Located in the city of Liverpool aside an estuary of the River Mersey and named for the city’s most famous son John Lennon, Liverpool airport began life in the 1930s as Speke Airport. World War II saw the British Royal Air Force take over and the airport was renamed RAF Speke. Interestingly, the Rootes Group, an automobile manufacturer at the time, operated one of many “shadow factories” at RAF Speke. These “shadow factories” were dispersed aircraft manufacturing sites hoping to elude destruction by the German Luftwaffe. Many bombers were built on site, including Bristol Blenheims and 1,070 Handley Page Halifaxes.
Civilian airline operation began again at the conclusion of World War II. In 1966 a new runway was constructed southeast of the original airport allowing for around the clock operations. In 1986, a new modern terminal was built adjacent to the newer runway and the old terminal building was then closed. The original terminal building, made famous in old television reels showing flocks of screaming Beatles fans along its terraces, is now a hotel operated by Crowne Plaza. The hotel is no longer connected to the airport (and not included in this scenery).
Today, this small airport is home to budget airlines Ryanair and Easy Jet. Just over 5 million people came through its doors, making John Lennon Airport the 10th busiest in the United Kingdom.
*obtained from Wikipedia
Installation and Documentation
Installation is fairly straightforward after you download the executable from the UK2000 website. The file itself is a relatively light 78 MB in size. You will need to enter the code you receive via email to begin installation. You will be asked whether you want to add the scenery to your scenery.cfg file (why wouldn’t you?). The installer will then bring up an Options Setup box that allows you to customize your Liverpool scenery. Most of these are self explanatory except for ‘Active Service Fleet’, which is an FS9 option dealing with the service vehicles, including a baggage conveyor, fuel and catering trucks, various vans, and the baggage truck.
The options listed in the manual differ in wordling slightly from what you will see in the options panel during installation. Keep this in mind if, like me, you read the manual as you install. Outside of the options issue the manual is only 10 pages but full of the details you would expect for a scenery. It talks about the installation, optimal display options, features such as the Marshaler and Air Stairs (we’ll talk about those later), and other interesting points in Liverpool Airport. Towards the end of the manual you will find known issues, compatibility points, and general tips. All in all, the manual is a quick and easy read.
The airport itself is relatively small, and the scenery only covers the airport proper. You can see in the picture to the right the entirety of the product contained within the background poly. I do wish that the designers would have given us a look at the old terminal, which has since been converted into a hotel. You can also see that the airport blends in pretty well with the default scenery.
The background looks great either from far away or close up, with its high-resolution 25cm base image. You can see the great level of detail in the overhead shot. It helps bring a level of realism we all want from our scenery.
The terminal area is very detailed with nice, sharp textures. This being a smaller airport, you only have the one terminal area but UK2000 has certainly done it justice. There are quite a few pictures available on the internet of the main building, and UK2000 has captured it quite well.
You won’t see any jet bridges here as all passengers are required to walk to their aircraft. This doesn’t detract from the terminal area but lends it a bit of charm. There’s also a hodgepodge of little alleyways and open hangar spaces that give an air of intimacy that is hard to find at the larger airports. With all of the vehicles such as buses, trucks, and baggage carts zipping around it really makes for an eye catching area. I really enjoy the constant animations.
There is plenty of parking for your custom AI aircraft packages; or if you prefer the static aircraft option, the ramp is filled with nice looking models depicting Easy Jet and Ryanair airlines as well as some from Thomson and flybe.com.
There is a lot going on out front of the terminal, too. Many details such as foliage, people, vehicles, and even a yellow submarine are here to keep you company. The many car and bus animations give the impression of a busy airport where people are being dropped off and picked up from faraway places. Dominating the entrance to the airport is the Hampton Inn and associated parking garage. The hotel itself and surrounding area is well done. The billboards at the front of the airport also add a bit of flair.
Two other interesting features are the Marshaller and the Air Stairs. The 3D Marshaller is a little guy who will help guide you left or right into your parking spot after landing at Liverpool. He’s a handy mate to have around but you’ll have to remember to switch to full view, as your cockpit controls will quickly cover him up.
The Air Stairs can be activated and docked with your aircraft by changing NAV1 to any other frequency while in cockpit view. The docking only occurs at certain stands though. Both of these fun features are detailed in the manual.
GA And Cargo Area
The general aviation and cargo areas really make or break scenery for me. If a designer shows attention to detail here it tells me they really care about the product in its entirety and not just the terminal area you see when you fly in on some heavy metal machine. UK2000 has done a great job in modeling these areas.
Looking at available resources you would be hard pressed not to find a modeled building. Using some of the freeware and commercially available GA packages you can fill up the small parking area quite nicely. The TNT shipping area with its dark orange logos really stands out. If you happen to have some Easy Jet aircraft around you really get a riot of orange hues in your sim.
I really like the excitement and mystery of takeoffs and landings at night (as a passenger in real life, not so much), and so I’m very appreciative of developers who do a nice job with night lighting. Here again, UK2000 gets it done. The nighttime textures on all of the buildings are pretty much standard fare and what you would expect. The ramp, taxiway, and runway lights are top notch and display great depth. Coming in over the water and seeing those dazzling 3D approach lights is a real treat.
I would think that my computer specs may be on the low end of the “high” range of machines these days, so your mileage may certainly vary but I had nothing but superior performance with this product. Using the vendor’s recommended settings I had no problems keeping frame rates between 30 and 40 and experienced no stuttering. I even had this performance with a ramp full of AI, both commercial and GA aircraft set at 100%.
You can also tell that the designers made use of LODs with some objects but not obtrusively so. I always get irked at the larger airports when objects pop in and out suddenly. Given the small size and great design of the scenery, I would imagine that lower end machines would be able to run this scenery with no problems.
Summary / Closing Remarks
I really enjoyed reviewing this scenery by UK2000. Liverpool John Lennon Airport is a small, but highly detailed airport that I think you will love flying to and from in the United Kingdom. The high resolution textures, great animations, and overall attention to detail make this product a winner.
What I Like About Liverpool Xtreme
What I Don't Like About Liverpool Xtreme
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