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Stornoway Airport
For FSX, P3Dv1 and P3Dv2 Published by SIM720
Reviewed by Brian Buckley
May 2014

Introduction - A Brief History

Stornoway Airport has to be among one of the special airports around the world and it is a joy to land at. Having been to the Western Isles (The Outer Hebrides) on vacation, I drove past the airport daily for a couple of weeks. It was always a joy to be driving along the causeway which connects the point area of Lewis to Stornoway main town at the time an aircraft was either just taking off or landing.

The airport lies just over two miles east of Stornoway town and has a long history and association with the Royal Air Force (RAF), which previously had a station here. Officially, it only existed as a RAF base between 1941 until just after the end of World War II (until reinstated in the 1960's), however, the RAF association with Stornoway goes back to May 1928. At that time, a Southampton flying boat of 210 Squadron touched down in Stornoway Harbour. This was followed by several other visits over the years by service flying boats as, at the time, there was no landing ground for wheeled aircraft on the island.

The first flight to land on the island itself was undertaken by the aviation pioneer Capt. E. E. Fresson on 8th March 1934. He utilised the golf links at Melbost, just outside Stornoway and near the present day site of Stornoway Airport. Proper grass runways were only completed on the site in August 1939 with the intention of opening regular commercial flights to Inverness.

Unfortunately, the outbreak of war with Germany in September 1939 put a halt to true commercial flights but Scottish Airways, formed by Fresson and others to operate to the islands, were used by the Air Ministry during the war to fly communication flights to Stornoway.
Click here for more info.
Now however, it is operated by HIA (Highlands and Islands Airports) and the airport provides domestic passenger services (over 125,000 passengers a year) as well as hosting HM Coastguard helicopter search and rescue, and private aircraft flights. It is the gateway to the Western Isles of Scotland.

Availability, Installation and Documentation

Stornoway Airport is available from SIM720 and SIM720 resellers as a 'download only' product for £15.99 + VAT (£19.19 incl vat). Presently, there is no boxed version available, however, some resellers offer a master back-up CD / DVD service for a minor additional cost.

The download file is 385MB in zip file format and it took my system just short of 9 minutes to download. Bearing in mind I am not on a cable connection, this was pretty good, for me at least. Prior to installation, you need to obtain a registration key and a digitally signed copyright agreement, which are sent to you by email from SIM720.

Once unzipped to a temporary folder, I ran the installation whereupon the user gets the choice of which flight simulator version to install, either the FSX version or the Prepar3D version.

I installed the FSX version and this took up 1.41GB of hard drive space.

SIM720 includes a separate program which enables users to enable or disable certain aspects of the airport's scenery, such as, static objects, seasonal grasses, and product compatibility. An icon for this program is placed on the user's desktop during the scenery's installation process. It is very simple to use and I found the settings in the panel below, worked best for me and the system I have.

There is a 17 page pdf manual included and it has more than enough 'easy to follow' instruction to get your scenery installed and running smoothly.

Scenery Coverage and Detail

The features listed by SIM720 for Stornoway Airport include:
    ● photo real layout and textures (30cm resolution within airport boundaries and 60cm resolution outside the boundaries);
    ● high resolution ground polygons;
    ● hand placed high resolution buildings within airport boundaries;
    ● custom autogen buildings outside the airport boundary;
    ● extensive library of airport clutter;
    ● accurate taxiway lanes;
    ● custom made static aircraft;
    ● custom night lighting and improved runway lights;
    ● 3D grass; and
    ● compatible with default, Orbx and Horizon add-on scenery.

Airport Chart & Area of Coverage Comparison
As you can see from the two pictures above, SIM720 have not only covered the actual boundary of the airport, but quite a substantial amount outside the airport boundary. The attention to detail is testament to the skills and meticulous planning of the team at SIM720, who state, "The SIM720 Stornoway Airport download has been created as a replica of the real airport.".

All the buildings within the airport boundary have been hand modelled and textured and placed with almost pin point accuracy. The runways, taxiways, apron. and parking areas, are also exact matches to the real world layout of Stornoway Airport and compare truly to the official airports charts. The Stornoway package includes custom autogen buildings outside airport the boundary for further added realism and the airport clutter objects and custom made static aircraft provide an authentic real world atmosphere. Also, at various times throughout my time undertaking this review, I observed several different aircraft parked around the airfield, but these were not there permanently.

Additionally, the surrounding countryside environment, is enhanced handsomely with an abundance of commercial and residential buildings, 3D grasses, and other types of foliage. These were also custom designed and placed fairly accurately, although I did spot a few buildings which had been placed with some overlapping (which you only notice if you do a walk around as I did). From the airport itself, or indeed from the air, these are far from visible and this is more a reflection of my pedantic nature. Having said that though, in the Stornoway Airport manual, it does not say that these buildings were 'hand placed', unlike the buildings within the airport boundary. So this is perhaps not the fault of SIM720 as opposed to FSX autogen placement. The various tiny hamlets surrounding the airport are all catered for and although some of the buildings are repetitive, they do look as though they are generic to the region.

Below are some examples of the work the creative team at SIM720 have achieved with Stornoway Airport.

Default FSX Airport

SIM720 Airport

Real World Terminal

SIM720 Terminal

Real World Tower

SIM720 Tower

The Gaydon Hangar at Stornoway Airport now houses the two Sikorsky S92 Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters. Bristow Helicopters officially took control of the SAR helicopter service from Stornoway Airport in June 2013. The handover marked a return to delivering SAR helicopter services in the north of Scotland for Bristow who ran the service from 1983 until 2007 when CHC took over.

Real World Gaydon Hangar

SIM720 Gaydon Hangar

SAR at Stornoway 1

SAR at Stornoway 2

As with almost all scenery produced today, SIM720 have also included a 'crowd' of people in various guises, from airport staff, business people and airport customers looking for their next flight, and the general population. At the time of writing this review, there were no animated people at Stornoway. The quality of the characters in Stornoway is very good indeed, though I feel sorry for the guys who are doffing their hats or pointing at some inanimate object - surely their arms will be aching quite soon.

Airport Object

Fuel Storage

Fire Station

Fire Station Internal

The 3D grasses and shrubbery are also extremely well rendered and hand positioned, which has resulted in a very realistic looking airport. With the odd splash of purple and yellow, which I take for heather, or such like, it really adds to the scenery. After all, Scotland is the home of heather, isn't it?

3D Grasses




There are simply too many elements to Stornoway Airport to show in this review, suffice to say, there is something here for everyone.

Seasonal Variations

Using the SIM720 Control Panel, I took a series of screenshots as per the settings shown in the Control Panel screenshot above. To get any real amount of snow however, I had to choose a hard winter setting. As you can see by the screenshots, the changes in season are very subtle and the colour changes which occur, do so in the requisite frame. The hues in each screenshot appear to be almost as true as is possible. This is no mean feat considering how easy it is to get this part of the scenery so drastically wrong. SIM720 seem to have got this pretty much on the button. You decide for yourself.





Hard Winter - Left

Hard Winter - Right


I was fairly surprised at how well lit the airport is, especially considering Stornoway closes in the early evening every day. The runway lights are realistic and the terminal area lighting is very cleverly done, in that the main terminal building looks as though it is lit from inside. This gives the airport a real feeling of being in operation. You can almost hear the passengers routing in their bags for their boarding passes. I further enhanced the night lighting by adding a third party night lighting add-on, Night Environment British Isles, to the mix.

With Night Environment British Isles added to my scenery library, the whole of Stornoway and the surrounding countryside was lit as if by magic and hardly any noticeable effect on my frame rates.

Night Lighting 1

Night Lighting 2

In the screenshot on the left above, you can see the effect of the addition of Night Environment British Isles, whilst on the right, you see the effect I mentioned about the terminal building appearing to be lit from the inside. A very clever piece of artwork and a credit to the team at SIM720.

Runway & Approach Lighting 1

Runway & Approach Lighting 2

Runway 18 Approach Lights - Daytime

Runway 18 PAPI Lights - Daytime


I found with my settings set as per the suggested settings in the manual, I was achieving very good frame rates. With my system and setup, I was getting well in excess of 25fps and sometimes, depending where my aircraft was facing, I was getting between 45 and 50fps. In my opinion, this is more than adequate for a smooth flight. The settings I used were exactly as in the manual and as such are as follows. With these settings you should be able to achieve quite respectable frame rates, but it obviously depends very much on what sort of system you have. The specifications of my system are at the end of this review should you wish to compare my system with yours. My system was top of the range when I built it, but now it is far from that and yet I still achieved very good frame rates. If your system is letting you down when it comes to frame rates, drag the sliders to the left a little until you reach acceptable frame rates. If you play around with the sliders, I very much doubt you will see an enormous difference in the quality of the airport, on screen.

Value for money
If, like me, you love to fly around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, I would imagine Stornoway Airport from SIM720 will sit very nicely in your Scottish flight simulator scenery library. At just £15.99 + VAT (£19.19 incl VAT), I feel it has got to be worth adding it to your scenery library. It would also be a great base for exploring the myriad of islands scattered along the western shores of mainland Scotland.

There was never a better time than right now, to get your aircraft over to Lewis and start your season of Haggis hunting. Buy it today and report back if you spot any Haggis around the airport or indeed, on the rest of the island.

There is a huge amount in this scenery add-on, such that it is not possible to cover all of it in this review. Suffice to say, the team at SIM720 have mastered Stornoway Airport and the surrounding area to a high degree of accuracy and I feel what I have not covered is best left for you to discover for yourself.

In comparison to the default FSX version of Stornoway Airport, the SIM720 version knocks it into a cocked hat. What I am trying to say is, the SIM720 version is packed full of detail and interest. FSX is populated very sparsely with a handful, if that, of default buildings, whereas the SIM720 version is a metropolis of beautifully rendered buildings, people, and all the usual airport paraphernalia, that goes into making an airport come to life. Ok, there are no animations going on just yet but SIM720 are working on that very idea. Check out this very short snippet of what is to come and find out what animations to look forward to

If this review has whetted your appetite for a flight over the Outer Hebrides, just visit SIM720 and download it. I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Also, the support team at SIM720, are very friendly and all they want is for you/us to enjoy their products and, to this end, they are very attentive and helpful, should you need help that is.


Stornoway Airport is compatible with FSX, P3Dv1 and P3Dv2. It has been designed to be compatible with default FSX, Horizon VFR Scenery, and Orbx FTX: EU Scotland. You can choose which you wish to use, on the Stornoway Airport Control Panel. Unfortunately SIM720's Stornoway is not DX10 compatible but SIM720 are looking in to this problem and hope to resolve it in the future.

System Requirements

    ● Microsoft Flight Simulator X (SP2, Acceleration Pack or Gold Edition) or Lockheed Martin Prepar3D (v1 or v2);
    ● Windows XP, Windows VISTA, Windows 7, Windows 8 (Windows 7 64 Bit recommended);
    ● 3.0GHz processor (Dual Core processor recommended);
    ● 4GB RAM;
    ● 1024MB 3D graphics card (minimum);
    ● 64 Bit operating system highly recommended;
    ● Download size - 1GB; and
    ● Installations size - 1.5GB.

Review Computer Specifications

The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:
      ● Asus P8Z77-V Motherboard;
      ● Intel i7, 3.4Ghz 'Sandybridge';
      ● 16GB DDR3, Corsair Vengeance, 1600Mhz;
      ● GeForce GTX 570SC, 1280Mb;
      ● 500GB WD Velociraptor - OS;
      ● 128GB Corsair Force 3 SSD - FSX
      ● Matrox TripleHead2Go - 3 x 23" Acer LCD Monitors; and
      ● Operating System - Windows 7 64bit.

Stornoway product page: Link

For all the charts you will need for Stornoway Airport.

More charts.

Stornoway Airport on Wikipedia

Verdict and Rating

Hand crafted 3D objects, buildings and static aircraft.
Excellent level and attention to detail.
Excellent third party compatibility.
Exceptional value for money.

No animation - after using scenery from other developers, it is a noticeable omission something that is being investigated by SIM720.
No main town of Stornoway - the town is not too far outside the extended area and would have been a great addition to this otherwise perfect airport.

  Verdict:    silver
Scenery Coverage: 9.0/10
Level of Detail: 9.0/10
Quality of Buildings: 10/10
Performance: 10/10
Value for Money: 10/10
SIM720 Stornoway Airport is awarded a Mutley's Hangar score of 9.7/10, "Outstanding"
and a Mutley's Hangar Gold Award.