AlfaFly proposes the Ostafyevo airport scenery. This airport opened in 2000 on a former military air base near Moscow, Russia. It serves among new customers a generation of business men that came with the end of the Soviet era.
Oddly, this airport does not exist at all in FSX; it is just regular landscape and trees. With an unpacked size -after installation- of 191 Mbyte of scenery in .bmp and .bgl files for a medium size single runway airport, covering an area of 1 square mile, you can expect an interesting contents and a high level of detail.
The installation is easy; just run Setup.exe and enter the serial number provided -including the dashes- when prompted. It finishes with the instruction “NOW ACTIVATE THIS SCENERY INTO FS SCENERY LIBRARY!!! That's all :)”. Click OK and that’s done. But you need to remember this, as it is not written anywhere else in a permanent way.
Now start FSX and manually add the scenery. Quick and easy... if you know how to do that: Create a new layer pointing to the directory: ...\FSX\Add-on Scenery\Ostafyevo and put it as priority 1.
The documentation is very light, 2 pages only, including both Russian and English. Then it’s up to you to go and discover, and that is mostly adequate for me this way. Nonetheless, I missed a few things: the reminder and instructions to add a new layer, a map of the airfield, and some info about the history of the airfield that must certainly be interesting.
The Ostafyevo airport is located South from Moscow, exactly mid way between Vnukovo and Domodedovo, and has a single 6600 ft long concrete runway 08-26. It is mostly dedicated to general aviation. The airfield is divided into 2 parts: the South area, at the South of the East-West runway is the modern part dedicated to business aviation, with a new terminal, whereas the Northern part is less flashy with older buildings and hangars, and also carries remains from the past military activities.
I’ve been in Moscow but not through this airport, and even if I had landed there, I would have seen less than 5% of what this scenery displays. Therefore to discover this scenery, I chose to simply wander around, in the air and on the ground, doing traffic patterns and visual approaches, hopping from the other airports in the vicinity and taxiing the aircraft in all the areas of the Ostafyevo airport; and, as the scenery covers more than just the airport, going outside of the airport fences with other means: by transposition or using a car in place of the aircraft.
Indeed, the scenery includes the airfield with all the buildings and parking lots with busses, cars, animated people in various places. The surrounding areas add real buildings, the real lakes and ponds, the approach lights structures, the roads with car and truck traffic, local trees like fir trees and birch trees, and much more.
After 10 or 15 hours of looking around, I still discovered additional details. Hence this review is very visual, as this is what the beauty of this scenery is all about. So let us go see, selecting Country = Russia, City = Moscow, Airport = UUMO.
While in this phase of discovery, I must mention that for the moment you need to configure FSX to ignore accidents and damages (Aircraft / Parameters of realism / Ignore accidents and damages). Otherwise your aircraft will crash on any attempt to take off or land. A future downloadable service pack will be available for free to all customers to fix this issue. One free service pack (SP1) is already available to correct the PAPI indications that were showing higher than actual glide slope.
General view of the field
A large variety of vehicles are either cruising around or are parked inside and outside of the airport boundaries. Buses, trucks, civil works cranes, cars, vans of all breeds. Several of them are true existing vehicles like the local Zil trucks, or a surprising metal orange “follow me car” which is a French built Peugeot 1007 vehicle, with 1990’s BMW series 3 wheels.
Moscow enjoys a continental climate: long cold winter, short spring (the season of mud), hot summer, and a short fall. Fall and winter textures do not differ too much from each other.
The marshallers, one of the several animated characters are animated and guide you to the spot, and they change attire with the seasons.
There are several kinds of birds, flying alone or in flocks, animated with amazingly realistic trajectories and wings flapping moves.
Night and day, from the West, approaching for Runway 08, looking toward the North
Night and day, from the East, approaching for Runway 26, looking toward the South
Microsoft standard lights are a headache: they come with standard alignment and spacing, which makes it difficult when the scenery sticks to their exact location and spacing with custom made structures.
As a consequence, the runway lights and runway approach environment lights are not exactly aligned with the structures, when not duplicated. The taxiway lights on the other hand come with correct alignment and position. Meaning that they probably are in line with Microsoft’s standard and not completely with their true position on the real field. But nevertheless they look very good this way and in simulation, there are sometimes lines that need to be drawn.
Lots of areas in the field are what we could call “sub-sceneries” of their own with custom details such as specific 1940’s cars, Air Conditioners on windows… many featuring specific reflections. There are civil works scenes, and military storage of various vehicles.
(Small sample of the) details...
In nearly every picture that I took, I could discover one, several or many details.
The frame rates are decent in most places, provided you do not use a “frame rates hungry” aircraft, unless you have a hefty PC configuration. Still the frame rates become noticeably low around the North area opposite from the modern terminal. And what do you do when your frame rates diminish a lot and always at the same place in a given scenery? Look for graphic files of DXT3 type without alpha channel!
For some reasons, these types are a burden for several graphic cards; I noticed that on both ATI and Nvidia cards. The culprits are a set of 73 graphic files of such DXT3 type without alpha. The most penalizing are probably the tarmac ones as they are the largest in size.
Most image processing tools perform the transformation of any 32 bit with a blank alpha or 24 bit into DXT3 without generating, even as an option, an alpha channel, a blank one. Martin Wright’s DXTBmp software makes the same transformations – and more – keeping a blank alpha channel in the DXT3. Processing these files is somewhat of a burdensome exercise, but the resulting DXT3 files with alpha channel fix the issue.
A quicker solution would be to transform the DXT3 into DXT1. But in our case that would be at the expense of graphic quality as we do not have the original 32/24 bits. Indeed, when a file has a blank alpha, DXT1 quality is about the same as DXT3 for half the size, provided that you perform direct transformation of 32 or 24 bit source into DXT1. If you have only the DXT3, keep them (or add an alpha channel as needed) but DXT3 to DXT1 transformation comes with significant degradation.
Looking at the bmp graphic files, they are a mix of DXT3 (some with, some without alpha), DXT1 and 8 bit.
Summary / Closing Remarks
As I hinted in the intro, this scenery proves to be amazingly detailed, in all areas, providing new things to discover each time you fly or taxi in the area for quite some time.
Besides, the field chosen is interesting as it is quite an unusual one, with a variety of activities concentrated in one single place. The 15 EURO cost is in the affordable range of payware and is well worth it in view of the quality of the product.
and repaint by DBS – Simlandmarks.
What I Like About Ostafyevo
What I Don't Like About Ostafyevo
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