FSX

Tongass Fjords X – The Glacial Review

TFXreview-logoPeter Hayes starts without any further ado:

What can I say?  This is the definitive piece of scenery for FSX.  It changes the default sterile FSX area into something that is alive and vibrant.  I only have a brief time to assess the scenery for the review so I will only touch the surface of this gorgeously engineered piece of software.  In FS9, I installed all of Holger’s (et al) scenery, including Misty Fjords, Glacier Bay, Plum Duff, etc and this tops them all.  I should say in the real world Tongass Fjords as such does not exist, it’s called Tongass National Forest or (Park) and is administered largely by the US Forestry Service with a Head Office Based in Ketchikan.

Having said that, Tongass FSX as a piece of software that depicts in stunning and faithful detail one of the most beautiful areas on the planet. It covers an area of 80,000 square kilometres (or 31,000 square miles which in real terms is about 20,000,000 acres) in SE Alaska and NW British Columbia.  Tongass is the largest National Forest in the United States; it is as big as West Virginia.  It is mainly comprised of mountains, glaciers and scrub, plus trees and more trees.  Twenty-five percent of the world’s remaining temperate rain forest grows there.

In Tongass FSX it’s all there from the coastal temperate rain forests to glacial fjords and tundra meadows, in vivid detail, this is a must have for any GA pilot that likes to fly low ‘n slow.  I’m a fan — can’t you guess?  A special mention of Bill ‘Spotlope’ Womack (of Spotted Antelope and Beeswax fame) for his great work on settlements and airstrips, etc., is also appropriate.

Installation:

As the manual states, installation “is a breeze” just let the “exe” file do its thing (and it will let you install it wherever you want), and in about 10 mins you are ready to go.  It installs a folder called Tongass_Fjords which is about 1.54GB in size.  After installation you are presented with Configuration Panel (See Figure 1), in which you can choose what you want to see in this area and it also allows you to choose or not choose items that might affect your frames per second.  I did find some performance decrease of around 5-10 fps on my system, but it still ran extremely smoothly even though I had most effects set to “high”.  I did not experience any “stutters” during testing.


The Manual

Without a doubt this is one of the best manuals for any piece of software ever written for FSX.  It’s well laid out and covers from installation through technical tips, how to see the AI stuff, to points of interest.  It even lists known potential issues and other addon’ interactions that you might see in FSX.  All of the airfields, seaplane bases, cabins and places to see are listed with lots of pictures to illustrate what’s what.  It’s big 55 pages in landscape mode and you need to keep it nearby as a constant reference source.  You can even download the manual without buying Tongass FSX, so you can get a feel for it and decide if it’s what you want to have in your FSX.  The only omission that I would have liked to have been included would have been the names and locations of the glaciers in this area, but as there are 250 glaciers included, they may have needed a manual to themselves.  I have listed a few of the glaciers at the end of the review.


In the Sim

Settings:  Using the configuration window (independent of FSX) I decided to use everything:

Figure 2 Configuration ScreenUsing the configuration window you can load some very special flight situations; view the Maps, access the forum and user manual amongst other things as shown above.

Clicking the “Map” button gives you an overview map showing the coverage area and the main airfields:

Figure 3 Overview Map of Tongass FSX

Overview Map

Clicking anywhere on this overview map will bring up the AIRNAV data (see below).  There are also a further five menu choices where you can access sectional maps of the four  depicted regions, i.e., Chicagof — Baranoff Region, Admiralty — Kupraneof —Fjords Region, Prince of Wales Island Region, Stikine River Region (and the Cabin List), from the menu in the configuration maps panel.  As stated above, clicking on each airfield in the Overview Map takes you to the appropriate AIRNAV page (for US Airfields) where you can get the Instrument Approach and Departure procedures, plus the usual AINAV data.  Click on one of the depicted regions (as above) and you are shown full details, i.e. the VFR sectionals of the airports depicted in Tongass X, (US Airfields and a Map for Canada airstrips) and a further click on any area enlarges the map and the cabins are now visible being shown by push-pins.  As a bonus you also get the weather and Nav frequencies making these maps really great for navigating to the cabins and the listed and unlisted airfields.  Clicking on the Cabin List (as above) gives web details and includes the latitude and longitude of all of the individual included cabins.  The cabin list is also included in the manual there is even a link to the Tongass Fjords X support forum — nice.

The Viz

The default FSX scenery is reasonable in this area, but Tongass just transforms it into a reality-like experience.  Those dreadful default straight angular coastlines are gone and they now resemble what you would see in the real world, much more natural in appearance.

Real World View of Lake Moser with acknowledgements to Google Earth:

Figure 4 Lake Moser from Google Earth

Figure 4 Lake Moser from Google Earth

Figure 5 Lake Moser from Tongass FSX

Figure 5 Lake Moser from Tongass FSX

Unfortunately I can’t give a default FSX view as I am loathe to change any settings, but what I can show you is a real-world view of Yakutat a few miles north of Tongass, so you can see what I mean

Real world Yakutat with acknowledgments to Google Earth

Figure 6  Yakutat from Google Earth

Figure 6  Yakutat from Google Earth

And the FSX view

Figure 7 Yakutat FSX Default

Figure 7 Yakutat FSX Default

Tongass FSX runs nearly 4 – 500 miles from north to south (and is nearly as wide in places); it is huge, with extremely scattered islands and fjords that seeing it all to review would take me several lifetimes.  So, I’ll concentrate on the main features many of which are detailed in the flight situations that come with the product.

Figure 8 Saved Flight Situations an example

Figure 8 Saved Flight Situations an example

The Cabins

Yes they are back with 31 Cabins included with the software and more for Sitka and Admiralty Island downloadable from the FSAddon site.  They are not always easy to find, with some being tucked away in the trees but many have got a smoking chimney to guide you closer.  There are the usual circling birds (seagulls); wheeling and fluttering about and even just perched on the odd bollard.  The cabins are pretty basic, but are reasonable representations of the real thing, for example if the “real” cabin is a two-storey or an A-frame affair then that is how the cabin is modelled in the Sim.  Alas, none of them sport a double bed or a spare Samovar!  Many seem to have a tame canoe (or is that a kayak), so that you can explore and/or fish in the surrounding water.  Most are accessed via a lake or the sea, but some do have a grass strip that you can land or take-off from.  You have to remember to bring you own cook stove plus #1 stove oil and to collect and burn only dead or fallen wood.  I recall from my FS9 days that I spent nearly 6 months just flying to and locating the cabins in Tongass Fjords, Glacier Bay and Misty Fjords.  Looks like I will be tied up for quite a while with Tongass FSX.  If you use the Flight Situations there are flights starting at all 31 cabins — makes them easier to find.

Figure 9 Cabin two-storey

Figure 9 Two-storey cabin with balcony

Figure 10 Cabin plus canoes

Figure 10 Cabin plus canoes

Figure 11 A-Frame Cabin

Figure 11 A-Frame Cabin

The Helipads

Eleven of these have been modelled in Tongass FSX, with three being “fictitious bases” for AI helicopters. There’s a couple at two of the lighthouses, some at airstrips, one at a logging camp and one on a pier.  For example, the five finger lighthouse stands on its own island in Frederick sound and is within easy flying distance of KAKE (20 miles) i.e. there is plenty to do for helicopter pilots with 6 saved flight situations.

Figure 12 typical Helipad

Figure 12 Typical Helipad

Figure 13 Helipad at Night Sitka in background

Figure 13 Helipad at night Sitka lights in background

Areas of Interest

There are 5 of these listed and two flight situations, one to the Point Macartney log rafts, and one to Exchange cove (photoreal).  There are two other “areas of interest” (not mentioned in the manual section) flight situations one to Shoemaker Bay Marina and one to Chutine Lake.  All are well rendered with some detail and bird life.  I had to nearly fly into the high voltage power lines between Petersburg and Wrangell to find them!

Figure 14 Exchange Cove photoreal

Figure 14 Exchange Code

Figure 15 Point Macartney Log Rafts

Figure 15 Point Macartney Log Rafts

Figure 16 Five finger Islands Lighthouse

Figure 16  Five Finger Islands Lighthouse — Foggy!

Airfields (Listed and unlisted)

We have7 listed airfields that have been remodelled and repositioned to look more realistic, they are a quantum leap ahead in terms of quality over the default airfields..  To my mind Sitka is the best of these being deemed to be a “photoreal” area.  At most of the airfields there’s quite a bit of detail and all in all they resemble what you might see on Google Earth, with seasons and night textures also being modelled.  There are 6 “unlisted” airstrips and these are also faithfully reproduced.  I enjoyed the airfields/airstrips they offer great variety to the GA flyer.  One mystery I couldn’t fathom was a pall of smoke emanating at the end of the Petersburg (PAPG) runway, as I flew over it looked like some huge bonfire in a timber yard — not good!  There are quite a few buildings at the larger strips and the runways are well depicted, I liked the cracks and tyre marks, as are the taxiways and parking areas.  The runway and taxi signs are good and there are nice blue “guidance” lights on the taxiways, and you have to try hard not to run over them.

Figure 17 Wrangell Parking

Figure 17 Wrangell Parking

Figure 18 Sitka Parking Concrete Cracks

Figure 18 Sitka Parking Showing cracks

Figure 19 Sitka airfield complexFigure 19 Sitka airfield complex -photoreal

Figure 20 typical grass strip

Figure 20 typical grass strip

Figure 21 the Mysterious smoke at Petersburg

Figure 21 Mysterious smoke at Petersburg

Figure 21A The SmokeFigure 21a Mysterious smoke at Petersburg

Seaplane bases and floatplane/boat docks

Altogether there are 44 of these, with 17 or 18 being ‘photoreal’.  All are well modelled with some having static and dynamic effects e.g. birds.  As you sit in your Beaver awaiting take-off clearance you can hear the birds singing in the background and looking at your plane gently rocking on the swell, can be quite soporific.  There are several flight situations that use these bases/docks.  I didn’t spot any dolphins, but I am assured that they are there!  I had one misfortune, I tried to taxi my Beaver under the O’Connell Bridge in Sitka, but I must have hit a sunken wreck as I came to grief and was unable to get to the other side!!

Figure 22 Seaplane Dock Petersburg

Figure 22 Seaplane Dock and buildings

Figure 23 Seaplane Base SITKA

Figure 23 Seaplane Base Sitka

Figure 24 Seaplane Dock, Rdna Bay

Figure 24 Seaplane Dock Edna Bay

Roads

These are excellent and are very useful for VFR navigation.  The bridges also look good, and I can’t comment on tunnels as I didn’t find one!  The logging roads are also depicted and I can guarantee that they are very rough to land on!  The cars zoom along at 100 km/hr (seems 500 km/hr) but the manual references a technique to slow them down.  Fortunately there are no speed traps.

Figure 25 sitka roads well defined

Figure 25 Sitka Roads well defined

Figure 26 Red Bay Forestry Roads and cleared areas

Figure 26  Red Bay Forestry Roads and clear felled areas

The Forests

Extremely dense and well represented, and there are “bare” areas too depicting some sort of logging.  (See figure 25)


The Boats and other AI traffic

There are boats/ships everywhere with the ferries operating to a schedule as they would do in the real world.  There are AI seaplanes in the bases as well.  I had a problem here in that I had a “rogue” AI from FS2004 and this prevented me from seeing AI traffic in FSX.  Holger & Bill offer a solution to this in the manual, but it didn’t work for me, so I failed to display any of the AI ships or aircraft.  From the pictures in the manual they look magnificent.  I saw plenty of small cabin cruisers /speedboats and yachts but alas no BIG ships.

Figure 27 Speedboat

Figure 27 Speedboat

Figure 28 Yacht near Sitka

Figure 28 Yacht near Sitka

Figure 28A Fishing Boat at PetersburgFigure 28A Fishing Boat at Petersburg

The Rivers, Lakes, Icefields and Glaciers.

The glaciers also interest me (having climbed near a couple in another life in New Zealand) so I visited some of the main glaciers in the Stikine Icefield, and I’ve listed some of the glaciers and their locations at the end of the review.  The depicted glaciers are much more realistic than in the default FSX using a “a hybrid between generic and photoreal techniques”.  You can even see the “dirt bands” in these virtual glaciers.  According to the manual there are 250 glaciers depicted I managed to catalogue around 30, so I’ve got a long way to go.  There is now an option in the configurator for the “automatic” freezing of lakes and rivers in the winter and this worked quite well.  Any of the ski-planes (or Tundra) will land comfortably on the glaciers and frozen lakes and rivers.  You can certainly see how bleak the landscape is in the winter — Brrrrr. The fjords are stunning and the colours between the sea, the lakes and the various types of rivers are realistic.  I liked the milky-blue-grey colour of the glacial rivers (very similar again to NZ).

Figure 29 Chutine Lake and RiverFigure 29 Lake Chutine and River

Figure 30 Head of the Stickeen Fall

Figure 30 Head of the Stickeen – Fall

Figure 31 Stickeen River Freeze

Figure 31 Stickeen River Freeze

Figure 32 Mud Glacier

Figure 32 Mud Glacier – Winter

Figure 33 Telegraph Creek - FALL

Figure 33 Telegraph Creek Settlement – Fall

Figure 34 Serpentine

Figure 34 Serpentine

Sounds

These are mainly the sea birds.  As I didn’t see any AI traffic I didn’t hear the AI sounds, nor did I hear any machinery sounds from the various sheds around the airstrips. I missed out!

Summing Up

This is a phenomenal add-on for FSX, these few word just can’t do it justice, and you really do need to experience this phenomenal piece of software to appreciate it.  It offers realism; it blends in nicely with the surrounding areas and is superb for VFR flying.  I only saw about 1% of it in compiling the review and every time I go back there I find something new.  When I solve my AI issue, I will re-visit the Tongass to get some pics of the BIG ships.  I can’t wait for Misty and the upcoming PNW, FTX has already made Australia a realistic place to fly.  IMHO Tongass FSX is a must have for the GA flyer it really does enhance the flying experience.


WOW Factor: 9½ out of 10 (½ point deducted due to missing Church of the LDS in Petersburg  and the non-navigable O’Connell Bridge, Sitka!!— kidding).

Peter Hayes
Australia, November 2009.

Table of the Important Bits:

Publisher:

FSAddon Publishing
www.fsaddon.com

Supplier:

Simmarket by direct download.
http://secure.simmarket.com/fsaddon-tongass-fjords-x.phtml

Download
File Size:

1.01GB (exe file)

Installation
File Size:

1.01GB (exe file)

Simulator Requirement:

FSX with SP2 (or Acceleration); 7 x GFA Super Cub Folders 1,087 MB (1.09GB)

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:

Tongass FSX Fjords

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, The best that I have seen, it details everything.  55 Pages

Support & Forum:

http://forums.fsaddon.eu/viewforum.php?f=30

PostScript: I literally took hundreds of screenshots for this review and have chosen what I consider to be the best 30 or so for inclusion.  I decided not to append any more of them as I believe that there are plenty already in the review that will give a feel for Tongass FSX.

Thanks to Ed Truthan and his Google Earth maps website  (http://www.tongassge.com/) where I obtained invaluable information on how to get to the various locations in Tongass X.

Thanks to HolgerS for pointing me in the right direction on how to find the location of the glaciers.

A sample of the Major Glaciers of the Stikine Icefield:

[Note: Some may not be part of Tongass FSX Scenery — but most are.]

Glacier Name

Location: Latitude/Longitude

Alexander Glacier

Near Lat: 57°06’20.00″N; Long: 130°49’06.00″W

Andrei Glacier

Near Lat: 57°5’14.00″N; Long: 130°57’99.00″W

Baird Glacier

Near Lat: 57° 7’60.00″N; Long: 132°46’0.00″W

Bear Glacier

Near Lat: 56°05’00” N; Long:129°42’00″W

Bear River Glacier

Near Lat: 56°05’00” N; Long:129°41’30″W

Berendon Glacier

Near Lat: 56°15’00” N; Long:130°10’00” W

Boundary Glacier

Near Lat: 56°07’00” N; Long:130°04’00” W

Bronson Glacier

Near Lat: 56°37’00.00″N; Long: 130°59’00.00″W

Brown Glacier

Near Lat: 57°41’30.00″N; Long: 133° 2’15.00″W

Choquette Glacier

Near Lat: 56°50’00.00″N; Long: 131°37’00.00″W

Clara Smith Glacier

Near Lat: 56°15’00” N; Long:130°30’00″W

Cone Glacier

Near Lat: 56°33’00” N; Long:130°39’00” W

Copper King Glacier

Near Lat: 56°36’00” N; Long:130°37’00” W

Dawes Glacier

Near Lat: 57°28’31.00″N; Long: 132°42’12.00″W

Delta Glacier

Near Lat: 56°32’00” N; Long:129°32’00” W

Erickson Glacier

Near Lat: 56°08’00″N; Long:129°47’00″W

Flood Glacier

Near Lat: 57° 8’34.61″N Long: 132°12’26.69″W or

Near Lat: 57° 23’00.00″N Long: 131°23’00.00″W

Frank Mackie Glacier

Near Lat: 56°19’00” N; Long:130°10’00″W

Great Glacier (BC)

Near Lat: 56°49’60.00″N Long: 131°46’60.00″W

Hoodoo Glacier

Near Lat: 56°48’00.00″N; Long: 131°23’00.00″W

Idiji Glacier

Near Lat: 57°41’00.00″N; Long: 130°37’00.00″W

Johnson Glacier

Near Lat: 56°48’00.00″N; Long: 131°32’00.00″W

Knipple Glacier

Near Lat: 56°25’00” N; Long:129°59’00″W

Le Conte Glacier

Near Lat: 56°46’42.99″N; Long: 132°28’15.77″W
(21-miles-Long (34 km) and one-mile-wide (1.6 km) Location LeConte Bay)

Leduc Glacier

Near Lat: 56°13’00” N; Long:130°22’00” W

Lehua Glacier

Near Lat: 56°31’00” N; Long:130°48’00” W

Matthew Glacier

Near Lat: 57°10’59.00″N; Long: 130°34’57.00″W

Meade Glacier

Near Lat: 57°10’59.00″N; Long: 135°5’00.00″W

Melville Glacier

Near Lat: 59°14’00” N; Long:130°32’00” W

Mendenhall

Near Lat: 58°29’46” N; Long:134°33’00” W

Mud Glacier (BC)

Near Lat: 57° 0’0.00″N; Long: 131°52’0.00″W

Nagha Glacier

Near Lat: 57° 25’0.00″N; Long: 130°43’0.00″W

Natavas Glacier

Near Lat: 57° 03’18.00″N; Long: 130°49’36.00″W

Nelson Glacier

Near Lat: 56° 29’40.00″N; Long: 132°00’52.00″W

North Baird Glacier

Near Lat: 57°13’21.00″N; Long: 132°44’55.00″W

North Dawes Glacier

Near Lat:57°34’0.00″N; Long: 133° 1’0.00″W

Oasis Glacier

Near Lat:57°14’40.00″N; Long: 132° 37’4.00″W

Patterson Glacier

Near Lat: 57° 0’35.00″N; Long: 132°33’14.00″W

Pendant Glacier

Near Lat: 57° 24’00.00″N; Long: 132°07’00.00″W

Popoff Glacier

Near Lat: 56°44’47.00″N; Long: 132°15’48.00″W

Glacier Name

Location: Latitude/Longitude

Porcupine Glacier

Near Lat: 56°59’65.00″N; Long: 131°31’89.00″W

Wright Glacier

Near Lat: 58°24’00.00″N; Long: 133°23’00.00″W

Salmon Glacier

Near Lat: 56°07’00” N; Long:130°04’00” W

Sawyer Glacier

Near Lat: 57°53’53.04″N Long: 133°16’35.47″W
(North Sawyer and South Sawyer, are located at the end of Tracy Arm)

Scud Glacier

Near Lat: 57°17’59.00″N; Long: 131°21’98.00″W

Shakes Glacier

Near Lat  56°48’51.00″N Long 131°52’0.00″W

Sittakanay Glacier

Near Lat  58°30’00.00″N Long 133°20’0.00″W

Sundum Glacier

Near Lat: 57°47’48.40″N; Long: 133°25’54.43″W

Summit Glacier

Near Lat: 56°47’39.00″N; Long: 132°16’18.00″W

Taku Glacier

Near Lat: 58°21’15.00″N; Long: 134°6’17.00″W

Tenchen Glacier

Near Lat: 57°44’00.00″N; Long: 130°35’00.00″W

Tencho Glacier

Near Lat: 57°39’00.00″N; Long: 130°39’00.00″W

Tennaya Glacier

Near Lat: 57°42’00.00″N; Long: 130°37’00.00″W

Triumph Glacier

Near Lat: 57°30’00.00″N; Long: 132°29’00.00″W

Twin Glacier

Near Lat: 56°48’00.00″N; Long: 131°13’00.00″W

Witches Cauldron

Near Lat: 57° 6’46.00″N; Long: 132°29’9.00″W

Yuri Glacier

Near Lat: 56°58’00” N; Long:130°42’12” W

References
http://cgip.wetpaint.com/page/Northern+Coastal+BC%3A+Glaciated+Areas

http://www.library.state.ak.us/asp/alaska_glaciers.html
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcgn-bin/

Lakes to Visit: (these are all there)

Lake

Aehiniko

Arctic

Buckley

Chutine

Kakiddi

Kinashkan

Mess

Modade

Tahitan

Whitingale

Yehiniko

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Saturday, July 10, 2010 23:00

If you want to see what the Edna Bay Marina & Floatplane dock truly look like, see the photo here – it is high-res so you can zoom in for detail.

http://www.world-airport-codes.com/photos/large/EDA_roger_dipaolo_ednabaymarinafloatplanedock_1g1k79mddt.jpg

Saturday, July 10, 2010 22:57

I live in Edna Bay, and our the view at our seaplane dock isn’t very accurate by the screen shot shown here.

This just isn’t what our Marina looks like.

Friday, November 27, 2009 11:34

Hi Chet, thank you kindly ! 🙂

chet two wolves
Friday, November 27, 2009 11:13

I just bought it at simmarket.Its outstanding.Keep up the good work.chet two wolves

Derek Cook
Tuesday, November 24, 2009 03:47

Awesome review Peter

One I must look out for.

Cheers