So, after the heavy weather first post, I thought I'd lighten things up a bit and take a look for a few goodies to get your XPX experience up and running, for nothing. Freeware has been the lifeblood of our hobby since the first guys discovered they could change the sim to be more accurate. It was freeware that allowed me to try new aircraft as a young 13 year old. Because at that age, money isn't a thing you have control of. So freeware is essential in bringing in new blood to our hobby. It's also a great way for people to learn a new skill. I've been learning to use sketchup to design 3D buildings for sim scenery, I've also been playing with X Plane's WED or world editor to improve the look of the sim. Its an addictive and fun part of our hobby that I didn't think I'd get.
Anyway, with the Internet, freeware is everywhere. I've picked some of my favourites for now. So lets take a look at XPX's top freeware scenery packages.
Aerobridge's Meigs Field
Oh the memories. Many, many sim pilots will have fond memories of flying from Meigs field. The airport was smack in the heart of Chicago and I spent many an hour doing touch and GOP's in a Cessna. In real life of course, Meigs field was destroyed overnight by the then mayor of Chicago and all we're left with now are memories.
Fortunately, we get to enjoy the old girl here thanks to Aerobridge. This is no ordinary freeware airport. There's 3D volumetric grass, custom textures and even the surrounding shore front gets a makeover. It's all surprisingly top quality stuff. If you like this scenery (and why wouldn't you) you can also pick up LJPZ Portoroz in Slovenia and in the pipeline is Key West international which will be their first payware airport.
You'll find Meigs field over at www.x-pilot.com.
South Africa isn't a place I've ever thought to visit. Which is shame as the landscape in South Africa can be very Dramatic. So When I spotted Cape Town in AVSIM's very own File library, I thought I'd take a look.
FACT is ideally placed for a bit of Sight seeing, with both Cape Town itself and the surrounding mountains making for some fascinating flying. The Airport scenery itself isn't fantastic, but its a good representation in general. The addition of a few static planes would help and its easily done with WED. Although the airport isn't up there with the more modern offerings found here (This airport dates from 2008 Apparently) its still worth a look in my opinion and like everything here, its free.
find it in Avsim's File Library.
Sim heaven's Vienna photoscenery
Photoscenery is a big thing for XPX. Seriously, the file size for this area is 5.5gb expanding to over 8gb once you've unzipped it. But oh boy, what a scenery. I chose Vienna for several reasons. One of these is that I love Vienna, so much so that by the time you've read this blog post, I'll be there for a well earned break. But the main reason I chose Vienna is that the open street map or osm data is almost complete. so expect plenty of buildings. The scenery itself is photo scenery with a zoom level of 17 (pretty big hence the 5.5gb size.) so it looks great even at fairly low levels. Best of all, there are hundreds of free sceneries covering major cities, to countries to whole continents, although the main photo sceneries are limited to cities only. It's a great website and should be on every XPX pilots bookmark bar.
Check out simheaven.com for some of the best osm and photoscenery around. All for free.
Truscenery's Rantasalmi Airport + Photoscenery (EFRN)
Truscenery are the new guys on the block when it comes to XPX scenery, but they've hit the ground running with fantastic payware airports like Tampere-Pikkara airport. But if you feel like dipping a toe in the Truscenery waters, then this freeware airport gives you a great taste of things to come. The airport features photoscenery under the fantastic buildings and it. Looks stunning. It's a great freeware airport for Finland. While you're downloading this airport, be sure to pick up their Finland 1.2 OSM pack which offers you the whole of Finland in osm data. Also get the free Helsinki photoscenery pack and enjoy.
Find all these great files atwww.truscenery.com.
Madeira Airport - LPMA
This ones a must. Often referred to as one of the worlds most dangerous airports, Madeira airport still offers pilots a challenge despite an increased runway length by way of a elevated section at the end of one runway. This package is made up of three parts. The first is the airport itself, whist the second is a complete pack of custom objects for the whole island. The third is available from the airport PDF file and its photoscenery to cover whole island. All three are needed or the airport will not sit properly on the terrain.
With all three packs installed, you'll get to see a real stunner of a freeware airport. The photoscenery is great, the airport buildings themselves are well made and every here and there you'll find a few hidden items that come together to give the whole place a 'real airport' feel. From static aircraft, baggage carts and even a few busses stored next to the terminal, the whole thing really deserves to been seen. A bit of polish and pay ware would beckon for this great airport.
Pick it up at xpfr.org for this and many other sceneries and aircraft.
CYYZ and CYTZ airports Toronto by Chris K
Ok, heads up people. Socks prepare to be blown off. Toronto, Canada's most populated city has has a XPX makeover. Firstly, download CYTZ Toronto island airport and take a look. This is a fantastic start. The island airport is home to Porter, Air Canada and few others who serve the city centre's business district. It's rendered in great detail and with the addition of Jacques Brault's Toronto Skyline add on, the city comes to life.
Now add into the mix Chris K's Toronto international, currently in beta at version 0.99. It's not perfect, but it adds to the whole cityscape and now you've got one of XPX's best looking cities, for free.
AlpilotX's New Zealand
I've left the best for last. This is an absolute must have for everyone. Made from the actual satellite data provided by the New Zealand government for free, this scenery features both the north and South Islands to play in along with a complete set of custom buildings and overlays to help New Zealand stand out from the default. Andreas (a.k.a. Alpilotx) has done a fantastic job here producing a whole region for us to explore, all for free. Check out his site and you'll see he's also been producing improved HD meshes for Europe and the us along with several other add ons, all for free. It's well worth a visit.
Check out www.alpilotx.net. And be prepared to enjoy XPX like never before.
Non optional extra's
So those are some of the best free sceneries XPX has to offer right now. But what the hell do you do with them once you've downloaded them? You'll need a few things. An essential is Opensceneryx available from opensceneryx.com. It's a package of free scenery objects that most freeware packages use to expand on XPX's default Library. It's updated every so often as well.
Tweaking things up.
Whilst installing scenery in XPX is simple. (Just copy the files to your custom scenery folder). You'll find that a little tweaking may be needed to ensure everything plays nicely. In your custom scenery folder,you'll find a file called scenery.ini. Open this up and you'll find all your custom scenery is listed here. There's a certain order it needs to be in though custom airports should go on to, then osm data downloads, then your photoscenery. This way everything's meshes together and you don't get problems.
So that's it for this post. If you guys have any suggestions for freeware flies for me to look at, let me know. The next freeware post will be on aircraft, so stay tuned.