FTX: NA KPSP Palm Springs International Airport
For FSX / Prepar3D Published by Orbx
Reviewed by Brian Buckley
January 2015

Introduction - A Brief History

Lying some 100 miles east of Los Angeles in Southern California, Palm Springs is a major international airport situated in the vast Coachella Valley. Palm Springs was built as a United States Army Air Corps emergency landing field in 1939 on land owned by the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians. It made for a perfect emergency landing field due to its clear weather and its proximity to March Field and the Los Angeles area.

In March 1941, the War Department certified improvements to the existing airport in Palm Springs as essential to National Defence and in November 1941, the airport was approved to serve as a staging field by the Air Corps Ferrying Command, 21st Ferrying Group. Land was acquired to build a major airfield one and half miles from the old airfield site. The new airfield, Palm Springs Army Airfield, was completed in early 1942 and the old airfield was then used only as a backup.

On June 1, 1944, training moved to Brownsville Army Airfield, Texas and the airfield was used for Army and Navy transport flights until the end of April 1945. The auxiliary field, or backup field, was declared surplus on May 12, 1945 and the main airfield was declared excess and transferred to the War Assets Administration in 1946 for disposal and was sold to private buyers. The City of Palm Springs purchased the land in 1961 and converted it to Palm Springs Municipal Airport.

Although a true international airport, KPSP has customs and immigration facilities for general aviation aircraft only. All inbound international commercial flights are from Canadian cities which have pre-clearance facilities.

Welcome Concourse
Once again, acclaimed developer, Jarrad Marshall, has been at the drawing board and has produced his tenth offering in the shape of Palm Springs. This follows his highly successful airports such as, Redding (KRDD), Jackson Hole (KJAC), Felts Field (KSFF), Cairns International (YBCS) and many others.

"...Palm Springs International Airport is located a couple of miles from downtown Palm Springs, and hosts fourteen airlines serving destinations across North America. The unique airport terminal is a combination of mid-century Modernist architecture (main building) and open-air planning (Sonny Bono Concourse). This makes for a wonderfully unique setting for your airliner flights - park alongside an open-air waiting area including retail shops, children's playground and sculpted parkland. Aside from the terminal, there is plenty to see at the airport, too. Explore the Palm Springs Aviation Museum with it's vast array of outdoor exhibits (don't forget to check out the parking lot, too!). As well as this, check out the new control tower, the work going on at the SkyWest hangar, and finally hang out with the rich and famous at the several corporate FBOs...". Courtesy Orbx

Availability and Installation

FTX US KPSP Palm Springs International Airport is available in download format from the Flightsim Store , for £17.44 (€22.11) at the exchange rate at the time of writing this review. A backup DVD is also available for a nominal fee, should you require it.

The download file size is 1.1GB and the installation process is simple, intuitive and although my download took over three hours, the installation only took five minutes to complete.

There is a warning near the end of installation that tells you to disable AEC for KPSP in the FTX Global Vector Config program. This opens after installation allowing you to check this has been done. As with any Orbx product, it is highly recommended that after installing the product, you install or reinstall the latest version of the Orbx Scenery Libraries (ORBXLIBS).

FTX VECTOR Configuration Tool

Scenery Coverage and Detail

" The Desert Oasis. With one of the most dramatically scenic backdrops in the United States, Palm Springs is a resort city situated 100 miles east of Los Angeles in Southern California. In his most expansive scenery to date, acclaimed developer Jarrad Marshall (Monterey/Redding/Jackson Hole/Cairns Intl) brings us not only Palm Springs Intl, but 1500 square kilometres of hand-crafted scenery. Explore the resort cities of Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, Indian Wells, Thousand Palms, Palm Desert and Desert Hot Springs, the high-altitude alpine wonderland of San Jacinto Peak, the windswept wastelands of the San Gorgonio Pass and the harsh beauty of the Coachella Valley desert. Famous during the 50's and 60's as the playground of Hollywood elite, Palm Springs is home to some of finest examples of mid-century Modernist architecture in the world; many examples of which can be found in this scenery. From the vast wind turbine farms, to the impressive 6000ft Aerial Tramway, from the modern skyscrapers of the Reservation Casinos to the retro chic of City Hall, there are literally dozens of interesting landmarks and features to explore. Outside of KPSP, try your luck landing at the difficult Aerial Tramway and hospital helipads, or explore the outer regions of the scenery from Banning Municipal and Bermuda Dunes airports. As for KPSP itself; as the largest airport in the ORBX North American library, this field is genuinely suited for all types of flyers - from the heaviest jetliners, through corporate types and even low-and-slow GA flyers, Palm Springs is the perfect destination. Served by most US and Canadian mainline airlines to destinations across North America, the airport is famous for it's unique "outdoor terminal" - use our freeware BOB to wander around the highly-detailed terminal grounds. If that is not enough, be sure to visit the Palm Springs Aviation Museum - many types operated by the US Navy are open for viewing. Optimised for performance, a huge coverage area, beautiful runway approaches for all types of aviators and extraordinary detail around the airport, Palm Springs is your perfect base of operations for Southern California. Far more than just an airport!" Orbx

Coverage Area

Explore the resort cities of Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, Indian Wells, Thousand Palms, Palm Desert, Desert Hot Springs, the high-altitude alpine wonderland of San Jacinto Peak, the windswept wastelands of the San Gorgonio Pass, and the harsh beauty of the Coachella Valley desert, some of which I have pointed out on the map below.

Places to Visit

Features include:
        • ultra detailed rendition of KPSP Palm Springs International Airport;
        • enormous 1,500 square kilometre coverage area at 30 centimetre / one metre resolution;
        • impeccable 10 metre high resolution mesh and custom vegetation autogen;
        • dozens of custom landmarks;
        • Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and hospital helicopter landing areas;
        • custom animated AI helicopter and train;
        • extraordinarily detailed airport terminal;
        • advanced rendering, ambient occlusion and unique night-lighting techniques used for maximum realism;
        • highly detailed APX to allow unique parallel runway operations;
        • strongly optimized for good performance with complex aircraft types; and
        • designed to blend seamlessly with FTX GLOBAL in both P3D2v2 and FSX/P3Dv1.4

Airport Diagrams

Of the three charts above, only the Palm Springs chart is included in the documentation. The charts for Banning Municipal and Bermuda Dunes are available from here, they were kindly produced by Mutley's Hangar member and administrator, John Allard. My thanks go to John for producing the charts almost immediately upon request so that I may include them here.

Banning Municipal Airport

Bermuda Dunes Airport

Seasonal Variation

Being a desert location I wasn't expecting huge differences in the seasons and that was true of this scenery. Between seasons, only minor tonal changes occurred on the ground and surrounding mountains reflecting the differing light levels.

The exception was San Jacinto Peak at 10,834 feet (3,302 m), it the highest mountain around. It has remnants of snow above 4000ft for most of the year. Winter brings the greatest change to 'San Jack' as full snow can be seen on the peak.

The screenshots below give you some indication of the differences on the peak with Palm Springs in the background.





Airport Buildings and Objects

Now we come to what I feel is the crux of Palm Springs International Airport. Jarrad has worked his magic, yet again, with the buildings and associated airport objects having been brought to stunning life. From the superbly crafted terminal building complex right down to the objet d'art scattered around the whole region. Whenever I purchase or review Orbx airports, I immediately fire up FSX and choose BOB as my aircraft. You can download BOB from Orbx, here . For those who are not aware of BOB, it is a freeware, first person walkabout utility, which allows the user to walk about and explore the buildings and surrounding area, on foot so to speak. I thoroughly recommend it if you like to see the work the guys at Orbx put into their airports. For me, it is always breathtaking when I see the level of detail they create in the airports for our use.

Inside the Palm Springs terminal you are greeted with an animated escalator which takes you up into the main concourse. This, to me, was a real surprise and something that wasn't really necessary, but to include that level of detail demonstrates to me the commitment that Jarrad and indeed the other guys at Orbx have towards their work.

Jarrad has come up with some very bespoke and unusual buildings in this project and once you take off from Palm Springs, you have some very nice surprises ahead of you. In all directions, there are objects galore and extremely well presented scenery. See below for just a small glimpse into what Jarrad has produced.

Terminal at Night

Terminal by Day

Sonny Bono Concourse


City Hall

KFC Perhaps?

Air Museum - Left Side

Air Museum - Right Side

As you can see, Jarrad has spared none of his artistic skills in producing some of his best work in Palm Springs International Airport. There are just thousands of artefacts and buildings in and around the whole of the Coachella Valley. He has even produced some stunning replicas of some of the hotel/casinos in the area. Two of which are below. I have included real world shots for you to compare, but I'm sure you will agree, they are stunning.

Morongo Casino - Orbx

Morongo Casino - Real World

Agua Caliente - Orbx

Agua Caliente - Real World

These two superb hotel complexes serve as very good landmarks when you fly VFR, as they are two of the tallest structures in the area.

Another area which Jarrad has covered more than sufficient, is animation. There are bucket loads of animations to amuse you if you take the trouble to go looking for them. Apart from the obvious thousands of wind turbines that pepper the whole region, there is the renowned Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This takes you from the valley floor, up to 8,516 feet to the San Jacinto Peak. It is the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world. It was opened in September 1963 as a way of getting from the floor of the Coachella Valley to relatively near the top of San Jacinto Peak and was constructed in rugged Chino Canyon.

Flying 'low and slow' is the only way to find it, as it is hidden in a gorge. Once you have located it, you are able to follow the cars up and down the mountain. Below are some shots, both real world and from Jarrad's hand.

Aerial Tramway - Orbx

Aerial Tramway - Real World

This is extremely hard to spot from any great altitude, but once you find it, it is kind of worth the effort. We have similar things in Scotland, but nothing on this sort of scale. Go find it, it's worth it!

Another interesting animation which Jarrad has injected in to Palm Springs, is the Fire Drill at the airport. You need to figure out what time of day the fire fighters do their stuff. Once you have figured it out (and no, I am not telling), you will be given a reassuring display of the fire fighters skills, as depicted below. (Yes I figured it out). Also, there is a large amount of animated people scattered in and around the airports included.

Fire Practice

Ah, Ha, Ha, Ha, Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive


Another thing which has been done exceptionally well is the night lighting. The airport terminal lights and taxi lights certainly add more realism to the overall ambiance and it looks very realistic when you are flying to/from KPSP at night. Since this is built to work with Orbx's FTX Global, the well known night lighting from FTX Global surrounds the area so the photo real won't be very dark. You can take a look at the images below from some more good examples of this.

SkyWest Maintenance Hangar

ATC Tower


This is a huge area and, as such, I was expecting to have some frame rate issues when transferring between the 30 centimetre photo real area to the one metre coverage areas, but no, I noticed no adverse effects on my frame rates at all. Having said that, I did follow the advice in the manual. I have a mid range PC and it coped very well, even with the copious amounts of trees and vegetation in the area.

My advice is, "Read the Manual", and start with the lowest advised settings then work your sliders up to find the happy medium for your machine. Blending is almost seamless, which also makes for a pleasurable flight around the area and transitioning outside the covered area, if indeed you want to. As Palm Springs is a large airport, it makes a great place to fly any type of aircraft to and from. Assuming you are type rated of course!


Palm Springs comes complete with a 21 page pdf manual and its own specific Control Panel, as per most, if not all Orbx airports. The manual takes you through the best settings for your machine and offers support on how to get the best from your machine. I advise you not to skip reading it if you really do want to make the most of Palm Springs.

Value for Money

This is always a contentious issue. For me, £17.44 for an enormous 1,500 square kilometres of unbridled desert flying, is a snip. I have been flying around Palm Springs and the whole coverage area for 20 to 30 hours and I still haven't seen everything. Imagine what that would cost in terms of real world flying. A whole lot more than £17.44 and that's a fact.


This product is only compatible with the following simulators:
        • Microsoft Flight Simulator X,
        • Lockheed Martin Prepar3D V1, and
        • Lockheed Martin Prepar3D V2.

FTX Global BASE is also a prerequisite to get the maximum out of Palm Springs, so make sure you have this installed beforehand. If you don't already have this installed, you will find it here .

Technical Requirements

With the exception of requiring FTX: Global installed, there are no other stated, specific system technical requirements, other than a system capable of running FSX / P3D. The FTX: NA KPSP Palm Springs International Airport User Manual provides some excellent advice on the various scenery slider settings and KPSP Control Panel settings which will maximise the performance of the software and FSX / P3D for a range of hardware specifications. Note. Whilst FTX: NA KPSP can be installed without the FTX Global product, there are limitations with such installations.

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 RAM;
        • NVidia, Geforce, GTX 570SC, 1280MB, graphics card;
        • 500GB, WD Velociraptor - OS;
        • 128GB, Corsair Force 3 SSD - FSX;
        • 1.5TB flight simulator add-ons;
        • Matrox TripleHead2Go - 3 x 23" Acer LCD monitors; and
        • Operating System - Windows 7, 64 Bit.


To conclude, all I want to say is that Palm Springs is not just an airport, Palm Springs is almost a country. In fact, it is larger than a lot of islands I know. With Jarrad Marshall at the helm of this project, there really is nothing to question. Jarrad has done a remarkable job, giving us an area almost the size of the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Not only have you got Palm Springs International Airport but you have two other highly detailed airports in Banning Municipal Airport to the northwest of Palm Springs and Bermuda Dunes Airport to the southeast. With literally thousands of buildings, trees, shrubs, vehicles, and other objects to enhance this area, I believe Jarrad Marshall has done an outstanding job on our behalf.

Verdict and Rating

Massive coverage area to fly around.
Magnificently detailed Palm Springs International Airport.
Two extra highly detailed airports.
Unbelievable amount of trees and custom vegetation.
Animations - people, escalators, the Aerial Tramway, and more.
Numerous 3D landmarks.
Beautiful night lighting.

None found.

Wind Farm

   ● Scenery Coverage: 10/10
   ● Level of Detail: 10/10
   ● Quality of Objects: 10/10
   ● Performance: 10/10
   ● Documentation: 10/10
   ● Value for Money: 10/10

Orbx FTX: NA KPSP Palm Springs International Airport is awarded a Mutley’s Hangar score of 10/10, with an "Exceptional" and the Mutley's Hangar Award for Excellence.