SIM720's Inverness & Edinburgh
A review by Mike Cameron
The information below was gathered from the product page and fromwww.scotland.com. The Scottish Highlands have many small villages locatedthere, but have only one community that is large enough to be called acity--and that is Inverness. Inverness is located in Northeast Scotland,at the mouth of the River Ness from which the city derives its name. Thearea where the city is now located was once inhabited by the Picts manycenturies ago and today you can make your way to Craig Phadrig where you willfind an ancient fort once used by these native peoples. Some of the manyhistorical sites that are located in Inverness are Inverness Castle, which iscurrently being used as a courthouse. The Andrew’s Cathedral is locatedon the River Ness and the oldest church of the area, Old High Church, issituated on St Michael’s Mount next to the river.
Inverness Airport (EGPE) is located in Dalcross, which is 8.1 miles (13KM or7NM) northeast of the City of Inverness and serves as the gateway to theScottish Highlands. The airport is operated by HIA (Highlands &Islands Airports) and hosts a range of scheduled flights throughout the UnitedKingdom and a few European destinations. The airport has over a halfmillion passengers that use this airport with more than 15,000 scheduledflights to/from Inverness each year. This airport was originally used asa RAF base in World War II and then opened for civil use in 1947.
Since then, numerous air carriers have used the airport and InvernessAirport has had many upgrades through the years. TheSim720 presentation of this airport is an accuratereproduction of Inverness Airport with custom & hand placed objects withhigh-resolution textures, accurate placement of taxiways and the runway andcustom night lighting effects. This scenery is designed to blendseamlessly with FSX default scenery, Orbx FTX Scotland regional scenery andHorizon scenery products. I will be using it with the Orbx ScotlandScenery. This product is also DX10 compatible.
Installation and Documentation
This is a multipart review and flight tour, so I am only going to explainthe install process with the first part of my tour, Stornoway Airport. Ifthis is your first Sim720 airport and did not read the previous part, check out this review. An excellent manual is included with allSim720 products.
Inverness Airport Walking Tour
Before starting my tour of the airport, I want to first capture a picture ofthe Sim720 Control Panel. A very nice feature of the Sim720 Control Panelis that as you install new scenery products they are added to the control paneland all you have to do is select that airport to enable/disable features forthat airport. There is even a picture from the selected airport, which isalso a nice feature. I have the Orbx Scotland regional scenery installed,so I will leave that compatibility option selected. I am not going toprovide seasonal texture comparisons for this airport and the next review,Oban, because they would probably look similar to the Stornoway textures, whichI already compared. As I like to do whenever I install new airportscenery, I like to explore the airport grounds on foot using the Orbx Bob firstperson simulator.
I will be using the airport diagram from the User Guide as a map and amgoing to start at Runway 23, walk north and west crossing Runway 05 and work myway south and east back to Runway 23. I will be loading my current datefor the season, which is April 13, 2014 at about 1:00 PM with the default FSXFair Weather theme. The second screen grab is looking forward towards therunway and you can see the nice texture change of the runway. Whilestanding here I thought it would be a good time to display the ramp &runway lighting for this airport. I currently have DX10 mode enabled andhave the DX10 Scenery Fixer program installed, so the light halo effect maylook different on your system. Overall I am pleased with this lightingbut may tweak the light halo effect using the DX10 Scenery Fixerprogram.
Screen grabs four and five is the runway approach at night and during theday. The fifth picture also provides a nice view of the landscapes nearthe airport area. The first objects that I see are some detailedbuildings & trees and a static vehicle that are located just outside theairport boundary. Continuing west at the unused part of the airport, thenext group of objects that I come to is the Inverness Airport Fire TrainingArea. The textures and details of these objects are outstanding andunlike the unlike the Stornoway Fire Training Area, I did not have anyflickering textures or missing objects which is nice. The only detailsthat are missing that would have added to the atmosphere of this area are astatic firefighting vehicle and maybe some airport workers being trained. Another nice detail here is that you can partially read the labeling on thecrates.
After crossing Runway 05, I am now approaching the modern area of thisairport. The first thing that I notice is that Inverness is a much largerairport than Stornoway. Before moving on, I thought I would capture apicture of the detailed airport vegetation. I like the vegetation of thedefault Control Panel setting, not too tall and not too short. At thehelicopter parking area I get my first look at the very detailed groundvehicles, a worker and some small buildings or trailers. I love therealistic weathered textures on the buildings. As I commented aboutduring the Stornoway Review, animations & sound effects are currently notincluded but Sim720 is working on adding animations for future products andupgrades to current ones. Since I am commenting about animation now is agood time to review system performance. I had no issues on my reviewcomputer and most people should not have any trouble using this scenery on mostcomputers. If you do have an issue, try disabling a scenery feature inthe Control Panel.
The only thing missing from the helicopter parking area is a statichelicopter. Next up on my tour of the airport is the parking lot and Ireally like how Sim720 presents the static vehicles parked here. First,they are realistic looking and there is some variety with different makes andmodels, just what you would expect in the real world airport parking, verynice. Other nice details I notice near here are the small scenery objectssuch as the large rocks that are placed realistically, garbage dumpsters andother detailed smaller objects. The airport signage is excellent andthere is even real world freight company names included, such as FedEx at thecargo area. Lighting is also excellent and I like how the light shinesoff of the ground and the nearby trucks for a very realistic look. Thegeneral aviation terminal and the fire station are also located at this area ofthe airport and the static objects (fuel trucks, fuel tanks, aircraft &vehicles) look wonderful. It is nice to see an open hangar with aircraftinside being worked on by mechanics. Even though this is not animated, itstill adds to the atmosphere. Also if you have it enabled, you can seesome of the airport clutter and some other detailed small objects in this areaof the airport.
Continuing south I approach the passenger terminal area of InvernessAirport. This area provides another example of the size differencebetween Stornoway and Inverness. Even though passengers still board theaircraft using air stairs from the ramp, Inverness is capable of handlinglarger passenger jets instead of just the smaller regional propelleraircraft. The static aircraft here are also of the real world airlinesthat service Inverness which is what you would expect from premium airportscenery. The only thing missing that would have added to the experiencewould be custom AI Traffic to see these aircraft arrive and depart. Justlike all of the other textures of the airport, the static aircraft andbuildings here look wonderful. This airport will greatly benefit whenSim720 introduces animations because seeing a ramp worker loading a waitingairliner will really add to the experience.
I read on the support forum that the night lighting is not bright enough soI thought I would capture a couple of night shots of the terminal to see thisfor myself. Unfortunately, this is true; the lights do not appear to beworking so the ramp is very hard to see. The good news is that Sim720 islooking into this issue, which is another reason to like Sim720, greatcustomer service. This update has not been released by the time Ihad completed the review. As I arrive at my starting location the walkingtour of the excellent Sim720 Inverness Airport is complete. Other thanthe night lighting issue, I did not encounter any major issues with thisairport. I am now going to load the Trike Ultralite and fly over thesmall scenery area surrounding the airport.
Inverness Aerial Tour
I am going to depart from Runway 05, then fly east and travel in a circlearound the scenery area until I reach the furthest south area, then return toRunway 05. I will have a moving map open on my iPad that displays GoogleEarth data so that I can see where I am at as well as having the scenerycoverage page from the manual open. The airport and the area surroundingthe airport looks just as impressive from the air as it did from theground. The buildings and vegetation near the airport have just as nicetextures as these things on the airport grounds. I also like the varietyof the textures for all of the plots of land and look very similar to theGoogle Earth image and are located in the real world location. The smallcommunities and housing developments look good with houses that are placed nextto driveways and streets.
Roads are also very accurate and are also placed in real world locations,which are great for VFR flying. I love trees and this scenery has plentyand they are very impressive looking. The City of Inverness is notincluded with the Sim720 Inverness scenery but I decided to fly over it to seehow it is presented with the Orbx Scotland regional scenery. Unlike mydisappointment with the City of Stornoway, I am very impressed with theInverness scenery; it looks just like what I am seeing on the moving map. I tried to locate Inverness Castle but it is not included with the Orbxscenery. Now it is time to return to the airport, and after a brief rest,continue with my Scottish flight tour to the third Sim 720 Scottish airport,Oban. As with the first part I am going to wait and write a comprehensiveconclusion after the final part of this multi-part flight tour andreview. That being said, I was very impressed with the Sim 720 Inverness(EGPE) scenery product.
Scotland Flight Tour Leg 2 – Part 1 Inverness toEdinburgh
According to www.skyvector.com, a direct flight to Oban (EGEO) is only 79nautical miles but where is the fun in that. First, I downloaded somefree scenery objects for the cities of Edinburgh, Stirling and Oban from Orbxdeveloper Martin Reiffer. Here is the link to this free scenery. There are many points ofinterest to see from Inverness to Edinburgh plus the Edinburgh sites; I decidedto write two sections to finish this review instead of one very longsection. This section will be the cross country flight in my Cessna 172Rand for the final section I will use the Trike Ultralite to explore the City ofEdinburgh.
So let’s get started and travel south over the City of Inverness then to thefirst point of interest, Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness. This castle wasonce one of Scotland’s largest castles, and remains include a tower thatprovides wonderful views of Loch Ness and Great Glen. Many conflicts haveoccurred through the years as a medieval fortress from the 13th to the 17thcenturies. Loch Ness needs no introduction as the famous alleged home ofthe Loch Ness Monster. On a more scientific note, Loch Ness is the seconddeepest loch in Scotland after Loch Morar but is the largest loch by volumecontaining more fresh water then all of the lakes in England & Walescombined. Next, I am going to travel southeast over Cairngorms NationalPark and the Balmoral Castle. This castle on the Balmoral Estate islocated in Aberdeenshire; Scotland is the holiday residence of The Queen ofEngland and members of her family.
After taking a snapshot of Balmoral Castle I am going to fly in a southerlydirection towards the City of Edinburgh. After passing over the Tay RoadBridge and before flying over the next landmark the St Andrews Cathedral Ruinsand wanted to see the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews which wasestablished in 1754 and is one of the oldest golf clubs in the world. StAndrews is part of a rotation of courses that host the British Open of Golf inthe summer each year. The St Andrews Ruins contains what once wasScotland’s largest and most magnificent medieval church, The St AndrewsCathedral. The real world location also contains the St Rules Tower, thepredecessor to the cathedral and the Precinct Walls which are the most completein Scotland.
Both the St Andrews Golf Course and the St Andrews Ruins look great in theOrbx Scotland Scenery. There are several other golf courses in this areaand they are placed accurately along with all of the other cities, towns, parksand other scenery features according to my Google moving map, which is anotherbenefit to owning this regional scenery. After flying over these ruins itis now time to land at Edinburgh International Airport for a short rest beforestarting my city tour of Edinburgh in the Trike.
Scotland Flight Tour Leg 2 – Part 2 Edinburgh City Tour
The City of Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland. Edinburgh grewaround its Old Town until the late 18th century and this area of the city stillhas the distinct character from the days of old featuring the Edinburgh Castleat the top of the Royal Mile to the Grass Market below which was once the sitefor public hangings. During this time the Nor Loch served as a naturaldefense until it was drained and converted to form the Princess Street Gardensin later years. After 1583, the city was the hub for educational andprofessional development. It was at this time that the University ofEdinburgh was formed and this university still stands today.
As the years followed, many new ventures happened, making Edinburgh afinancial capital by the end of the 20th century. In 1707, the Act ofUnion occurred, which joined Scotland and England together politically andmoved power from Scotland’s Old Parliament to London’s Westminster. Today, Edinburgh combines both modern buildings such as the ScottishParliament, which sits alongside wonderful historical buildings including thePalace of Holyroodhouse. The City of Edinburgh is very compact, is easilywalkable and is comprised of different villages with their own distinctivecharacter. The landmarks that I am going to fly over include TynecastleStadium, St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh Castle, Royal Scottish Academy,National Gallery, Scottish Government buildings, Holyrood Abby &Holyroodhouse Palace, the Royal Mile and Barclay Church. Although I wasable to create waypoints in Plan G of the above landmarks, I could not zoom inclose enough on the moving map in order to see the location names so I will notbe providing labels for the various landmarks but I tried to capture them inthe order of my flight plan. To learn more about the City of Edinburghand these landmarks visit, www.visitscotland.com.
Summary / Closing Remarks
I hope everyone has enjoyed my review of the Sim720 Inverness Airport andleg two of the Scotland tour. I have decided to finish this review nowbecause this leg was becoming very long. In Part three, I will finish theScottish tour, flying over the landmarks along the way including the City ofStirling and write my review of the Sim720 Oban Airport scenery. I willwrite a comprehensive conclusion at the end of the third part of thismulti-part review and tour. I want to thank Sim720 for providing thereview copy of Inverness. If you are interested in this scenery visit theproduct page located here. This product is also available from the AVSIM Marketplace locatedhere.