by Ray Marshall
Friday Harbor (KFHR) airport scenery pack for FSX: Steam Edition is now available for purchase and instant download at the Steam store.
This add on is unique in a couple of ways:
1) it is the first ever Orbx add on scenery for the Steam Edition of FSX, and 2) installation requires nothing more than adding it to your steam account and activating it in FSX:SE.
An Orbx Control Panel enables the user to disable or enable scenery feature to match these features with your PC hardware. By default all features are enabled by the installer. Should you have a high end PC you can also take advantage of even higher resolution model textures by selecting ‘ultra’ quality.
As a special bonus, Orbx’s outstanding default tree replacement textures are included and can be enabled with the Global Setting in the Friday Harbor Control Panel. The Control Panel is opened on the DLC Steam Library page. Look for ‘FSX Orbx Configuration Tool”
Friday Harbor and the San Juan Islands in the far Northwest corner of the United States have a rich history and is one of the most scenic areas available for vacationers as well as flight simmers.
This is the general area that Orbx chose to enhance when they first came to America. I had the personal good fortune of seeing this area close up from the sail of a nuclear submarine way back before men walked on the moon. The Puget Sound submarine base was a secret location back then, known only to a few locals, the Navy, and of course the Russian satellites.
An Overview of the Friday Harbor Airport area
Let’s start with a tourist map of San Juan Island and the adjacent islands.
San Juan Island, the home of Friday Harbor, is only one of 172 islands located in the Salish Sea between Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia. It is the second largest island of the group, just behind Orcas Island, known for whale watching and home of the KORS airport.
The entire 55 square mile island has been upgraded to photo real quality along with a little overflow near Roche Harbor at the North end of the island. Being 24 miles long and 9 miles wide this can serve as a home base for just about any general aviation airplane that you may choose.
With an unobstructed 3,400 feet of runway you can fly most of the Cessna Citations and Embraer Phenoms if you tend to favor the business jets or use your J-3 Cub, Cessna 182, De Havilland Beaver seaplane or anything in between.
The KFHR scenery pack not only has the 3,402 x 75 primary runway with all the ground parking, hangars, and facilities, it also has two formal water runways, a second 3,600 feetpaved private community airport, and yet another 6 named grass strips. Granted these additional private strips are short and a little rough, but just right for your tail wheeler practice.
At the North end of the island, Roche Harbor Resort airport is available. The real world airport imposes a $10 landing fee for those stopping in for a cup of coffee or beer at the marina or overnight stay at the historic hotel. You can assume that your purchase of the Dovetail KFHR scenery pack includes unlimited landing rights. You will have to pick up the tab for the coffee and beer.
Because these are true islands, the only method of arrival is either by boat or by airplane. A closer inspection of the map will reveal the routes and a view of a Washington State ferry, a large passenger/auto ferry that is the primary mode of travel to and from Friday Harbor. Up near the title you will see a seaplane, representing the other method of travel to and from the islands. Of course, the one we may be most interested in at the moment is those landing at the primary airport Friday Harbor, KFHR.
How did Friday Harbor get its name?
There are two stories and either could provide the answer. One is that a Ship’s Captain that was passing by and not familiar with the area yelled out “What Bay is this?” The person answering the question understood it as What Day is this? Thinking that guy must have been a sea way too long. He answered with “Friday”.
A more likely answer comes from a native Hawaiian that retired and stayed on the island as a sheep farmer -Joseph P. Friday. Joe Friday sounds like he may have influenced the naming of the only county seat in all the San Juan Islands.
The Pig War
It seems that it always takes a war to establish a boundary. In 1859 a confrontation between the US and the British Empire who both laid claim to the San Juan Islands was the start of such a war. This one was eventually settled with no human causalities but someone shot a pig. The free roaming large black pig was shot while mooching potatoes in a local farmer’s garden. The compensation for the dead pig could not be agreed on between the Irish pig owner and the local farmer.
When the British authorities threatened to arrest the farmer, the American settlers called for military protection. Next thing you know, British marines are assaulting the beachhead and the US military is looking at five British warships with 70 cannons. With almost 500 US soldiers on the island, there was talk of another Bunker Hill.
The President of the US dispatched a General to negotiate with the Governor of Vancouver Island that resulted in joint military occupation of the islands until a proper treaty could be negotiated some 12 years later.
The end result is that if you look West, across the Haro Strait, you find Victoria, BC some 15 miles away. The zigzag national border is the result of those 12 years of negotiations.
What can I expect to see in and around Friday Harbor?
The design team took great pains in capturing the essence of the island for our use in FSX-SE.
I would like to show you a before and after view of the airport that I made. FSX did a better than average job for this area and many of the major areas and features are properly displayed. However, the photoreal images show it as it really is.
Roche Harbor Airport and Marina (WA09)
The approach path to the private airport on the North end of the Island is over the scenic Roche Harbor Marina and should be on everyone’s hundred dollar hamburger list. The first set of photos is the real deal as seen from approaches or a flyby.
The Roche Harbor private airport community was captured quite well in the scenery and could pass as the real thing. The expansive sailboats, power boats, historic buildings and hotel overlooking the marina didn’t fare as well.
Many of the homes have airplane hangars or tiedowns immediately adjacent to their house which provides a short taxi to the runway. Many of these houses and airplanes are included in the KFHR FSX-SE Scenery Pack.
The outlying landing fields
I’m sure the included 6 private unimproved landing fields scattered across the island are realistic but, I’m not sure it was worth the effort. Most of them are no more than rough fields with a windsock.
Most of them are so short that only the Cubs and Maules are suited for takeoffs, and this is provided the wind in on your nose. I suppose there is something to be said for those that can boast they have a private airport on San Juan Island.
Using the KFHR user guide to set your display settings
The manual is quite brief, but has some key information to maximize the available PC hardware. I was able to use the recommended setting with no adverse effects on my FPS. I have a modern, high end PC built and maximized for FSX/P3D. As always, the sliders that will affect your performance more than others are the autogen density and the traffic settings, maybe water effects also.
The user guide is silent on the traffic sliders for ferries and leisure boats which are all around us at Friday Harbor. I used the GA AI traffic guide recommendation also for the ferries and leisure boats. Maybe someone will start an active thread in the forums to advise us on the best settings for these two sliders.
The included Friday Harbor Airport Control Panel is provided so users can fine tune the Global Settings (go for the new tree textures), the Texture Quality (Ultra for the fast PCs), and KFHR Features (I would start will all of them checked and only remove the ‘Flow’ items if needed to maintain FPS.
Friday Harbor Airport and Marina
The airport proper is one of the best around. Be sure to check some of the elevation changes, not just on the airport grounds, but around the island.
The island has a very active historical society that has documented the growth and development of Friday Harbor and the surrounding areas. Several of the historical buildings have been replicated in the scenery package and can be found with a little help from Google.
The Friday Harbor Marina and Ferry dock is replicated in good detail and the ferry evidently runs on a schedule.
KFHR has some local rules:
All traffic is Right Hand traffic, pattern altitude is 1,100 MSL.
Climb straight out and do not turn until reaching the Marina Northbound, or the Golf Course when Southbound.
Airport is closed to traffic from 10pm to 7am
Favor the higher glide path and stay at or above the PAPI glide slope.
Kenmore Air commercial service
Kenmore Air, a local air travel and sightseeing company, has morning and afternoon daily service. These are large single-engine Cessnas and Beavers.
Marine Life and Whale Watching around San Juan Island
Although the KFHR User Guide was silent on spotting dolphins, small whales and such, this is one of the main draws for the tourists. The West side of the island, looking towards Canada seems to be the likely place to see whales.
The Annual Friday Harbor FLY-IN
Friday Harbor is known for their annual Fly-in, usually in late July. The old-time pancake breakfast should encourage you to arrive early. This is like the old days with Warbirds, Classic Antiques, home-builts and bi-plane rides, free admission and free parking. Wow. Follow these links for a great video of last 2013 and 2014 Annual Friday Harbor’s Fly-In.
Sightseeing around the island
I was writing the Avsim review of the Carenado Embraer Phenom 300 when I got the assignment for this Dovetails Games KFHR Scenery Package review. I thought it would be a good test of the high speed business jet to see Friday Harbor.
Here are a some screenshots around the island. (default on left, KFHR on right)
Flying the default Beaver around the two harbors.
What a nice surprise. I didn’t realize that we had a Kenmore Air repaint in our default float plane choices. This is ideal for exploring the two major harbors around San Juan Island with water everywhere.
I googled water rudder in FSX because I had forgotten the key strokes. (Ctrl+W) . The first link that caught my eye was the link to Flying Float Planes at none other than FSX Insider – Steam Edition. How’s that for luck.
I recommend you spend some time at this link if you are new to float planes. Should flying the Beaver on floats around San Juan Island look exciting to you, then you will need the new Steam Edition of KFHR Scenery to see what I saw.
The screenshots tell the story. Fun, fun, fun
Published Approaches and Airport Information
The public airport, KFHR, the namesake of this scenery package, has two published approaches, an LPV and NDB for runway 34. You have several alternates if needed. Orcas Island, KORS is the closest, about 10 miles NE, but KNUW at Whidbey NAS has two huge runways and KBVS Skagit Regional is just across the bay about 25 miles away.
Coverage Area Map, Control Panel and Key Features (from product information page)
Summary and Conclusion
This is the first Orbx scenery add on for Dovetail’s FSX-SE and it appears to be a winner. The coverage area is larger than the typical Orbx airports area for FSX/P3D. The Dovetail downloaded scenery pack is super simple.
Buy on Steam
Select Library, Games, FSX:SE option, scroll down the DLC list and add a tick mark at the Friday Harbor (KFHR) add on
No key codes, purchase order numbers and transposed dates to contend with just to get the download. No waiting for the download to complete or get interrupted - absolutely nothing to install on your PC. This is all taken care of somewhere between Dovetail Games and Steam. It couldn’t get much easier than this.
Once installed, Friday Harbor is your default location in FSX: Steam Edition. Did I mention that you also get the seasons made famous by Orbx? Be sure to change your date and time or seasons and check this out. You might not notice any large changes in seasonal color but check the grass and trees.
One of the advantages of using the Steam Edition is that your scenery is stored in your Steam Library which gives you constant access regardless of the platform you may choose to access your Steam Account. So how does the Orbx enhanced scenery with the new default replacement trees, the animated figures, custom buildings and custom terrain mesh compare to the FSX-SE default scenery – no real comparison. Not only is the landmass greatly improved, the water and the coastlines are now realistically portrayed in the simulator. The enhanced scenery has the roads, rivers, streams and such properly placed whereas the default is more or less a rough guess, and many times incorrect.
Tired of the familiar rectangle for the airport perimeter? No more. The enhanced scenery airport area is whatever the airport area covers, not the same light green grass all over the world.
Just because I used a business jet, a J-3 Cub, a Maule, and a Beaver on floats to fly around Friday Harbor should not influence you to do the same. If you happen to lean toward float planes then this might be Mecca for many. I think I will stop writing and go flying. I have an honest-to-goodness seaplane rating also. I bet all those docks are real and just waiting to see how proficient my water taxi skills are. I’ll report back in the forums.
Friday Harbor (KFHR) Scenery add on by Orbx – a Dovetail Games/FSX :Steam Edition exclusive – very highly recommended. This will be exclusive to FSX:SE for 90 days then Orbx will introduce the boxed FSX and P3Dv2 edition for further distribution.
Ray Marshall is a seasoned reviewer for Avsim.com and holds a Commercial pilots license, multi-engine land, instrument, single engine sea rating and a couple oftype ratings.