Cushman Meadows (FSX KCMW) and Bear Gulch (FSX WA38) airfields, both fictional, are the brainchild of FS scenery maestro, Bill Womack. Bill is best known for titles like Tongas Fjords, Hawaii Dillingham X and more recently, under the Orbx scenery banner, 7S3 Starks Twin Oaks.
Bill is from Portland Oregon and is blessed with beautiful countryside all around. Bill is also lucky enough to live smack-bang in the middle of Orbx's Pacific North West scenery area! So with his undoubted skills he decided to make the "Ultimate GA Airport" right there in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. It is a pretty remote, wild location, studded with towering snow-capped mountains, swathes of rain forest, and crystal clear lakes.
The ideal site for these airports, Bill thought, was Lake Cushman, both airfields are close to the shores of the lake, with the landing strips cut into the forest. Cushman Meadows is the main airfield enjoying an asphalt runway, control tower, flying school, covered parking and many other features discussed later. On the contrary, Bear Gulch is Bill's secret hideaway, a grass strip, a snug house, couple of corralled horses, a Fergie tractor and a shed to park your favourite aircraft in! Again, we will look at Bear Gulch in more detail later.
KCMW and WA38 really only work properly with the Pacific North West Region installed, if you are reading this review because it has FTX in the title the chances are you will already have PNW installed. It can in theory be installed without PNW but I think the visual benefits that PNW adds will make it a no brainer. Compare the shots below of the benefits PNW and Cushman Meadows bring.
As usual with the FTX series, you get more than just the airfield.
|There are two high resolution areas
at 25 cm/px around the airstrips which, (Marked in
yellow on the map to the left) with the
surrounding countryside coming in at a very
respectable at 60 cm/px.
The eastern edge of the scenery takes in the local town Hoodsport and Lilliwaup on the cost of the Puget Sound and south as far as Annas Bay and the Skokomish River Delta.
To the west, the scenery ends around 2 miles past Bear Gulch as the scenery turns mountainous and to the north almost a straight line west-east back to the Puget Sound just south of Eldon.
All-in-all this is quite a large area to discover and you can appreciate how this project took Bill a couple of years to complete!
Installation and setup
Cushman Meadows is available from the FlightSimStore and also from resellers like Aerosoft as a download. The download product comes in at 977.41Mb which, although big, is becoming more common with scenery areas and faster file servers. You can obtain the product on DVD f if you prefer to have the disc and library case.
Before installing, make sure your FTX Central has the North America region applied. The install will automatically save the files in the correct space and activate the scenery layers. You will now have a manual and a KCMW control panel available to your via FTX Central.
|As you can see, in the
control panel there are
options to reduce the amount of detail displayed.
You can control these by airfield but I recommend you leave them on.
The manual contains a nice introduction from Bill which is quoted in part above. Bill also illustrates his inspiration for some of the buildings and fine detailing you can see.
There is plenty of advice on set up of your FSX display options. As ever, it can be down to trial and error to get the best balance of quality and performance.
There are illustrations of recommended FSX slider settings and more information on the autogen density slider as this is the one control that will make the biggest difference to performance. KCMW is classed in FTX's terms as a rural area, which is true, but there are a lot of trees in them there hills!
According to my machine spec I should be able to run at "Extremely Dense" - Yippee!!
There are several main areas of detail both on the airfield and surrounding, noticeably, the PeopleFlow technology has created a very active club feel, especially around the food trailer where a whole gang of people are shooting the breeze, eating and watching the aircraft. There are people walking around, gesturing in conversation, note, it is usually the woman talking and the man listening, very perceptive Bill!
What I like here is everything is airside, no fences or gates between public areas and the runway so you are free to roam around using Orbx's "Bob" to discover all the intricate details. The runway is roughly 3000ft designated 02/20. Elevation is 758ft, that's only 20ft higher than the lake!
There are no on-field navigational aids but you can get a good fix from 3 VOR's and /or 3 NDB's which are closer by. I guess the GPS will guide you here if you are not keen on radio navigation!
To the north of the western apron, is a large windsock which is situated within a large ring of stones. Outside the stones are markers that denote the circuit direction for the runway. Then there is a small weather station which is an Automated Weather Observing System. (AWOS) featuring all sorts of measuring equipment as shown below. You can tune into this on 128.32 and get the latest weather info for the airfield. (Good for Bear Gulch too).
If you plan to view the area by helicopter a helipad is provided, it's next to the flying club almost on their apron, so only your very best landings here please!
|The flying club, "Olympic Wings Flight Training", is
situated quite set back from the runway, that is because it
has its own apron where there are normally a couple of
aircraft parked. The flying club has a very distinctive
design roof shamelessly based on "Barbara's Hang Up" in real
life. (You have to read the manual).
In front of the flying school is probably one of the most unusual control towers you will ever seen. 3 Shipping containers stacked, topped with a make-do shack with 360° views behind glass. There is a wooden staircase to get to the top in fine detail.
Next up, the club house with grand entrance from the car park, this has a balcony facing the runway, again with more people adding life to the scene. The club house has some great texturing of both the stone and timber walls, lovely.
The Flying Fork Cafe is open for business for the picnickers and pilots alike. It and features a few animated characters sat at benches and some queuing for food. Such is the detail here you can read the chalk board menu!
Moving on down, we pass some large metal sheds probably for garage parking and a hangar with sliding doors (Not animated). Close-by the fuel station offers up Jet A and AVGAS? fuels, the tanks are situated above ground and protected by some sturdy metal poles.
Near the end of the airfield are a row of very distinctive wooden and metal-framed aircraft shelters, these structures have been born out of pictures of picnic shelters from Mt. Tabor Park, Portland, Oregon. There are always a few spaces available to park your aircraft.
Moving now to an area between the runway and the taxiway we have more parking and a couple of maintenance or re-build projects being carried out. The aircraft are covered by tarpaulins over metal frames. Both have animated people with what looks to be a very "animated" conversation going on in one of them.
All around, the airfield features the ubiquitous FTX 3D grass, which is great for a sense of depth and a blessing for screen-shotters. The runway and ground textures benefit from the FTX Aero texturing.
As part of the airfield complex there is a water runway 04/22 in a sheltered inlet. This is designated WA40 in FSX and runs to 2953 ft. What I like is you can use the go to airport function to start on the active water runway or be placed at one of the docks or the fuel box.
The parking and refueling facilities are provided by Flip's Float Docs. A couple of static floatplanes illustrate how too park with floats on the jetty, not a manoeuver you should try! However, if you do try, and break your floats, don't worry, pop into Flip's their motto is "If it flies & floats, we can fix it!" Flip has a large hangar on the shore with plenty of spare floats on the racks.
Just a little way up the coast is "Centerline Lodge" an area given over to unusual cabins with animated smoke. This is also a camping and RV hook-up area and has its own jetty with boats and a couple more animated people.
Overall, KCMW is a great place to get out and about to discover the local detail, or maybe just sit back and enjoy the AI! Don't forget to look to the distance, the mountains in the background are just breathtaking.
If you thought Cushman Meadows was pretty laid-back prepare to get totally horizontal! Bear Gulch is further up the lake, right at the north- western edge. Designated WA38, it has a grass and plank runway! (Although FSX has it logged as tarmac). Intersecting the runway is a small creek, this creek is bridged by a narrow wooden structure forms part of the total runway length of 1411 feet.
There is a large hangar where you can park or start from. Scattered around are pallets, cable reels and boxes, just as you would expect in a real rural scene. Nearby is Bill working on his tractor. This animated character has many different movements and is very well modelled.
Behind him are a couple of horses waiting for the next arrival. The horses have splendid stables and a huge barn, the barn can be identified in the manual as being inspired by a barn in Okanagan Valley, BC Canada, this is another fine example of Bill's expertise in accurate modelling.
Your take off run and landing roll out are scary events, this calls for good steering and rudder skills to get your aircraft over the wooden bridge. It may be that you can land short or take off before the bridge but one day you will have to use the bridge!
Finally, we come to our cozy house. It has superb views over the lake and back up the gulch. Those ominous looking mountains are very much in presence here. When taking off northwest, you can follow the valley for quite some time to gain height to fly over the peaks, and look back to the airfield to admire it's picturesque location.
Out in the garden, in the summer months, you can join in the barbecue! There is plenty of animated action going on on the patio with the men taking care of the meat!
Bear Gulch is a great little hideaway with plenty of visual treats. It also presents a bit of a challenge to fly into and out of. I will definitely be coming back here.
From the chart above we can see that there is quite an expanse of land covered. Although not as highly detailed as the airports, it is still fun to explore. There is plenty of detailing in the roads and power lines. There are hundreds of houses placed all around but I am not sure how accurately placed they are. The townships of Hoodsport and Lilliwaup are not modelled in any great detail, they are just using the same type of buildings as the rest of the scenery.
In the extreme north of the scenery are those mountains, well worth a visit as are the lower lands to the east. There are a couple more small lakes to explore and some townships on the shores of the Puget Sound.
At the southeastern end of Cushman lake there is a dam, it is a huge structure providing hydro-electric power to the grid, right beside the dam is a power station and places to dock your float plane.
Heading further south and east, the KCMW scenery ends at the dramatic Skokomish River Delta, you need to get your camera ready for that one.
Flicking through the seasons, spring and summer look very similar with spring having a lighter set of textures. Autumn/fall has a distinctive dark overtone with snow on the peaks but winter heralds the greatest difference, with snowy trees, ground and mountains. You can almost feel the chill coming from your monitor!
I wouldn't attempt to land at KCMW at night, there isn't much in the way of runway lighting but you do get REILS at both ends. There are strobing red and green navigation beacons floating on the water to guide you too the float docks but that is about all.
Being a rural area you wouldn't expect much ambient light from the countryside and that is true here, also there is nothing to see so this is a true VFR only airfield I would say.
This is considered by Orbx standards as a rural area and that is true in respect of the number of houses. Of course, where there is not a house there is a tree but I think they don't have as much impact on performance as drawing a 3D building. This scenery features Orbx's TextureFlow technology which optimizes the textures, I have yet to find an explanation of that technology but it sure does look good on the screen.
Using their recommendation for a high spec machine I certainly had no problems, this scenery is designed for slower GA aircraft, I recommend it to bush pilots and barnstormers especially!
Just released after my review was published we now have a V1.1 service pack available here support page
This is a patch that adds sounds to the airports, this is the fixed sound pack of indigenous birds, cars starting, conversations etc. and really lifts the ambience to a new level, that's an enhancement well worth making.
The KCMW runway designations have changed or rather have been corrected, note below, 02/20 is now 36/18, the water runway has now been designated N/S.
From the second shot below you can see (or not!) the trees
that have been removed from the inland end of the KCMW 18 runway
to make it an
easier safer run in!
The download comes in at about 142Mb, it's
easy to install, just follow the instructions and there are
no after-actions required.
With the download also comes an updated manual, well done guys!
When I first looked at this scenery my thoughts were, ok it looks nice but is there enough to do to keep me here? Well yes! I have been using this scenery every day since its release, four weeks ago, and I am still coming back for more.
The quality of the airfield structures and bespoke houses are second to none. Bill's conversion of the real world models into his dream world is superb. In each location there is always something you missed last time and the way KCMW extends out into the float docs and camping area is so believable.
The hideaway at Bear Gulch has to be one of my favourite remote locations. You can feel the stress of everyday life drift away as you switch off the engine. Another set of superb buildings and a well laid out airfield.
This scenery is billed as another Bill Womack masterpiece, I say bravo, encore! more please!
This scenery really grows on you the more you use it, for this reason and for the undoubted quality, I find myself awarding this a Mutley's Hangar score of 9.5/10
Review machine Spec: Core i7 Extreme 965 @ 3.6 Ghz | 12Gb Corsair DDR3 Ram |GTX580 Graphics |Windows 7 64bit