Let me present to you …. Lelystad Airport
Lelystad Airport? When you don’t live in the Netherlands or have never heard of the famous yearly Flight Simulator FSWeekend events, then you’ve got no clue of where I’m talking about. Even when you don’t, it’s absolutely worth reading this review since it’s a scenery masterpiece of EHLE.
The real reason behind Aerosoft’s developed this small GA airport is unknown to me, but it could that it has something to do with that yearly FSWeekend event, held on the first weekend in November. Oops, by the time this review is published it will already be behind us. Ok, it was the weekend of November 7th / 8th and as usual, worth visiting.
The review covers only this airport, however looking at what the real airport offers it’s not that easy to check all of those items that become alive in this Aerosoft airport scenery when the FSWeekend is active. Even if you live on the other side of the Pacific or the Atlantic or somewhere in Europe, Africa, Russian etc, GA flying is now fun. Fun because it seems that more and more developers not only create large airports but also the smaller ones. A good example is Orbx Simulations with their FTX airports, but also Aerosoft is making a lot of GA airfields as part of the larger German Airports.
With that in mind, it’s time to see what to expect and more importantly, if it’s worth your money. Ok … let’s move on!
Lelystad Airport (IATA: LEY,ICAO: EHLE) is an airport 3.5 NM (6.5 km; 4.0 mi) south, southeast of Lelystad, Netherlands. It is the biggest general aviation airport in The Netherlands and is also home to a large aviation museum, the Aviodrome. The museum's former KLM Boeing 747-200, which they have on display, is a prominent feature on the airport.
In 1966 it was decided that the newly created Flevopolder required one central airport. A suitable location with room for future expansion was found to the east of Lelystad. The first flights from this location took place in 1971, but it wasn't until 1973 that it received the official status as an airport. At first Lelystad had grass taxiways and runways, but it was found that the clay couldn't support all the traffic and tracks started to form. Because of the poor condition of the terrain, the airport suffered from frequent closure.
To resolve this problem, in 1978 the first of the taxiways was hardened and in 1981 the runway was hardened. In 1991 the runway length was increased to 1,250 m (4,101 ft), hoping to attract more business aircraft with the longer runway. In 1993 the Schiphol Group became the owner of the airport. The Aviodrome museum moved to Lelystad Airport from Schiphol in 2003.
An expansion of the airport is planned in 2010 which would allow mainly budget airlines, holiday charters and regional airlines using aircraft such as the Boeing 737 and the Airbus A320 series, to operate from Lelystad. The expansion would include a longer runway, 2,100 m (6,890 ft) long, and facilities to handle the bigger aircraft and approximately 2 million passengers. Because of the presence of the museum, various aviation events are frequently held at the airport.
In other words, experience 100 intriguing aviation years in the National Aviation Theme Park Aviodrome at Lelystad Airport (just 45 minutes from Amsterdam). The Aviodrome, with its very large collection of historic planes, is a unique aviation theme park and its open year round. The interactive Aviodrome exposition and the dynamic theme park brings history back to life. Regular special activities and events are organized for the public. During school holidays, special activities for children are organized. The National Aviation Theme Park Aviodrome is a great day out for young and old alike.
The 'time machine' takes visitors back to 1896, showing them key events in Dutch aviation history along the way. Now the journey though history can really begin. Authentic Dutch aircraft are presented in beautiful displays that, together with many visual and sound effects, provide the right period atmosphere. When museum guests visit 'the 1930's' they can board the 'Pelikaan', a beautifully simulated pre-war KLM Fokker airliner, to experience what air travel must have been like in the early years of passenger air transport.
In the 'top-down' theatre visitors take on the role of passengers in a hot air balloon, flying over some of the most interesting sites in the Netherlands. The size of the post-war passenger aircraft in the exhibition hall will certainly impress. In the “aviation lab”, the concept of flight is explained; hands-on experiments show how and why aircraft fly.
Apart from the beautiful museum exhibition Aviodrome has much more on offer. A 250-seat movie theatre offers spectacular viewing of wide screen aviation films. In the T-2 hangar outside, the Douglas DC-2 'Uiver', the last flying DC-2 in the world, can be seen as well as, for example, the KLM painted Lockheed Constellation. The Aviodrome boasts the largest replica in the Netherlands: the Schiphol 1928 passenger and cargo terminal building. An exact replica of the 1920's Amsterdam Airport terminal building. Children will love the flight simulator in which the thrills of flying a jet fighter can be experienced first hand.
Looking at the above paragraph it seems it’s a little more than just an airport. Ok, as it is currently, it’s just a large general aviation airport but for the future it looks good. However, for all those who live close to it, it’s not so good. Anyway, that’s a totally different discussion that I’ll leave outside of this review.
The Aviodrome or the aviation museum and theme park are in my personal opinion, unique. On normal days the museum offers a lot of old planes but also lots of new techniques can be found here as well. Yes, I know, I’m Dutch and proud having a museum of this large scale close to my home, but I think there are many reason to be proud. It offers lots of historic airplanes like the Douglas DC-2 which is still flying and we’re proud of it. Then it offers a DC-3 and probably the best of the best ... a real Lockheed Constellation. As far as I know, they’re still planning to get it flying and keep it flying. Flying these things isn’t cheap and therefore many funds are needed to achieve this.
Oops, let’s first have a look what Aerosoft is telling us or at least what they have created. Lelystad Airport is located at an altitude of -12 feet in the heart of one of the main polders of The Netherlands. It is where most Dutch civilian flying schools are located and it’s a brilliant airport for training.
This scenery has been done with great attention to detail according to the most up to date ideas on making scenery for FSX. It is very good looking and it is also extremely frame rate friendly. The Aviodrome, the aviation theme park and biggest aviation museum in the Netherlands is housed on the airport and has a large collection of aircraft, many of which are in flying condition. These are on display outside and you will be able to use the stands of the museum to park your aircraft. If you fly our Catalina, for example, you can exactly recreate an everyday event at Lelystad! It's the perfect airport to train your traffic circuits!
As always, impressive but is it really like that? In my case I could jump into my car and drive to it, which takes around 15-20 minutes, and see it with my own eyes. I could do that indeed but I can tell you that there’s no need to do so. Looking at the buildings, the airplanes, trees and surrounding area, which is mainly grass, it all looks great. I will not use the word awesome right away but that will come. Enough about this …. time to move on, time to see what we have missed.
Installation and documentation
As with others, Aerosoft installers are straightforward, you never have any problems or at least I never have and there’s the automatic detection of the correct FSX folder and before you know, it’s installed. What do we have after this? Via the Start Menu button -> All Programs -> Aerosoft -> Lelystad X, there’s a collection of the following shortcuts: Manual-Dutch, Manual-English and Season tool.
I think the two manuals are clear for what they are and will be discussed right away. The third shortcut, the Aerosoft Season window pops-up when you open it and it seems it offers support for Lelystad X and other Aerosoft airports. It gives the user the option to change the look of the trees on the previous mentioned airports. However, it looks like Fall and Spring are not supported.
Finally, as you could read there’s no Aerosoft uninstaller. Uninstalling can be done with the Windows Uninstaller option or with your own uninstaller add-on program.
The manual, which amounts to 22 pages, consists mainly of charts, which is great news. Another great item to mention is that via the Dutch Government and the applicable website, free charts can be downloaded in case you want to have the latest versions.
Furthermore, several pages come with some preferred or advised display settings for the graphics, scenery, weather and traffic tabs. This all depends of course on your PC, but for this review, I placed all the sliders to the max to see what happens. Currently most of the sliders are already set to the max except those in the Traffic tab because out of experience, this gives the highest frame impact, at least on my machine and hardware. I think I worked the other way around because I’ve now reached the first pages of the manual.
Apart from the introduction, system requirements and credits, it mentions compatibility with other sceneries like UTX Europe or DX10 Preview. As said before; the manual comes in an English and Dutch version. Both offer the same information and that’s it. No I’m sorry, this time no screenshots because there’s no need to place screenshots here. If you’re interested in what the manual offers in details, follow these links and you’re ready to download either the English or Dutch manual.
Lelystad default FSX….. Versus Aerosoft Lelystad X
This is really shocking and at the same time not surprising since it’s the same in most of the cases with MSFS airports, but this one in particular. Of course, you would say … it’s the airport close to my home; it’s my airport where I flew a few times in an American registered Cessna 150. All true but what it was, was really “nope … nada” or nothing and what it became is really awesome. I can’t say anything else.
Let’s first have a look to a few screenshots showing the huge difference between the default FSX scenery and airport area according to Microsoft and how Aerosoft thinks it should be.
Any more words needed? I hope so, otherwise it will be a very short sub section. As with many other small airfield/airports, EHLE is hardly known for how it really looks and therefore the default airport looks horrible, but that’s no exception compared with other worldwide unknown airfields. However, the moment you install Lelystad X from Aerosoft, you’re Dutch lifestyle will change and you’re impressed with what’s possible these days in FSX.
I have already seen many airports from Orbx Simulations FTX, but even this Aerosoft product makes it all ok. As written earlier, there’s no longer a need for me to drive to the airport with my notebook in hand and finding out what they’ve created and what they didn’t. I can tell you the result is great.
Everything that’s there is also in the scenery and all items are of a very high quality, especially those related to the Aviodrome, the Aviation Theme Park and the area around the control tower and the outlying buildings. All the other buildings are there as well but those are a little more of the general type, although every simulated is as the real one’s are, let’s not forget the streets, lights, trees, ground textures, runway markings and all other tiny things I’ve forgotten.
What makes it even more special is to hover over the airport area at let’s say 200 feet, which is pretty low. Already from this altitude, it looks great and highly realistic and I’m not writing this down because it’s a Dutch airport/airfield and not because I live close to it. No, I’m telling you that it’s truly awesome!
You don’t believe me; find below some screenshots made at different locations at the airport while hovering at 200 and 700 feet AAL (Above Aerodrome Level) and judge for yourself. Oh, by the way, these screenshots also shows you the FPS.
Need more? No, this should be enough and if you want to see and read more about Lelystad X, then it’s time to continue with the next in-depth sub section of this review.
Lelystad Airport is not very big and offers one paved runway and a smaller grass version, while most of the buildings, hangars, taxi-ways, cars, and other objects etc. are located east of the paved runway, yet there are still lots of things to create and to take care for and thus a lot of work. Anyway, I hope you’ve seen what impact Lelystad X has on the default FSX area.
For those who like to fly in the Netherlands and are waiting for the release of NL2000 Version 4.0, it will be really fun flying around this small country and don’t forget, more Dutch Aerosoft airports are in development.
Here you are … Aerosoft’s vision of my airport
Hey, no Google Earth images? There’s no need for this. In the first place the ground textures used are already photorealistic and secondly, hovering above the ground at 200 or 700 feet tells me that almost every building or object is there and thus from a certain altitude it’s as real as it gets. Most of the time making the necessary day and evening screenshots will help you understanding how it really looks but this time Aerosoft already has a huge collection of images on their website therefore I don’t think I need to include more.
I will still make some “other” shots not covered by Aerosoft. Some related to the Aviodrome of course, but also related to other unknown hangars at the airport. Not to forget, it’s our job as reviewers to write an objective review about all those things not mentioned on the Aerosoft website. In other words, there’s still a lot of additional material to show you.
Oh, by the way, this scenery covers the complete airport area, the Aviodrome museum area and the immediate surroundings. The small grass strip for the Ultra Lights is also included as well as the three car circuits located nearby. Let’s see what I found during my virtual walk from the control tower area to one of the hangars on the south side of the airport, followed by some at the north side and finally, some impressive shots from the Aviodrome.
As a foreigner, you could ask why this Aviodrome is so important to Dutch people. You could think that it’s just a museum, one of the many aviation museums but this is not entirely correct. As far as I can remember, the Aviodome – it’s spelled correctly … was based at Schiphol and it was renamed into Aviodrome when it moved to Lelystad Airport. Since 1971 it had its home at Schiphol International Airport Amsterdam with its unique dome shape.
By the way, in 1955 a foundation started the National Aviation museum, in 1960 it became reality and Holland had an aviation museum under the name Aeroplanorama”. Anyway, that was before I was born but the Aviodome at Schiphol, that’s what I can remember. Much later it moved to Lelystad where the museum has a worthy location to show all of what’s available from old fashioned and even the prehistoric to modern technology including a real Boeing 747-200 from the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.
Back to our virtual Lelystad airport. I’m really impressed by the many details. Creating buildings, hangars or other object is not that difficult – who am I to write this down because I’m not a developer – and using real digitalized images for the all the walls of the many objects seems to me not that difficult either. However, it will cost a lot of time to make them, you need to find the right moment and the images need to be of a high quality, so altogether a lot of work.
All those tiny things like a simple fuel station, a garbage container, cars, visitors, fences, concrete taxiway or asphalt runway and not to forget all the different ground textures cost a lot of work to make but above all, to give it a “as real as possible” WOW factor. And this is not yet the end; think of the complex Aviodrome with all its special buildings like a replica of the old historic Schiphol East terminal, all the external parked aircraft, taxi-ways, bridges etc. In other words, the Aviodrome is a very important part of this scenery and I’m happy with that, to be honest. While saying this, let’s prove that to you. Find here a nice collection of screenshots while walking around at the Aviodrome theme park.
I’m always hoping that there are not too many screenshots otherwise the whole review starts becoming a slide show. A good balance between text and screenshots is the best although that’s easier said than done. Because the Aviodrome is so dominant at this airport because of the impact and size, you can’t say “no more than 3 screenshots”. That’s not fair to my opinion but it’s also not fair showing you 12 shots of only the Aviodrome. The rest of the airport is also important and worth looking in detail at.
I think I’ve seen every corner of this field except for a few things. Some close-up details of the runway and taxiway would be useful. The whole airport’s ground textures pixel resolution is 50 cm except for the only paved runway 05-23 and the taxiways. Those are layered at 7 cm/pixel and this difference is clearly visible. Because of this, find below three close-up shots of it.
Finally, some shots during the evening hours and those shots should give you an idea of how realistic it looks. Again, I could add many more but that’s too much.
Overall impression …. Great! Probably many others and I were waiting for this. Aerosoft created a great airport with lots of details. Almost every building is simulated – since I haven’t counted them all – the presence of the great Aviodrome with an overall ground texture quality of 50cm/per pixel, but as said before for the runway and taxiways it’s 7 cm/per pixel.
I’m very satisfied and for me, it will be for sure one of my favorite airports in my daily growing FSX airport collection.
Summary / Closing Remarks
What does it cost … no more than €14,95 and that’s a great price. Ok, keeping Aerosoft’s tradition in mind, Aerosoft seems to make special airports for special events. The first one I can remember was Paderborn Airport, home of Aerosoft and also the location where the yearly Aerosoft show is held. Now it’s time to create the home airport of the yearly Dutch FSWeekend event, which is no doubt the largest MSFS event in the world. Thousands of Flight Sim enthusiasts visit this special event not only from the Netherlands but also from abroad.
Anyway, the Lelystad X airport is a terrific rendition of the airport of EHLE. That’s what we Dutch people think and many others around the world would like to see their own town airport created as well. You never know what Aerosoft will make near you.
As said before; keeping the price in mind, the overall quality of the airport itself, the unbelievable amount of hangars and tiny objects make this airport great. Are there no missing items or things that could be better? Those who know me, know that when there’s something missing, I will find it but that’s not the case of Lelystad X.
My only remark is the too low quality of the overall ground textures except those on the runway and taxiways. Because of the lower quality that is something you can see while hovering over the airport at let’s say 200-300 feet or even when you taxi.
The airport scenery is a pure representation of the airport area within the outer fences, which means it also includes the grass strip and the car circuits at the end or south of the field. The border where it ends is roughly where you have the road on the north and a road passing along the east side of the airport. Together with UTX Europe, it fits well into the landscape, after you’ve made some changes. Those UTX Europe changes are related to the A6 highway or motorway cars and trucks. At the same time, I’m curious when GEX Europe comes out and what impact this will have on the surrounding area of Lelystad X?
Some words about the available NDB beacon and the optional ILS. While writing this – November 12th 2009 – the airport does have a NDB beacon for navigation purposes, but the only available ILS for runway 05 is currently not in use, and therefore also not active in this scenery. Furthermore, the airport doesn’t have a VOR/DME station and I’ve got no idea if this will change in the future when larger aircraft will be coming and going from Lelystad Airport.
So, for the moment in real life and in the Aerosoft Lelystad X scenery; the only navigation equipment is NDB LLS.
What I Like About Lelystad X
What I Don't Like About Lelystad X
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