Orbx Systems have been in the scenery game for quite a while now. Since the early days of the Vista Australis project, they have grown to be the most innovative scenery developer in the business. Their reputation goes before them and any new product is always met with anticipation.
So how do they keep that interest going? As far as I can tell it’s by constantly developing and pushing the envelope, by giving the GA flyer and bush pilot something interesting and beautiful to look at.
Orbx have been developing the North American, Pacific North West region for some time. One of the best-served areas is that surrounding Portland Oregon and the nearby southern Washington state. Their latest airfield release fits nicely into that region to create a network of some of the best quality airfields you will see.
This package brings us Walter Sutton WA79 and Walter Musa WA7M (Fictitious ICAO for flight sim) WA79 is a grass strip about 2000ft long by 60ft wide mown out of a grassy meadow strip. It’s not easy to see from the air so local knowledge and VRP’s are essential. The airfield features 30cm textures so twice as accurate as the surrounding 60cm textures
Courtesy Orbx Simulation Systems
WA7M has a better surface being a tarmac
road but has tricky approaches from either direction. The
proximity of these airfields is ideal for practicing short
field landings and visual navigation. Within the airfield,
the resolution is increased to a superb 15cm per pixel
detail. There is no dedicated radio navigation here but at
only 10 minutes flying time away from each other you won’t
There are numerous other features such as the Yale Dam near Walter Musa's. The conical Tumtum mountain which serves as a visual reference point from every direction, the old rail works and Chelatchie Prairie village near the base of Mt. Tumtum.
Download, Installation Manual and Setup
The product is available as an instant download from the FlightSim Store, at the time of going to press it is priced at AUD$24.95- US$24.55 -€17.60 and £15.66. For 60sq Km of 60cm photo-real base textures, 2 hi-res airfields, custom sounds and extensive autogen, I think the pricing is just about right for a product at the top of its class.
The download weighs in at 630.36 Mb, with a good download speed and a stable connection, most people can download in the time it takes to boil a kettle and make a cup of coffee.
Like other FTX sceneries, a control panel is included to switch on-and-off eye-candy, also animated objects and sounds. When switching each option there is a useful description and how it may affect lower-spec machines. You will also get FTX Aero, a resolution and texture tweaker, not that you will see much tarmac and taxiways around here!
The manual will go on to discuss what affect your display settings will have on the performance and what minimum settings are needed to achieve the best quality. As ever, it is a compromise between quality and performance. This scenery is essentially for low and slow use so you should get great results from a reasonably specified machine.
In the manual, there are some nice background details about the two Walters and what to look out for when flying between the two airfields, including a suggested route. If you have 7S3 Stark's Twin Oaks Airpark installed you will be happy to learn it is only a relatively short hop away so can easily be included in your airfield circuit!
Welcome to Walter Sutton's
Starting from Walter Sutton's, the FSX "Create a Flight" option only offers one aircraft parking position. This places you inside the hangar so make sure you have the hangar door open selected in the control panel before starting!
|As with many small private airstrips, the main building is
the owners residence.
Nearby you will have the hangar, other sheds and buildings, windsock, red tractor, caravan and even the dog kennel!
All of these are rendered in superb detail and stand up well to close inspection.
Orbx's trademark 3d grass is all around and offers great
depth of field for avid screen shooters. The grass
isn't seasonal but is switchable so if you are flying in the
dead of winter you can option to have no grass at all.
In around the property are finely modeled trees, these do
change with the seasons.
Taking off from Walter Sutton's to the west, the scenery is typically rural with large properties that are mostly farms. The buildings are fairly generic but good quality.
The higher you get, the more you can make out which field belongs to who. Orbiting around to the south, the main street heading towards the town is easy to see and follow. At any altitude above a hundred feet Mt Tumtum eerily draws you towards it and if you have seen Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind you will know what I mean!
The roads here are lined with, in my view, poorly modeled street lamps with Orbx's extensive libraries they must have something better? These street lamp posts are also placed in locations where I wouldn't expect them on private properties. Unfortunately there are hundreds of them. I figure that there is more attention drawn to them here as they are not so widely used.
|After a tight left bend the main road leads to Chelatchie
The village has a couple of retail type areas, a fuel station with adjoining general store and the St. Helen's National Volcanic Centre.
Smokey the Bear is in his Ranger costume is there reminding you that fire risk is high in the mountains.
These features remind you again of the excellent skills of the modelers and some of the detail is peerless.
Back in the air, Mt Tumtum beckons you again, below you will be the old rail works, there are several custom buildings including a long factory unit with a distinctive yellow gantry crane.
You are tempted to fly through it but there really is not that much clearance! Most of the ground textures here are photographic and a bit blurry making the ground detail difficult to see.
Smokey offering advice
Right about now, unless you turn left or right or pull upright you will plough straight into Tumtum. Mt Tumtum is almost on a direct line east of the airfield. As I mentioned earlier it's distinctive conical shape is visible from a great distance. Up close it looks good, a road spirals it's way to the top. There are forests all around, so take note of what the bear said in the village!
Circling Tumtum anti-clockwise will point you towards the
Yale lake and Dam. You will be now heading back in a north
westerly direction. On the horizon is the mighty Mount St
Helens, don't be tempted to head off that way! From the dam
the river runs off towards the west for a short distance
into Lake Merwin to eventually join the Columbia River.
Heading back west you will see Walter Musa's about 650ft up on the side of the hill. The runway is a road which has a dead end terminated by a brick and block wall. Tumtum is now at your 10 'o clock as you head toward the runway. You need to come in quite steeply with full flap making sure you allow for those trees! The runway is deceptively long and more than enough for a Piper Cub.
I found landing the other way a little easier, it looks as though the trees were once cleared and haven't grown back to full size so you can come in at a shallower angle. Either way a great little strip to land at. There is a hangar at one end which is overlooked by the Musa household, a very impressive building with views to die for north and east out to Mt St Helens.
Just taken off from WA79
Mt St. Helens Monument at Chelatchie
Railway hangar - don't be tempted to fly through!
Landing at Walter Musa's
Musa's refuelling rig
Views from the house
I mentioned a brick and block wall? Yes the western end of the road bends off to the right immediately to the wall so careful as you turn this blind bend. You will need to come up here at sometime as the refuelling rig is here and it has been given special treatment so it looks great.
Musa's field has much more of a domestic feel, no farm machinery but has the meadow grass verges to the road. Being on a mountainside the only flat area the road and the apron just outside the hangar, the house and adjoining fields have a steep gradient, I guess this is why they need that extra 15cm detail here? A few fences and plenty of trees are within the property and complete the landscaping. You will find yourself looking back towards the horizon past Yale Lake and onto the Mt St Helens, really beautiful scenery and with the Pacific North West region pack installed as well, it doesn't get better than this.
The most notable seasonable changes are to the trees which cycle through their natural course from light green / green / brown and bare. Spring and summer textures are quite similar with full green leaves and vibrant ground textures. Autumn/fall is always remarkable due to the trees and winter introduces a coldness and a muting of the ground textures to a much more wintery feel. Also, the control panel gives you the open to remove the grass, ideal to complete the effect. You won't see snow on the ground even in the hard winter month of January with winter wonderland weather. That is not unexpected as the PNW scenery reacts the same way.
Autumn / Fall
There are light points at the end of those ubiquitous lamp posts, they are just a blob of white or yellowy-white colour. From the air, the light points are very random, you can make out a few straight lines where the main roads are but you shouldn't be flying VFR at this time of night anyway!
You won't find vast areas of light pollution here, the overall effect is just about right.
Sound is switchable via the WA79 control panel, there you can choose to switch on Ambient forest and birds and/or ambient farm sounds. When on the ground they make a nice diversion but the Cuckoo fires off you don't have the latest ORBXLIBS installed! (Thanks John V) as the latest library now has specific bird sounds indigenous to the region. Whist sat writing this paragraph I am enjoying listening to this new sound set, beautiful!
If you are using Orbx's first person viewer Bob, the ambient sounds are a nice accompaniment, if you are flying a light aircraft or one of the ultralights you can still make it out when near the ground.
As I mentioned earlier there are a lot of tree's in this scenery, on my PC (Spec below) with sliders right I achieved good speeds of 20+ limited by the 3rd party FPS Limiter. Transitions in the main were smooth with no jumpiness. This scenery has had the "Texture Flow" treatment with is an optimisation process of the textures pioneered by Orbx. With deselecting aircraft shadows, minimal weather and a notch back on the autogen density I am easily getting mid 30's.
If you do struggle with performance then try what I did and you will hardly notice the difference in quality, that's what you are looking at above.
I also run with 2500 trees per 1 km cell, down from the default of 4500 and 1500 buildings per cell, down from the default of 3000 in my FSX.cfg, I am sure this helps and doesn't take away anything from my enjoyment of this product. Looking at my unedited shots I think you will agree it gives a realistic natural feel.
So that's about about it, Orbx Simulation Systems rarely stop for a breath! Look out for the upcoming Pacific Fjords pack and the already released Lancair IV-P aircraft.
This scenery comes from the same project team that brought us Israel Farm so you will get the same super quality and agricultural feel to Walther Sutton's. You wouldn't think you could have so much fun in such a small area, I have been darting around this area for around a month now and pretty much know the area intimately and still do not tire of flying here.
The two airfields are modeled to near perfection, I like the fact that I can remove the grasses in winter which gives the scenery a whole new feel.
Overall, the connecting 60cm scenery is well populated and detailed. Mt. Tumtum certainly is a great feature and deserves the extra attention it appears to have gotten.
The issue with the warning markers on the invisible power lines disappointed me. My local farm strip has the same problem with power lines low and close to the threshold, it has markers too and you definitely see the wires on final.
Similarly, the street lamps looses this product a half-point, feature-less strips of grey texture with an angle at the top with positioning in some cases rather random, even appearing out of a roof of a property.
Not to be too distracted by these points I think Orbx have done a wonderful job with this product and it is well worth buying..
Overall, considering everything, I award WA79 Walter Sutton's a very respectable Mutley's Hangar score of 9 /10.
Review machine Spec: Core i7 Extreme 965 @ 3.6 Ghz | 12Gb Tri-Channel Corsair DDR3 Ram |GX260 Graphics |Windows 7 64bit Pro
Software used in screenshots: FTX PNW Scenery | REX2 + Overdrive | FSAddon Super Cub X