AVSIM Commercial Scenery Review

100 Dollar Burger:

Plum Island

Product Information

Publishers:  Fsaddon Publishing

Description: Local scenery package.

Download Size:
280 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FSX
Reviewed by: Bert Pieke AVSIM Senior Staff Reviewer - April 2, 2009

Introduction

Bill Womack is no stranger to most FS enthusiasts. His meticulously crafted airfields are a true work of art. Here then, is a new production, a tiny local airport on the Massachusetts coast which can serve as a great starting point for exploring the area. The scenery is only about 40 square miles, but for that, every little detail is lovingly colored and finished.

Quoting from the documentation:

This scenery encompasses a stretch of the Massachusetts coastline wedged just below the New Hampshire border, a bit north of Boston in the northeast United States. In this package you’ll find photoscenery covering Plum Island, an 11 mile (18 km) long barrier island, and inland to the town of Newburyport, which is situated on the banks of the Merrimack river. Near the middle of the scenery area lies Plum Island Airfield (2B2), the heart of this project.”

Here are two screenshots, first of the total area and then a detail view of part of the wetlands, showing off the photo realistic scenery and inland water coloring.

Plum Island coverage Plum Island Airport and surroundings

Installation & Documentation:

The package comes as an 280 Meg download, and can be purchased at fsaddon-products . A boxed CD version is also available. The scenery is compatible with UTX-USA as well as with the FSX default scenery, which is what I used to test.

Test System

Q6600 @ 3.0 GHz
2 GB DDR 800 Ram
Nvidia 9600GT 512MB Video Card
22" LCD monitor 1680x1050 resolution
CH Products USB Yoke
Windows XP Professional

Flying Time:
20 hours

The auto-installer did its thing on my FSX system and installed the scenery and documentation into an FSAddon folder within FSX. The documentation includes an excellent manual which tells you all about the area, as well as providing helpful hints for getting the most of the visuals.

One tricky thing is that the installer put the manual somewhere where I could not find it, since the shortcut on the desktop did not link to it. After consulting the Fsaddon support forum, I found that the installer expects a backslash at the end of the registry entry for FSX. I’ve never run into this before and had to clean up the install address by hand, both for the manual, and in the scenery configuration file, before going flying.

The manual gives some recommended scenery settings to get the best out of this very detailed scenery. There is also an option to load custom winter textures which replace the buildings and trees with a snow covered landscape.

Going flying:

Next step, after reading the manual, is to pick a suitable aircraft - the default FSX C172 or the Carenado C152 are good choices - and start up a flight from Plum Island airfield.

Taxiing around the airfield shows all custom buildings, signs, and vehicles. Not a trace of default FSX scenery. Lots of detail and everything done really nicely.

The airfield

A notch of flaps and take off from the one and only runway. There is a fence crossing the runway towards the end, so you better get into the air before losing your gear !

Once airborne, it is all pastoral scenery up and down the beach and over towards the town of Newburyport. First a couple of views of the Plum Island coastline that shows the nice wide sandy Atlantic beach that is missing in FSX, and then a shot of the town.

Plum Island Beach Town of Newburyport

It is only when you fly along the coast that you suddenly realise that you are back in “FSX country”… the scenery boundaries are nicely blended into the default scenery, so there are no jarring “edges”. Comparing the Plum Island coast (on the left) to the stretch a few miles further north (to the right), does illustrate the difference however.

Plum Island shoreline FSX shorline

Flying around a bit more, the inland area also provides clues as to where the boundaries are to be found. In both of the following pictures, the FSX default is in the left part of the scenery, and the custom scenery towards the right.

Scenery edge with Plum Island on the right of each screenshot

Why make such a deal out of the boundaries? Well, with a small scenery area, you are going to find yourself flying in and out of it on a frequent basis, and if you can really tell where the transition is, that pretty much spoils the whole effect. So, with the care taken to prevent that, you can fly around all day and never get tired of admiring the view.

OK, after a while, it is time to land and remember the fence across the runway. It is with some apprehension that I returned to do my short field landing. As you can tell from the pictures, all went well. I do recommend full flaps and minimum landing speed for the approach, so you have time to pick just the right spot for touch down.

Landing sequence

I did not splurge for the “$100 hamburger”, but, given more time, there are lots more things to be seen up and down the coast, and the city of Boston is not far off! This is a great gateway to use if you have not spent much time flying in this part of the world. My home is on the West Coast, so I appreciated the chance to do some sightseeing in new and unfamiliar territory.

Plum Island airfield panorama

Summary:

This is a real gem of a scenery package. The airport is pretty and sleepy and the surrounding area looks like a perfect summer beach vacation destination. The inland waterways look just right and the beaches are a great improvement over the FSX default shorelines. Unlike some local sceneries, it blends in seamlessly into the countryside.

Like a delicious appetizer, it is tasty and leaves you hungry for more.

 

What I Like About The Plum Island Package

  • Beautifully crafted
  • Blends in seamlessly with surroundings
  • Great custom beach scenery
  • Snow covered buildings and trees in winter

 

What I Don't Like About The Plum Island Package

  • Just wish it was bigger !

 

Printing

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Plum Island

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