sullivanian review)

Installation: Just click on the exe file and it installs in the FSX\Simmarket\Atolls of Tuvalu folder approx 370Mb.  It activates itself in the scenery folder so after installation it is ready to go.  I did not notice any performance decrease on my system, and it ran extremely smoothly during testing.

Background: Courtesy of Wikipedia; http://geography.about.com; Tuvalu Government

Tuvalu was formerly known as the Ellice Islands (and had an association with the Gilbert Islands until circa 1975).  It is a Polynesian nation located in the Pacific Ocean, roughly midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Samoa and Fiji.  It is the fourth SMALLEST country in the world with a population of circa 12,000.  It has an area of around 9 square miles — and the 9 (coral) reef islands/atolls stretch for 360 miles.  The economy is almost non-existent being mainly subsistence farming and fishing.  (For the aficionadas the smallest country in the world is Vatican City 0.2 sq mi, pop 770).  Tuvalu has 9 Islands, (four reef islands and five “true” atolls or coral reefs)

Definition from Wikipedia: An atoll is an island of coral that encircles a lagoon partially or completely; An island is any piece of land that is surrounded by water. — makes sense?

Figure 2 Location of Tuvalu courtesy Google Earth

The Manual

There are two manuals, both the same, with one in pdf format and one in MS word “.doc” format.

The manual is quite comprehensive covering the background, objectives, feature, system requirements, recommended FSX settings and details of the airfields/airports included.  I could not find any details of the seaplane docks and heliports.  However, the developer, Graham Michael gave me this information: “The Seaplane bases/ports varied in sizes from as small as mere one-log piers to large wharves and I have included two docks/piers that cater for Tsunami/Global warming research in PIS Tuvalu at Nukufetau and Nanumea.”  He also supplied a link that includes a summary of the 7 airfields: http://grambo.ipower.com/Tuvalu_airports.doc.

In the Sim

The scenery area is loaded automatically so to initiate a flight you just put your plane at any of the 7 airports included in the scenery — set the weather and you are flying.  There is a very useful map on the website showing the locations of the 7 airfields included.

Figure 3 Airfields in Tuvalu

The Viz

PIS Tuvalu covers the 7 most Northern Islands of Tuvalu: Note: the developer tells me that he made a mistake by including the two southern-most atolls/islands on the above chart (Nukulaelae and Niulakita) but they are definitely NOT included (figure 3).  The default FSX scenery is rudimentary to say the least in this area, but PIS Atolls of Tuvalu transforms the area into a vivid life-like experience.  The only airport (and atoll/island) included in FSX is Funafuti International Airport.  The coastlines resemble the real world, the sand, vegetation; land and sea are what you would expect to see on a tropical paradise.  It is an amazing transformation of this Polynesian paradise.  The airfields sport buildings, trees and other features indicative of the local area.  There are flocks of birds wheeling around and I found that the scenery is at its best around dusk or dawn.  At midday the hot white coral sand gives off quite a glare as it does in real life, but at dusk or dawn the colours are more muted and easier on the eye. There are AI ships, wrecks, and other animated objects.  Finding the animals and birds is a challenge, but they are there for you to discover.

Airfields (Listed and unlisted)

We have7 listed airfields that have been remodelled and repositioned to look more realistic, they are a significant increase in quality and realism over the default FSX airfield (singular).

Nanumea NGME.  The northern most atoll in the Tuvalu Chain.  The runway 14/32 is >4,000’ long, asphalt and has night lighting. Great scenery and easy to land, but no high tides as it is only1’ above sea level!

Figure 4 PIS Nanumea General Parking Area

Figure 5 PIS Nanumea airborne over the atoll

Figure 6 PIS Nanumea Buildings and lagoon

Figure 7 PIS Nanumea Night approach

Figure 8 PIS Nanumea night lighting

Niutao Island (NGTO)

A reef Island in Northern Tuvalu, about 75 nm SE of Nanumea.  The runway 08/26 is >3,700’ long, dirt-sand, elevation 1.7’ and has night lighting.  All the islands and atoll are realistic and match exactly what we see in Google Earth, etc.  Again we have great animations, scenery and vegetation at this at this island.

Figure 9 PIS Tuvalu Niutao NGTO top down view

Figure 10 PIS Tuvalu Niutao Buildings and lagoon

Figure 11 PIS Tuvalu Bird Population and lush scenery

Figure 12 PIS Tuvalu Niutao one of the many bird flocks

Figure 13 PIS Tuvalu Niutao Terminal buildings at dusk

Figure 14 PIS Tuvalu Niutao – Stormy

Nanumanga Island NGMG

A reef Island in Northern Tuvalu, about 40 nm SSE of Nanumea.  The runway 14/32 is ≈3,700’ long, dirt-sand, elevation 1’ and has night lighting.  Another accurate depiction of this small reef island.

Figure 15 PIS Tuvalu Nanumanga Island NGMG top view

Figure 16 PIS Tuvalu NGMG Final

Figure 17 PIS Tuvalu NGMG Tropical Coast

Figure 18 PIS Tuvalu NGMG Night approach

Nui Atoll NGFT

A true atoll in Northern Tuvalu, about 110 nm SSE of Nanumea.  The runway 02/20 is ≈2,700’ long, dirt-sand, elevation 1’ and does NOT have night lighting.  It has a land area of 3.37 km² and a population of 548 (Ref Wikipedia)

Figure 19 PIS Tuvalu Nui Atoll NGFT Top Down View

Figure 20 PIS Tuvalu Nui Terminal buildings

Figure 21 PIS Tuvalu NUI Coral Reef

Vaitupu Island NGPF

A reef island in Northern Tuvalu, Vaitupu is about 185 nm SE of Nanumea and 70 nm NNW of Funfauti.  The runway 03/21 is ≈4,200’ long, gravel — sand mix, elevation 5’ and has night lighting.  It is the largest island in Tuvalu, with a population of ≈1600 and an area of ≈6 sq km.

Figure 22 22 PIS Vaitupu Island NGPF Aerial View

Figure 23 PIS Vaitupu Island toward the main settlement

Figure 24 PIS Vaitupu Island main buildings

Figure 25 PIS Vaitupu Island Rwy Gravel sand mix

Nukufetau Atoll NGNA

One of the nine atolls Tuvalu, Vaitupu is about 60 nm NW of Funfauti (NGFU).  Two runways 18/36 is ≈5,000’ long, asphalt and 10/28 2,900’ long, dirt — sand mix, elevation 0’ (Sea Level) and has night lighting.  Nukufetau has a population of ≈600 and consists of at least 33 isles (Ref: Wikipedia).

Figure 26 PIS Nukufetau Atoll Aerial View NGNA RWY 18/36

Figure 27 PIS Nukufetau Atoll Terminal Buildings

Figure 28 PIS Nukufetau Atoll WWII artefacts

Figure 29 PIS Nukufetau Atoll on 18 36 asphalt at junction 10 28 dirt sand

Funafuti Atoll NGFU (International Airport)

A true atoll situated in Tuvalu, it is about 250 nm SE of Nanumea.  The runway 03/21 is ≈5,700’ long, concrete, elevation 9’ and does have night lighting.  This is the capital of Tuvalu, it has 33 islets giving a total land area of ≈ 2.4 km² and a population of ≈ 4,500 (Ref Wikipedia).  Fiji provides a commercial air service to Funafuti. The service starts from Nadi (Air Pacific) which is approximately 570 nm to the south.

Figure 30 PIS Funafauti Atoll top down view

Figure 31 PIS Funafuti Terminal Buildings

Figure 32 PIS Funafuti Atoll Lots to see.

Figure 33  PIS Funafuti Atoll Hangars galore, DC3 in residence

Figure 34 PIS Funafuti Atoll Lagoon View

Figure 35 PIS Funafuti Atoll the runway

Figure 36 PIS Funafuti Atoll busy docks

Figure 37 PIS Funafuti Atoll the blue lagoon

Figure 38 PIS Funafuti Atoll the SEA Bees legacy

Figure 39 PIS Funafuti Atoll into the Wide blue yonder

Figure 40 PIS Funafuti Atoll nice coral depiction

Figure 41 PIS Funafuti Atoll night lights

Figure 42 PIS Funafuti Atoll night lights

Overall:

All the runways are well modelled with the various textures eg asphalt, sand, dirt, etc being uniquely delineated, giving a realistic feel with a FF joystick.  I found that the “best” scenery views were found at dusk and dawn, as at around midday on my system the glare from the white coral sand was far too accurate!!

Seaplane bases and floatplane/boat docks and Helipads

These are not listed in the manual per se but they are quite easy to find as you fly around, and there are > 10 seaplane docks and heliports/pads to find.  Good Hunting!  Here are a couple:

Figure 44 PIS Tuvalu Atoll Seaplane dock

Figure 45 PIS Tuvalu Atoll Seaplane dock 2

Figure 46 PIS Tuvalu Atoll Spot the Docked Seaplane

Roads

These are depicted accurately in the software, but these being Pacific atolls there aren’t too many roads around.

Figure 47 PIS Tuvalu Atoll typical bush road

The Vegetation

Extremely dense and well represented, very typical of a tropical bush region, see the various figures above.

The Boats and other AI traffic

There are boats and ships everywhere, liners, cargo ships, small cruisers, yachts, including some ‘left-overs’ from WWII, and there are a number of rusting hulks lying in the sand.  There are also heaps of vehicles, buildings, and other objects (many animated) in this fascinating scenery.  (see the figures above for details).

Figure 48 Tuvalu Atoll luxury cruiser

Figure 49 PIS Tuvalu Atoll luxury liner

Figure 50 PIS Tuvalu Atoll Container ship

Figure 51  PIS Tuvalu Atoll I want one of these

Sounds

These are mainly the tropical birds.  I didn’t hear the AI sounds, but I may not have been close enough to the AI objects

Summing Up

This is a quality add-on for FSX, and my brief review just doesn’t do it justice I saw less than 5% of all the “goodies” contained in this package, and you could spend a lot of time exploring the area.  Every time that I flew I saw something new.  The airfields, etc are well represented and are great to fly in and out of.  This is definitely a VFR package and I used the slowest aircraft in FSX to experience the various sights and sounds.  It definitely complements the other PIS scenery ie Papua New Guinea aka PIS – Raw grit: PNG bush pilot & extreme bush trekker bundle.  The Pacific is not well done in FSX and the Atolls of Tuvalu is a quantum leap over the default scenery with respect to accuracy and detail.  It’s one of those areas like PNG that you will keep re-visiting, especially when it is cold outside.  It would be tremendous if Fiji was next.

WOW Factor: 8½ out of 10

Peter Hayes, Australia, February 2010

Table of the Important Bits:

Publisher:

Pacific Islands Simulation, LLC

Supplier:

http://secure.simmarket.com/pacific-islands-simulation-atolls-of-tuvalu.phtml

Download
File Size:

≈236MB (exe file) Automatic install from the “exe” file.

Installation
File Size:

370MB

Simulator Requirement:

FSX (Not specified if SP1 and/or SP2 (or Acceleration) is a requirement.

OS Requirements:

Win XP, Vista and/or Win 7;

Testing System:

Intel E8600, 4GB DDR 800 RAM, Vista 64 SP2, nVidia 9800 GT, 182.50 Driver;
FSX SP1 + SP2; 750GB SATA II Seagate 7200 HDD. 
No Tweaks all standard and no over-clocking.

Scenery:

Atolls of Tuvalu

Installation:

Installation is simplicity itself being automatic via a self extracting “exe” file.  Should be installed with Admin rights — VISTA right click “Run as administrator”.

Manuals / Documentation

Manual 9 Page pdf manual or a 9 page MS Word Document

Support:

toksawe@gmail.com

Forum:

http://islandsim.com/pis_forum/

Updates

N/A

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