Review: UK2000 VFR Airfields Volume 1

78 airports for $50 (37 Euros)!!! That’s 64 cents or 0.47 Euros each! OK, what’s the catch? Can this be real? Do I have to sign-up for three years to get this rate? No, it’s not like one of those bad cell phone deals. It’s solid airport scenery priced to go.

Installation

The installation is a little more involved than a normal installation. You have to register an account with UK2000 and then they will give you access to the download site via a link. Don’t forget to download the updates and any free airports they give you. I received Sutton Bank as a free bonus! You’ll read later about more bonuses available from UK2000. You will have to add the scenery to your library but they have put them all in one folder so you just have to add one item to your scenery database, not 78.

The manual has the typical installation instructions and mentions some tweaks that are required to get the most out of the package. Most of the manual contains write up’s on each and every airport in the package including history, overhead shots, and airport data. Sadly they didn’t include the runway lengths so you’ll have to find this elsewhere to see if your favourite aircraft can be handled there. I have to say that they did a good job on the manual and I found the historical information on each one very enlightening.

During installation you are given some options to use custom AI Traffic and AI Explorer Traffic plus you can select whether to install static aircraft, animated road traffic, and Base images… for each and every airport. Everything is checked by default thank goodness.

They do not provide charts for their airports but they have included a link in their manual to find the latest charts. Also, the filename’s are named so that it’s easy to identify which bgl’s belong to each airport.

The Scenery

There are three versions of VFR Airfields numbered Volume 1, 2, and 3. I chose number 1 because it contained the major airports of London and some of the minor ones that jets can fly to such as Exeter and Bristol.

What you will find with most of the airports is the scenery really gives them a breath of fresh air so they don’t look lonely. London airports are detailed enough to keep the framerates low but still much more detail than the default airports. Overall I didn’t notice a drop in framerates. You also get photo scenery and custom mesh for most of the airports. UK2000 has more detailed versions of Heathrow, Gatwick, and Bristol airports if you are interested.

There are a few goodies to check out while you are flying around such as birds flying, ships, and some special aircraft. I won’t spoil your fun, but be sure to check out Filton in your travels. Note that if you select to not install static airport scenery you will not see these and the same goes for the animations if you have advanced animations disabled in your FSX settings. Wet runways are visible, too, during the rainy days.

Also, note that while the developers have made sure the scenery is compatible with photographic scenery from Horizon, it is also fairly compatible with Ultimate Terrain X Europe. All of the screenshots are using UTX Europe. Each airport comes with a custom traffic file, too.

As mentioned during the set-up you can install the AI Explorer. Simply set yourself up at a specific airport at the specified time in the manual and wait for 30 seconds. A couple of airplanes will show up and together you can fly to the next airport on the list and continue in this manner until most airports are visited. This is a really neat and unique way to discover the airports. A virtual pat on the back for UK2000 for this idea. They provide some preset flights to save time in setting up, too. Two things to note about this feature. First, make sure you have General Aviation traffic enabled in the FSX settings or you’ll have a long wait. Second, these are AI aircraft and as usual they get up to cruise speed pretty fast. Choose an aircraft that has a decent cruise speed so you can catch up. A twin engine or C182/205 should do the trick.

As for the airports you get there is a very wide variety. Most are suited for general aviation only as they are either short paved runways or grass fields. If you plan on flying a passenger turbo prop or jet you are limited, but not discouraged for sure. For these types of aircraft in addition to the RAF airports you have EKGB — Biggin Hill, EGHH — Bournemouth, EGGD — Bristol, EGFF — Cardiff, EGTE — Exeter, EGTG — Filton, EGLC – London City, EGKK — London Gatwick, EGLL — London Heathrow, EGMD — Lydd, EGDH — Plymouth, EGHI — Southampton, EGMC — Southend, and EGFH — Swansea.

If flying between these become boring to you then scoot on over to UK2000’s web site and download some of their free airports. They have London Stansted, Gatwick, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Bristol.

To show you the quality I decided to do shots of VFR Airfields activated and then deactivated. Just take a look at these comparisons. I took these shots without moving the aircraft. I just simply took a shot, disabled VFR Airfields, and took another shot. I say that because you’ll notice some of the airfields appear to have moved. VFR Volume 1 puts them in their correct location and alignment.

First, EGLL. The default scenery is ok but there is a lack of buildings, other than the terminal in the foreground. UK2000 provides moving jetways with the major airports.

Now, I don’t fly around the UK as much as I used to so I was wondering which version above is more correct. I thought that with FSX London was one of the airports that were detailed. So, I used the best way to figure this out… Orbital Satellite Imagery. More commonly known as Google Earth. Well, UK2000 gets the nod here. You can check yourself. Even the section that looks like a clay taxiway is accurate and the tower is well done, too.

Next, EGHH. The ground texture and more buildings make the difference here, but I was surprised at the number of buildings in the default scenery. Someone at MS must have an affection for Bournemouth.

EGDX is a major improvement as you can see.

EGHF adds more taxiways and a place to park.

EGHL. Note the correct alignment of the runway.

Finally, EG09. Notice the difference? I’ll say no more.

Conclusion

To say this is worth the investment is an understatement. Even though the airports are not as detailed as they are in their Extreme airport series, they are a great improvement over the default airports and you get so many that you can fly one or two of the explorer routes every night for a month and not land at the same airport.

So really, am I recommending that you buy all 3 Volumes? Of course I am if you can afford it! Seriously, most of us can’t afford to shell out that kind of money for add-ons all at one time. So, you can get one now and then save up to buy another later. Alternatively, decide what kind of flights you plan on doing in the UK. If you are going to be flying out of London on a jet then I suggest you buy Volume 2 or 3 and you’ll have some longer range flights to fly. If you fly out of London on a prop then Volume 1 or 2 may be what you should look at. Finally, if you are flying General Aviation aircraft then picking one volume is probably enough to keep you satisfied.

If you’re still not convinced they have demo’s available, too.

Developer: UK2000.

File Size: Close to 400 mb if you include the updates and your freebie.

Compatibility: FSX only

Price: 36.74 Euros or around $50 Canada/USA.

Where can I purchase? Simmarket of course

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abarter
Wednesday, January 5, 2011 21:27

Peter Hayes has done an excellant review of the UK2000 Gatwick Airport which is compatible with this series.

https://simflight.com/2011/01/05/review-uk2000-scenery-gatwick-xtreme-v3/#more-19231

abarter
Wednesday, September 15, 2010 23:24

Great,now Flightsim.com will get credit for a Simflight.com review. If anyone at FS Reporter sees this please correct your link.