FTX NA KTVL Lake Tahoe Airport
For FSX/P3D/P3DV2 Published by Orbx
Reviewed by Joe Lawford
FTX: NA KTVL Lake Tahoe Airport is the third airport released for
use with Orbx’s latest region FTX: NA Gold NCA - Northern
This release was a culmination of many months work masterminded by
Orbx’s rising star Misha Cajic.
This scenery extends far beyond just the airfield, it also includes
500sq km of surrounding countryside, including the mountains of the
Sierra Nevada range.
Lake Tahoe's nearest neighbouring FTX airport is Redding KRDD,
about 144nm away on a heading of 313 degrees, or, if you have the
FTX Global Freeware Airports NA Pack 16 installed, then you will have
KMEV, Minden-Tahoe 13.5 nm away on a rough bearing
of 60 degrees. Otherwise, there are many smaller airstrips, some of
them enhanced by the NCA regional pack.
Lake Tahoe Airport is situated south of the suburbs of South Lake
Tahoe City, California. The city itself resides on the southern
shores of North America’s biggest alpine lake, Lake Tahoe, and
borders with the state of Nevada.
Its location within the alpine slopes makes it an ideal tourist
centre for outdoor adventures such as backpacking, cycling, camping,
golf, sailing, skiing, and fishing, and if you fancy a bet or two
just over the border in the community of Stateline, Nevada, there
are 5 casinos 4 of which are classed as resorts.
Lake Tahoe (TVL)(KTVL)
Coordinates: N38°53.63' / W119°59.72'
Surveyed Elevation is 6269 feet MSL.
Magnetic Variation from 1985 is 16° East
Operations for 2010: 23540
If you are flying a normally aspirated engine then the first thing
you will need to come to terms with is the airfield elevation, at
6268 ft, mixture control should be foremost in your mind.
At 8541ft, the take-off distance available allows airliners such as
the Q400, B738 and A320 to operate so an accomplished NGX pilot
should have no problems visiting here.
Product Features (From Orbx)
500sq km of pristine photoreal imagery;
Stunning mountain location;
Fully custom modelled airport and objects;
Advanced rendering and AO techniques;
ski-lifts during the winter;
All new custom vegetation exclusive to KTVL;
Includes SnowFlow, freezing rivers and lakes.
Availability and Installation
FTX: NA KTVL Lake Tahoe Airport is available from the FlightSim
Store via download. Weighing in at just under 1GB, a download manager
such as 'Free Download Manager' is a good choice for a faster and more
reliable download. Download times vary depending on the demand for the
product and are subject to your internet connection speed. An internet connection is also required for
activation where you need to enter your order number, date of purchase and
serial key to unlock the product.
This airport requires that the NCA.001 Patch be installed to ensure
the airport elevation is correctly set. It will also ensure the
coastlines and shores are corrected from the default NCA levels.
Once the installation is underway only a few mouse clicks are
required to confirm the location and choice of simulator.
The scenery layer is automatically activated and the scenery is
ready to go, all in under 5 minutes.
Scenery Coverage Area
FTX: NA KTVL Lake Tahoe covers ~500sq km (~192 sq mi), reaching from
the Heavenly Mountain Resort in the east to the Sierra Nevada
mountain range to the west, Lake Tahoe is to the north and the Carson Range
mountains to the south. The following map is courtesy of Orbx and
gives an excellent overview of the area.
Level of Detail
Airfield (30cm resolution)
||The scenery is designed to work with the scenery complexity slider
set to extremely dense.
If you need to cut back the demands on your PC then the autogen density
should be the slider you adjust first. The user manual will help
with obtaining the optimal set up.
The level of detail is controllable from a control panel available
via FTX Central.
The Control Panel will allow you to enable or
disable scenery features of the airport to allow it to
perform better with your PC setup. By default, all scenery options
are enabled by the installer.
The scenery itself comes in three area resolutions, 30cm, 60cm
and 1m and more detail is given below.
Landside - Terminal -
Approaching the terminal from the feeder road you can see a
lot of work has been put into correcting the elevation of the
textures onto the base photoscenery. Ok, it’s not spot on where the
road meets the photoscenery, but it’s only
fractionally out and just a minor detail, it may even be impossible
to get the two levels to line up exactly .
Situated off the road which runs past the terminal, is a small car park
sits higher than the road and a couple of highly detailed staircases
bring you down to the concourse level. The car park itself contains
many boxy, low-poly library vehicles parked randomly, these are well
below the quality of the custom vehicles airside. A well modelled
feature which really shows how good the textures could be is the
generator-like structure surrounded by concrete bollards.
As with most public buildings nowadays, there are blue badged
disabled parking bays along the front of the terminal near the
entrance. There are many visiting cars but, unfortunately, two of the vehicles are parked the wrong way around,
the road passing the terminal is one-way and they are pointing
against the flow of traffic.
We have a few animated characters in front of the terminal, one or two
of which may be new. The terminal itself is a distinctive building
with a main inverted V section with a north and south wing. The windows are opaque with
painted on reflections so there is no internal detailing. Atop the
building are several air conditioner units, a distinctive air vent, and a couple
of CCTV cameras on opposing gables. Around the periphery of the
terminal there are plenty of good looking clutter such as tyres,
drums, crates, and bins.
To the south of the main terminal is the GA area entrance, according
to the road sign this is home to Trajen Aviation (who were the
predecessors to Mountain West Aviation) and the Civil Air Patrol.
There is another car park for the GA pilots and entrance to a flying
club and a couple of secure areas.
General Aviation FBO
–The tower is set well away from the terminal and apron and is
passed on the exit road from the terminal. It is set back on a
plateau and strangely the view of the apron is obscured in places,
like in front of the terminal. Like the terminal, the tower windows
are opaque so we don’t get to see what’s inside. The building is
replete with switch boxes and antennae which make for a very good
representation of the real thing.
Airside - Buildings
– There are many diverse
buildings on the airfield and they are generally grouped together by
type. To the south of the apron are the ubiquitous (lines of)
aircraft hangars, there are a couple of static aircraft parked and one
of the hangars is open which really lifts the visual monotony, a
simple but effective tweak. Each hangar is individually numbered so you can see each building is not just a quick clone of another.
Closer to the terminal is the Calstar 6 building which provides EMS
air medical services to both Northern California and Northern Nevada.
They operate a MBB Bo 105 helicopter, this is not shown in the scenery
but there is parked a couple of R44’s and a Agusta Westland AW-139
which is getting a good wash from an animated character. The Calstar
6 building is very well modelled with stairs at the front and a ramp
Calstar 6 Building
Next up is the fire and rescue building which houses 5 vehicles, two
of which are on display along with a FEDEX van and a CAT digger
alongside the building. These vehicles are bright and clear and very
AW 139 Helicopter
The terminal building itself looks much bigger airside due to the
slope it is built on. The quality of the textures are not the best I
have seen but are generally good, it is evident a lot of care has gone into its virtual construction. The
terminal has opaque windows with good detail and reflections, and
they look good at night. So, airside, we have balconies, stairs,
tables, and chairs populated by animated and non-animated
characters. The quality of the animations are very high too.
Terminal - Airside
Mountain West Aviation
Bordering the GA ramp is the FBO run by Mountain West Aviation.
Another very highly detailed building with loads of external
features like benches, planters, pallets, bikes, and bins making it
so realistic. Again, we have animated characters bringing life into
the sim, either reading the newspaper or cleaning equipment and taking
swigs of water.
The GA apron is full of
well drawn static aircraft, 15 to be precise, with all the
usual stuff, PA28, C152, King Air, Caravan and even some more obscure
aircraft like a Lake LA-4-200 Buccaneer and Raytheon Hawker 400XP.
Civil Air Patrol
At the northernmost end of the apron, well away from the other
buildings, is a collection of hangars, trailer, trucks, and diggers,
all fairly anonymous but the Civil Air Patrol building is well
marked and as detailed as the buildings I mentioned earlier. From
here, a track heads north and we find two more hangars which are
fairly plain compared to the rest. The track then heads into the
Apron & Clutter -
There are many signs of an active, lived in airport. The ramps are
busy with GA and more animated people. The main apron has a
jet boarding with a line of six passengers and one ground crew, all subtly animated.
& GA Apron
Elsewhere are custom fuel trucks, tow bars, air stairs, electrical
cabinets, and many boulders. Most of these objects look to be custom
designed and stand up well to close scrutiny.
Runway & Taxiways -
The markings and signage are
near perfect, the runways look worn in the
way they should do with skids at either end. One major issue for me
is there are no reflections or water on the runways and taxiways
when it is raining. Furthermore, you get no spray from the wheels or
jet engines and the same is true of snow, this may well be a
limitation we have to live with. Living in a mostly wet country it
seems odd to me not to have ground water.
Wet Runway With No Spray or Reflections
All of the detail and action is on the west side of the runway. To
the east of the runway, not too far away is a fence which runs
south-north for its entire length. Beyond which is unbuilt on land
with lots of greenery and a river meandering its way through.
Circuit Indicator and Windsock
Within the fence boundary, the airfield has trees, grass, wild
flowers, bushes, and rocks all in good keeping with the
Additional Scenery Areas (60cm resolution)
There are many notable features which are true to the real world
Barton Memorial Hospital is one of them. It is a custom designed model,
albeit not to the quality of the airport buildings, it does, however,
provide a raised landing ramp for helicopters. No doubt this is a
very important landing place for the mountain rescue fleet.
Barton Memorial Hospital
One of the benefits of having photoscenery as the base texture is
you can navigate using the roads and cross referencing with
Google Earth. This way I identified many larger buildings like the
Elementary School and the larger Middle School, mostly by the
baseball diamonds and football fields
Tahoe Keys is a controversial development of 1,500 homes amongst a
series of canals which run out to the lake. It sits alone divided
from the main town by the Upper Truckee Marsh. Most properties have
pontoons and in this scenery the pontoons and boats are 2D on the
Upper Truckee Marsh
The buildings and trees are modelled in 3D and look superb. This whole development has a very distinctive pattern from the
air and there is no mistaking where you are.
- As the name suggests, this community
area is on the state line with
Nevada. Located on the east shore of Lake Tahoe it has several
casinos which feature quite clearly in this scenery having
well-crafted custom designed models.
Heavenly Mountain Resort -
Casinos at Dusk
Is a ski resort located on the
California-Nevada border. Misha has included the base at California
lodge and a ski lift based on the Gunbarrel Express. This operates
from its base at 6565 feet and takes skiers up to Lakeview lodge at
8250 feet. From here you can take 3 of the double black routes, Gunbarrel, The Face and East Bowl. There are many chairs on the
cable and every now and then there will be a couple of skiers in the
Also included is the The Ridge Resorts which nestle in the mountain's
eastern side overlooking the Carson Valley. Some of the buildings are
very distinctive from the air and another great detail captured by
Wider Scenery Area (1M resolution)
Gunbarrel Ski Lift
The Ridge Resorts
What is amazing is the inclusion of a 1 metre surrounding area, which
includes beautifully detailed mountain ranges, including part of the
Sierra Nevada and Carson Ranges, and the remainder of the Heavenly
Mountain Resort. This is quite aptly named as many people have met
their maker there including singer and U.S. Representative Salvatore
Wider Area Shot 1
Wider Area Shot 2
To start with, I was not too keen on the colouring of the underlying photoscenery used
in this product, especially in P3D. To me it looked somewhat washed
out and low resolution, especially near the airport. Even in the
summer there appeared to be a lot of off-white areas with a green
tinge. I compared the textures with the FSX version; these were far
more colourful and not so over baked looking. With JV’s ENB filter,
FSX was looking better than its P3D equivalent.
I have got used to the tint of the photoscenery its benefits far
outweigh any imperfections perceived by me.
This scenery comes with additional SnowFlow technology, so when in
the winter and hard winter seasons the main scenery buildings have
white roofs and the trees are covered with snow. The lakes, however,
are frozen from the 1st of November through to the 31st of March so
are not strictly aligned to any season.
When comparing the seasonal changes, spring and autumn use the same
textures whereas summer and winter have their own set, and hard
winter is a brightened set of the winter textures. Unless you flip
back and forth between the two winter sets you would probably think
they are the same such is the subtlety of the changes.
Apron and Terminal - Summer
Apron and Terminal - Winter
Lake - Summer
The difference is remarkable, obviously the trees have to be
re-planted and the lakeside building above has become obscured by the
winter trees. The base photoscenery is also adjusted to suit
seasons through lightening, darkening, and recolouring.
The area benefits from 3D vector road lights from the NCA region
pack so cannot fail to look stunning on a late dusk approach.
A few of the more prominent buildings such as the casinos and
hospital for example, have night textures so are easily identifiable
in the dark. The airport buildings (terminal, fire station, FBO and
Civil Air Patrol) all have lit windows and some local floodlighting but
otherwise the apron is quite dark.
Terminal at Night
The taxiway and runway lights look good raised on short poles. REIL
lights are nice and bright as are the lead in lights on Runway 18.
The VASI lights, however, are way out of alignment with the lamp units
and almost interfere with the edge lights of the runway but they do
appear to be accurate as far as the glideslope is concerned.
Misplaced VASI Lights
On Final After a Great Day Flying Around FTX: NA KTVL Lake Tahoe
A detailed 20 page PDF document is provided and follows a familiar
format for existing users.
There is an interesting overview of the region including scenery
coverage maps and airport charts. Also included is a on additional
scenery features so you know what you can expect to see. The manual
then goes on discuss performance and set up issues and will instruct
how to set up your machine for optimum performance.
FTX: NA KTVL Lake Tahoe Airport performed excellently within the
existing settings I have in FSX and P3D. I have my frame rate locked
at 30 frames per second with most of my settings set high to very
high and with full shadowing (HDR Off) and there was no need to make
any adjustments to compensate for performance issues.
Value for Money
Presently, the FlightSim Store is retailing the product at AUD$32.95
which is a standard price point for their standalone airports. For
me, FTX: NA KTVL Lake Tahoe Airport represents excellent value for
money given the huge scenery area.
With the exception of requiring a good broadband connection to
download the 965MB of installation files, nothing else is specified.
The following is included only as guide and not quoted by Orbx.
Windows Vista or Windows 7 (32 or 64 bit), Windows 8 & 8.1;
Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX with SP1 and SP2 (or
Acceleration Pack) or Lockheed Martin Prepar3d Flight Simulator
2.0 GHz single core processor (3.0GHz and/or multiple core
processor or better recommended), minimum 2GB RAM (4GB recommended),
2GB graphics card, and 1.1 GB available HDD space.
Review Computer Specifications
The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted
are as follows:
Intel i7 4770K o/c to 4.2GHz);
GTX 690 4096MB GDDR5 graphics;
16GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1866MHz;
Windows 7 Pro, (64bit);
Lockheed Martin Prepar3D v2.3; and
Additional major add-ons seen in screenshots include REX4
This is Misha Cajic’s best scenery by far. A great
choice of airfield and an abundance of extra scenery areas to explore. The
quality of the buildings and other scenery features, such as the ski
lifts are excellent.
This airport is now definitely in my favourites list when it comes to
choosing a destination to fly to.
Verdict & Rating
Another excellent product from Orbx, FTX: NA KTVL Lake Tahoe Airport
displays an amazing level of detail to complement the other products
in the Orbx offering.
The scenery is only let down by a couple of niggles which shouldn’t affect
your overall experience.
Top quality custom buildings.
A very lively airport.
Huge area to explore.
Minor elevation problem behind terminal and incorrectly placed
A few reversed texture issues on helicopter and some shops.
Mis-placed VASI lights.
● Scenery Coverage:
Level of Detail:
Quality of Buildings:
● Value for Money:
Orbx FTX: NA KTVL Lake Tahoe Airport is awarded an overall Mutley’s Hangar score of 9.8/10,
with an "Outstanding" and a Mutley's Hangar Gold Award.