What better package is there to purchase than a prepared enhanced isolated territory with modifications to 40 small airports and/or airfields and five highly detailed airports all for less than 30 dollars (US)? That was my first impression of what Aerosoft offers us under the title ICELAND X.
This product is more like the UTX series from Flight1, and is not an overall photoreal tiling like Aerosoft's other isolated scenery products such as Helgoland-X, Venice-X and Monaco-X, nor the VFR Germany series 1-4. However, there are some photoreal tiles for the glaciers.
From their website we read of the following features:
* There is one major airport not in the above list of highly detailed ones, and that is Keflavik International Airport which will be made available later as a separate Aerosoft product.
A Little History (not too much)
I will presume you all know where Iceland is. Some of you though, may not know "what" Iceland is. You've all heard of the mid-Atlantic ridge comprised of tall undersea mountains creating a serpentine ridge up through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? That is what Iceland is from, it is the only part of that ridge that extends above the water's surface.
Of no surprise then if I go on to count the volcanoes but I'm sure you're fully aware of their activities which have been headline news off and on since the advent of newsprint. Infertile soils, harsh weather and volcanic eruptions all contributed to severely impoverish the island. Plagued with recurrent diseases and famines, its small population suffered recurrent severe reductions. No wonder it does not hold any prominence in our historical mindset.
Historical records tell of early Irish and/or Scottish settlements around 874 AD but I'm sure the place was populated way before then, if not permanent then at least as temporary fishing ports. The more familiar Norwegian governances were only established in the Middle Ages (1260 onward). Following a long independence movement from 1814 to 1918 with lots of emigration particularly to Manitoba in Canada (fewer volcanos I guess…).
Sovereignty was finally obtained under the status of the Kingdom of Iceland which lasted until 1944 when it formally became the Republic of Iceland as it remains to this date. The inhabited areas are only along the coast whereas the central highlands are uninhabited.
Without a railroad, Iceland depends mainly on its 13000 km of roads, more than half of which are unpaved rural roads. There is a circle road system formed (as seen in the title picture for this review) which is called the Ring Road (like Rome has) connecting the more populous cities.
Keflavik is the major hub for international aviation (not included in this product) whereas the general aviation center for domestic and short haul flights is Reykjavík which is included in this product. The shorter flights include Greenland and the Faroe Islands as destinations.
There are 103 registered airports and/or airfields in Iceland with the largest airport being Keflavik and the largest airfield being Geitamelur. Its major airline is Icelandair.
Aerosoft posts the following minimum requirements which should allow for a pleasurable experience:
Microsoft Flight Simulator X (Acceleration or SP2)
As with all Aerosoft products, installation is a cinch with the usual request for the serial key and your email address. Your installation path for FSX is verified (you can change the installs destination if you wish) and you are then asked if you want to have dynamic ships installed. I always add these in.
Although the download is only 374 MB, the install is 1.24 Gigs so you may want to think about where you’re installing this larger file. It is big because there are options for using different texture mipmaps using the texture tool as seen in the folder tree pictured here. From the startmenu list below you can also a 20 page manual, and some charts.
The "not"-included CHARTS
Surprisingly, clicking on this entry brings up Aerosoft's products list webpage, and in German… there are no charts? You can find free charts, but they cannot be reproduced. You must be registered (free) to login whereupon the EAD Basic Home page you enter applications and select PAMS Light where you select Iceland from the authority listing and charts from the AIP type listing.
Confusing? It won't be if you use that website, otherwise disregard that little path. I did use this source for every airfield I visited and found them to be indispensible. With the scarcity of Icelandic navaids and approach procedures, this is an ideal place for a newbie to practice approaches the old-fashioned way: mostly NDB approaches, as there is little clutter on the charts and the elevation info is essential.
In order to present to the readers Iceland X in its entirety as Aerosoft has developed it, I will bring you on a guided tour of the island starting from an arrival from the east departing from the notoriously precipitous Faroe Islands, the most northern of lands off Scotland. The real weather I downloaded using ASE was always cloudy and usually with precipitation. This is typical for the Icelandic region.
From Vagar (EKVG) to Egilsstadir (BIEG) is overwater without much to report. However, the first appearance of land via the ING VOR is the beginning of a string of geographical wonders, starting off with the first, but not the least of many Icelandic glaciers; the majestic Vatnajökull Glacier. The seamless integration of this photographic imagery with its tiled surroundings is remarkable. Flying past this immense glacier we see some birthing icebergs.
Egilsstadir proved to be a nice destination with a small town to the east on approach with sufficient night lighting for a safe landing at the airfield. Most small airports have similar buildings, not because Aerosoft intentionally made these generic, but because Iceland developed most of these airfields at the same time and used the same architectural plans and contractors for each one. Seems like the real weather is always cloudy for Iceland.
From Egilsstadir to Akureyri (BIAR) with a short stop at Thorshofn (BITN) makes for the next segment in my tour of the island. The latter has the smaller generic buildings as seen before. Not too much at this locality. In contrast Akureyri is more developed with an added causeway and town layout.
From Akureyri to Saudarkrokur (BIKR) we encounter cloudier, even nastier real weather, and some nice topography in the form of an island as pictured below (notice the high cliffs under that snow top).
From Saudarkrokur to Isafjordur (BIIS). This is a very nice scenery section with lots of mountains surrounding a hazardous approach for which you will have to consult the charts in order to make it in safely, which may not happen on the first attempt.
From Isafjordur to Reykjavik (BIRK) with a short hop after seeing Keflavik (BIKF) which although said to have not been as detailed (meant for a future product development), is still nicely done. Reykjavik is the capital city of Iceland and as such got more attention from the Aerosoft developers. The airport is also well detailed. Just have a look at the pictures I took along the way.
From Reykjavik to Vestmannaeyjar (BIVM), an island airport off the southern coast brings to an end of our tour-de-Iceland. This is yet another pretty destination with loads of ships and other details.
Such a beautiful grouping of airfields, airports, and scenery for such a large area for such a low price sums up my opinion of this great product. Another stellar event at Aerosoft. I may not have been able to cover the entire island's topography and picturesque details but I just tried to get the message across that this product is worth having. You can spend a long time there, as I did.
Although there was little AI except for the major airport, this did help in allowing for a fluid experience performance wise. Large expanses of Iceland seemed barren, but that is exactly what it is like there: all development is near the coast.Let me close in putting to rest some forum rumors that the performance hit was significant around the capital city airports. It was not. They must have fixed it before I got my reviewer's copy.
What I Like About Iceland X
What I Don't Like About Iceland X
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