There are a few ubiquitous airport identifiers, JFK, ATL, SFO, but perhaps none so as readily identifiable as LAX. Featured in songs, probably more than any other airport, there can hardly be anyone, let alone an aviation enthusiast, who does not know the significance of those letters.
And if that was not enough, how about the airport’s administration building? Easily one of the most recognized airport buildings in the world (if not for its signature architecture then for the sheer number of photos published of it), it solidifies the reputation of Los Angeles International (I feel silly even bothering to write the full name out) as possibly the best known airport in the world.
Installation & Documentation:
I obtained the KLAX scenery via download and installing it in FS9 was the usual non-event. It was necessary to activate the package in the FS scenery library, but this too was almost second nature and for those who may be even more technically challenged than I, Blueprint includes a PDF document that spells out the procedure.
In addition to installation instructions, the document contains a history and description of the airport, a detailed breakdown of the types of aircraft able to be accommodated at every gate and flight plans for arrivals/departures to many popular airports. The Contents section states that an airport diagram and approach charts are also included but in reality there is a one line reference with a link to a FAA charts site. Which is fine; why bother to reproduce a resource that is easily available elsewhere? Nonetheless, it seemed like a bit of an overstatement to say they were included.
To take a first look at the airport I thought I might be the first armchair aviator to have a new airport scenery and load a flight but NOT have it start at that new airport. I chose to go a little crazy instead by taking a 737 from SFO-LAX to experience the airport as a slowly unfolding backdrop.
I flew the SADDE6 arrival and as I turned east from SADDE could see the airport off to the right. From 10,000’ it did not look much different from the default offering but it did seem to have a bit of a shimmer that alerted me to the possibility there might be great detail to be found.
I turned right and flew the final approach to runway 24R, a familiar maneuver for me. Approximately 4 miles out it was clear that the PAPI lights were better defined than before. I landed and exited the runway and was pleased to see how crisp the detailing was. The taxiway surfaces and most noticeably the painted lines, taxi lights, and guidance signs were very sharp. It was a long taxi to Terminal 1 but it gave me time to take in some of the sights. Immediately I saw a few red lights flashing from atop terminal buildings.
As I made my way to park at the gate, it was good to find a parking guidance system in place. However, it only consisted of a segmented vertical arrow so I received adequate lateral guidance but no indication of a stop point. Knowing Blueprint’s insistence on realism, I would venture that a ramp marshaller provides this function in the real world and the lack of any assistance either animated or mechanical at the virtual KLAX was a bit disappointing.
But to their credit, Blueprint does make it quite clear on their website that animated jetways, moving traffic and advanced parking aids are not modeled in their airport sceneries, and probably will not be for the foreseeable future. Their focus is on highly detailed and accurate depictions of the primary airport structures and facilities and they make no apology (nor should they have to) for this philosophy.
In my travels about the airport I thought I had discovered a glitch. There were no PAPI lights for runways 25L or 25R. A quick survey of the rest of the airport found them in place at the other runways, so I sent an email to Blueprint’s tech support. In my message I also mentioned that I had seen what appeared to be a few default jetways finding their way into the scenery, and included a screenshot.
I received a response less than 24 hours later and was very nicely informed that there are no PAPI lights modeled on the 25s because they do not exist. However, the offer was put forth to add the lights for me if I so desired. I declined figuring if they aren’t really there I did not want them disrupting the accuracy of my scenery.
As for the jetways, it was confirmed that these are remnants of an earlier scenery and I was provided a couple of options to remedy the situation.
Continuing my tour of the tarmac it was fun to taxi around the various terminals and see gates with airline-appropriate signs on the air bridges. Blueprint has taken great effort to utilize the correct terminals for the airlines as well as appropriating specific gates for either single aisle or wide body aircraft.
As mentioned earlier, there are 19 pages of supporting documents detailing the aircraft size to be accommodated at every gate and ramp spot in the airport complex. For my tour with only AI aircraft active, the terminal areas were a bit sparse for traffic but I am sure that using this scenery with one of the real-world traffic generators would produce great results and potential traffic jams on the taxiways and ramps.
There are cavernous maintenance hangars open on the west end of the airport as well as spacious cargo terminals for FedEx and UPS to the south. Most impressive to me was the clarity of the taxiway signs and crispness of the runway and taxiway pavement lines. There are also very well rendered caution lights in bars across taxiways at runway intersections so there is absolutely no excuse for accidentally blundering onto an active runway.
I was not as impressed by the night lighting. The runway and taxiway lights were fine but the terminal and gate areas come across as slightly dark and a bit gloomy. Nevertheless, one cannot help but feel that you are seeing a highly accurate portrayal of the airport and can appreciate how the ramp and terminal areas have been maximized for ever increasing traffic numbers considering the airport is physically constrained from expanding by development and urban sprawl adjacent to it…not to mention a rather significant body of water due west!
Note: While I reviewed the FS9 version, there is a 125.9 Mb terrain textures file for the FSX version that is suitable to be run on high-performance computers and available on the Blueprint Simulations website.
Blueprint continues to make a name for itself specializing in high quality airport sceneries and KLAX is no exception to this goal. They are also very good at keeping quiet about their next projects until they are complete. And now that they have shown no reluctance to expand into the western United States, I would anticipate some additional sceneries from that area in the not too distant future.
At a price of US$ 17.50 there is really no reason not to acquire this vital airport to enjoy in all its star studded brilliance.
What I Like About KLAX
What I Don't Like About KLAX
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