• MegaSceneryEarth v2.0 for FSX


    Gaiiden

    You can now fly some of your favorite places in hyper-realistic detail with a new collection of photo-scenery for Microsoft FSX.

    This is where the ground scenery, all the streets and pastures, buildings and natural ponds, lakes and rivers are located where they really are in real life. This makes a tremendous difference in the increased immersion of the flight simulator.

    This is a not your ordinary run-of-the-mill scenery upgrade. This ranks up there with the ‘Hello, I have a very serious scenery upgrade to tell you about’. The really good news is this should be of interest to anyone and everyone that has MS Flight Simulator X. This means all those 737NGX and new AirbusX Extended guys, all those Cub fans, all those singles, twins, floats and turbine drivers, those military jocks and rotary wing guys, the Legacy and Duke drivers, Cessna Citation pilots and all those that I did not mention. Even the Orbx customers need to pay attention to this product.

    Using the most up-to-date 50 cm and 100 cm sourced aerial imagery with some color matching and custom blending; the MegasceneryEarth team is now cranking out each of our United States at a truly rapid rate. As a matter of fact, just the individual announcements are keeping our email in-boxes active and the Avsim editors are busy posting the steady stream of press releases on our front page. The production scheduler has a goal of having all 50 states available as v2.0 in less than 6 months.

    This newly announced edition is only available on an individual state basis starting in the Northeast corner of the U.S. and working South and West. Everything east of the Mississippi River comes first this time; then it is Go West, young man. Remember, it must be version 2.0 for the hyper detail with the crisp and sharp details and colors.

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    Two Methods of Delivery

    The MegaSceneryEarth system offers two delivery methods. First, each state is purchased as a downloadable file(s) and for an additional small fee your data will also be delivered on DVDs. Due to the amount of detail required to use 50 cm texture files, the data files are running between 850 MB for the smaller states like Rhode Island and Delaware and 22 and 27 GB for the larger states like New York and Maine. That is GB as in Gigabyte. Even the most robust download system will spend some serious download time moving one fair sized state from MSE to your PC.

    I received four northeastern states in one small DVD mailer 4 days from date of order. Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts each requires 2 DVDs while Maine needs 7 DVDs. These DVDs are not burned until the purchase order is confirmed. Using professional grade duplicating equipment, the distribution team cranks out the DVDs for delivery usually within 24 hours. This will eliminate a potential inventory of obsolete DVDs in case updates are needed. This is a very fluid business and the source files keep getting sharper and more affordable and we sim pilots keep demanding more and more with the most up-to-date data and the sharper the better.

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    Installation

    The installation process is so simple a caveman could do it. Each state is divided into a number of large files used for the delivery system. For example, MA, comes on 2 near identical DVDs, simply labeled 1 of 2, and 2 of 2. Disk 1 contains three exe setup files of about 1 GB each plus a folder containing Resources and Documentation files and Disk 2 contains two larger setup files and a copy of the resource folder. These are all of the ‘How To’ files.

    Each DVD you pick up will contain this resource folder which is packed with useful information on how to install or how to add the scenery files to your library, how to optimize your graphic settings for the most enjoyment and how to fix scenery cfg file errors. There are several additional folders and files and all are presented in both jpeg format and the easier to read html format when online.

    The automated installer is defaulted to create a new folder in your root directory. You can easily change the C:\Megasceneryearth\Scenery folder destination to one of your choice, but as you must do this for each of the setup files, and there will be several, I recommend using the default folder names and simply changing the C:\ to the drive or location of your choice. I have a dedicated hard drive for all my scenery designated as E:\. Another choice is to use the default location for the installation process and then moving the entire folder to your alternate location.

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    Wherever you place the scenery bgl files, remember the FSX library will be looking for them in a ../scenery/*.bgl format. You could put several smaller states in one folder if desired or sub-divide really large states into geographic sections.

    Should you elect to download the data, the installation is basically the same process, except the files are zipped and the downloaded files must be extracted to run the setup. The installer will create the necessary folders and copy all the scenery files. MSE v2.0 uses a X-Y grid system starting in the upper left corner as A1 and proceeding from left to right and top to bottom. Of course, depending on the shape of the state, most will start or end differently. This tidbit is only for you to recognize and understand the file naming convention.

    The larger installed bgl files are around 60 to 70 MB. Checking the installed scenery folder, Vermont has 145 files totaling 7.46 GB. Massachusetts has 80 files using 4.52 GB, New Hampshire, 140 files at 7.71 GB and Maine 364 files using a whopping 27.5 GB. Geez, I never thought of Maine as a big state before.

    What this should tell you is that you need to grab one of those nifty Solid-State Drive (SSD) while the supply is high and the prices are so low. I have two SSDs and three large capacity fast hard drives.

    The scenery will draw and redraw fastest when it is placed all on SSDs and the second choice is a dedicated fast access large capacity hard drive. I have the Windows 7 operating system and FSX on my default 256 GB SSD, a secondary 180 GB SSD, and 5 TBs data storage on two SATA hard drives. My newest 3 TB hard drive was an Amazon Black Friday weekend special for $89 delivered. Oh yeah.

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    Once the bgl files are properly located on your hard drive, start up FSX and point to the Scenery Library. Click on the Add Area button and the click the drop down arrow in the Look In box and navigate to the location of the Scenery folder that you are adding. Using Win7 you can see both the State Name and the Scenery folder showing, then click the OK button on the lower right and then you must click once in the open white space between the Scenery folder name and the OK box. This is just one of those quirky Windows 7 things. One of the included ‘How To’ files covers this nicely.

    Once you click in the open white area, the state scenery will be added in the number one position of the Scenery Library. Click OK and you are ready to go fly.

    I read someplace at the web site or in one of the release announcement that MegasceneryEarth v2.0 actually runs at a higher FPS than the FSX default scenery. I think this would only be possible provided the autogen slider and maybe a few other settings as well are reduced or lowered when using the MSE v2.0. There is probably nothing friendlier to FSX and the CPU than photo-real scenery so those with the FPS challenged setups should welcome this improvement.

    Being a southern boy and somewhat geographically challenged, I was dumbfounded that I did not know a single ICAO airport code in the smaller states. Fortunately, I learned all the state capitals in the 7th grade and was able to at least find a large city in the correct state. In a crunch I can always start with KBOS and go from there.

    We have a ‘family lighthouse’ in Maine that we visit occasionally so I was a little more familiar with that coastline. I will have to breakout my Flight1 Instant Scenery 2 and add the Marshall Point lighthouse to the scenery – just a few miles up the coast from Kennebunkport. BTW it was used in the Forrest Gump movie.

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    I installed the four states and used the F12 look down view in FSX to view the properly shaped states with no missing areas. You have to look closely to see the line between Vermont and New Hampshire.

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    Unlike most developers, getting a prediction of future work and a possible expected dates for more states was refreshing. I did hear from a little bird that the Carolinas may be in work in the back room and the ball is rapidly rolling downhill toward Florida.

    The release plan is everything East of the Mississippi River, then West of the Mississippi, then come back and add selected night lighting, maybe more or improved water masking, and other improvements. I would expect some future upgrades for some of the states or areas using higher resolution source imagery that may not have been available during the first round.

    The states get much larger in size the further West one goes so I would expect some logical sub-dividing like North and South or East and West or maybe Central for some of the big ones.

    I am most eager to see what this crack new MSE team can do with water masking the Mississippi Sound. The MS and AL barrier islands and Gulf Islands National Seashore is an absolute disaster in the default FSX scenery and not much better in anything else marketed to date. Connecting Miami City X and Key West sceneries should be a small challenge, but a well-received improvement for South Florida. The Eastern Louisiana swamps and Chandeleur Sound should also be a good challenge. Microsoft got it all wrong in the default, Biloxi beach will never look like Waikiki as those in Redmond must think.

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    I hope to do a follow-up progress review when the Southeastern and Gulf states are available in the MegasceneryEarth v2.0 series.

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    A dedicated website for instant downloads for the new version 2.0 is online at www.megasceneryearth.com/store. There are tons of good information to be found here along with details of each release and lots of screens shots. I see 14 states are now available as v2.0. This is amazing progress as the first state for 50 cm was only released in early November, 2012.

    After reading the press release for Ohio with 44,825 square miles of new 50 cm sourced scenery with 554 airports and five major metropolitan areas I made an on-the-spot decision to expand the review to include at least one downloaded state. Just to check the 2nd method of delivery. PC Aviator agreed and also chipped in Delaware for download. I had a small hiccup downloading the one Delaware file so I started the Ohio download of 14 zip files of about 1 GB each. Depending on your carrier and how well everything is working that day, you can expect to spend a large portion of any day checking the ‘view downloads’ section of your browser.

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    My second try for the DE download went like clockwork – someone failed to move the little guy over to the big new server according to a red-faced management type at PC Aviator. Glad to know they are human.

    My limited UVerse system starts off bringing it in using a 2” fire hose and then instantly starts dropping the DL rate until in settles down to the diameter of a pencil at about 700 MB/sec. This will even out to around 25 minutes or so required for each 1 GB file. Those lucky ones with the 5 – 8 GB/sec connections can download a GB in a matter of a few minutes. Those 3 people that still use dial-up or pay as you go will most definitely want to use the optional DVD delivery.

    These new File Servers at PC Aviator are by far the fastest I have seen to date. I’m quite sure they can serve up these massive files for download as fast as anything that can connect to them. A big plus.

    If you do use the download method, a smart move would be to make your own backup DVDs of your data as soon as you can. You never know, you may have been surprised with a new PC for Christmas and can use them right away.

    Other than the delivery time, the only difference is the downloads arrive as Zipped files and must be extracted prior to installation and the files delivered to your mail box on DVDs are ready for the auto installer to do its thing.

    I downloaded the one small (relative) file for all of Delaware - 848 MB - and installed it. It appears lonely when viewed from space using the F12 look down view. It screams to have another state installed. I started at the Southeastern tip and flew up the Eastern shore, passed over Dover AFB and on to Wilmington. These are the only two major airports I see. The scenery looks as good as any of the other states but being challenged by the small area, I recommend you purchase one of the neighboring states along with Delaware. It really doesn’t matter whether you choose New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Maryland as DE is right in the middle of the three. All things being equal, I would likely choose to buy Maryland and Delaware together as they have the longer common border.

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    Some Background

    A startup photo-real scenery company named Sim-Savvy was producing some nice state by state scenery for FSX using 1 - 2 meter/pixel source imagery, but you had to buy the entire lower 48 states. Sim-Savvy was producing a good product but was constantly struggling with the cumbersome delivery of the massive file sizes. Their chosen model of including a 500 GB or 1TB portable drive in the purchase price seem like a workable solution until the sole employee was offered updated 50 cm - I meter source imagery for the entire continental USA at a bargain price. OK, stop the presses, reload with hyper-detailed super source scenery, go out a limb and buy a roomful of fast pcs to crunch the data 24 hours a day and price the package at giveaway prices. Everything is now hunky dory and sales are steadily increasing as larger capacity USB 3.0 portable drives were available at reasonable prices. Things are finally looking up, a couple of hundred FSX simmers are in scenery heaven and what happens?

    Half way around the world, a freak flood wipes out the primary production area for building almost all the hard drives and key components for building hard drives for the entire earth. (see post-review note)

    Practically no new drives are available at any price for a few months and the PC builders are gobbling up the existing inventory and driving prices sky high. Next thing you know, Sim-Savvy sales are near zero mostly due to no reasonable means of delivery of their product and a sluggish economy. Bad timing at its worst.

    Nine months later, Sim-Savvy teams up with PC Aviator and MegasceneryEarth v2.0 is announced. This is basically Sim-Savvy reborn using PC Aviator’s established advertising, packaging, marketing and delivery system and offering new scenery on a state by state basis. The pricing is naturally higher than was offered in the almost ‘friends and family’ early days of Sim-Savvy, but is substantially less than the previously offered products from MegasceneryEarth. This is what consumers are always seeking: a better product at a lower price.

    This particular approach to realistic high resolution scenery for FSX was started by one guy that was learning to fly real airplanes and wanted to use FSX to enhance his training but was disillusioned with the default fake scenery. Being a digital map maker by trade, he sat there with a cup of coffee thinking, there must be a way to import some of my downloaded aerial maps into FSX and see what is really out there when I fly. The rest of the story is now history. His dream now is to make enough money and have the free time to complete his flight training. I hope he ends up with a Cessna Citation.

    There are many ways to look at or explain a pricing model but when you back up and take a look at this incredible product along with the ease of delivery and installation in FSX, it is absolutely a bargain. Looking at the most recent release of Ohio, you are offered crisp and clear 50 cm sourced photo scenery throughout the state. This is a 44,825 square mile area with 554 airports with five prominent cities offered for $39.95 with instant download of 14 massive files and/or with a 4 disc DVD set delivered for an additional $8.00. Do the math. That is approximately 90 cents for every 1,000 square miles of high quality scenery with 554 airports to land or takeoff from or 7 cents for each airport in the entire state with all the connecting scenery included. This may not be your normally accepted method of explaining, but it is what it is. And what it is, is better than any wide-area scenery you may have seen on your FSX screen before.

    So what does it look like? In a word, outstanding.

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    Nothing speaks better than a series of unaltered screenshots. Not being familiar with the area, I used Tim Arnot’s excellent Plan-G freeware to plot my courses and to move around the states. I live near the water, so I tend to go looking for lakes and rivers for a first look. Keep in mind, this is ‘real’ scenery – that what you would see if you looked out the window of a real airplane flying over this area. It is not made-up, stitched together repetitive scenery like Orbx areas or FSX default scenery where the streets and houses are half in the river and half out. All the airport perimeters are now unique and not an out of place looking rectangle plunked down for convenience as in the default scenery.

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    The MSE v2.0 presentation in FSX is not perfect, but is such an improvement over other offerings to date and light years ahead of the FSX default scenery. The downside is that sometimes the color matching is a little on the bluish, brownish, or grayish side and the water may not look quite right on a given day. But, everything is in the correct position and a mountain is a mountain and a river is a river.

    Most of the 3D buildings are not going to be present if you use the recommended FSX slider settings; however, to correct this is simply a matter of increasing the Scenery Complexity slider to bring in the default buildings and infrastructure. Users with the higher end PCs tend to keep this setting more to the right at Dense or Extremely Dense where everything is present, but requires some of the CPU resources to draw.

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    An out of place or unsightly match line will pop up from time to time and occasionally, an airport runway will not be aligned correctly. (More on this later)

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    Other Add-on scenery products seem to blend in perfectly with the MSE v2.0. I have Aerosoft’s KBOS scenery installed and it has most of downtown Boston’s buildings and several other buildings or structures around the port and airport and they all seem to play together quite well.

    With all these lakes and rivers in this beautiful country of ours, and all these fantastic float planes we have for FSX, it is a necessity that water is really water. This means that anyplace you would normally expect to land a float plane, you should be able to do just that without kicking up dust

    What are you taking about, Ray? Not all photo scenery is created equally guys and girls. I did a review last year on a small photo-real package for South Florida and much to my dismay, not a single one of those residential canals or lakes was FSX water. Oh, you could land on them, but the splash was replaced with dust and pebbles. Not here. Check out the float plane splashing in the water in Northern Maine and elsewhere.

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    Speaking of not being created equal, just as our individual states were not create equal, neither are the aerial scenery source files. There are just about as many reasons or excuses as there are folks answering the question – Why Not? Starting with the most obvious, most of the states look quite different from their neighbor; the terrain varies greatly from the mountains to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam or the purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain, the alabaster cities and amber waves of grain. Sorry, got carried away there.

    Practically all the aerial mapping is done in the springtime and agricultural growing season because of better flying weather and the farming interest, the gyros, cameras, and imaging software gets better with each successive release, but all states are not mapped every year or even every couple of years. One of the biggies is the price being paid for the mapping service. Other factors are who the intended end user may be and the data’s intended use. To get source data at a reasonable enough price to be able to use it to make flight simulator scenery, it is usually initially paid for by Uncle Sam or a quasi-government entity and made available for download by selected users. Unfortunately, those UAV Predator and CIA recon maps are not generally available online.

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    There is no set release schedule that I know of, but the 2012 NAIP aerials are the latest to date. I think I heard someplace that MSE v2.0 Maine used this latest edition.

    One of the reasons most of the shorelines, rivers and lakes usually look so bad in photo scenery is the Agricultural Department or the Forestry Service that was paying for the aerial imagery doesn’t give a hoot about those areas. Ohio happens to be one of those states with a lot of farming and a famous Congressman that looked out the window of the space shuttle and wondered out loud, is that Ohio I see down there? It looks like a photograph from space.

    Now about that misaligned runway. This is simply to do with FSX having 24,841 airports and if 1/10th of 1% of them are off a few degrees, well that must be OK kind of logic. This is only a problem when it is your hometown airport or one of your favorite runways. Fortunately, there is an easy fix and a gang of AFCAD designers that do this type work for free. Most airports are already corrected, you just need to download the updated file and replace the culprit. Search on Alpha-India Afcad for a start.

    Show me some more screenshots

    None of these screenshots were taken with the intent of enhancing the product or covering up any warts. They are simple snap shots taken mostly at random. I made a series of similar shots from multiple altitudes for those that are interested in how the scenery is portrayed from different altitudes. My take is the tube drivers and the puddle jumpers and all those in-between should be equally impressed. I sure am. What a great improvement for flight simulation.

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    The MegaSceneryEarth website has a wealth of screenshots online for each state. My recommendation is you purchase your home state if it is available, just to convince your spouse of the need for building a collection of these states as they become available. Should you happen be live West of the Mississippi or in one of those states that is too far down the list to wait, then buy Ohio, or Maine, or Massachusetts, or New Hampshire, or throw a dart at the MSE v2.0 map and take your pick.

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    Info from the website

    All source imagery is between 50 cm and 2 meters per pixel. It is displayed at 1 m/pixel. The smaller the number, the sharper and clearer the images will be, especially at lower altitudes.

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    Night scenery will be a free upgrade at some later date, most likely after all the base states are completed.

    A section titled ‘Usage Tips’ should be required reading for all FSX users. Here you will find some recommended FSX settings for maximum performance, some additional tweaks you can apply, and other items to consider.

    Limiting your cross country minimum altitude to 2,000 feet should give you good clarity to enjoy the high quality scenery.

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    All 3D objects and airport runways, taxiways, ramps and pads are FSX default objects. MegasceneryEarth v2.0 does not upgrade any visual 3D objects or airports.

    Specific and detailed recommendations can be found here for nVidia graphic card settings.

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    Notice the visual clarity at altitudes from 20,000 feet all the way down to 1,500 feet. I think all flight simmers should enjoy a view like this at whatever height they fly.

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    Dayton OH, 3500 feet

    I have way too many comparisons of the MSE v2.0 to the MS FSX default scenery in this review. One direct comparison really should be enough to convince anyone how superior this new photo real scenery really is. I have logged many hours flying over the Maysville, KY and Riply, OH area and I will tell you for a fact – it looks a lot more like the screenshot on the left than the one on the right. (The actual Ohio river color doesn’t look like either screenshot.)

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    On the Fast Track

    During this past week while I was writing this review MegasceneryEarth 2.0 released Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina. This fast pace should be really encouraging for those waiting for their home state or favorite flying places to be released.

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    A few of my specific recommendations

    Add the keystroke sequence of Ctrl+Shift+S in the FSX Options/Settings/Controls/ButtonKeys assignment area for Refresh Scenery. This is worth its weight in gold as a timesaver in the screen redraw time if you tend to move around using the FSX slew commands or the Move FS Aircraft to Here feature in Plan-G.

    Download and install Tim Arnot’s freeware Plan-G v3 program for use with this new scenery. It is loaded with neat and creative features. Use the Show Airport Diagram then click the small blue circle in the lower left corner to display airport details. Clicking on the Direct To icon will open a Quick Plan box for an instant flight plan that you can change or update on the fly until your little heart is content. You have several map choices, I like the OpenStreetMap best.

    Shop around and select a few enhanced airports that include as much surrounding area as possible. Miami City X on the East Coast and U.S. Cities Los Angeles X on the West Coast are my favorites and I will be adding U.S Cities Cleveland, now that I have Ohio. I glanced at the screenshots in one of the published reviews and it appears this should almost be a necessity if you have Ohio. U.S. Cities Chicago, Indianapolis and Detroit are also candidates for soon to be released states. Those with MSE v2.0 New York will want to explore the U.S. Cities Niagara Falls/Buffalo X as a companion product. All of these are relatively inexpensive.

    Try some float planes. Some of my favorites are Carenado’s Cessna 185 Bush, A2A Sims Cub w/Accu-sim, Flight1’s Flight Replicas Cub, and some bigger guys like Aerosoft’s Twin Otter, Beaver, and PBY Catalina.

    Get one of the larger or mid-sized states, or a few of the smaller ones, it really doesn’t matter which and go out and enjoy the new scenery. Visit some of those small towns and stop and have a cup of coffee and shoot the breeze with the locals. Open the door and windows of the cub or the big picture window in the PBY Catalina and spend an afternoon with nature. Come home smelling like AvGas and motor oil. Or add a new hub or two if you are flying airliners or commuters.

    Here's a look around various points in Ohio:

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    If you haven’t already added an additional storage drive or one of the nifty SSDs this would be an excellent time with the prices at record lows. If they get much lower, they will have to start giving free toasters with your purchase. Given the enormous file sizes of these scenery files and recent add-ons with all those huge manuals, you cannot have too much storage space.

    Go ahead and splurge, get the DVD versions. It is easier and quicker to install and you have a ready-made backup.

    In Summary

    This is not just another incremental upgrade in scenery; this is a real honest to goodness FSX milestone. More like climbing several rungs of the innovation ladder all at once. You need to sit up and take notice or you will be missing some of the easiest to install and most affordable photo-real scenery for your flight simulator. The instant visual improvements are truly extraordinary.

    This easily takes flying your favorite add on in FSX to the next level, a level that has not previously been available on a state-wide basis. With this new scenery, I think this may be the single largest advancement in realistic immersion for everyone that has FSX. Why? Simply because, now you can point to your FSX screen and show your friend or neighbor your house, his house, your girlfriend’s house (careful with this one), grandma’s house, where you work, where you would like to work, etc. Now, for the first time, you can explore our beautiful country using realistic navigational techniques and expect to find your checkpoints accurately portrayed and properly located to match your map.

    For me it is easy, that is my house right there, yes the one next door to the one with the swimming pool.

    Other things like having all the bridges in the correct place or the interstate interchanges properly located and especially not having all the uninhabited islands packed full of housing subdivisions and football fields half in the water and half out is significant. All those new shopping malls and new streets missing in the default scenery are now on the map and located at the correct intersection. I am most pleased to get rid of all those dumb rectangles around the airports in the default scenery.

    If you are like me, you will have to find more time for some low and slow leisurely flying. Maybe even planning a few Sunday VFR cross country flights with your wife or girlfriend as navigator at your elbow for a change. Or buy several states and stay up there at those Flight Levels with a plane full of passengers but listen for the oohs and aahs when you start your let down and approach.

    I can see it already, those coffee table sized geography and topography books at Amazon for $.01 with $3.99 shipping for a new $50 book will finally get sold so we can know the name of that mountain peak over there or the name of that beautiful river down there or the name of that ski resort or that bay or lake or whatever.

    Imagine, each and every state in the entire United States will be available for single purchase for use with FSX. I’m not going to get any sleep for some time. But, when I do wake up in the middle of the night, I can ease into the study and turn the sound down real low, and go explore this beautiful country of ours. I wonder if PC Aviator will have frequent flyer miles?

    This is a team of professionals that are passionate about their product. They are excited about it; as well they should be. I am excited about it and I’m sure you will be also. This instantly makes us all friends because this is what I do, all day every day.

    Due to the significant leap in quality of the scenery, the aggressive production schedule, the comprehensive scope (all 50 states), and the ease of purchase, installation and support, I wholeheartedly recommend the Avsim Gold Star for MegasceneryEarth v2.0.

    The future

    As more folks install BluRay drives the MegasceneryEarth V2.0 distribution will hopefully have a 3rd option available for mail delivery with dual layer 50 GB or 100GB triple layer BluRay disks to cut down on the physical number of disks to handle. Just size the BluRay disk to the scenery order and combine states for delivery. Think Texas, California and Alaska or maybe one day they will offer regions of states on a portable USB v3.0 drive – now that is a novel idea.

    This is anyone’s guess, but I would expect some quick expansion across the pond. England, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands are good candidates for improved scenery. Of course, Canada should be a slam dunk.

    To assist you with looking ahead at the states we will have available for this excellent scenery; I am including some web links about the states, relative sizes, locations, number of airports in each, and other such information.

    Screenshots of an approach to KRUT in Vermont. (default scenery, lower Right)

    T_Pg_13_a_VT_KRUT_3ab.jpg
    T_Pg_13_b_VT_KRUT_3a.jpg
    T_Pg_13_c_VT_KRUT_2.jpg
    T_Pg_13_d_VT_KRUT_1a.jpg

    The 50 US states have drastically different sizes. Alaska — the largest state by physical size — is about 425 times bigger than the smallest, Rhode Island. The three largest states — Alaska, Texas, and California — make up about 30% of the entire country. Due to sea erosion, the states along the coasts are slowly shrinking in size with the exception of Hawaii.

    The chart below shows the relative sizes of the 50 states. To help put some of the sizes in perspective, the sizes of some countries, such as France, Poland, the United Kingdom, and Greece, are also included. The figures are in square miles and include the bodies of water.

    T_Pg_15_1.jpg
    T_Pg_15_2.jpg
    T_Pg_16.jpg

    October 24, 2011 - Beginning of the 4th quarter of 2011, the massive floods in Taiwan cut off all new hard drives for several months.

    The recent flooding in Taiwan is a devastating event for the people living there, many have lost their homes, businesses and some have even lost their lives. Not only is the flooding devastating for them, it is also put a devastating blow on the computer industry.

    Most, if not all of the hard disk drives in your computers and on store shelves were manufactured in Taiwan. The recent flooding has caused the manufacturing plants to shut down production of new hard drives and parts for hard drives. This is already causing a shortage of hard drives and an impact on the computer industry.

    Both Seagate and Western Digital have said that there will be no more hard drives made until Q1 of 2012. Hard drives are already becoming scarce and have doubled and/or tripled in price. Stores, both online and brick and mortar, are going to see a big drop on hard drive and computer sales. A 1TB hard drive the once cost from $40-$60, now costs $130-$160.

    Credits/Links

    PC Aviator - http://PCAviator.com
    Megasceneryearth - http://www.megasceneryearth.com/store
    How big are the states page - http://www.wisegeek....-in-america.htm
    Photo of Marshall Point Lighthouse – online photo, lonelyplanet.com, from Brewster House News, B&B.
    Tim Arnot’s Plan-G freeware maps and flight planning program - www.tasoftware.co.uk/
    USA Airports table/ links - http://www.mapsofwor...a-airports.html
    United States Airports box - http://www.globalair...port/state.aspx
    Flooding in Taiwan – hard drive manufacturing - http://redfoxcomputers.ca/?p=252
    Carerado for Beech Baron 58 www.carenado.com
    RealAir Simulations for Lancair Legacy www.realairsimulations.com
    Google.com for captured map of Marshall Point Lighthouse area. www.google.com

    Some bonus screenshots. Views along State borders.

    T_Pg_18_a_state-line-west-b.jpg
    T_Pg_18_b_NH-left-VT-right-.jpg
    T_Pg_18_c_NH-left-MA-right-.jpg
    T_Pg_18_d_MA-left-VT-right-.jpg

    Upper Left – West bound, Vermont on the right.
    Upper Right – New Hampshire on the left, Vermont on the right, near KBML.
    Lower Left – New Hampshire on the left, MA on the right near KAFN
    Lower Right – Massachusetts on the left, Vermont on the right.

    Around Ohio Screenshots

    T_Pg_19_a_OH_way-East-near-.jpg
    Wheeling
    T_Pg_19_b_OH_Toledo.jpg
    Toledo
    T_Pg_19_c_OH_Near-Mt-Vernon.jpg
    Mt Vernon
    T_Pg_19_d_OH_Dayton_3500-.jpg
    Dayton
    T_Pg_19_e_OH_Columbus---Cop.jpg
    Columbus
    T_Pg_19_F_OH_Cincinii-from-.jpg
    Cincinnati
    T_Pg_19_g_OH_Cin2---Copy.jpg
    Cincinnati
    T_Pg_19_h_OH_Akron.jpg
    Akron
    T_Pg_19_i_OH-Canton-OH---Co.jpg
    Canton

    Review time
    Flying Time – 30 hours, Research Time – 30 hours, Enjoyment Time – All of it.

    Test System
    Hellfire FS liquid cooled Intel i7 2700 overclocked to 4.5 GHz, Win7-64, 8 GB RAM, nVidia GTX580 w/1.5 GB RAM. Crucial M4 256 GB SSD, Intel 180 GB SSD, WD Black 2TB data drive, Seagate 3TB data drive, WD My Passport 750 GB USB 3.0 External Drive, dual Dell 24 IN WS monitors, Full Mad Catz/Saitek hardware cockpit, Saitek Combat Rudder Pedals, Cessna Yoke System, 8 Saitek Flight Instrument Panels, BIP, Switch Panel, Multi Panel, TPM, dual power quadrants and Cessna Trim wheel. Saitek x52 Pro Flight Control System. Logitech wireless Keyboard and Mouse. Bose Companion 20 speakers. FSX w/Acceleration.

    Reviewed by Ray Marshall, Avsim Contributing Reviewer


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