This is a rather unorthodox review.
Normally when I write a scenery review, I take the Trike Ultralight, takeoff, do some low passes, take screenshots, then stop the flight. I then select several jetliners, like the PMDG 737NGX, LDS767 and PMDG 747 (if appropriate), and do some circuits with them, to check performance. I take notes, and then start writing the review. Now and then I start up FSX to check out additional things.
This method works pretty well for sceneries, save for the fact that some airplanes will have to be swapped depending on the airport’s size (not going to try to land a PMDG 747 at a small, grass strip for instance). However, the result won’t be fun to read – it will be informative, may be well-written, but it won’t be fun.
Now, I personally don’t care about how “fun” a review is. First and foremost it should be informative. However, I think OrbX airports need a different treatment, because they are different airports, built with a different purpose. Think about it: why would OrbX make an airport such as Walter Sutton’s Private Airfield? And then make Goheen in its vicinity? It’s because they intend you to fly from one to the other! That you can make a small, virtual flight, and then completely immerse yourself in the experience.
That’s the point of OrbX according to me: to get a fully immersive flying experience, from beginning to end.
The important word is “experience”. OrbX airports should be experienced. Problem is, how do you do this in a review? There is no motion picture, or an epic soundtrack. I think the best way to still do this, is to make a story out of it; to take the role of a local, and show it through his or her eyes.
This is precisely what I’m going to do in this unorthodox review: In this review, we will be Walter Sutton, the owner of Walter Sutton’s Private Airfield. From his perspective, I will discuss the products to be reviewed, which are:
- Sibwings Bird Dog;
- OrbX Goheen Airport
- OrbX Stark’s Twin Oaks Airport
- OrbX Walter Sutton’s Private Airfield.
Note that you’ll also see me flying the Realair Scout. This plane is not for review, although there will of course be plenty of screenshots in which this plane features prominently.
You will see some out of character comments too, because not all things translate well into a first person perspective. I sincerely hope you will enjoy this read and will find it as informative to read as any other review you may have read in the past. As an aside, I hope to give you an idea of what’s possible with OrbX airports: how you can combine them to make yourself an even more fun flying experience.
My name is Walter Sutton, and I live on a farm in Washington state, nearby Portland. I have my own little airfield. Today we will be doing a trip to Goheen, where a friend of mine is having a barbeque. First however, we will pick up another good friend of mine: Walter Musa, who lives close to me. In the process, I shall give you a tour of my premises, Walter Musa’s airfield, and Goheen airport.
Disclaimer: the dialog in person of Walter Sutton is entirely fictional and is not based on any real, existing people, as is any reference to Walter Sutton’s family, property and friends.
Installation and Documentation
Now, of course there are some bits and pieces in a review that I can’t change, or else I will be knowingly taking out vital information. Part of this is how the product is delivered, installed and documented. If you have already purchased OrbX sceneries before, you will know what to expect. There are two distinct parts to the installation, besides the downloading of a zip archive. Once you download and unpack this zip archive, you run the executable. The executable asks for the registration data, which consists of the order number, order data, and registration key. Input all of that, and the executable will start to unpack the installation program, which is fired up automatically. The rest of the installation is straightforward.
Once installation has finished, it is recommended to download the lastest orbX library files from their support website, and install these last. After this you can run the OrbX configurator, and the various scenery’s control panels to enable or disable certain components of the sceneries. For Goheen and Walter Sutton’s I disabled the highest-end grass, because I know from experience that so much grass makes my computer cry. The rest has all been left on, however.
My place: Walter Sutton’s Private Strip
Before we go anywhere, let me introduce myself and my property. My name is Walter Sutton, and I have been living here for some time now. I have made a grass airstrip next to my home and built a hangar for my plane, my ACA Scout, which we shall take for a flight soon. See the shot below for a view of my home.
It’s a nice and spacious house. If you look closely, you can look inside, although the right window should probably be cleaned some day soon. The guy sitting in front is actually me… This is an old photo I guess! Just sitting and enjoying my beer on a lazy Sunday afternoon. You can’t see me moving on this shot obviously, but I actually am drinking that beer with a steady pace.
Dog house and hangars
Next to my own house, I have several storage facilities. First of is my garage, with behind it the little house of my old, trusty dog. Next to the blue garage there is this roof I built especially for out big ‘ol camper. I don’t use it too often currently what with my ACA Scout being taken up into the air almost every day, but we used it a lot for travels for, for example, as far as Tampa back in 1978! Next to the camper there is the hangar I built for my ACA Scout, and next to that is another garage. All still look very good I must say, although I should maybe clean out the hangar. All kinds of stuff in there, as you will soon see.
My empty hangar.
As you can now see, there’s all kinds of stuff in there, but no aircraft. I had towed it out so you can have a better look at the hangar itself. As you can see it’s quite spacious, and any small prop can be parked inside without much hassle. But, more would probably fit in if I’d clear out some of the stuff that is in there. (Reviewer’s note: You can close the hangar doors by using the scenery control panel. It would have been neat however if there were an in-game way to close them).
Front of my garage
In the above shot you see the front of the garage. Like the house, it’s both blue and rather spacious, with places for three cars. The lower parts of the doors are quite rusty; I’d probably ought to do something about that. Same goes for the trailer we own, which you can also see standing in the middle, in front of the garage. The brand of the trailer is a bit hard to read, but I’m sure that people that are familiar with American trailer companies would probably recognize it. Our camper can also be seen on this shot. It’s a rather broad vehicle, with good-looking and quite useful mirrors on both sides of the camper. Various lights along the top front of the camper are for safety and have actually already prevented one or two small accidents from occurring. Overall, I’m proud of my trailer and camper. They look pretty good, even after all those years.
Gus repairing the tractor.
Private airstrip or not, I still have some farmland, and for that I need farming vehicles. One of these is my not-so-trusty tractor, which has broken down again. Gus, our general handyman is trying to fix it. So far he always succeeded – hopefully he will succeed again! Pity if he’d fail, the tractor still looks good and has always worked like a charm. Just look at those big, well-made wheels, or the lights at the front.
The second house on my property
Besides my own residence, there is a second house on my property. It belongs to me, but in it lives Gus. He pays his monthly rent and he has always been a neat tenant, so we are happy to have him. I should maybe look at some parts of the house. The paint is peeling off in more than one place; especially the garage door could probably use an extra layer of paint. The red-painted parts were done not too long ago as you can see: it still looks rather nice. As for the cars you see in front these are a bit of a mix of my cars and Gus’s cars. The van is Gus’s, the others are mine. They all look really nice, and I actually really like Gus’s van. Despite it’s bulky appearance, it looks kind of cozy and personal in a way that my pickup vans just don’t. Finally, notice the various mail and newspaper boxes we have at the start of our driveway. I’m subscribed to the Oregonian – have been for god knows how long now and still enjoy reading it.
Hm. I guess I will have to mow these lawns sometime soon though. Even though I really like the look of the long grass with all the flowers, it’s not really as neat or tidy as I’d like it to be. I’ll do it in the weekend I guess…
Road along my house.
The road in the above shot is the road to which our driveway leads. As you can see, the fence separates it from the land of our neighbor, including some fine-looking grasses and shrubs (which the guy actually wanted to cut some time ago. Glad we could stop him from doing that!). The electricity poles are a great addition to our comfort of course, but a bit of a nuisance when it comes to landing my plane, so I had to take a safety precaution:
I hung up these orange balls to make sure that I see where the wires are when landing. Of course, on this particular side of the airstrip you also have to watch out for the trees, making the orange balls a bit redundant. On the other side of the airstrip however, the orange balls are the sole warning of the existence of an obstacle.
Talking about the other side of the airstrip, the above shot shows the full runway. It’s all grass, but works really well nonetheless for smaller aircraft. We keep it maintained very well, but still it’s a bit bumpy. But, I think that’s part of the charm of grass airstrips. It also makes sure that Peter Foster, the guy over the hill, can’t land in my back yard with his fancy private jet – I hate that guy…
Speaking of neighbors, let’s walk around a bit. Especially my left door neighbor is a good guy, and the people living behind him are also a good lot. Let me show you some parts of their property.
For ages, my neighbor has had this construction vehicle here. He hardly uses it, as you can see from the rust everywhere. Nonetheless, it still works and it looks fine overall, even if it looks a bit out of place on this bit of farmland.
Not too far away, there are some stables where I frequently brought my kids too to ride on the horses. Especially my daughter loved it, until she was about 16, at which point she got in a band and completely changed her attitude and mentality. I guess that’s how it goes. Still, some good memories are to be had here. There are some people over there now. If we move closer we can now read the signs. They probably ought to mow the grass, as it’s getting very high, but I actually kind of like that. Up close the sign are readable, but the house itself looks a little strange (out of character: blurry). It anyway seems like it ought to be repainted some time soon.
My neighbor’s house
Not too far away from the stable is the guy’s house. It’s a fairly standard thing (my house is nicer I think!), but I really like the old-timer he has. I have a plane, he has an old-timer. Every guy ahs his own toy, I guess.
My other neighbor’s house
The other neighbor I was teling about lives on the same road as I do, and his house is a strange purple. To each his own I guess, but I do admire that collection of cars. He probably does wish that he had as much garage space as I had, although, to be fair, the large gray/brown building you see at the truck’s location would hold the various vehicles with ease. I guess my neighbor has made himself a fine little place, with all the nice-looking cars and houses.
The third neighbor’s property.
The final neighbor I want to introduce you to, lives on the road to the other side of the airstrip – the side where no trees obscure the airstrip. His house is rather big and really nice. I have considered painting my house in the same colors, but my wife liked the blue. Up close the paint does look a little “wriggled” (read: blurry), and his cars aren’t in the best condition. They seem a bit clunky, in the literal sense of the word. I guess that what’s important is that they work, right? He also owns some barns more in the back of his land. These looks rather good and I have been thinking of expanding my own collection of buildings with such barns. I could store a second airplane in them, for example. Overall, this guy’s land is really nice and I like the style of his buildings, even if some repainting is necessary.
This concludes this small tour for now. Let’s go back to my hangar where my plane should be – I had Gus tow it back in while we were walking around. And ah yes, there it is:
My plane in its hangar.
Picking up Walter Musa
Walter Musa is a good friend of mine who lives rather close to the river, on a hill. He has a huge house overlooking his airstrip – a beautiful place, by all means! We will fly there, pick Walter up, and head for the BBQ at Goheen airport.
Sitting in the hangar, firing up the engine
The start of every flight starts in my hangar. I like sitting in it, watching the instruments, in a cold and dark silence. I will fire up the engine now, taxi out, and go. Since there is no wind, we will takeoff to the north, so that we are immediately on course to Walter Musa’s place. While flying, I’ll show you some of the surrounding terrain.
Time to go!
Out of character, let me tell you that what I think are important parts to fully enjoy the thrill of flying small prop planes, landing on grass airstrips, are three addons: EZDOK Camera, TrackIR and AccuFeel. These addons combine to give a dynamic and fully immersive flight, where sound and camera movements come close to giving a really nice feel of what it means to fly a small plane. These addons form a great enhancement to an otherwise already immersive and good-looking set of sceneries.
My airstrip from the air.
After taking off, first a small circuit over the surrounding neighborhood. First of all, my own airfield: now you can see it pretty well. The airstrip is rather long, making landing here quite easy when the weather is good. The buildings look really nice from this height too. None of the peeling-off paint, the cars, it all combines to a sort of busy but quiet atmosphere, which is exactly the thing that I like about living here. The following shots are just some general photographs I took while flying, hoping to give an impression of the local surroundings. The combination of small houses, full farms and mountains gives a nice combination of colors and it’s a really nice bit of terrain. My wife originally picked the spot; I was all too happy to oblige!
(Reviewer’s comment: in all honesty, just like Walter Sutton likes living here, I look down and wouldn’t mind at all to be Walter Sutton. This seems like a beautiful and calm area. OrbX has done a really nice job replicating it, with all its charm beauty).
Various shots of the surroundings.
As we fly to Walter Musa, we come across a rather unique hill, shaped exactly like a cone. It always reminds me of the rather symmetrical hills in my kids’ books from when they were 2 years old. See below.
Tum tum hill
The mountain signals we are getting close to Walter Musa. We have to fly onto and over Yale Lake, and then turn back. It will make landing easier, for the side of the strip that faces Yale Lake doesn’t have any trees in the way, whereas the other side does have several trees obscuring the runway. As such, we fly onto Yale Lake, turn around, and we see Walter Musa’s strip lying directly in front of us:
Walter Musa’s strip in sight.
Landing at Walter Musa is a bit of a hassle and requires some practice. I tend to just land on the road, it’s easiest to spot and it’s longer than the grass patch to the left of it.
On final to Walter Musa
On final and Musa’s strip is coming into view nicely. You can see his huge house to the left, looking out over the strip. It always reminds me of a control tower that people permanently live in. As you can see, he has his own hangar too, to the right of the strip. I think he stores all kinds of stuff in there, not just his aircraft.
Walter Musa’s airstrip
The above photographs give a ncie impression of Musa’s property. It doesn’t seem that big on first sight, and the runway, if you can call it that way, sure isn’t as easy to land on as the strip at my place. It is very exciting to land there though, and it’s good practice. It all looks really nice and he keeps it up very nicely too. And did I mention the great view he has of Yale Lake? I love my own house, but Musa has got himself a prime living location!
Waiting for Musa
And now, we wait for Walter Musa! He should have heard the plane arrive, so he should be out soon. Then we will take off, in a southern direction, away from the Yale Lake. Goheen Airport is in that direction, too.
The trip to Goheen Airport
Most of the flight was rather uneventful. Now that we are approaching the airport, let me give you a quick look of the airport and its surroundings from the air, before we land and go to the BBQ. My friend’s house is just across the road from the airport, so we don’t have to walk far. I’ll point you the place from the air.
First look of Goheen
Finding Goheen can be a bit of a hassle. As there is no tarmac runway and the taxiways are just mown-down, dirt-ridden patches of earth, it can be a challenge to find it amongst the trees and fields. You have to look carefully for aircraft and hangars, and you should find it pretty easily; should be easier than finding my airstrip, anyway. I have fortunately flown this flight more often, so we find it relatively quickly. See above. That’s what Goheen looks like from the air. I think it’s a charming little airport, particularly the bit of the runway that’s enveloped by the trees. I have always liked operating between trees – that is, landing, taking off and taxiing. The trees can be seen swaying in the wind, and coming here in fall you see the leaves falling off the trees. Also, see the house right in front of the driveway of the airport? That’s my friend’s house, where the BBQ will be.
We will soon land, coming into the airport from the river as opposed to the big parking lot. I like landing in this direction because we will come to a stop between the trees, then taxi back – between the trees. First of all, I will fly around the area for a bit and show you the surroundings a bit. See the shots below. Especially notice the really nice looking rivers and lakes, the bridges, the factories, houses… generally just life around Goheen airport.
The area around Goheen Airport.
Now that you have seen something of the surroundings, it’s time to land. We line up, and after some careful maneuvering, we touch down softly.
Landing at Goheen airport.
While we taxi down the runway of Goheen, there already is quite a bit to see besides the lush trees, swaying softly in the wind, and the beautiful, green shrubs between the runway and the taxiway. To the right some people are boating, fishing it seems.
We taxi even further until we come to the end. On this side of the airports there is huge parking lot, even though it’s not connected to the airport in any way. From the plane we can sort of see it, but from the air we would get a clearer view.
Parking lot at the runway’s end.
Reaching the runway end, we can taxi onto the taxiway without having to go over the grass. We turn the plane around gently and start our taxi back to the parking area. I have always liked this taxiway, what with the trees and the shrubs. See the shot below.
A very green taxiway thanks to trees and shrubs.
As we come closer to the shrubbery, we can have a good look at those trees. You will notice that they look different. That’s because these are true American pines, swaying in the wind, and the leaves fall off in autumn. Magnificent trees, and I wish they would grow at all airports!
The trees sway in the wind and the leaves fall in autumn.
As we taxi into the parking area, it’s evident that Goheen is as busy as ever. People walking around, talking, repairing stuff or just sitting around enjoying the weather. There are several large garages to our left, which is where my friend (the one of the BBQ) stores his airplane. Some people can’t afford that, so they keep it out in the rain, which is fine, but it’s both safer and better for the plane to have it in a garage or hangar. You’ll also see many visitors parking their plane outside, adjacent to the runway. This is what we will do in a minute too, as a matter of fact. Now look to your left, and give the garages a look.
Garages to our left, and people talking.
The main apron of the airport is basically a tarmac square close to the airport’s entrance. People tend to walk around, doing stuff, or just have a leisurely break from whatever it is they were doing. There is a large hangar here, too, where people can take their planes for a quick check-up or full repairs, as seems to be happening right now if you look closely. There’s also some more obscure stuff, like this big yacht of which I’m not sure why it’s here, but it’s nice boat, I’d have to give the owner that…
The main tarmac of Goheen Airport.
We have now reached a free parking spot, so I will park the plane. We will do a quick round of the airport, because there is a bit more to see than what we saw out of the plane right now.
Parking our plane.
As you can see, many people have quite more luxurious planes than our simple Scout. In all honesty though, I think that those planes you see tend to have less atmosphere, less “soul” if you want to call it that. They are for sure nice and often more modern planes though. And heck, I might even get my own Cessna in a few years, if I ever build that barn I wanted to have…
The main part of the airport, full view
As we walk back, we walk past the main part of the airport again. Now you can see it a bit better, what with the wing not blocking the view anymore. Same goes for the garages, and those guys talking. If you need to go to the toilet, then this is your chance…
Around the airport, people have their own houses, just like the area where I live in, except that this airport is somewhat busier. Still, have a look around: some of these houses are rather big and quite beautiful, with big trailer, caravans and pick-up trucks standing in front of the door.
Several houses around the airport.
Now, let’s go over to my friend’s house now. I’m, starving, you are probably rather hungry too, and Walter Musa also looks a bit pale. As I have said earlier, who lives just across the road. We walk over the driveway of the airport, through the gates, and simply continue walking.
The airport’s driveway.
Before crossing the street, always look at both side of the road to ensure no traffic is coming (and take the opportunity to give this nice rural road a look!).
Looking right and left before crossing the road.
We cross the road and find ourselves in the front yard of my friend’s house. He has a nice place too with a rather large garage, although you can see it’s not enough: several cars are parked under the roof to the left, although I’m actually pretty sure they aren’t his. Probably other visitors of the BBQ. We are a bit late, so let’s get going. We can go round the side, the BBQ is supposed to be in the back yard. The smoke we see coming from there can attest to that.
My friend’s house.
So we walk round the back, and there he his, manning the BBQ as always (“Hi Paul!”). It’s already quite busy, although I’d expect more people to come soon. Now, get yourself some meat and have fun, talk to some of the people here. In about an hour or two we’ll probably go home again.
The BBQ at my friend’s house.
The trip back home… or not?
It’s time to go home. Ideally we will be back before dusk. We walk down to the airfield, after thanking my friend for the delicious meat. Musa is still munching on a sausage as we climb into my trust old Scout, when it appears it’s not as trust as I hoped… for some reason the engine doesn’t start. We take a mechanic from one of the hangars and ask him to look at it. He soon fidns out that something broke down, some part of which I already forgot the name. To the question if he has spare parts, he sadly says “no”, but it appears a shop at Stark’s Twin Oaks might still be open. Problem is that it’s quite far away, and by car we’ll never make it
The Cessna O-1F/L19 (by Sibwings)
I then get a brain surge. My barbequing friend has a plane! Maybe he can come to the rescue. We run back to his house and ask. He doesn’t seem too pleased with the request, but after saying multiple times that it’s an oldie and that we should take care of her, he shows us to his hangar. Blimey, it’s an old Bird Dog! A Cessna O-1F. Together we roll it onto a free parking spot, and give it a look before hopping in.
Bird Dog exterior model.
The plane is quite an eye catcher. Reminiscent of modern-day Cessna’s, like C172, but much more slender, it is a 2-seat aircraft. One pilot sits behind the other, much like in the Piper Cub, for instance. This makes it, together with its STOL capabilities and reliability, a great scouting aircraft for military or rescue purposes. This and more is what my barbequing friend tells us as the three of us inspect the exterior of the aircraft. All looks good. The probes and other small details look great and everything seems ready to go, so Musa and I climb in.
The Bird Dog’s cockpit
The cockpit feels a bit cramped and it’s noticeably an older cockpit then what my good old Scout has. The instruments are all in a WOII style black and white, which requires a bit of getting used but actually grows on you once you use it more often. Or so my friend tells me. Nice thing in this plane is that I don’t really require my glasses to fly it, it seems. The text is very readable. Also the gauges themselves look very good, with large text. In this light the glass of the gauges do reflect parts of the cockpit and surroundings, but it’s not nearly enough to hamper me in my attempt of reading the gauge, fortunately. And to be honest, it actually looks very nice, with this reflective surface.
To the left, above the window, there’s a series of radios (Reviewer’s note: most of the buttons except the tuning buttons and such, don’t seem to work) and we find the fuel tank selector here. To the right we find some additional radio buttons. When we look down to the right, we see a small box. Opening it, we find a map. This could be very useful when we get back. We’ll probably fly by night and the map will help us find our way. To the left, below the window, are the light controls. Somewhat to my amazement, I don’t see any controls for internal lighting… Could be a bit problematic when we fly back. My friend is however quick to point out that the internal lights are switched on by flicking switches on the lamps themselves. He points out some big, black cylinders attached to the front of the windows, and shows me how to operate them. Indeed, a light comes on. Interestingly, it is red, like it would have been in the old days. (Reviewer’s note: If the yellow bar above the light switches is in the way, you can click on it to hide it. This will significantly easy flicking the switches. Also, you can open the maps’ box. In it you will find an actual map on which you can click to open FSX’s map).
Overall, the main instrument panel is easy to comprehend, but my friend tells me how this cockpit is only one possible version. There are apparently at least three more cockpit versions. Of course he can’t show them to me as this is the only version he has. It’s also one of the more luxurious once, with all those fancy radio navigational equipment. The ones that the US military tended to use, for example, didn’t have all that. It was rather empty, with only the most vital instruments present (Reviewers note: On the Sibwings website, or simMarket, you can see ample screenshots of the other VC configurations).
As we started the aircraft (really nice engine sounds, I must say!), my friend took this picture of us as we taxied to the runway:
Ready to roll!
The Bird Dog is rather quick to takeoff. I’m not very used to that, so I was a bit startled about quickly we were in the air. We turned to the direction of Portland, for Stark’s Twin Oaks is in the general direction of this big, beautiful city. Funny thing: a friend pilot of me made this shot of us while we were turning:
Take a close look at that interesting beacon light, which can actually be seen rotating. The exhausts are also funny to watch, for they move agitatedly because of the vibrations of the engine. All in all, my friend has been taking good care of this plane. The livery in which he painted it looks great and not a spot of the plane was left untouched. Every rivet you see has been lovingly painted, polished, varnished, and the result is a stunner of a plane.
Flying to Stark’s Twin Oaks Airport
As we now fly to Stark’s Twin Oaks, I look out of the cockpit. The scenery here is truly beautiful, especially in the vicinity of Goheen airport. Like the lakes we see here to our right:
Lakes at Goheen.
As we are flying, we sure are attracting people’s attention. In this yellow livery we are really easy to see against the fields and forests below us. A pilot I met somewhere some time after these flights handed me over this photograph he took of us, and he commented on the great state of the aircraft. What he found interesting was the amount of antennae, and he said that the text on the wings was a bit fuzzy for some reason, although he wasn’t quite sure how that happened. Probably his camera didn’t focus on the right point.
Another in-the-air shot.
The antennae indeed look somewhat out of place. I never quite noticed that before this guy mentioned it. I guess that’s just how the plane was designed, for these radio antennae are somewhat of a necessity, so I’m pretty sure it’s not something that was added on later when radios were installed.
As we fly on, we see Portland in the distance (Reviewer’s note: install OrbX’s freeware Portland city scenery to get the Portland skyline in your sim):
Portland’s skyline in the disatnce.
Stark’s Twin Oaks is not too far away from Portland, and soon enough we come across a mining site which has become sort of a signal for how close I am to Stark’s twin Oaks. It is very big, and so not noticing it is somewhat hard once you know the surroundings:
You can even look into it and see the buildings in it, all a metal grey. It’s clearly some time ago that I have been here for the last time; they are significantly further now with their mining operation! This brings us to another point which slightly embarrasses me. I lost the way and was circling around for another ten minutes or so trying to find the airport. Finally though, I found it again:
Stark’s Twin Oaks in sight.
I fly the pattern and soon enough we are lined up for the runway, ready for landing:
After landing we can now take a quick look around. It’s a fairly busy place with lots of planes parked everywhere and people idly chatting in the sun, an old man reading his newspaper.
Taxiing to the stand and parking.
After we park the plane, we can have a quick look around. The shop we have to go to to buy this spare part for the Scout is supposed to be located on the airport’s terrain. Supposedly it is a workshop on the higher part of the airport, overlooking the runway. So we will go there first.
As we walk to a big hangar that looks like it could be the place for us to go, we encounter some people that comment on our plane – everybody seems to like the bright-yellow livery. One such moment is at the pump station, where two pilots, resting on a trip to Portland coming from the west, have a brief chat with us. See below.
The pump station
Have you noticed that sigh on the little hut? In the top-left corner of the picture? The text is awfully precise. Using my reading glasses, I can still actually read it. Sometimes I’m amazed by the quality of my camera. On that sense it’s interesting that the structures at the pump station look somewhat more fuzzy, so I’m not sure whether the camera messed up when auto-focusing, or whether the owners of Stark’s Twin Oaks were sloppy when painting the pump station… Anyway, next to the pump station, is the workshop. It’s a big hangar with a few mechanics:
When we arrived they were servicing another plane, but they told me they would soon get around to help me with my spare part. I told them what I needed and they said it would require two hours or so. So yeah, we will have to fly home by dusk at least. My wife’s not going to be happy. But, in the meantime, let us enjoy a Pepsi, and sit down on the nice terrace they built here:
Enjoy a Pepsi…
…and sit down on the terrace.
While I sit on the terrace sipping my Pepsi, lazily watching other aircraft landing and taking off, Walter Musa (who has never been here before) walks around the airport, making photographs of whatever piques his interest. See the below shots. It must be said that this airport sees an large amount of activity. All the people talking, the stuff laid around… Certainly more eventful than my private strip!
Various structures and people around the airport.
It is indeed after some hours that the mechanics come and find us and give us the spare part. By this time the sun ahs started to set. We pay the mechanics, and they wish us a safe trip home. We walk to our plane, meanwhile noting that this airport is rather dark at night. We climb into my friend’s Cessna and get ready to role. It’s awfully dark in here, so we switch on the lights as per my friend’s instructions. We flick the switches on the strange black tubes, and a red light illuminates the instruments. This is probably because, in essence, it is a military plane. See below.
Switching the front lamp on.
Switching the radios’ lamp on.
Not soon after I start the engine and we start our roll back. Fortunately the sun hasn’t quite set yet, so that we can still see the tarmac of the taxiway, otherwise I’m not sure I would have been quite so able to get the plane back on the runway. What’s nice now, though, is that we can see the commercial traffic fly in and out of Portland international airport.
Departing Stark’s Twin oaks.
As we depart Stark’s Twin Oaks, Portland in all its brightly-lit glory comes up ahead of us. The beautiful skyline can also be seen quite soon after taking off (Reviewer’s note: my computer didn’t really like me flying in this area with the settings as high as I put them. All the lights and OrbX’s freeware Portland city scenery, combined with all AI traffic at KPDX, caused my FPS to get to the lower tens instead of the mid twenties where I locked them using the freeware external FPS limiter).
Flying over Portland at night.
We continue our flight, and it gets darker and darker. By the time we reach Goheen, the sun ahs almost set. I have never flown into Goheen at night, and this is where the map come sin very handy. I give it to Walter Musa, who tells me what which road is, and how to follow it to get to where we need to be. Soon we find Goheen:
Goheen at night.
The rather weak runway lights made it quite hard to spot, but we found it and start our descent into Goheen. It is a rather uneventful landing, and soon we are on final:
It is now that we can see what a mess these runway lights are. It’s like they were randomly dropped on the runway edge without anybody trying to at least making it a somewhat straight line. You gotta love these small airports for such inaccuracies though. That’s why I like to fly into them – because you never quite know what to expect. Musa nods in agreement while I mention the runway lights to him, and he basically says them same thing: “these airports get the charm they have from such things. They would be boring if everything were correct, accurate, in a straight line.
As we roll over the runway, before we get off of it, I notice that the two fishermen are still at it. They are in their boat, fishing. Slightly surprised, I point them out to Musa, who seems to be as surprised as I am.
The two fishermen, still fishing at night.
Meanwhile we taxi to our parking. We will drop off the spare part at the workshop here and then fly home. The landing light of this plane is magnificent; what a far reach it has! It lights everything up in its pass.
Beautiful landing light.
(Reviewer’s note: The Sibwings Bird Dog is one of those planes with a special kinds of landing lights, in that it lights up objects – as long as you sit in the cockpit! If you were to go to an exterior view, you’ll notice that the landing light is a 3D structure. A layer of this structure falls “over” objects in the distance, thus making them look like they are lit up by the landing light, while in practice they stay the same: cold and dark. However, this is a great touch and it really does help in seeing where you are driving. Just stay in the cockpit and you will be fooled into thinking this is all genuine, and not some magic trick).
Goheen at night is a completely dark and desolate place. There is not even one light here, except of course for the runway lights. Just look around:
Goheen is really dark at night…
After takeoff we turn in the direction of Walter Sutton’s place. This is going to be difficult, because Walter didn’t install any runway lights. And why should he? It’s not a public use airport, hardly anybody comes to visit him by plane, and certainly not at night. Fortunately, finding his place won’t be as difficult as landing there. The landing will be difficult because we won’t be able to clearly distinguish the edges of his land from the air. Sure, once we are on the ground we will, but that’s a bit late, won’t you say?
Finding his strip will be relatively easy. If you look at the map, you’ll notice that his strip his located at a place where two lakes join. This is the side from which we will approach his strip. You can come from the other side, of course, but then you’re confronted with a line of trees that I find several obstruct the landing zone. As such, we will come from the direction of the lakes. There are two approach paths that we can choose from:
Two approach paths into Walter Musa’s private strip, courtesy of Google maps.
The red is easiest as it’s a perfectly straight approach into the strip. However, we are approaching from the west, and such we will use the blue approach. It is made difficult because of the sharp turn we have to make, which happens at pretty much the very last moment. Think of the approach into Honduras’ Toncontin and you’ll know what I’m talking about. And now that it’s night time, it ahs become even more complicated because it’s difficult to distinguish the landing zone from the surroundings forests. As such, we will look for Musa’s house and shed, and land our plane between the two. According to plan, here’s his house:
Spotted Musa’s house
Remember that we have to make a sharp roughly 100 degree to the right, then get that plane down on the ground. That’s also what I ended up doing, although I’m pretty sure that the beautiful yellow livery might not be as beautiful afterwards. Here we are after landing:
Notice the fence in the below shot? That’s the end of Musa’s landing zone. This was too close for comfort for as far as I’m concerned, plus we landed on the hilly side to the left of the entry road to Musa’s house. That’s not good, we should have landed on the road. On the other hand, I’m pretty happy that we landed okay… (Reviewer’s note: take a look at the landing light. Even from in the VC you’ll notice “layers” in this light, but still, it works great. It “lights up” everything, even grass).
Too close for comfort.
We now drop off Musa and head back to my home. Time for bed. Landing at my place should be easier because it’s all flat land. I installed two bright, yellow lights to help identify the runway, although it should be noted that the actual runway is not where the lights are located. It’s to the left or right of them, depending on the side from you approach. See below:
Runway in sight.
We are approaching from the west this time, meaning that the runway is to the right of the lights. Indeed we land okay, even though touchdown was rather hard. But, there’s my house:
And so our trip ends. I put the plane in my hangar, and it fits perfectly. Tomorrow morning I’ll this baby back to Goheen and pick up my Scout, then fly back. But don’t worry; I can handle that myself. You go and rest, for it was a very eventful day. I hope you enjoyed the barbeque; I’ll let you know when the next one is organized!
Conclusion and closing comments
First things first: this is the end of Walter Sutton’s perspective. I have tried hard to make this a somewhat believable story, and give you an idea of how you can combine various sceneries to not only visit multiple places, but also give it some sense except for “I feel like doing that”. As you saw, I put in a twist and forced myself to fly back at night, which greatly enhanced the enjoyment I received from flying into Musa’s field – a place which by itself is already a very interesting place to land at!
In the end, this is still a review. Even though I tried hard to put everything in the framework of a story and thus tried to make you experience the reviewed addons, one of the core goals of this piece is to inform you about the quality of this scenery. Although this was sometimes hard, I hope I was adequately able to give my opinion by means of words and images. By all means, comment! The box below allows you to give reactions and I would love to hear if I could improve in a way!
To conclude, I will give a rundown of my opinions on these addons. In summary, I love all of them. I feel that OrbX has gone a very long way in making their sceneries not just sceneries, but actual living places. Locations where people work, live and have fun. My favorite of these sceneries is Goheen airport. The two fishermen, the swaying trees and the entire layout of the airport just appeal to me very much, but Stark’s Twin Oaks and Walter Sutton’s Private Airstrip are by no means worse. On the contrary, these are all airports where significant fun can be had if approached with the right state of mind (you can take this comment quite literally too, if you wish).
The quality of the modelling and texturing was really good at all airports, and I especially enjoyed the runway textures at Stark’s Twin Oaks. The addition of walking people was also really nice. 3D grass, swaying trees, the beautiful photoreal ground imagery that fits so well inside the OrbX PNW region all make these airport sceneries into addon products that all GA flyers will want to have. Last but not least, the performance I got was really good. My computer isn’t the newest and even when I bought it the hardware wasn’t top of the line. Still, with scenery related sliders all at high at the very least, my frames stayed in the high tens and often went into the low twenties, where I locked them using the external FPS limiter. GA aircraft are generally less FPS intensive, and it’s noticeable. As a result, scenery can be put on higher detail settings, giving you both a great flying experience and good performance. A win-win situation!
And what about the Sibwings Bird Dog? I had to get used to it in the beginning and please note that I didn’t show you all variants. There are four VC variations, a lot of different liveries included, but in the framework of this story, it wouldn’t have made sense to show them to you. As a result, I did my best to show as much of the plane as I could and I hope I succeeded in that. Unfortunately, I can’t really comment on flight dynamics for I’m not a Bird Dog pilot, but suffice to say that it flew like you’d expect it to fly. It was an absolute to joy to fly, too, and I thoroughly enjoyed every one flight I did in this review. The modeling too is really good, and overall the texturing is good too, even though I did notice some blurrier and hard-to-read spots on the sides of the cockpit. Still, with all the additions in this plane, such as the great landing light, the box with maps, this is a perfect companion for Orbx Airports. It’s a very atmospheric plane with a lot of charm and I recommend it to GA flyers that don’t mind flying this kind of military plane.
Thus this review ends. I hope you enjoyed reading it, and I would love to read your comments. I would very much like to do more of these reviews, but only if I know people like to read them. For now, I thank you for reading.
|Addon used||Place to get||Price|
|OrbX Walter Sutton’s Private Strip||http://fullterrain.com/product_usWA79.html||€20,00|
|OrbX Goheen Airport||http://fullterrain.com/product_usW52.html||€20,00|
|OrbX Stark’s Twin Oaks||http://www.flightsimstore.com/product_info.php?products_id=1214||€24,00|
|Sibwings Bird Dog||http://secure.simmarket.com/sibwings-cessna-o-1l-19-bird-dog.phtml||€29,75|
NOTE: All prices at the time of writing. Also remember that for these airports to work correctly, you will need to have OrbX’s PNW regional scenery.
Test machine details
27” Apple iMac:
i5 processor @ 2,8gHz
ATI HD Radeon 5750
4GB DDR3 RAM
Windows 7 SP1 64-bit