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Review: Aerosoft’s Dutch Harbor X

Dutch Harbor is located right next to the airport of Unalaska which is on Amaknak Island in the Aleutians off the coast of Alaska.  The port of Dutch Harbor is the home port for the Bering sea king crab fishery and the crabbing fleet featured in the television series “Deadliest Catch”.

The airport of Unalaska, PADU, has a single 3,900 ft paved runway with daily scheduled flights in and out.  The weather often does not cooperate so on average one fifth of all flights end up cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

This scenery package covers a 500 km stretch of the Aleutian islands and includes six airfields two of them being seaplane bases. They are: Nikolski Airfield, Akutan Seaplane Base, Chernofski Seaplane Base, Fort Glenn Air Force base (abandoned), Driftwood Bay Air Force Base (abandoned) and of course Unalaska Airfield (PADU).

Installation and Configuration

The file size at 294 Mb is not large at all by today’s standards so it should not pose any real problem for most people as far as downloading it goes.

This is an Aerosoft product and anyone who has ever purchased flightsim addons knows that they have one of the simplest installers out there. So having said that, you begin the installer, add your product purchase information and allow it to continue and complete. When it is done you will have a new entry “Dutch Harbor X”  in your scenery library.

The installer also creates a new Windows program group entitled “Aerosoft” where you will find Dutch Harbor X as a sub group with shortcuts to the Season Tool and manual.

I found that there was no configuration required with this scenery.

Documentation

The manual is in the usual PDF format and is a brief 14 pages. It has all the information you typically find such as system requirements which by the way are very basic in this case. Also included are the contact support link and information on the scenery enhancements. A few that I want to bring to your attention are the custom terrain, landclass, mesh and seasonal textures.  As well, of note they’ve added volcanic effects, three tutorial missions and some pre-saved free flights.  There are two pages showing screenshots and giving their suggested Display and Scenery Settings.  It’s always a good idea to compare the scenery developer’s recommended settings with your own to make sure they match or at least give you a starting point to work from. This can often prevent problems before they have a chance to occur. They then have a page of FAQs which provide answers to some commonly encountered situations.

When you install the scenery it makes some changes to your terrain.cfg file. This is to prevent flatten issues around Unalaska for those who have FSGlobal installed. They’ve provided the portions that were modified and highlighted the changes.

The last couple of pages are the GPS and NDB charts for Unalaska as well as a map showing you the area that this scenery package covers.

Flying the Scenery

This product is going to appeal to those pilots who enjoy bush flying. There are no large airports here. The landscapes are rugged and beautiful and the airports are small.  Flying is an adventure and landing a challenge in this part of the world.

The main airport in this scenery package is the airport at Dutch Harbor, it has an inherent degree of difficulty not found in many airports.  You have a combination of rugged mountainous landscapes, a relatively short runway which happens to begin and end on the water’s edge and finally the weather that almost never seems to cooperate. As far as visual niceties go, the airport is very well done with lots of details to keep you interested. They have done a great job at recreating the airport.  There are a wide variety of structures and objects accurately depicting the airfield including all the typical objects such as hangers, garages, sheds, terminal buildings, fencing, lighting and much more. There are also many unique objects to the area that you will discover as you fly around.

The port of Dutch Harbor and city of Unalaska have both been recreated in great detail and include seasonal textures, night time textures, lighting effects.  Comparing what they have done with the real world you see that they’ve done a good job in capturing this unique and beautiful area.

Being a port they have made sure that all those people who enjoy marine craft are not disappointed.  You’ll be able to spot fishing trawlers, container ships, cruise ships, cargo ships, pleasure craft and more. I was also impressed with the amount of detail put into these ships and dockside areas.

The other small airfields and seaplane bases that are part of the scenery include some structures and local landmarks but don’t expect to find the same degree of detailing as is the case with Unalaska. They are not very complex, however the spectacular scenery makes up for that and more.

The islands are rugged and mountainous. The inclusion of their custom terrain, landclass and mesh does a great job in keeping the topography very realistic. Flying at any altitudes you can easily make out the many valleys, peaks, lakes and rivers that dot the landscape.

When it comes to making sure the airfield textures match the surrounding countryside I suggest that you use the Season Tool included with the package.

Missions

To help you get acquainted with the scenery they’ve included three missions. Each is designed with a specific focus and after you’ve completed them you will have a good idea of what you’re up against and what you have to look forward to.

Mission 1

The first mission is an introduction to the airport of Unalaska flying the Grumman Goose. It’s a simple one. You take off, do a circuit around the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refugee and finally an approach and landing at the airport.  It gives you some appreciation of the degree of difficulty you’ll encounter trying to land at the airport even when the weather is cooperating.

Mission 2

The second mission is a bit more of a challenge in that you are flying a cargo run, again in the Goose but this time starting from Nickolski Airfield at the western tip of Umnak island. From there you head northeast up the coast of the island towards the Chernofski Seaplane Base, on the way there is some great scenery including the volcano, Mount Vsevidof. Approaching Chernofski you encounter some poor weather that keeps you on your toes. Here you make a water landing, unload your cargo then continue your journey north to your final destination of Unalaska airport at Dutch Harbor.  This mission gives you the chance to do some great sightseeing.

Mission 3

The third and final mission is at the expert level and it’s here that you finally get to experience some of the really nasty weather that makes this such a treacherous airport.  Now you will be flying the Beech King Air in a blinding snow storm starting at 16,000 ft. Your task is to descend and fly an approach and land at Unalaska airport. Let me say that you will be kept busy in this one. Don’t be surprised if you aren’t successful on your first attempt at landing safely, this is some really nasty weather!

I thought the inclusion of these missions was a nice bonus feature of the package.

Final Thoughts

This scenery proved to be great fun and has some spectacular scenery and will be a winner with every pilot looking for adventure or wanting to discover the beauty of this wilderness offers.  It can be a nice distraction from flying those large commercial jetliners. If you use a real world weather program you never know what you may be faced with when you fly the skies around Unalaska. Are you up to the challenge because this scenery can put your piloting skills to the test!

My Ratings

  • Installer: Very good. Standard Aerosoft, simple to use.
  • Documentation: Good.  Manual includes airport charts and area map.
  • Modelling: Very good. Custom terrain, landclass and mesh included.
  • Extras: Season tool, three missions included, pre-saved free flights.

Download Size: 294Mb FSX
Price: EUR 15.08
Purchase Link: http://secure.simmarket.com/aerosoft-online-dutch-harbor-x.phtml
P
ublisher Site: www.aerosoft.com

Test System: Intel i7 920 OC @ 3.8 Ghz, 6 Gb RAM, EVGA 285 GTX w/1Gb video, Win 7 Ultimate 64, FSX w/acceleration, Ultimate traffic 2, REX, ASE, UTX Alaska, Canada and USA, GEX NA

Richard Desjardins

About Miguel Blaufuks

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