This scenery offering from Aerosoft gives you a chance to explore and appreciate not only the airport of Ibiza but also the Islands of Ibiza and Formentera. The islands were designated as World Heritage Sites in 1999 for their "cultural wealth of riches". This is a testament to the beauty of these islands.
Together with the smaller island of Formentera to the south they are known as the Pine Islands which in turn form part of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The western most island in the chain, Ibiza was settled some 5000 years ago by the Phoenicians.
The airport of Ibiza, LEIB, located near the southern tip of the island of Ibiza, serves as the primary port of entry for anyone wishing to get to these islands. During the course of a year approximately 4.6 million passengers pass through its gates flying in and out on over 57,000 flights. With the number of passengers anticipated to increase to over 5.5 million within 5 years, a major expansion is currently underway and is expected to be completed in the near future.
Installation and Documentation
This file is quite large at 1 Gigabyte. This may be an issue for those of you with slower internet connections. Why is it so large you may ask? This purchase will give you the airport of Ibiza as well as the islands of Ibiza and Formentera.
Those of you who have bought Aerosoft products in the past will recognize the installer and for anyone who is buying their first product the standard Aerosoft installer is very simple. As part of the installation routine you will be asked if 3rd party mesh has been previously installed. As a final step the scenery library is updated completing the installation so there is nothing left for you to do but fire up FSX and fly.
Exploring the FSX folder structure you will find that the installation routine has created a number of new directories. The primary is one called Aerosoft and within it there are three new sub directories containing the scenery and documentation.
The package comes with a single 38 page document in PDF format. This German/English manual contains information for both the FSX and FS2004 versions. It is further sub-divided into two areas, the Introduction and Technical Advice.
The first topic in the Introduction is a list of the system requirements. Looking at them you see that they are about midpoint between the minimum and recommended specifications for FSX as specified by Microsoft. I would expect because of that they are well within those of most enthusiasts using the simulator at this time.
Installation and removal routines for the product are covered giving details on how to perform both. Finally in the introduction is a link to access the airport charts for Ibiza. To gain access you will need to register on the site. Registration, as stated, is free.
The second half of the manual, Technical Advice, is one most of you will likely be interested in and one I highly recommend you pay attention to as it could have the potential to affect how well you enjoy this product. It is here that the user is given some good info regarding settings and optimization.
It begins with basics such as how to select the airport in the Select Airport screen. From that point on the reading gets a bit more interesting and technical. They have paragraphs on Performance, Visibility of Objects, AI Traffic, Mesh Terrain, "Aerial View" Setting, Textures Display Setting and finally FSX, Ibiza and the DX10 Preview.
It is here we get tips and information on their recommended settings and some pertinent information that will let you configure your setup for optimum scenery performance.
With the large number of objects in the scenery they thought it necessary to include a paragraph on visibility. There is some insight given into the phenomenon of objects popping into view as you approach the airport, the explanation is that it was done to increase performance. I wish that they could have found a different way to handle this, perhaps allowing us to choose some sort of percentage of visible AI or to choose which types of objects we would like to see. I found that it took something away from the realism of the scenery to see these objects popping in and out of view.
This product also comes with its own mesh terrain, so during the installation you are asked if you have 3rd party mesh already installed; if you do not then their own product is used. As I had none I chose to install theirs.
AI Traffic is mentioned as it could be an issue if you have already
installed add-ons that included an AFCAD for Ibiza, if so they
recommend you remove them.
The final paragraph gives some insight into DX10 preview mode
and why it is not available with this product.
As mentioned earlier, the airport is about seven km west of the City of Ibiza (Eivissa). First opened during the Spanish Civil War it was supposed to be a temporary military airport but remained open as an emergency airport. Later on in 1949 it received its first tourist flight but was closed once again in 1951. It wasn't till 1958 that the airport was reopened in response to the growing tourist market in the Balearic Islands.
There are currently about 26 different airlines that fly in and out with the majority coming from Europe and the United Kingdom. There is one main terminal and a single 2800 meter runway that has an east-west orientation.
Overall this airport blends in seamlessly with its surroundings but then I would expect nothing less as the entire island of Ibiza is included as part of this product.
The ground surfaces are very crisp and detailed. They have really done a great job here. There are subtle differences in the coloring of the concrete, the runway markings are all there and not over stated, and you can clearly see the well worn paths where the majority of the aircraft traffic is concentrated and the tell tale signs of rubber skid marks in the landing zone on the runways. There are 3D lights and markings along the runways and taxiways.
Everything about this airport screams details. You look around and you can't help but notice that they have gone to great lengths in creating this product. Starting with the terminal building, it's very difficult to find anything to complain about.
From the small arrival and departure signs to the roof mounted air-conditioning units, it's all there. It's the sum of all the little details that make a big difference. As an example, high on top the light standards used to illuminate the apron area you can clearly make out the multiple individual light housings. Just off the runway at the western end is a windsock with four spotlights and an anemometer mounted on the top.
It is details such as this that I refer to. This to me sets the scenery apart from the others; it is too easy to overlook and to not include these types of minute details. It is clear that these guys do care and it shows that they have done their homework in the creation of this airport.
Just as important as all the modeling is how well the developers convey the feeling of hustle and bustle at the airport and its surroundings. There are all sorts of intelligent and static ground traffic. Everywhere you look around the airport there is something happening thanks to the inclusion of AES Lite.
Sitting on the tarmac you can watch the buses, baggage cars, refueling tankers and tow vehicles move about with purpose. It is very successful at giving the impression that this is indeed a busy place. There are also lots of static vehicles scattered about the parking areas. Flying overhead I watched as a steady stream of buses and cars drove up to the terminal seemingly to drop off and pick up passengers.
Night time and Seasonal Tool
When the sun goes down the airport and surrounding areas continue to thrive. Beginning with the airport, the apron lighting seems to give off a subdued glow that is quite realistic in appearance. The runway, taxi and approach lighting are also very nicely done but could have been toned down slightly.
In the immediate vicinity of the airport it was interesting to watch the vehicles driving along the roads and using turn signals in all the right places. This was all very nicely done.
As you depart the airport and get into the countryside over the various towns and villages spread around the island the lighting changes to blotches of light which vary in concentration coinciding with the density in population, I found this to be very effective.
Included with this product is the Seasonal Tool, what this does is change the tree textures to match the selected season. I gave it a try and lo and behold after selecting winter I was able to have snow covered trees in and around the airport. With the average winter temperature dropping down to a balmy 8 degrees Celsius I don't imagine the site of snow covered trees is something that you would likely come across in this part of the world.
I asked Aerosoft why they included this. There response; that it was "Probably provided so they could have the other seasons textures if the user wanted to change them." This is puzzling considering that they tried to render the area as accurately as possible.
Island of Ibiza
The island is quite large with an area of about 571 sq km and a population around 114,000. With a topography that is a mixture of both low lands and hills there is plenty of variety and you are kept busy taking in all the sites. The northern half of the island is more rugged and secluded.
Heading out in an easterly direction from the airport it doesn't take very long to see that this is a beautiful part of the world. As you climb you get your first glimpses of the salt plains that border the southern edge of the airport. Within a few minutes you are over the capitol city of Ibiza (Eivissa) with its distinctive "Dalt Vila" or Upper town which looks very much like a walled city.
You get a sense of the history. Here you will also find the Port of Ibiza with the ferry terminal and the lighthouse at the entrance to the port. The splendour of the island is everywhere. To bring the area to life there are lots of autogen buildings in this scenery and for the most part they are very well done. I did have an issue with how they handled some of the densely populated areas. It is in these locations that I noticed that some of the large buildings did not fit correctly on the photoreal scenery. Let me say though that it really only became evident when you were flying at low altitudes or when directly overhead. Not a major set back but an annoyance.
Continuing up along the coast you get to appreciate the secluded beaches, rolling hills and rugged cliffs. By using localized terrain mesh you should get a more accurate representation of these features. I did find in some instances however that there were houses protruding out from the cliff faces. As I used their terrain mesh I can't say whether it would be more or less of an issue using 3rd party mesh. Inland is no less beautiful than the coastal regions were you get to experience a mix of agricultural lands and low mountainous regions.
I was amazed at how breathtakingly this scenery is. It is not hard to imagine why so many people flock to these islands.
Island of Formentera
The Island of Formentera located just to the south of Ibiza is much smaller and has a landmass of only approximately 84 sq km and a population in the neighbourhood of 8000. The pace of life here is much more laid back and remains unspoiled for the most part. There are no airports and the only way of getting there is by boat.
As you fly around exploring, you see the island's natural beauty. Just as with the Island of Ibiza they use photoreal textures and autogen throughout. Several of the more notable natural features of the island have been included.
Along the northern coast you have Puerto de La Sabina where you can watch the ferries from Ibiza dock and then depart making the return journey. Next to this you have the salt ponds and the Estany Pudent inland lake and finally the long peninsula of Es Trocadores reaching towards the tiny island of S’Espalmador.
As I mentioned before the island does have autogen consisting of single story structures with some multi-story ones in the built up areas but I failed to see any of the unique local landmarks such as the fortification of Saint Francis Xavier in the island's capitol of San Francisco (San Francesc) or the lighthouse at Cap de Barbaria which is at the point of land on the southwest coast. The islands are filled with history so I think it would have been nice to see them include a few more of these historic structures.
When you have islands, you have water and Aerosoft have clearly not forgotten this. They have made good use of color to give you the perception of shallow versus deep; this is especially evident along the beaches and in the shallows.
The surrounding warm waters of the Mediterranean serve both as
a playground for tourists and a source of livelihood for the regular
inhabitants of the islands. To bring the waters to life there is
lots of AI boat traffic. You can also watch or follow the ferry
as it makes its regular runs between Ibiza and Formentera.
What I Like About Ibiza X
What I Don't Like About Ibiza X
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