Now Boarding All Simmers
Ladies and gentleman, I would like to welcome you aboard this review with non-stop service to the new and exiting rendition of the Indianapolis Intl. Airport courtesy of Dreamscenery. On this flight we are going to explore an all-around fantastic, near mirror image of this historically significant airport and find out why it leaves the default scenery in its contrails. But buckle up, because I am projecting that we might run into some heavy turbulence ahead, otherwise known as performance issues.
The Indianapolis International Airport, owned by the city of Indianapolis, is the largest airport in the state of Indiana. The airport was opened, on a much smaller scale, in 1931, and was at one time named after Indiana native Lt. Col. Harvey Weir-Cook. It now goes by Indianapolis Intl., Indy, or simply by KIND after its ICAO code. Those of you who have passed this airport on Interstate 70 have surely noticed the large Federal Express hub on the east side of the airport, perhaps the most recognizable section of the entire airport.
A number of airlines operate out of KIND, including Northwest and Northwest Airlink who use this airport as a focus city. Also taking advantage of Indy’s facilities are American, Delta, Air Tran Airways, Continental, Frontier, Midwest, Southwest, Air Canada, United, and US Airways. But perhaps the most notable air service at KIND is Federal Express (FedEx), who uses Indy as a major hub.
One thing that makes KIND unique is the layout, which positions two of the three active runways parallel to each other with facilities on either side, and the terminals directly in line with the end of the runways just past the standalone perpendicular third runway. This leaves only one section of the airport property open, that is to say, only one area not developed. But that is soon to chance, because in recent years there have been some modifications to the airport, including a new 1.2 million sq. ft midfield terminal currently under construction, which is projected to be opened in 2008.
Speaking of modifications, thanks to Dreamscenery, the package will certainly modify your default KIND tremendously. With this add-on, the Indianapolis Intl. Airport will become filled with dynamic and static scenery, quality textures, and interaction with ground support equipment. All of which takes place in a much more authentic and realistic rendition of KIND than Microsoft has provided. So put your tray tables up and let’s get ready to see Indianapolis the way it should be seen.
The Dreamscenery Indianapolis Airport can be purchased at http://www.dreamscenery.com.ar/ for 16.95 EUR. While touring their website, you may also want to take a look at the Indianapolis 2005 scenery package, which for 25.00 EUR, will give you the airport and a photo realistic rendition of Indianapolis. I do not posses that package, and therefore will not be including the extra scenery in this review, but from what I have seen on the website, it might be worth a closer look.
When you are ready to install this scenery, you will need to double click on the “KIND2006setup” icon, and let Clickteam’s automatic installation utility take over. You will need to verify the location of the FS9 directory and “next” your way through the install, the whole process taking only a few moments. When complete you will have a new folder added to the FS9 main directory titled “KIND 2006”, which is where the configuration utility, manual, and scenery files are located.
This manual is one that I would encourage you to print out as it contains some vital information, including the user controlled animation frequencies. Also included in this manual is information regarding the airport, servicing vehicles, and recommended system requirements. Normally, I don’t spend a lot of time discussing what type of specs you should have, but this scenery is very resource demanding, so here is what Dreamscenery thinks you will need.
Pentium 4 or equivalent, 1.8GHz or higher
Having tested this scenery on several different systems, I can say definitively that a Pentium 4 is not necessary, but you should have at least a Pentium III or equivalent. And as for the rest of the requirements / recommendations go, I would consider these to be the bare minimum if you want to get the best results from this package. However, I am not a computer expert, so I would urge our readers to use the Avsim forums to let everyone know how this package performed with their specs.
And We’re Off
There are so many interesting features in and around this version of the Indianapolis Intl. Airport that I am going to split this section of the review. But before we do that, let’s get an aerial view of what’s happening here at KIND. Using the airport chart below, you can see that this facility surrounds the three runways, with the terminals at the top of the chart, and the FedEx hub to the right. Everything on the chart is included with this scenery package, but there is one thing missing from the chart - the new midfield terminal currently under construction; more to come on that momentarily.
Let’s start our close-up inspection in the center of the airport, which is where the runways, midfield terminal, control towers, and fire station are located. The runway on the left side of the chart is the 11,196 ft long concrete rwy 5L-23R, ILS ID IIND / IUZK. To the right is runway 5R-23L, which is a little shorter at 9,997 ft, also with a concrete surface, ILS ID IOQV / IFVJ. These two runways will get the most AI traffic, as I have noticed with Just Flight’s Traffic 2005 installed. But you will also see the occasional commuter using runway 14-32, which is a 7,602 ft asphalt strip running perpendicular to the other two, ILS ID IBJP / ICOA.
Also included are closed runways, which obviously won’t see any traffic, but since they are there in real life, Dreamscenery took the time to put them in as well. Naturally, I had to give them a try, which ATC did not care for one bit. If you look to the left of rwy 5L you will see the fire station, which consists of a simple square building and a couple of fire trucks parked out front. Just north of the fire station are some fuel tanks and the original control tower, which has been replaced in the tower view by the new tower in the midfield terminal.
Speaking of the new terminal, it is located just south of the fire station between the two main runways. Here you will find a fenced in area with some buildings that are under construction, some fire trucks, and a box truck here and there. You may, however, use the optional scenery included with this package to remove this area, or see the finished product. There is also an overpass leading into the new terminal from the south end, a couple cranes, and the new control tower.
And now we move on to one of my favorite areas, the FedEx hub. This large facility is located on the east side of the airport and contains a series of connected buildings surrounded by static and dynamic vehicles, crates, forklifts, semi trailers, stair trucks, and more. The parking ramp is located on the west size of the ramp and is capable of accommodating up to 30 of the largest aircraft you’ve got. There are also some user controlled animations in this area, which we will talk about in the “Animations Galore” section of this review.
On the other side of the airfield you will find 5 of the animated hangars, the two maintenance gates, and a variety of miscellaneous structures. There is not a lot of dynamic scenery in this area, but there is quite a bit of detailed static scenery, such as a pipeline, storage tanks, barriers, fencing, and a few vehicles. This section of the airport is sort of like the gift that keeps on giving, as I tend to find something new each time I visit this area.
And finally we come to the part of the airport where all of the action takes place; the main terminals. Located on the north side of the airport, the terminal area consists of the jetways, ground servicing equipment, both dynamic and static vehicles, and a selection of hangars and other buildings. Depending on how dense you choose to make this area, the terminals may be jam packed with goodies, or spaced few and far between. This section is designed to support all types of aircraft from the Learjet to the A380, and even has a special area dedicated just for general aviation parking.
There are a few things missing from this area, and I am going to note them in the conclusion of this review, but for the most part it is a very detailed and dynamic part of the airport and allows for a lot of user interaction. The terminals and jetways are detailed nicely and most of the modeling, with some exception, is pretty good. Although the dynamic vehicles tend to follow a jagged path, and don’t always look very good making the turns, there presence is a nice addition.
Back up to the aerial view, you can see that Dreamscenery has also replaced the ground textures with different types and colors of grass and dirt throughout the airport, the most notable being the defined blades of grass along the runways. Also noticeable from this angle are the many street and airport lights, trees, and roads. One thing that caught my eye is that that even though the roads don’t always connect with the default scenery just right, they, along with the hotels, industrial areas, and other scattered buildings, help the airport to blend in with the surrounding area very well.
One thing that I have not discussed is the lighting, which is stellar all throughout the airport. All of the runways are lit, as are the terminals and other buildings, plus there are numerous odds and ends lit up all over the place. Another feature that adds a little realism, is the icing of the runways during winter months. The ice usually appears in January and early February and is just one more thing that, along with the great runway and taxiway textures, makes this package so unique.
Most of what I have covered so far is static scenery, while fairly well detailed and a vast improvement over the default airport, is not quite enough to keep me coming back for more. So now we need to take a look at the dynamic scenery, which includes moving cars, ground support vehicles, hangars, and jetways, the latter three of which are user controlled. Let’s go see how this is done.
During our tour of the airport, you may recall me pointing out some user controlled animations, including the jetways, ground servicing vehicles, and hangar doors. Now let’s take a moment to learn how to activate these features and see just how authentic they are.
There are four areas of the airport that contain these animations; the main terminal consisting of gates A1-D7, the FedEx hub at ramp 2-5, the maintenance facility building, located at gates 1 and 2, and all 11 hangars, which are scattered throughout the airport
The main terminal has accommodations for small, medium, and large aircraft where the jetways will conform to your aircraft, but you will need to know which gates suit which aircraft. The gates for the small aircraft, such as the 737, and A320 are A1-A6, B1-B3, B6-C2, C4-C6, D1, D3, and D5. The medium gates allow for aircraft comparable to the 757 and are located at A7, B4-B5, C3, C7-C8, D2, and D6-D7. And finally comes the heavy gates where you can park your 747, A380, or any other large aircraft. These gates include C9 and D4.
When you arrive at the gate, you will need to use the NAV1 and NAV2 frequencies to pull the jetway and call for servicing vehicles. When you're ready to depart, you can use a third frequency to clear the servicing vehicles and simply change the frequency used to pull the jetway to anything you wish to push it back. You will need to consult the manual for the proper condition, call, and return frequencies as they are different for each gate. The same goes for the FedEx hub located at ramp 2, 3, 4, and 5, and the maintenance building at gates 1 and 2. Note: the maintenance building does not support servicing vehicles.
Let’s walk through the proper parking and service procedures using my Boeing 727 as a test aircraft. After landing, I have been told by the ground controller to proceed to gate B2, which is intended for the smaller aircraft. To find the gate you can either follow the progressive taxi, or use the detailed ramp and taxiway signs. You will also notice the gates alphanumeric ID labeled on the side of the jetway. Once there you will want to pull up to the parking area following the taxiway markings very closely. The parking angle for each gate is listed in the manual along with the animation frequencies.
As you pull into the gate, you will need to make an educated decision as to where you will need to stop in order for the jetway to align with the passenger door; there are markings to assist you, but no marshal. In the case of the 727, I will pull up to the last line intersecting the taxiway marking, which also goes for any other small gate in the concourse. Once positioned properly you can set the parking brakes, shut down the engines, and get ready for the fun to begin. It all starts with the jetway, which in this case, I will activate by setting my NAV2 frequency to 116.55. The jetway will first move away from the terminal parallel to the aircraft, and will then push right up against the passenger door.
But the fun doesn’t end there. Now we need to get the ground support vehicles out here. To do this I need to set the NAV1 frequency to 114.00, which again will vary for each gate. At this particular location the only servicing vehicle making an appearance today is the Texaco fuel truck, which has pulled up to the port aft side of my aircraft. If you don’t see the fuel truck arrive, or any other equipment for that matter, just be patient, they may be finishing up with another aircraft.
Now I’m ready to push back, but unless I want to rip the roof off of the fuel truck, I will need to have it pull away from the aircraft. I also need the jetway to get out of my way. I will start by changing the NAV2 frequency to 117.55; this will send all of the ground support vehicles on their way. Once they're gone I will change NAV2 to anything other than the condition frequency and the jetway will move out of my way as well. So there we have it, the arriving passengers have left the aircraft, the departing passengers have boarded the plane, and I have a full load of fuel. By the way, the aircraft will be refueled at the gate as soon as you shut down the engines regardless of whether or not you call for the fuel truck.
If you want to pull into one of the hangars just for fun, you will first need to find one. There are 11 of them, each of which can be opened by use of a specific NAV2 frequency. Using the airport chart shown above, pick a hangar, pull up in front of it with whatever aircraft or vehicle you wish, and enter the applicable frequency. The doors will open and now you’re free to pull in. When you’re done, just change the frequency and the doors will close…simple isn’t it?
Having seen all that this scenery enhancement has to offer, you may be wondering how it will affect your frame rates. Well, on a modest system you could potentially see single digit frame rates, especially if you have the FS9 scenery settings to “High” or “Ultra-High”, and using a resource demanding aircraft around the airport will only make things worse…much worse. But thanks to the included configuration utility, you can alter the scenic details to fit your computer’s needs.
With the configuration utility you can select the density and presence of the scenic details, such as trees and roads, the KIND midfield construction sight, static objects, street light poles, jetways, runway lights, taxi and runway signs, airport fences and runway grass, dynamic and static traffic, and service vehicles. Let’s take a look at what options exist and how they will affect the scenery quality and frame rates.
First off is the secondary detail. In this section you can choose to include the trees surrounding the airport, or eliminate them from your scenery. You can also choose to include the surrounding roads and antennae or eliminate them, as well. The two remaining options are to include both or neither. Removing the trees can have a beneficial affect on your frame rates without hurting the quality of the scenery, but I would not recommend removing the roads as they are essential for blending the airport into the surrounding scenery.
Next, you get to choose which options you want for the midfield construction site. You may include the building and highway, the building without the highway, the highway without the building, keep all of the construction scenery, or remove all the aforementioned items. Personally, I would suggest keeping the highway, as it adds a certain level of authenticity on approach. As for the building, you could get rid of it without hurting the realism, but it really doesn't improve the fps that much.
The section containing the static objects allows you to select the density of the static objects mentioned in the “And We’re Off” section of this review. The options are high, medium, or none. The latter of which I would not recommend unless your frame rates cannot be improved by adjusting other options in this utility. I prefer the high setting, but medium still provides plenty of objects and is noticeably less demanding on your system than the high option.
In the center of the page, you will have five more choices to make, starting with the street light poles. This one is pretty much self-explanatory; either you want them or you don’t. As a suggestion, I would not get rid of them if you are going to be flying at night because they have a nice affect on the scenery. The same goes for the section allowing you to enable or disable the runway lights. Between these sections is an option to choose how many jetways you want at the airport. You can have all of them, half of them, or none at all. Selecting "none" kind of defeats part of the purpose of this scenery, but since you can only use one at a time, I would recommend only allowing half of them.
Continuing on, you will come across the section giving you the option to include or remove the taxiway and runway signs. I can’t think of any good reason to get rid of them. After all, it will not make a big difference on the frame rates, and unless you like to follow a purple line (progressive taxi) around the airport, you need to have some way of figuring out where you’re going. The next option, however, can make a difference in performance. Here you can either choose to have or not have the airport fences and runway grass. While neither is necessary, they do add a nice touch to this package, so try out both settings and see which you prefer.
Finally, we come to the right side of the page, which is where you can really improve or decrease your fps. Here you can decide how dense you want the dynamic cars, with the option of dense, medium, light, or none. I have chosen medium because dense hits the frames hard, but light is not quite enough for me, let alone none. The same goes for the section where you can choose the density of the parked (static) cars. Here you can pick very dense, dense, medium, light, very light, or none. These vehicles do not hit the frame rates quite as hard as the dynamic cars, but enough that you might want to scale them down just a touch.
Speaking of vehicles, don’t forget to set the ground servicing vehicle setting to your liking. You might want to have them in all of the terminals, only in the cargo terminal, or get rid of them completely. Again, you will just have to try out all three settings and decide for yourself. However, my advice is to choose one of the first two settings, as having none seems to reduce the quality of this scenery, though it will help the fps some.
no complaints about this configuration utility whatsoever. It is
easy to access, easy to use, and allows you to adjust the scenery
see fit quickly and effectively. It is important to note that while this
utility can configure the airport and immediate area, you will
still need to use the
FS9 scenery settings to adjust all of the scenery not included in this package,
even the scenery close to the airport.
There’s a lot to like about the Dreamscenery Indianapolis Intl. Airport package, but there are also a few reasons to hold off on this one for now. Comparing this add-on to the default scenery is like matching a Lamborghini against a bicycle…guess who wins that one. So, of course I prefer this version of KIND, but I can think of three letters that might make this package a bad choice in the near future…FS-X. Not only is this product intended solely for FS9, with no guarantee of FS-X compatibility, but with all of the new improvements coming with FS-X, I’m not sure that this add-on will be necessary, even if it does conform to the new Sim.
But on the other hand, I have been keeping my eye on the new files arriving in the Avsim file library every day, and I still see a lot of FS2002 stuff coming in. In fact, I have even noticed a few freeware developers who aren’t quite done with FS98 just yet. Come to think of it, I am not certain that FS-X will be pushing FS9 off of my hard drive anytime soon. So maybe there are some of you who still want to improve your FS9 world. In that case, I would definitely suggest giving this product some thought.
For those of you who might want to keep working on your FS9 scenery, let’s recap what I feel to be the highs and lows of this package. On the plus side, I am very pleased with the authenticity of the airport layout, the scale and dimensions, and the construction site is a nice bonus, especially with the ability to change this site to match the real-world progress. I like the dynamic and static vehicles, and the terminals really come to life with the ground servicing equipment and jetways.
Two other aspects of this product that keep me going back for more are the great ground, pavement, and building textures, and the nearby roads, highway, and airport lighting. And of course, I am very pleased with the inclusion of the scenery configuration utility, which allows you to control the quality and performance of this scenery. Oh, and don’t forget about the user controlled animations.
On the other hand, unless you reduce or remove many or even most of the configurations options, you will likely encounter a noticeable decline in frame rates. Depending on how much you have to spare, this can be a very “stuttering” experience. However, with that exception there is nothing that I don’t like about the Dreamscenery KIND add-on.
let me sum up my thoughts about this package as follows; If you
are going to wipe your hard drive clean of FS9 when the next sim
is released, then you
might want to wait and see how the new Indianapolis Intl. Airport looks before
taking this plunge. Also, if you cannot afford to lose a few frame rates,
then I would suggest passing on this one. But if you really want to turn
Indy into a realistic and dynamic rendition of the real deal in
FS9, then I would
definitely take a flight over to the Dreamscenery website for a closer look.
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