AVSIM Commercial Scenery Review

Part II
Orbx Systems - FTX Discovery
Airports YPEC - YWVA - YMAV
AeroPelican - Warnervale - Avalon
with a touch of AUGOLD and AUBLUE

Product Information

Publishers:  FTX Orbx Simulations

Description: Orbx Simulation Systems FTX high resolution airports YPEC, YWVA and YMAV.

Download Size:
YPEC - 415 Mb
YWVA - 474 Mb
YMAV - 361 Mb

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FSX SP2 or FSX Acceleration
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen AVSIM Staff Reviewer - July 20, 2009

Table of Contents
Making it all a little easier, let's go for a table of contents.

Introduction - Part II
Simple the best solution! Part I (FTX Discovery AUGOLD | BLUE | RED | GREEN) is followed by part II however this time I'll take you on a cross country flight through AUGOLD and AUBLUE Australia, while discovering the FTX airports AeroPelican (YPEC), Warnervale (YWVA) and Avalon (YMAV). Part II is all about these three airport however, we need to depart from Coffs Harbor because our rented Cessna 152 II is waiting here. Anyway, join me on my virtual FTX trip and discovery with me also something from the FTX AUGOLD and AUBLUE sceneries while hopping from one to the other airport.

Background Information
Some facts

Installation and documentation
Installation
Documentation

Cross country YSCH-YPEC-YWVA-YMAV
What's the intention?

Stretch I - Visiting AeroPelican (YSCH-YPEC)
Starting at Coffs Harbor (YSCH) - our renting location - we fly along the AUGOLD coast to AeroPelican aerodrome (YPEC). Because of this, you and I are able to meet the FTX AUGOLD scenery for a second time. During part I, we’ve already visited the AUGOLD scenery while crossing Aussie from Darwin to Melbourne. It's more or less the shortest route between YSCH and YPEC. Apart from discovering YPEC and surrounding area, it also allows us to check the scenery in between.
At and around AeroPelican (YPEC)
It was all about this airport. That was the intention of our review; visiting, exploring, and digging into AeroPelican. Not only the airport or aerodrome itself, but also exploring the surrounding photoreal area and believe me, it's worth reading. Although looking at some of the screenshots, it just gives a glimpse of what I've really seen while flying in this FTX YPEC area.

Stretch II - Night stop at Warnervale (YPEC-YWVA)
A very short cross country flight from AeroPelican to Warnervale. It's just 30 minutes and easy to find. No complicated NDB and/or VOR beacons are needed. No, just simply follow the landmarks and then along the Sydney Newcastle Freeway to the south. You can't miss it, even if it's bad weather. The reason for this short hop is only because of our booked hotel at YWVA and our next airplane - a Carenado Cessna 172 - which makes us able to fly the 630NM to Avalon Airport. Short or not, there's enough to see from the highly detailed and accurate Warnervale aerodrome, so please join me on this 2nd trip.
Exploring sister airport Warnervale
Before starting with our last stretch to Avalon Melbourne, it's time to explore Warnervale airport. It's the sister site of AeroPelican or visa versa and absolutely worth looking into. It seems the airport offers a little more and special attention goes to the old Douglas DC-3 - I think - but also to all the other tiny details on the airport. Curious? Great, here you can read all the ins and outs of this small GA aerodrome.

Stretch III - Cup of coffee at Avalon (YWVA-YMAV)
After a good night’s rest, it's time to move on to Avalon. Our virtual pilot wanted to show us the complete coastline to the south, following to the west but it seems a little too much for this small Cessna 172, including all the virtual passengers and their luggage. So with that being said, we plan to fly along the highway towards Sydney where we try to follow the Hume Highway to Melbourne.

This means that everything in between YWVA and Avalon (YMAV) is again a FTX AUBLUE cross country sensation. Not really belonging to this review but still worth looking into and a kind of confirmation of how realistic this scenery is or isn’t! When finally after hours of a blue flight, we reach the northern Melbourne area and along the west side of the Melbourne suburbs we finally see our end destination; Avalon Airport.

Before it's too dark, there is still some time left to make a walk-around tour of the airport where we're able to see the details of this tiny international airport. Curious about this VFR flight and my Avalon experience? Great, just step in and join me on my last trip.
What's up at Avalon Airport
What can we expect from Avalon Airport and is it as detailed as the previous two GA aerodromes? Although the pixel quality is different compared to Warnervale and AeroPelican, there's still a lot to see at this small national/international airport. International since JetStar makes regular international flights to many destinations. Which destinations and what's all to see on this airport? That's something you can read in this sub-chapter.

What's Aussie without these FTX airports?
Is it really necessary to add this part into my review? Some say yes, while others think there's no need. Looking at the shocking screenshots, I have to admit that there's a huge impact when YPEC (AeroPelican), YWVA (Warnervale) and/or YMAV (Avalon) are active. For YWVA, the FTX impact is impressive but that's because the default FSX doesn't offer a Warnervale airfield at all. For the others, well read the sub-article for yourself and the outcome is obvious why you should buy these FTX airports.

The Avalon Airshow 2009
An extraction of the Orbx Airshow manual "In 2009, Orbx will have a booth at the Avalon Airshow in one of the three massive exhibition halls erected there temporarily. We are thrilled to be able to demonstrate this virtual version of Avalon at the event itself, and also showcase Orbx’s FTX terrain technology to the world. If you’re planning to attend, come and say hello won’t you?"

Together with the straightforward installer and informative manual, you've got a lot to look at during the Airshow. Although not really planned in this review, I would like to show you some of what to expect after you've bought YMAV. Once you have YMAV, you're able to explore much more of this tiny airport than just basic buildings etc. Please join me on a virtual trip along the many airplanes.

Summary / Closing Remarks

Introduction - Part II

After part I, which covered the whole Australian continent, a logical step is part II. Via a cross country flight we now check some of the payware airports created by Orbx Simulation systems. The airports covered are YPEC (AeroPelican), YWVA (Warnervale) and YMAV (Avalon). One reason to cover these is that two of them are closely situated next to each other, while the Avalon Airport needs a little longer flight. But still no more than a few "hundred" miles to go. Two other Orbx FTX airports - YMML and YSCH - were already reviewed here at AVSIM, so no need to cover these again. Apart from the payware airports, there’s a bunch of other Australian freeware airports downloadable from the FTX website. Since it's freeware, we’ll leave that like it is, but they’re absolutely worth looking into.

As said before, this part II FTX Aussie discovery will visit three airports of which YWVA and YPEC are situated in the AUGOLD zone and YMAV in the AUBLUE area. Immediately you could ask yourself if there's a need to have the FTX GOLD and/or BLUE sceneries installed. That's up to you and difficult for me to judge.

I own all the FTX Australian area's and thus it's easy for me to say that you need to buy them all but later on we will see it's absolutely worth doing so. I could say you could do it without AUGOLD and/or AUBLUE, but all these packages work effortlessly together and therefore, it's more or less a must buy not only the airports but also the scenery packages. And when looking at my previously published part I FTX discovery review, and know about the FTX ground texture tiles impact, I would say YES, buy it!

Whatever you buy, first enjoy reading this VFR cross country trip, which departs today from YSCH, which is not a part of this review however, since it's a FTX regional airport. Our VFR trip goes along the coast down to YPEC AeroPelican airport, where we need to refuel and to pick up a passenger. From there we make a short hop to YWVA Warnervale which is needed to step over into a little faster and bigger plane, the new native FSX Cessna 172 from Carenado. From here we try to fly the shortest way to YMAV Avalon Airport, near Melbourne area. For sure we will have fun during these hops and looking at how the Orbx team succeeded in creating another FTX masterpiece.

Ok, it seems these are my words but that's not the case. These words are from the Orbx team members but also from many other flight simmers. It's up to me as an AVSIM reviewer to check this statement. So here we go.

Background Information

Some facts

YPEC AeroPelican
It's also known as Belmont Airport and is an airfield located in the Lake Macquarie suburb of Pelican, 15 km south of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia. Scheduled commercial service was provided by regional airline Aeropelican until 2006. Since then, airfield has virtually ceased operations. Nearby Belmont is home to many shops, restaurants and many other amenities. It also has a northern part called Belmont North. Belmont and the surrounding area include quite a number of primary and secondary schools and is a haven for boating, water skiing and summer enjoyment around Lake Maquarie. More recently YPEC has been taken over by the owners of Warnervale Airport (YWVA). The tar runway will be ripped up and a concrete runway laid. They are looking at beginning a commuter service to Sydney in 2009.
YWVA Warnervale
Warnervale Aerodrome is an unlicensed airport which contains a single 970m long runway, designated Runway 02/20. The designation 02/20 represents the inbound magnetic heading, rounded off to the nearest 10 degrees in both directions (e.g. approximately 20° and 200°). The existing runway is categorized as Code 2B based on its key dimensions (Reference Field Length of 800m up to but not including 1200m) and the critical aircraft accommodated (Critical aircraft wing span of 15m up to but not including 24m). Accurate records of current aircraft movements are not available. However, estimates of overall current annual aircraft movements are provided in the table below provided by Warnervale Air Pty. The annual movements were distributed by aircraft type in the proportion of aircraft based at Warnervale Aerodrome.
YMAV Avalon
It's the second busiest of the four airports serving Melbourne and is located in Avalon, Victoria, Australia. The airport is designed to cater for jet aircraft, and comprises a single runway. It is used for scheduled passenger services by Jetstar Airways and Sharp Airlines and as a heavy maintenance facility by Jetstar's parent company, Qantas. It is also the site of the biennial Australian International Airshow. Previously, air traffic control was only provided on request, but on 16 May 2008 it was announced that regular air traffic control facilities would be provided at Avalon. The land on which Avalon Airport lies is part of the Lara Lea escarpment which is bounded by the You Yangs, Corio Bay and Melbourne Water sewage treatment agistment paddocks. Avalon Airport was opened in 1953, to cater for the production of military aircraft. The airport continues to fall under the jurisdiction of the Australian Department of Defence. A 10,000 feet (3,000 m) runway was built by Country Roads Board, with the first plane landing on 3 April 1953 - a 4 engine Avro Lincoln bomber flown from Fishermans Bend. The Canberra jet bomber was under construction at the same time at the new airport. There still remains a static Canberra bomber display on a pedestal at the airport’s entrance, which is modeled in this scenery. Avalon is the site of one of Qantas heavy maintenance and engineering facilities. The facility opened in the late 1990s, and currently employs 1000 people. A Qantas 747-338 (VH-EBU Nalanji Dreaming), which was painted in a colourful Aboriginal livery, is currently in long term open-air storage at Avalon Airport. The scenery includes that aircraft as it appears today.

Installation and documentation

Installation

Test System

Intel Core Extreme i7-965 3.2Ghz
6GB Tri-Channel DDR3 1600Mhz
EVGA GTX-285 For the Winner
Dual WD VelociRaptor 300GB HDD
Single WD 1TB HDD
Windows Vista Ultimate x64
Flight Simulator FSX SP2
Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals
Saitek ProFlight Yoke System
Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel
TrackerIR Pro 4
TrackerClip Pro

Flying Time:
92 hours

You've got the FlightSimStore wrapper, followed by the actual installer. It's straightforward, no complicated questions and there's the automatic FSX detection. Before you know, it's done and there is no control panel like we saw with the YMML airport scenery. There's not really a need for this since we're dealing with aerodromes or small national/international airports. One thing is for sure; those are not as complicated as the YMML airport scenery.

Every airport offers a desktop "manual" shortcut and an Orbx folder available via the Start menu. The only available items here are the same manual shortcut, thus there's no uninstaller or whatever. Because of the easy installers, I found it useless to add some screenshots here and therefore it's time to move on to the next chapter; documentation.

Before we continue one really important item; when you own one of the colored FTX packages - AUGOLD | AUBLUE | AURED| AUGREEN - don't forget to download and install the road fix. When you forget this, the cars and trucks are crossing through the airport registration building at AeroPelican. Find the direct download at FTX road link or the forum posting link.

Documentation

I could discuss all the three manuals but there's not really a need to. In general, they are more or less the same except for data related to the airport itself. When you're dealing with "Quick Reference FSX settings" or "detailed FSX settings", those are all the same irrespective of which airport you buy.

FSX settings and the final performance of your FSX depends on lots of other things but it's very helpful using the suggested settings including AI boats, GA aircrafts and car. When following this advice, which are found in a manual on pages 6 to 11, you will have a smooth flight and if you're PC can handle it, you can of course set those sliders more to the max. Oops, by the way, I was discussing the YPEC AeroPelican manual, which is 17 pages thick and well put together with all the necessary information to get the most out of your GA (General Aviation) experience.

Although not mandatory, it's highly advisable to buy the associated FTX scenery, which for YPEC is AUGOLD. Page 2 gives the user a clear overview of what's covered and this is not only the small GA airport but also the city around it. What I miss and this is not directly related to the manual, is that the Orbx FTX website doesn't offer this particular drawing (see one of the screenshots below). Anyway, this manual is very helpful and there's no control panel as with the YMML Melbourne airport. Ok, YMML is slightly complicated, much bigger with much more complex items. YPEC is, which we will see later, a very simple takeoff/landing strip. Lots of grass, a hangar, a fence and a few houses. More about this and other things later.

These shots are an extraction from the YPEC AeroPelican Airport. Apart of the first left hand shot, the other two are representing the same settings and tips for the other two reviewed airports. The left hand shot shows all the covered areas apart of the airport itself, the middle shot helps the user with suggested settings and the right shot gives the necessary tips to get the best out of your FTX products.

These shots are an extraction from the YPEC AeroPelican Airport. Apart of the first left hand shot, the other two are representing the same settings and tips for the other two reviewed airports. The left hand shot shows all the covered areas apart of the airport itself, the middle shot helps the user with suggested settings and the right shot gives the necessary tips to get the best out of your FTX products.

Let's have a quick look what the YWVA Warnervale manual brings. As said before and not strange, the overall manual is very similar to the previous one. This means - I didn't mention this before - there's no table of contents. I know, those manuals are not thick books but a table of contents is always welcome and gives the user a direct overview what's in there and which parts are interesting.

Furthermore you will find some airport information, photoreal scenery coverage and probably the most important pages with the necessary FSX adjustments and tweaks. Those simple things make live very easy. Just follow the pages and you're done. Also for this GA YWVA airfield, there’s no complex control panel like with YMML.

Anything left for the YMAV Avalon? Not really for the manual since all the previously mentioned items are already discussed. We're again dealing here with photoreal airport scenery which extends roughly 50 miles outside the airport fence with a resolution of 60cm/pixel. There is, however, a difference with the other two airports and that's the scheduled flight activity.

YMAV is the second busiest airport of the four around the Melbourne area and thus more "items" can be found at the airport. Not only this, there are regular scheduled passenger flights performed by JetStar Airways and the Australian International Airshow is held here as well, which is by the way, free of charge and downloadable from the FTX website. More about this feature later.

Because of its geographic location, there are two things you could add to this airport scenery. First it's a good idea to set the FSX "Airline AI traffic to 100%" and download and install their free FTX AU traffic package. Although not really belonging here; remember that AI traffic and the high resolution FTX AU aircraft could reduce your FPS dramatically but when you're system can handle it; I can tell you that it looks awesome.

I think this is it. After reading these manuals I can only come to one conclusion; the manuals reflect the same in-depth and comprehensive information as the FTX products although there's no table of contents but that's just a small missing detail.

Cross country YSCH-YPEC-YWVA-YMAV

What's the intention?

I mentioned this already but a little more detailed information is welcome. My plan is to discover the east to southeast coast of Australia or in terms of FTX, the GOLD and BLUE sceneries including the airports YPEC - YWVA - YMAV in that sequence. I'll depart with a rented Cessna 152 from YSCH (Coffs Harbor Airport) and follow the coastline in a southern direction. By the way, if you're interested in our AVSIM Coffs Harbour Airport review, just have a look down there. It's worth a read from my fellow reviewer David Rogers.

For many reasons I've activated the AUGOLD and BLUE FTX sceneries during this cross country trip. It gives you a great overview of how these products integrate into each other. Anyway, while heading south, we make a short stop at AeroPelican airport or I should say airfield or just a small bitumen strip. Don't expect to find a nice restaurant at this location but instead you will find a highly detailed airfield with surrounding area.

After a short rest and refueling, we jump back into our small but lovely baby, heading to the next stop which is close by; Warnervale airfield. We will not fly straight in a southwest direction but instead we will fly around AeroPelican and see what it's offering. I can tell you already, it will be a great experience and because of the high quality, we intend to fly between 500-1000 feet.

Map I ->

Map II ->

Map III

Stretch "I" (YSCH-YPEC) departs from the northern located airport of Coffs Harbor (YSCH) and following the coastline we should reach Pelican (YPEC). After a short stop it's just a short trip - which is stretch II - to Warnervale (YWVA). With the help of official charts we can't miss it and thus here is some more detailed information.

After takeoff YSCH we're heading for Swatell and Urunga and for this we could follow the coastline, the north coast railway or Pacific Highway 1. Once Urunga is in sight, we need to plan ahead via Nambucca Heads, South West Rocks and Port Macquarie. Also for this part of our stretch, we could follow one of the previous visual marks, but need to keep in mind that above Port Macquarie we have the Limeburners Creek Natural Reserve, and it's not recommended to fly over this reserve. Time to move on via Camden Haven to Tuncurry. From here via Wallis and Myall Lakes to Newcastle. Alternatively, we could also use the highway 1 since the railway goes inland. Hold on, we've almost reached our first airport YPEC, which is just south of Newcastle.

After stretch "I" and a refuel stop, it's time to move with stretch "II" (YPEC-YWVA) to our final destination for this day; Warnervale YWVA. Do we need a map for this? If you want you can look on map III but to be honest, our planned take off from AeroPelican will be simple and straightforward to Wangi Wangi and following a heading of roughly 250, we need to make a sharp left hand turn following the Sydney Newcastle Freeway. Just follow the freeway and 15-20 minutes later - based on an average speed of 90-100 knots - we've got YWVA in sight. It can't miss to be honest. It's not a complicated aerodrome but with the large factory/shopping centre/building north of it, we must be able to see it.

CAUTION: Clicking the above thumbnails results downloading the original map files. Because they are pretty big, be aware of longer download times than normal. On purpose I left them as originals, thus it allows you to print those at high resolution! I think it's more than obvious but just in case; you start with map I, than map II and finally map III. Map III covers not only YPEC, but also YWVA.

After some time flying around the Pelican area, we urgently need to head for YWVA. It's not situated on the coast but nonetheless an interesting place to go. After some circling around in this area and finding the photoreal sceneries, which are implemented here, it's time to land, swap aircraft and take a light meal. We need to do this since the next trip is slightly longer.

The next stretch will be by following the Hume highway. When the aircraft - a Cessna 172 - is fully loaded and refueled to the top, it's time to go since we want to reach Avalon in one day without a hotel stop inbetween. We will see if this turns out as we planned. If there's some times left, we could make a short hop to YMML, but that's for later.

This stretch "III" will be a tough one; it covers a distance of around 650NM, we need to climb to 4000 feet otherwise we got troubles because of the hills and moreover, we must be able to look ahead. As long as the highway is visible it's not really a problem, but along this stretch the Hume highway reduces to a simple two lane road and this could give some nasty moments. Ok, how does it look on the road map? Let's see what we've got.

Map IV

< - Map III

< - Map II

< - Map I

Stretch "III" (YWVA-YMAV) guides us to our final destination. Because of the overall distance - roughly 650NM - it's better to swap our aircraft and change to a Cessna 172N. It gives a little more comfort and it's able to fulfill its job without any problems. There stretch "II" ends - YWVA – and stretch "III" starts. We've planned to depart early in the morning and try to find our way with the help of the Sydney Newcastle freeway, followed by the Hume Highway. Our initial altitude will be 2000 feet, which gives us the ability to look far ahead. Once Sydney is behind us, we need to climb to 4000 feet because of the hills or mountains if you wish. The only thing we need to do is following the highway. That's all! Not that difficult to be honest but you will see that's not always that easy. Anyway, once we reach the Melbourne area, we don't need any ground assistance. From this moment on it's just head for Melbourne and fly in a SSW direction. This should bring us straight to Avalon airport.

The same cautions for these four maps are applicable as well, and we start with map I, then II and so on.


You're briefed and ready to join me on my virtual VFR cross country trip? Right on, so be quite and enjoy the outside view.

Stretch I - Visiting AeroPelican (YSCH-YPEC)

It seems we've found our aircraft, a freshly painted Cessna 152II. We've also found the information desk where we can check the latest weather reports although when looking outside, it seems to me that it will be a wonderful day for making this cross country flight and thus having an in-depth check of the Orbx FTX airports. I've done my paper work, filed my flight plan as far as possible and here we go. The external check tells me that it all looks fine; it's fully refueled so nothing keeps me here at Coffs Harbor Airport.

You're ready... great... I'm ready too, so tighten your belt, hold the virtual camera in position and while my flying partner is wrestling with his headset, I'll start the engine and taxi to the assigned runway.

This stretch initially shows the power of the FTX AUGOLD scenery while at the end, when we've past Newcastle, it will show the photoreal sceneries as well as the airport and surrounding area. I still think making this flight from Coffs Harbor along the coast towards YPEC is worth showing you my flight experiences and thus the FTX product. I know, in part I of the FTX discovery, I discussed already all the FTX scenery products, but now it's time to check it for real with the help of an roadmap, which is by the way, available for free download.

Ok, back to our virtual flight. We're ready for takeoff from runway 03, which heads us to the north - not strange - and south of Little Muttonbird Island we make a nice 360 turn before flying to Sawtell. Although we don't discuss Coffs Harbor airport here, you can see very clearly that at the airport and around it they used photoreal material. Not always very visible but the inner water lakes has sandbanks and a beach. When no digital material is used, the beach has one color while with photo material it looks as real as Google Earth shots.

Anyway, we're heading forward or is it downward to our first interesting point; Urunga with its nice water color. We don't have too much time, although the virtual co-pilot can look around and take the necessary pictures. Remember, while flying along the coast all the ground textures are no longer photoreal material, however, it still looks great and following our position on the previous maps is very easy. Ok, passing Nambucca Heads it’s still very realistic although the houses or the way they are situated and the amount is probably not 100% Google proof, but you've got the difference between a photorealistic scenery and the Orbx FTX scenery ground tiles. What I like; it depends in the area you’re flying but seeing how this is made, my compliments.

Boambee Beach looking in a northern direction Urunga with Uranga Lagoon Urunga village looking in a northern direction
Scotts Head, near the city of Nambucca South West Rocks North Haven with Dodragan National Park and mountain
First part of stretch I YSCH-YPEC. There was much more to see in between but on the other hand, that could be your challenge exploring it by yourself. Together with the previous maps (I+II+III), you should be able to find those screenshot locations.

Far ahead of me, I can see South West Rocks with the Big and little smoke mountains or are they hills?. Whatever you call them, a double check on our road map and that in combination with FSX FTX, tells me what I need to see there and thus it's a pleasure that it's correct. Via the coast we pass several landmarks but Port Macquarie can't be missed and keeping in mind that our flight level ... oops sorry … our altitude is around 1020 feet, so not very high but specially done. For the same purpose I did this during my part I FTX discovery, crossing the whole Australian continent. Flying at low altitudes is really fun and I can still remember that I had the same pleasure when I did the GEX and UTX review.

Ok, I told you that Port Macquarie can't be missed and looking at the map, it tells me that there's a lighthouse, and indeed, it's simulated and I've got the impression I can see Nobby Head and Shelly Beach, but I'm not sure about this. Suppose I'm wrong and I'm a little off line? Never mind, it still looks real and also the far sight with its mountains, roads, forests and more, is very clearly visible. It could be that this is a result of my high end PC and thus the FSX sliders position.

Via Lighthouse Beach - very well visible - we fly via Bonny Hills to Camden Haven. Just before this small town there’s a nice view of the North Haven breakers, or let’s hope. Clearly visible is the handmade canal, which connects both lakes with the sea. Oops, by the way; we're talking about the upper- and lower Queens lakes and in between Dooragan National Park with its only and single mountain. Very impressive and I could stay here for hours but we need to continue.

Via one point, we fly to the other point and are constantly checking for landmarks. In this area there are lots of landmarks like small villages, beaches and the absence of the Pacific Highway 1, but instead of this we can follow the Lakes Way, going to the heart of Tuncurry.

From here we could follow The Lakes Way, which comes together again with the Pacific Highway. This allows us to follow the road for a moment and bypasses the Myall Lakes National Park. Not a strange name because this area is full of lakes, and even more lakes. When we're approaching Nelson Bay it's time to return to the coastline and pick up our initial route to Newcastle. By the way, this means we're almost at Pelican Airport. Wow, that was not bad at all.

Anyway, south of Newcastle at Read Head Point we see a different beach. It seems the beach shapes and sand colors are different than before or is it ... indeed, this is because of the use of photoreal material. In other words, this is the point where the Aero Pelican airport and surrounding areas has began and I can tell you from 1000-800 feet, it makes a huge difference and I would like to welcome you to the Orbx FTX YPEC airport.

Before landing, we fly around a little in this area to see all the ins and outs of this photoreal place. For me not really a problem, but you have to keep in mind that due to the extreme high details and the use of high quality photo material, you've got another FPS drop. Not much but there it is. This is very well visible when you're flying for example in a SSW (South South West) direction to the RH end of Wangi Wangi. The first part of the water is photoreal material while the second part - Swansea - is the basic FSX or in my case, the modified REX water textures/colors. Anyway, time to circle around here before our final approach at YPEC.

Mix between the cities Tuncurry and Forster Cape Hawke Seven Mile Beach and Wallis Lake
The Broughton - and it's Little brother Island Stockton Beach with Newcastle Harbour and Nobbys Head It should be the same Newcastle view from a different angle
Finally, ending with screenshots from Newcastle, we've come to the end and reached the airport of AeroPelican. It was not a long flight but nonetheless impressive that you're able to use an ordinary road map and pinpoint all the necessary landmarks in the FTX scenery.

At and around AeroPelican (YPEC)

To get the best impression of the quality, it's a good idea to stay as low as possible, although I know that when there was ATC they wouldn't be happy with it. Anyway, there's none so I'll try to maintain an altitude of 500 feet. It's really fun finding so many details like ordinary streetlights or traffic lights. By the way, YPEC is built inbetween not only the Pelican village, but also by Marks Point in the north and Blacksmiths with Pelican in the south.

Ok, back to the details: at the airport itself and the surrounding residential areas, photoreal material is used and this can be seen and makes a great impression on me compared to the normal ground textures tiles. This means that making Google Earth screenshots result in the same FTX YPEC scenery. Apart from that the surrounding area is full with houses, roads, bridges and much more. The best photoreal images are those at the airport itself.

Although YPEC is a very small local GA (General Aviation) airport, it's highly detailed and looks as real as it gets. When preparing for a straight-in approach for runway 07, you need to fly over the inner lake and since this water is partly photoreal textures, it's so incredibly realistic that you really have the idea you're flying above the real lake.

It's very difficult to describe this and even screenshots will not help at all but it should give you a good and realistic idea of what to expect when you buy it. Another example, which I already partly discussed, are the beaches; in particular those near Blacksmiths and east of Belmont South. Flying over the beach - it's a cloudy day so there's nobody lying on the beach which gave me a terrific look. Why is it so unbelievable great? Simple, because it's full with photoreal material and thus comparisons during a low fly over via Google Earth shows me how real this is. In other words; if you're outside or inside the airport fence, the amount of photoreal material used makes it all complete and is fun for flying around here. The only difference between inside and outside the fences is the pixel size.

Are more examples needed to impress you with this high resolution GA airport and surrounding area? Just have a look at the following screenshots and see for yourself and I'm serious, this is a "must have" airport with, of course, the FTX AUGOLD and BLUE area. I know, YPEC is situated in the AUGOLD area but it's situated very close to the AUBLUE scenery and since you will fly this area with a visit to Warnervale, you’ll need the AUBLUE as well. OK, it's not cheap - AUGOLD + YPEC and AUBLUE with YWVA - but it's absolutely worth every Australian penny and especially for those flight simmers who are crazy about flying GA cross country.

Seen enough? I hope so since it's time to land and make the necessary preparations like refueling, paperwork and some reservations for tomorrow’s flight from Warnervale to Avalon. Approaching from the inner lake, we slowly select our flaps to FULL extend, gear down - wrong, it's fixed gear - and reduce altitude accordingly. The runway is more than long enough but we need to remember that at the end you've got a road, which runs parallel along the beach.

While entering the airport area I do notice a small drop of frames but you get so much back for this FPS drop. With the Settings-Display-Traffic GA traffic density and road vehicles active, Pelican is suddenly full of activities and while taxiing to one of the assigned parking spots, some trucks and cars are passing at the end behind the fence.

Regarding this I need to make one remark; when you've installed AUGOLD or any other Australian scenery pack, you need to install the free ROAD fix else the cars and trucks are unfortunately not driving/situated on the assigned road itself, but half on the airport field and thus not correctly aligned. When you don't have this traffic option active, you'll never notice it. However in my case, I do and thus I see this misalignment. So, to make it clear; when you have AUGOLD and/or AUBLUE installed, download and install this ROAD fix and everything runs fine. Find here for your convenience the forum posting link and more important, the software link for the FTZ AU roads.

Some shots of the FTX YPEC airport. I could make hundreds of this small airport just to show you the many available details but there's no space for and then it will become a slide show. These six and the previous shots should tell you already how much effort is put into the creation of this airport. As can be seen on the runway and taxiway shots, those are pure digital material and of a very high pixel quality, giving the virtual pilot the feeling it's as real as it gets!

We've parked our plane at one of the many available spots. Groundcrew assist us with refueling and a few other things and because of these activities, it gives me time to look around inside one of the many available hangars. Ok, hangar is a little too much but it's exactly as it is in real. For the hangars and also for the small house outside the fence, photoreal material is used to create something awesome.

Using this word is absolutely worth the way these hangars, waste bins and other small equipment look. Via the grass platform, I use the pedestrian crossing through the fence to the entrance. I'm a little curious how it looks when staying behind the fence looking at the planes coming in and going out. By doing this it also gives me a good idea how simple things like sights or billboards are made and because of that, have a look at the Welcome sign screenshot.

Wow! It seems it doesn't make any difference in which direction I look, where possible the FTX team uses photoreal material to give it an incredible look and on those places or objects where it's not possible, it's fully integrated in the environment including the grass.

Around YPEC you'll find many villages, swamps, lakes, lots of beaches and much more. A mix of this can be found above, so please click the thumbnails. You'll be impressed of the suburb quality and in particular, one of my favorites, the photoreal water color. That's really awesome!

I can't find anything which could disappoint me. I also know that a GA airport like this and probably the same as for Warnervale, are uncomplicated and thus easy to create, but while writing this I also know that their YMML Melbourne International airport add-on scenery is a highly realistic monster full of tiny details and lots of photorealistic material.

Stretch II - Night stop at Warnervale (YPEC-YWVA)

Oops, they’re calling me. I need to hurry else our Cessna 152II departs without me and even though it's in the vicinity of Pelican, it's still too far to walk. All the preparations are done and thus it’s time to fly at low GA level to YWVA, our next stop and night stay. I've been informed that there's enough to see, eat and lots of drinks like ... oh yes, beer and wine. Since Warnervale is very close by, we decide to take the road map and fly via landmarks to our next stop. See it as a challenge to fly via the old fashioned way.

Flying to YWVA can be done by following the lakes and/or roads. Let's see what possibilities there are. We could follow the Pacific Highway in a southern direction and follow it until it turns right. From the point where the highway continues in a southern direction, we maintain our heading until we cross the Sydney Newcastle Freeway. There, where road number 111 connects the Sydney Newcastle Freeway, it's just a few miles south of it and we should see it from an altitude of 500-1000 feet.

Another possible option is departing from runway 25 and via Wangi Wangi in a straight line - heading 250 - till we cross the previously mentioned Sydney Newcastle Freeway. We then follow the freeway until road 111 and the rest is as it was discussed. Enough options so let's go.

Because of the chosen runway, we don't need to taxi too long. A last wave to the passing cars and trucks on the road and there we go, up into the sky enroute to Wangi Wangi. Although our 152 is fully refueled, we still don't need the whole runway and slowly we climb to our planned 1000 feet. A top view of the photoreal water beneath us is breathtaking to be honest. Probably it has to do with my slider settings but it's so unbelievable real that I can't describe the real look of it.

Far before reaching the other side of the lake, we've been leveling off at 1000 feet and it's time to keep the heading in view. Is it really necessary to watch our heading? Not really since there are wonderful landmarks out there. First we should pass on our right hand side, the Wangi Power Station and a little further, the Eraring Power Station. Both are dominating the sky and therefore you can't miss them.

Looking down to mother Aussie Earth, it tells me how awesome it all looks. Not surprisingly since this part - YPEC Eraring Power Station - is one of the YPEC photoreal sceneries belonging to this piece of software and I almost forgot the incredible detailed look of the power station with distribution lines and that from an altitude of 1000 feet. It's situated until the Sydney Newcastle Freeway, which is the same location where we need to make a sharp turn to the left.

Lake Wangi Wangi with on your left the Eraring Power Station Close-up of Rathmines with the Eraring Power Station Sharp left turn to pick up our visual guide; the Sydney Newcastle FWY
Nice VC view while flying along the Sydney Newcastle FWY Left of the white/grey building lies Warnervale Airport Before landing on quick shot of sister airport Warnervale
After our short break it's time to find Warnervale airport. It's just a 30 minute flight but more or less completely photoreal ground textures. Apart from these high resolution graphics, there's also a lot more to see like the highly detailed power stations. By the way, clearly visible at the lower middle screenshot is the Sydney Newcastle FYW. What you see here is a photoreal freeway and a little further, the freeway is no longer digital material and therefore its color changes. It’s a pity but I can live with that. I'll point it out to you a little later of how a freeway or highway looks without photoreal textures.

Can you miss the Freeway? No, that's more or less impossible and following the freeway in a southern direction is very easy. While flying and following the freeway, we pass another photoreal YPEC scenery - Vale Point Power Station - and we now see Warnervale airport. Ok, I don't see the runway yet, but it's located very closely to the freeway, which means it's not difficult to see it and thus you can't miss it. By the way, since we're close to Warnervale, we've also entered another YPEC photoreal scenery.

All of this is part of the YPEC package and it's perfectly blended, or if you wish, integrated in the default AUBLUE or AU GOLD FTX scenery. Before making the necessary approach preparations, we fly around in the Wyong area, which is, of course, photoreal material and belongs to either the YPEC or YWVA airport package. You're curious how this FTX WYVA surrounding area looks? Find here some screenshots from this large and realistic looking area.

While walking at Warnervale YWVA Aerodrome, there's so much to see that I honestly don't know where to start or what to shoot. Simple things like signs, billboards, tank station, static aircrafts, building made with high resolution pixel images. There's really so much to see and since it's all within the fences, the 15cm pixel quality makes it suburb. I can't find another word since it's absolutely worth the extreme high quality.

It's time for our landing and therefore we decide to take a Victor-1 approach, which can be found in the YWVA manual. Although it's only one runway, there are many approaches possible. In our case we enter the pattern via a SSE (South South East) fly-in and thus we need to land on runway 20. I’ll tell you, don't expect too much of this airport.

No, I don't mean that the FTX YWVA is nothing ... no I mean the complexity of the airport itself. It's just a GA airfield with little to no facilities but this has nothing to do with the detailed and highly realistic look of all the buildings, grass, ground textures, and other things I've forgotten. Via a last turn at pattern altitude, we're ready for our final approach and after landing it's also time to say goodbye to our Cessna 152II.

We need to jump into its bigger brother, the Cessna 172 from Carenado since our upcoming stretch to Avalon near Melbourne is too far to fly in one trip with this 152II. What does it matter, the Cessna 172 offers a little more internal space and we can take some additional souvenirs with us.

That’s enough for today. Right now I'm not interested in having a look at the airport to see how it's made. Tomorrow’s a fresh and shiny day and while the pilot needs to arrange all the things for our next leg, I will have the time a look around at YWVA and see how YWVA is made.

Exploring sister airport Warnervale

This is something I didn't expect and nobody told me that we're going depart very early in the morning. Not that early since I can see the sun already slowly rising which results in nice warm morning sunlight all over the landscape and mountains in the west. As said yesterday, now I've got some time to walk all over the airport and see how it's made. We did see this quality already at YPEC, but for YWVA it's not that different. Within the fences you find a resolution of 15cm, 30cm near the airport and 60cm further away, so there's nothing to complain about.

Before arriving at the airport itself, there's a small parking lot for cars and visitors, in case they want to see something. In our case, we're looking at a highly detailed object like a simple fence, the signs - unbelievable sharp by the way - the walls, windows, and even the Douglas DC3 looks fantastic. You can't fly with the Douglas DC3 but that doesn't matter. It looks gorgeous and not only this old-timer but also the photoreal ground textures of the very old hardly visible taxiway and the runway itself is also a masterpiece.

So detailed! I've never seen this before to be very honest except when I reviewed the YMML Melbourne airport scenery. I know, it's not difficult as long as you use the right photo material and as long as you can create it but they - the Orbx team - did it and the results are stunning. It all sounds a little exaggerated but it's really awesome and even those airport pictures will never tell you what I've seen on my screen or should I say that it really felt like I was really at this airport in the south of Australia.

Ok, it gives me enough time to walk around from one end to the other end of the runway and this is more or less also the length of the airport. One side of the airport is covered by trees and the photoreal grass blends perfectly into this green hedge while the other side offers some hangars and the airport office. It's not much in real life and thus it looks simple as well at this FTX YWVA airport. It may be simple, but it's full of tiny details like the fuel pump, wind sock with the white painted tires around it in a circle and ... I could continue for hours like this. Have a look for yourself. That's much better.

Our last stretch - YWVA-YMAV - is ready to begin. It's early in the morning, cloudy, the sun is rising and this gives a nice colored light mix. While the pilot is busy doing his things, I'll make a last round at the airport and the same as yesterday, I'm still impressed about the unbelievable amount of details. Every time you see something else, every time you're again surprised. Anything more, no way!

You've seen it? I suppose so and although it was early in the morning and thus the light conditions are not optimal, it still offers lots of interesting details and thus a good overview of the intense quality of this GA airport. I can hardly call it an airport but at the same time, I have to admit that it has a paved runway, which is not bad at all. That the grass covers the edges of the runway, that doesn't matter for us. It seems I've to go back to the main office where we get a briefing of our Avalon flight.

Stretch III - Cup of coffee at Avalon (YWVA-YMAV)

Pretty long distance and I believe we're not flying along the coast but more or less in a straight line to Melbourne area. This means that this first part of the flight from YWVA to YMAV is a cross country impression of AUBLUE, which I did discuss already during my part I. Anyway, a second impression at low altitude is always welcome.

Ok, our flight will look like (in order): DCT Wyong - Hornsby - Liverpool - Hume Highway - Mittagong - Hume Highway - Goulburn - Hume Highway - Yass - Cootamundra - Wagga Wagga - Albury - Lake Mokoan - Hume Freeway M31 - Seymour - Sunbury - Melton - YMAV.

That's a long list! I could reduce the list by following the Hume Highway from Sydney, and before you know we've got Melbourne in view but I prefer to offer as many details as possible. With this in mind, it's time to move so let's jump in our Cessna 172. Melbourne, here we come!

As you could see already on the previous screenshots, it's very cloudy so we hope we're able to follow the highway or freeway, whatever is applicable.
Since it's a long distance to go, let's make it a little easier and let's take runway 20. Our initial altitude will be 2000 feet which allows us to follow the highway/freeway far ahead and thus we're able to shortcut the twisting road.

Full throttle is applied and there we go, up again in the Australian sky. Climbing for 1000 feet, we look once more at Warnervale airport. The weather is not bad; it's neither raining nor is there low visibility so we should be able to follow the road without the need of tuning a VOR or NDB beacon. It takes a while before reaching the Sydney area and while approaching it, we need to be carefully watching the highway and don't lose it out of our sight. The highway is moving along the northern part of the Sydney area and that keeps us away from the residential part.

Via Liverpool we're trying to follow the Hume Highway and after we've left Campbelltown behind us, it's time to climb to 3000 or 4000 feet. It increases our sight and not only that; we need to pass some mountains or are they just ordinary hills. Staying at roughly 2000 feet will give too many problems, so we go up and start looking at the cloud ceiling, we should be able to do this. It could be that under certain conditions we're flying through the clouds but as long as we're able to see the ground, there's no problem.

While I try to assist the virtual pilot, I'm also making the necessary screenshots for later, although screenshots never represent what I see. I could make a movie and dump it on YouTube but for many reason I prefer to stick to simple screenshots. While passing Mittagong/Bowral at 3400 feet, we still need to climb since I've got the idea that mother Earth is coming close by. There's so much to see and I would like to show you much more than only these screenshots but that's not possible. For example, after Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale, we have a magnificent view of the Morton National Park. Ok, it's still far away from us, but because of our higher altitude and the great view, we have a very good impression of this. Oops, we need to watch out or else we'll lose the highway.

Just before liftoff
YWAV Warnervale
Warnervale with lake Tuggerah Flying parallel to the Syney Newcastle FWY
Near Liverpool/Sydney, where Hume South Western Motorway meets the Sydney Newcastle FWY Passing Campbelltown Looking in the direction of Mittagong/Bowral with a nice landscape overview

Our next mark is coming in sight; Goulburn. We pass Goulburn at 4000 feet on the south west side with the split between the 31 (Hume Hwy) and 23 (Federal Hwy). It's funny how easy it is following our way from the Sydney area through the country to Melbourne’s residential area. Ok, we hurry on since our aircraft is not stopping and can't be put in pause mode. The landscape, and thus the FTX interpretation of their continent, is diverse. One moment you only see forests, then only arable land, then cities or villages and that’s all together beneath us. As said before, our goal is to follow the Hume highway, which is, so far, very easy.

Before we know, we've reached the city of Yass and just before it, there's a road triangle where the Valley Way, Barton Highway and our Hume Highway meet together. Probably mentioned before but I want to make it once more clear, the city of Yass is probably not a 100% fully real looking city since it's not a photoreal scenery, although it does looks good. Not much time to check every detail here, which is also difficult because of our being at 4000 feet thus we're heading for our next large stop; Gundagia.

This part of our trip is not as easy as I had hoped. Not because it isn't simulated but simply because the Hume Highway reduces from four lanes to just two lanes. Not the whole road but bits and pieces of it. Just enough to miss a junction and then you're off the road, so pay attention while flying this yourself. Flying between the hills I can already see the Murrumbidgee River with the bridge, just south of Gundagai. Keeping that road map in mind, there are so many other scenic points available like Mount Adrah or a little further away, Mount Yaven.

One of the last difficult stretches is waiting ahead of us. More or less the same problem here with the Hume Highway. Lots of pieces are no longer four lanes but about half of it, thus making it more difficult to follow the correct route/direction. On the other hand, far, far away we should see Lake Hume and if we're lucky, the cities of Albury and Wodonga. Ok, forget the cities but the lake, that shouldn't be a big problem since this is huge. Along our Hume Highway we do pass some interesting points like the Carabost State Forest and Woomargana National Park, named to a small city of Woomagara, which lies along our road.

Finally, there's Lake Hum in front of us with the city of Albury on the north side and south of it, Wodonga. I'm a happy person since the Hume Highway made it a little difficult for me to follow because of the constant change of lanes and also due to the lowering cloud level. Because of that, I wasn't able to look too far ahead but as said, I'm a happy person since we found the lake.

The stretch along the state forest and national park was really fantastic and I know; a tree is a tree and a forest is a forest, but combining it all together makes it a pleasant flight at this - slightly higher than planned - FTX created landscape. While maintaining our heading, it seems we're in the correct direction of overflying Albury Aerodrome (YMAY). Now while closing Albury Aerodrome, the two cities are clearly visible as well as the Hume Highway bridge over the Murray river. Because of my extreme FSX settings - much higher than suggested - and the basic over clocked PC (only the CPU ration is set to 30x, which gives me a 4.02Ghz), it still suffers from autogen houses.

Ok, the suffering is not that heavy since I'm still able to get 20-23 FPS, and flying with this is still a pleasure. In the mean time we've past the bridge and are turning to the right, initially following the river and of course, keeping an eye on our friend, the Hume Highway.

With the McDonalds Hill and Mount Lady Franklin in front of us, we pass Chiltern and before we know, we see Lake Mokoan on our right hand side, which is by the way, a huge water reserve. It seems the landscape down there is changing; lots of agriculture on the north and south of our highway hills with forests. Although we haven't reached the Melbourne area, the only places of interests we pass are Euroa and Seymour.

Once we've passed the city of Seymour, Melbourne business center is already visible. However, I still think it's at least 30 minutes flying from here. Anyway, we can throw the road map in one of the corners of the cabin and just fly by looking around and keeping the skyline in sight. To be honest, to reach Avalon Airport, we need to be on the right hand side from our current location. It brings us very close to Melbourne International airport YMML. No, it's not covered in this review since we did this already. Ok, some details before reaching Avalon; we keep Sunbury and Melton on our right hand side while flying in the direction of Point Richards Channel. Then follow the coast line and we've reached our final destination.

Although the landscape is different here - flat, green, no forests etc - it's still impressive. I've descended back to 2000 feet to check the outside world and see how real it looks. I say it again; remember, the FTX BLUE scenery is not a photoreal scenery but still it seems that the reality is very close. The ground texture tiles used are well integrated and together with the autogen function - just mentioning one of the many improvements - it all becomes alive.

I'm tired from this long cross country trip and I've got no energy to look around at Avalon Airport. That will be something for the next day to explore as well as the detailed airport. Since there's no ATC available - that's the advantage of flying offline without MSFS ATC active - I can do what I want and thus I've decided to turn in for runway 36. This, by the way, gives me a nice overview of the main platform and hangers, which from this distance, look highly realistic. Taxiing to one of the hangars takes a little longer than expected but it's worth looking around at what's been created by the FTX team or is it Orbx team? Anyway, the FPS are still within limits and reasonable to fly or taxi with.

The city of Goulburn Near Goulburn, looking into a northern direction Oops, what's this? Nice picture but I'm lost. No idea where this is!
Hume Highway splits and new part becomes the Federal Highway 23 Near Yass, where we find a triangle of main roads Another look at Yass
Approaching Gundagai South Gundagai with scenic view Approaching Lake Hume
Passing Lake Hume Albury and Wodonga McDonalds Hill with Lake Mokoan
Entering Melbourne Airspace Approaching Avalon Airport Nice overview of the Qantas Maintenance Facility
These screenshots cover most of stretch III to Avalon Airport and never show you what was all in-between. It's a very small collection of shots but it should be enough to tell you that with the road map in your hand, you're able to follow your way in the sky to Melbourne area

What's up at Avalon Airport

While we're guided to our overnight parking location, and our virtual pilot takes care for the paper work, it gives me the opportunity to look around at the airport and I must admit, it looks awesome. I know, I just said that I'll do it tomorrow but after being back on the ground, it seems I've got a little more energy to look around. There's no control panel like we had with YMML, thus Avalon Airport can't be adjusted. There's not really a need for it since the airport doesn't offer any complicated buildings - except for the highly detailed hangars - or gates etc. Let's give you an idea how Avalon Airport looks and you will see that it's a totally different airport than the previous discussed airports.

Does this cover all the ins and outs of Avalon airport? Probably not but it will for sure show you the impact of this airport. No, it's not as detailed as its bigger brother in the Melbourne region, YMML. And it doesn't offer gates, bridges and all of that but instead it offers many other things which makes it a very nice add-on. The high detail of YMAV is visible everywhere at the airport; from the arrival/departure building/platform, the fuel station, the maintenance facilities, parking lots, control tower, remaining building and of course the 50 miles of photoreal scenery around the airport itself.

As with the real YMAV, it only offers one runway but everywhere on the FTX YMAV airport is something interesting to see. Not directly needed but absolutely worth installing it, is the free FTX AU TRAFFIC package, as well as the Avalon Airshow 2009 installer. Anyway, the airport offers a simple arrival/departure building with a huge parking lot and it seems it's needed for all those passengers leaving their car or truck behind, and all those who are waiting for their friend or partner, plus all those looking around in the restaurant. Is this all that's visible? For passengers and/or tourists it's the only place to be but there's much more. Let's look in more detail what this payware Avalon Airfield, or is it Airport, offers.

While writing this review, it seems that the official Avalon website is still under construction. It offers some information and it tells me that JetStar - low cost operator and a full daughter from Qantas - offers regular flights from here and the already mentioned yearly held Airshow.

Wikipedia offers a little more information about the airfield, like its history and some pictures of the passenger terminal. Oops, terminal in this case and thus the simulated FTX version, is going too far. It's just a very simple building with some activities, which seems to be the check-in counters, one or more luggage belts, a restaurant and merchandising shop. Ok, all that's inside the building is not simulated in the FTX Avalon version and there's no need for it to be.

We're interested in those tiny external details as known from other FTX airports, and I can tell you, you will find a lot of things. The airport is still uncomplicated which means there's no special control panel to adjust the level of detail. For now it's uncomplicated but searching on the Internet tells me that Avalon will soon become an International Airport with a brand new international terminal, so lots of planning ahead. For now, we need to check the current FTX Avalon Airfield/airport.

It's time to have a walk to one of the hangars. It seems to me that those are from Qantas Maintenance, but I'm not 100% sure. Although in front of each of them there's a Boeing 757 and 747-400. The hangars are simple - most of the time a hangar is a simple construction - but still realistic. The arrival/departure platforms near the passenger building doesn't offer the same high detailed quality or photographic images as for example, with the FTX YMML Melbourne International main platforms. Anyway, it's still full of details and lots of photoreal material is used to create hangars, shops, stairs, carts and much more.

Walking around the technical area with - in my case - two Qantas airplanes waiting for their maintenance check, I'm impressed but I saw this already when I arrived at Avalon when we flew over the maintenance area. Then there's the control tower, situated far away from every other building. It's a long walk before we've reached it and because of this, we're picked up by one of the local airport guys. It seems to me that the control tower and belonging building are partly created with both photoreal and handmade material. Nonetheless, it's looks realistic and via the virtual stairs, it's not a long walk to the top of the control tower where we have a nice and interesting airport overview. What I completely forgot to mention are all the parking lots full of 3D looking cars or trucks and all the other airport equipment like containers, fuel trucks with the fuel station, stairs, baggage carts and whatever else can be found at the airport.

My overall impression is that this airport is again a nice and interesting one and swings somewhere between a GA (General Aviation) and medium international version. Those international flights from JetStar are to Denpasar (Bali-Indonesia), Osaka (Japan), Bangkok, Puket (Thailand) and Ho Chi Minh City (Taiwan). The rest of the national flights are within Australia.

Because of the increasing international market, the real plans are to development a 7,300 m2 international passenger terminal with external areas for baggage handling facilities. The international terminal will include an entrance foyer; facilities for passenger security screening, customs and passport control, a quarantine area, passenger lounges, and retail and café amenities. The proposed international passenger terminal will be located to the east of the existing domestic terminal. The current FTX YMAV airport can't handle all those expanding flights since currently it's too simple. What I only hope is that when the time comes, the FTX Avalon airport is modified as well.

Close-up hangar facility with far away the control tower Maintenance Area with overview passenger terminal Power plan or .....
Anyway, highly detailed object
Fuel distribution station Corridor along hangars One of the passenger billboards with passenger terminal
Each individual screenshot offers a story by itself. Every shot offers many details and very important, each one gives you the feeling that it's as real as it gets. To achieve this a lot of photoreal material is used to get the best of the best with reasonable FPS and that's what we all want!

Ok, it's time to go finish this last cross country stretch. Apart from the VFR flight, which had nothing to do with my YMAV review, it was still a confirmation for me what kind of quality you can expect from this AUBLUE FTX scenery. The fact that this scenery offers re-modeled lakes, rivers, roads, ground texture tiles and all the other things I've forgotten and that I could, and in your case can, use an ordinary road map, tells me enough about the high and detailed quality.

Arriving at Victoria with the planned landing at Avalon Airport and the investigation of the YMAV quality, I can only come to one conclusion. For the price of US$28.63 (€21.69) this Avalon Airport is worth your money but there's one note. I'm a little disappointed that the main arrival/departure platform is not based on the same high quality photoreal material as we've seen with YMML airport. See the screenshots below as to what I miss and hopefully this could be implemented with an Service Pack.

Anything left or is something forgotten? No, ok then let's take a moment and see what this and all the other airports offer. Each airport we've seen offers unbelievable realistic look. One a little more than the other or is it because of the environment? The water color around AeroPelican with the great looking beaches, or the buildings and static airplanes at Warnervale or just as important, the highly realistic hangars at Avalon. Each airport offers something special or if you wish a unique virtual view which has given me the feeling that a higher quality is hardly possible or at least, I haven't seen it.

Ok, one negative item which needs to be mentioned and that are the Avalon passenger platforms near or in the direct vicinity of the passenger terminal. These are of a different, and in my personal opinion, of a lower quality than the ones used at YMML. What’s the reason of this? I don't know and it's not bad to be honest, but a comparison with YMML is quickly taken, which result in a judgment.

Probably this will be modified when Orbx decides to make an Avalon YMAV Service Pack and if they decide not to bring out any SP, no a big deal! I know this because I reviewed YMML and I know the platform structure used at YMML (which looks unbelievable realistic) but when you haven't seen the YMML platform along with the gates, you'll never know it or will never complain about it.

The overall airport quality, even for GA or small national/international flight, is awesome. Personally I like AeroPelican and Warnervale more than Avalon but that’s because of the extremely high pixel quality and the bush design. Before I forget it; Avalon airport comes with a 50 square mile photoreal area around it. I didn't take the time to disable FTX AUBLUE, where you could see where the actual FTX Avalon airport goes. There's no need to do this since I think the best way of using these airports is always in combination with AUBLUE and/or AUGOLD. This is at least needed in combination with those three airports.

Did I really cover every airport corner? I don't think so since there's a lot to discover, to see and to check to se if you've missed a specific spot. Still I think I've handled most of the interesting parts in between the airports as well as on the airports temselves. Because these are uncomplicated airports unlike Melbourne International, it's much easier to discover and judge about the buildings but there's something else. How will it look when you don't want to buy these reviewed airports? Is it still fun flying around or will you be shocked about the default Microsoft FSX airports. Let's find that out in the next chapter.

What's Aussie without these FTX airports?

Is it worth showing you that? Yes, I need to show you FSX without these FTX airports and believe me, it's shocking when you see what you're missing. When you like to fly pure and only VFR and have fun with high quality add-on airports in the Australian continent, then you can't fly without FTX. But before I continue, let's first show you the impact of no FTX and with FTX airports.

FSX default close-up FSX default overview
FTX YMAV close-up FTX YMAV close-up
Avalon Airport
A good example of what screenshots can do. The default Avalon airport does exist but that's all. It doesn't look at all like the real one. Anyway, Orbx’s interpretation and simulation of the real Avalon airport worked out successfully and justifies buying this small national/international airport.
FSX default close-up FSX default overview
FTX YPEC close-up FTX YPEC close-up
AeroPelican Airfield
The default airport exists but that's not all. It looks horrible, far from the reality and even with REX (Real Environment Xtreme) water textures active, the surrounding lakes look like nothing. The moment you've installed YPEC, not only does the aerodrome itself become alive with all its tiny details but also Pelican and other suburbs. Especially those details “outside the aerodrome fence” makes this FTX YPEC scenery worth every penny!
FSX default close-up FSX default overview
FTX YWVA close-up FTX YWVA close-up
Warnervale Airfield
You're right and there's nothing wrong with the upper row of default FSX YWVA screenshots; according to Microsoft there's no YWVA.. Not at all! Not only does the close-up shot confirm that, the overview taken at an altitude of 750 feet shows that there's no Warnervale at all. Lucky for all those YWVA fans that Orbx made this possible. It's a simple and small aerodrome but full with details, that’s for sure.

Is any additional text needed? These screenshots show you immediately the impact of the three reviewed airports. Let's start with Warnervale; that's simple and doesn't need any words. It simply doesn't exist so any improvement is worth it.

The impact of AeroPelican, although it exists in the default FSX scenery, is nothing more than not worth landing at but the moment you've seen what FTX YPEC can do with it, you will want it and remember, it offers not only a completely remodeled airport or airfield, together with YPEC you also get the surrounding photoreal scenery.

Last but not least YMAV, Avalon International Airport. I did install the additional FTX AU traffic pack because of the JetStar AI airplanes but apart from this, the default airport looks - as usual with FSX - horrible and thus FTX brings life where there's nothing. I also installed the free Avalon Airshow 2009 package, but on purpose didn't make any screenshots of it. Why? Because it doesn't belong in this review, but I can recommend when you've bought the Avalon airport, install the previous free packages as well. It makes the basic FTX Avalon airport something more exiting, something more complete.

I leave this sub-chapter like it is. No more words or comments on what you're missing if you don't buy it. Oops, one last remark; when you already own or plan to buy the FTX YMML airport scenery, then you should absolutely consider buying YMAV as well. You should see these two airports like a brother and sister and no, I'm not a team member of Orbx Simulation Systems and I don't get any money from them by writing this. It's simply the truth of how I see these FTX Aussie products.

The Avalon Airshow 2009

It's freeware and not really a part of this payware airport review, but it's really fun being able to meet all the virtual people and their airplanes visiting Avalon during the yearly Airshow. As said above, it's freeware and directly downloadable and it’s very easy to install. Not much to say about this. After you're ready, you've got a manual shortcut and control panel on your desktop, as well as it being accessible via the Start menu button.

The manual gives - as usual - some background information about the airshows and probably even more important, the best way to adjust your sliders. Remember, when setting the airplane AI sliders to the max, it will have a huge FPS impact, but on the other hand, you really get a lot back. Suddenly you will find in the vicinity of the control tower parking places, tents and of course, many types of airplanes. Come on, let's have a look while I walked around this area.

Not directly visible are all the tents except for the lower middle, but when you forget those tents, almost everywhere on the airport, in every corner you will find helicopters, modern Boeing and Airbus planes, fighters and old historical aircraft like a Connie and other famous planes from Douglas, like the DC-3. Anyway, at regular times there are planned flights which can be found in the manual.

It's not much that I've added but it’s absolutely worth showing you. I wrote before and will repeat it again; don't put those AI sliders too high. The FPS impact will be terrible. Even with my PC specs, the FPS reduced to 14 with all the AI sliders at maximum and weather control active. I didn't wait for the actual airshow to start thus this is something for you to enjoy once you've decided to buy Avalon airport.

Summary / Closing Remarks

Where shall I start and what shall I write? The review is already long enough with lots of examples and some cross country flights along the FTX AUGOLD coast and the shortest way from Sydney to Melbourne, while following the Hume Highway within FTX AUBLUE. Ok, let's first start with what all these sceneries will cost you and my personal advice should you intend to buy these.

Ok, each individually reviewed airport costs you no more than US$28.63 (€21.69) and is worth every penny. You could, and I strongly suggest to, add to this FTX AUGOLD and/or AUBLUE. Each of the FTX scenery products will be US$35.80 (€27.12) but for that you get the entire scenery area and for AUBLUE, the airports YWVA and YMAV are located in this part, which gives you the overall FTX sensation.

Ok, I've got an idea when you're not completely convinced; you can download for free the FTX AUBLUE Tasmania scenery and see for yourself what the Orbx team has created or you can download one of the free FTX downloadable airport sceneries. It gives you a good idea of what to expect when you finally decide to buy one of the FTX products.

Initially, I planned writing a review only covering the three payware Orbx FTX airports since this is already more than enough. However, due to the kind of airports and the simulated surrounding areas near AeroPelican and Warnervale, it was a much better idea to explore the ground textures in between these airports. Altogether a lot more work, but on the other hand it also shows the seamless integration between the sceneries and airports. Not strange since it's all coming from Orbx Simulation Systems but still a very good marketing strategic.

When the particular cross country flight ends, I'll try to add some useful information about the simulated surrounding ground textures. In most of the cases this worked out very well but it could be that I missed certain spots. Keeping this in mind and knowing what I've seen and shown you with the help of screenshots, I think it covered a lot of what the FTX packages offer.

As a reviewer, I'm in the pleasant position of having all the FTX software available. That being said, I still think looking at all the reviewed products from parts "I" and "II", they are worth every single Australian dollar. Each product offers a impressive quality although it could be the FPS impact is higher than expected depending on which FTX package we’re talking about. On the other hand, all the FTX manuals I've seen offer great flexibility and very good guidelines/advices for a balanced setting to fly with affordable FPS.

Not really related to this review but worth mentioning, are the freeware available airports. I'll help you a little bit by offering directs link to these great FTX airports, so here we go:

- Port Macquarie, New South Wales version 1.0 - AUYPMQ
- Launceston Airport, Tasmania version 2.0 - AUYMLT
- Lilydale Airport, Victoria version 1.5 - AUYLIL
- Redcliffe Airport, Queensland version 2.1 - AURED
- Busselton Airport, Western version 1.0 - YBLN
- Port Lincoln Airport, Southern version 1.0 - YPLC
- Cunderdin Airport, Western version 1.0 - YCUN

Before I forget it; I would like to thank John Vennema for his help, answesr and patience and of course, the entire Orbx team. It was again a pleasure reviewing these FTX airports but now it's over. There will be no part III, so this is it. What I hope, but of course that's up to the Orbx team that they consider offering combination packages, like AUBLUE with YMAV, YMML, YWVA and/or YPJT included or if you like AUGOLD, with YPEC and/or YSCH included. Now I'll stop with this summary ... it's enough!

 

What I Like About Pt II - FTX Airports YPEC - YWVA - YMAV

  • Highly realistic representation of the YPEC, YWVA and YMAV airports.
  • Easy installers and no need to configure anything. Once installed, you're done!
  • Nice manuals offering lots of important configuration details as well as airport background information.
  • Great looking airports with too many details to write down.
  • Nice and quick support via the Orbx forum.
  • TeamSpeak support is available as well as Live Help.
  • Some are even high quality freeware airports, thus to increase your FTX sensation.
  • Although the prices went up last year, keeping the quality in mind, it’s still worth your money!
  • When you want something as real as possible and like flying the Australian continent, then this is what you need!

 

What I Don't Like About Pt II - FTX Airports YPEC - YWVA - YMAV

  • I don't know to be honest, but I'll try to find something ... or not?
  • Not having high quality photoreal ground textures for the arrival/departure platform at YMAV.

 

Printing

If you wish to print this review or read it offline at your leisure,  right click on the link below, and select "save as"

FTX Airports - YPEC - YWVA - YMAV

(adobe acrobat required)

Comments?

Standard Disclaimer
The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the product producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment as experienced by the reviewer. This disclaimer is posted here in order to provide you with background information on the reviewer and any presumed connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

Tell A Friend About this Review!

2009 - AVSIM Online
All Rights Reserved