Introduction and a bit of History
I first came across Narsarsuaq in Ernie Gann's autobiographical book, "Fate is the Hunter". In the chapter called Valhalla, he flies into Bluie West One, as it was then called, in an Air Transport Command C-47. Sounds straightforward enough, except for the foggy overcast that meant the approach up Ericksfjord had to be made at less than 200 feet... 'Wonder what it looks like in FSX?', I thought, only to be thoroughly disappointed, as usual, with the blandness of M.S. default scenery. Determined to find something better, I came across FlightSim.gl, and read about their Greenland-X scenery and mesh development. Nuuk-X, the capital city's airport and surrounding area, was already available, but I would have to be patient as Narsarsuaq-X was still in the design stage...
Well, the waiting's over, and I can tell you that it was well worth it! Ulrik Motzfeldt and his team have produced one of the finest mesh and scenery combinations that you'll find anywhere in the flight-sim world - and it's free. With Narsarsuaq airport (BGBW) at it's centre, the scenery extends to more than 13,000 square miles and includes 10 settlements complete with helistops. A further 10 locations of interest, including a gold mine, hydro-electric plant and other small villages, make this South Greenland area an exciting proposition for exploration by helicopter or bush pilot.
Just to whet your appetite, here are a couple of screenshots. The first is of Narsarsuaq airport.
Looking west from the hillside
Sun setting over Tasermuit Fjord
Download and Installation
Narsarsuaq-X is one of several high quality offerings from FlightSim.gl (see below for link), started a few years ago by a group of local enthusiasts. Before downloading Narsarsuaq-X, you may choose between installation paths: Auto or Manual Install. Both download zips weigh in at around 220 Mb, so give the server time! I chose the Manual Install, and, after un-zipping, I found 3 folders containing scenery and missions, and an installation 'readme' giving detailed instructions - a very straightforward process. After installing, but before activating new scenery, I like to be in position to see the changes, so I fired up FSX and located myself by the fuel at BGBW. 'Same old same old...', I thought, ' you could be anywhere in the world - except, perhaps, Greenland!'
Then I opened the Scenery Library, to add Narsarsuaq-X from where it was installed in Add-On Scenery. After persuaduing Windows 7 that it really was O.K. to activate the new scenery, it appeared at the top of the list and I returned to the sim - to find...
I think you'll agree that this is a distinct improvement on the default! Let's take a quick look around.
Narsarsuaq Airport and Town
'Narsarsuaq' means 'The Great Plain', in Greenlandic (related to Inuit), and it's about the only flat area in Southern Greenland big enough for an airfield, which was the reason Bluie West One was built here in 1941, as a staging post for trans-Atlantic flights.
Around 150 people live and work in the airport area, where there is also a hotel, hostel, shop, café, a nursing clinic and kindergarten.
Here's an example of Mads' attention to detail:
The standard of scenery object buildings is very good - Mads has used photo-textures wherever possible to create a most realistic result. The colour schemes are varied and bright, just like the real Greenland. The scenery has no people - this isn't such a bad thing as I'm always surprised how that nice Japanese business man with the mobile 'phone seems to crop up all over the FSX world! I prefer to use my imagination...
Southern Greenland and Narsarsuaq-X Area
The area covered by Narsarsuaq-X lies between Latitude N 59.75/span>° and N 62°, and Longitude W 44° and W 47.5° - approximately 13,000 square miles.
In addition to the main airport, BGBW, there are 10 heliports:
Narsarsuq-X Photo-scenery and Seasonal Effects
The area immediately around BGBW Narsarsuaq airport uses satellite photograph textures for both summer and winter.
The photo-textures have been carefully blended with the adjoining default scenery to give a seamless interface for both summer and winter.
The land class textures for the default scenery have been carefully chosen to represent the true nature of the area and much of the auto-gen flora removed to increase realism.
At night, the runway is lit with approach lights for runway 07. There is no ILS but the NA (Narsarsuaq) NDB has a range of 37.5 miles - on approach, you uses the 073-degree radial. Here's a view of this at night.
New Greenland Mesh
A new mesh for the South Greenland area has been developed from the ASTER
Global Digital Elevation Model source data. GDEM is the result
of collaboration between the Japanese government and NASA and
has been acquired from the ASTER sensor, carried by the Terra
ASTER captures high spatial resolution data in 14 bands, from the visible to the thermal infrared wavelengths, and provides stereo viewing capability for digital elevation model creation.
In addition, the FSX coastline and islands have been reworked for this release by Ulrik Motzfeldt, who has also added the numerous glaciers. The lakes and streams come courtesy of Lars Larsen and Finn Olesen. Here are a couple of comparisons between the original default coastline and lakes, compared with Narsarsuaq-X:
The resulting scenery is quite breathtaking, as you will agree when you look at the following screenshots of Tasermuit Fjiord in summer and winter.
The Missions included in the initial Narsarsuaq-X release were developed using Instant Mission Maker and are designed to give you an opportunity to discover for yourself the Narsarsuaq-X area. Unfortunately, for me at least, the development team have used a Danish version of FSX and the Lat/Lon co-ordinate characters were unrecognisable in my English version! Ulrik assures me that this will be recitified shortly and the revised Missions, along with a few more that are currently in development, will be available for download from the FlightSim.gl website.
Pluses and Minuses
Narsarsuaq-X is an excellent base from which to explore Southern Greenland - an area most flight simmers know very little about, but where you'll enjoy a combination of glorious scenery and very exacting weather conditions. Anyone interested in flying the North Atlantic Air Ferry Route, from WWII, is bound to prefer the GDEM mesh to the default, despite the modern airport buildings possibly detracting from a wartime atmosphere.
At first, I found the scenery buildings too colourful for my taste, however, I had to revise this view when I saw photographs of the settlements themselves. Believe me, the houses are just as colourful in real life!
Adding Missions to encourage users to explore the scenery is a great idea and I look forward to the revised versions to be made available.
Review machine Spec: Q9400 2.67 GHz | 4Gb Ram |nVidia GeForce 8800 GT 512 Mb |Windows 7 64bit