The island of Guernsey is located off the north coast of France , it is the second largest island in the Channel Islands comprising some 30sq miles, however like Alderney, it is far more friendly and more rural than its bigger, busier neighbour Jersey with its sterile “Downtown UK” pedestrian precinct.
The main town St Peter Port is famous for many rescues from shipwrecks in the channel and the airport although a bit short in runway length (1463m) is at virtually the opposite end of the island. The coast of the island is made up in the main of lots of sandy coves accessible by steep paths although there are a couple of large flat bays on the north side of the island where beach racing in cars is permitted a few times a year at low tide.
This scene is easily recognised by any pilot who has flown into Guernsey
Flying in and out of Guernsey or any channel island requires special branch clearance if going to or from a UK mainland airport as the channel islands are not a member of the EEC but are a member of EFTA so they don't have taxes like VAT. Another small anomaly of the channel isles is their air law during the daytime it is subject and managed by the UK whereas after 8pm till 8am it becomes subject to French law and French control.
Guernsey has several islands close to its approach path for runway 27, Sark has a no fly zone centered around it up to 2,400 feet and the few inhabitants of Herm also take a dim view to overflights, so it can be quite a twisty route to get oneself established on the approach for 27 if flying a small a/c in v.m.c . the local ATC are not beyond giving the odd ticking off over the radio to transgressors.
Earth simulations are a small company on the Isle of Wight and this is their third release of local scenery. It was their attention to coastal detail as well as the topography, of their Alderney product that drew them to my attention. There is no doubt that their renditions are head and shoulders above the average crop of scenery designers, if not on a par with the best.
For me the installation was marred by a couple of things , firstly their website could be more user friendly and their method of antipiracy makes the downloading and installation overly complex. In fairness they do have a live Help button on their site but it is always offline, so I had to resort to emailing them with the difficulties that i had experienced to which I received an auto-answer indicating that they would respond within 72 hours, which they did.
Their solution to my problems with their website was to download their installation program which worked well however when I experienced further problems on starting Guernsey in FSX I was then sent 2 files which were needed to be added to the autogen directory and then everything was correct. Subsequently, I have spoken to others who have downloaded Guernsey and they didn't appear to suffer from the same problems but most agreed that the website and installation could be more user friendly.
The last small niggle is the size of the download, which is some 4gb. At no point before purchasing the download do I recall seeing any information indicating the size of the download and had I realised how big the download was I would have opted for a friend in the UK to download it and put it on dvd for me, as not everyone has 40mb download speed so for us that live in the sticks this meant an 18 hour download so it was a case of setup the download and go to bed and keep your fingers crossed that there wasn't a power cut over night.
|The coves and beaches of the south coast|
Performance and Use
The manual, when finally found embedded deep in the ES directory, is clear and full of sound information on how to get the most out of the ES Guernsey product, FSX and your P.C. And speaking of which when one finally started to explore the islands it was pleasing to see what little affect there was on frame rates unless running autogen maxed out.
All seasons are catered for including a snowy winter. The 3D Autogen supplies many objects in fact too many to list and possibly more than is necessary however such marvels such as Castle Cornet and the coastal lighthouses are very well presented. Likewise, night time scenery is well produced with street lights and house lighting.
The airport, naturally, is also very accurately portrayed, previously I had been using the earlier UK2000 rendition which was very good but this version is better. However, it should be pointed out this is not accurate photoscenery, but more like an Orbx offering with a nice mixture of general scenery to give a nice atmosphere, and some accurate buildings to add to the realism.
It is interesting to make a comparison between the Sim and reality as I have been privileged to have flown there more times than I can count, as a matter of interest my daughters Godfather was a Guernsey man, so I have had the pleasure to roam the island on many occasions.
|The Martello towers from the last war||and the control tower where one has to wait for the fog to lift|
I have to say this scenery is really quite impressive, the reproduction of the coastal cliffs and rocks are superb so good in fact that I can fly low and identify many of the coves that I have swum in with my young family, and when flying over the island itself I have to say it is easy to think you are over the real island, many of the unusual buildings left over from the last war are faithfully reproduced whereas in Jersey they have been destroyed, having said that though I think they have carried some things a bit too far, for instance the sounds of a crow can easily be heard over the engine noise of a Cessna when on finals, likewise farmyard sounds can be heard in various places, all very nice if you are sauntering around on a bicycle but in an aircraft ? Happily these are easily turned off in the scenery manager of FSX.
|Castle Cornet and the swimming pool complex||and the savage north coast, graveyard for many ships|
Being a small young very focussed development team from time to time can have it's drawbacks, ES are no doubt very good at what they are doing but not every sim user lives and breaths computers so I think the overall installation, would benefit from a less computer focussed more human touch.
Having said that, I find this product an excellent addition to my scenery library and one that I regularly enjoy, it portrays quite accurately the island as a whole and gives enough detail and autogen to add to the experience and give a real flavour of the island.
When combined with REX weather the whole thing comes alive especially if you set-up a foggy day, for which the isles are famous, even on a summer day. There is no doubt that Earth Simulation have a great future if this product is anything to go by.