Whilst this is an add-on that will mainly appeal to those of you who prefer flying into smaller airfields in GA aircraft, I urge those of you who prefer airline flying to read-on too.
The UK VFR Airfields packages totally transform the default airports within FSX and also add some more too. By adding in new objects (mainly objects that can be found in the FSX library) these little airports which are desolate and dead in FSX are brought to life.
It's worth mentioning before I go on that the airfields are nowhere near as detailed as the likes of Aerosoft's Mega Airport range or UK2000's own Xtreme range, but they are still very life-like and realistic whilst remaining very easy on your system performance. Each airfield is made to a very high standard using photo-real textures and has been designed to integrate with the Gen-X VFR Photographic scenery. However you do not have to own this scenery to enjoy this add-on. I was using the Just Flight VFR scenery and the airfields still blended in very well, as I hope the accompanying screenshots show.
Each airfield has been made using the latest airport charts and has all buildings accurately placed. As an example, I recently flew from Sherburn Airfield, and the 2 containers that the company I flew with use as an office are included in the scenery, and are in the correct place. Leeds Bradford is another airport I have flown from recently, and again the same attention to detail is shown.
The Volume 3 package covers the North of England & Wales from Nottingham up to the Scottish border and includes 73 airfields. There are a lot of new ones added to the scenery, so if you have an Air Hauler base in this region, expect for some new and challenging airports to land at. Below is a list of all the airports/Airfields included in the scenery:
As you can see, there are several larger
airports included in the scenery (in bold). Even though it is
not as detailed as the Mega Airport series, for a similar price
of £33.99 (download) or £34.99 (CD Rom) you can bring detail to
many more airports in the region. Personally I think that this
is great value for money. Some of the airstrips include nothing
more than a tractor and a parking bay, but for a small farm
strip I wouldn't expect anything more than this (other than
perhaps a stray cow/pig). The way that the scenery has been
designed makes it very easy on FSX's performance, although with
lots of AI running you are always going to take some sort of
performance hit – there is no way around this.
Installation & Set Up
You don't need a lot of space on your hard-drive to install this scenery; the download is only 250mb. Included within the download is a configuration utility that allows you to change the settings for individual airfields, and also global options so that you can change things for all airfields at the same time. These include turning on/off static AI traffic, GA flight plans, road traffic etc... If you do suffer any performance problems, no doubt you can solve them in here.
I can't stress this enough with scenery
add-ons, but read the manual to learn how best to set up FSX
to get the most from the scenery, then save these settings
so that you can load them up each time you fly in the VFR
Volume 3 region. It will take you 5 or 10 minutes to read
the set-up section, so do it.
The rest of the manual gives you a brief description and an aerial picture of each of the airfields. The one thing that is lacking from the manual is a map of the area covered showing where the airfields are located, but in some areas you can take off an within a few minutes and will have flown over several of the airfields. Some of the are quite difficult to pick out amongst the VFR Photo-real scenery, just as (I imagine) they would be in real life. If you don't have photo-real scenery they will be quite easy to spot.
Exploring The Scenery
The only way to explore the scenery is to go low and slow. Further North the airfields are a little more spread out, so I would recommend something along the lines of a Cessna 152 or similar. Around the Yorkshire/Lincolnshire region the airfields are very close together, so something like a Piper Cub fits the bill perfectly. It's been a long time since I have flown as many VFR flights around the UK (Blame FTX AU for that) and I had forgotten how good England looks.
Whilst my photo-real scenery is a little out of date now, it still holds up well and is great to fly over. I'm in no doubt that following the set-up instructions in the manual helped here. Some of the airfields which have buildings and concrete runways pop into view from quite a distance, so you can line yourself up for a landing in plenty of time, but the grass strips and smaller airfields almost creep up on you at the last minute. If you are flying in something fast you will miss the airfield completely.
Even though the included airfields are basic by some standards, the attention to detail is fantastic and creates a good atmosphere – especially at the smaller airfields. All that is missing is the tweeting of birds and creaking of the fences surrounding the perimeter.
With 73 airfields to explore and find, you can expect to be using this scenery for a long time. I really like that there are so many airfields packed into such a small area. I hate it when I take off on a VFR flight with no particular plan, but when I want to land there isn't an airfield for miles around – not so with this add-on.
A really good add-on which adds scenery to 73 airfields in the North of England and brings them to life. Whilst not super detailed, the attention to detail is fantastic with real life objects placed where they are in the real world.
The price is a bargain at less that 50p per airfield and there will be an airfield modelled for everyone, whether it is a farm strip or an international airport. But be aware that the focus is very much aimed at the VFR pilot, as the product title suggests.
Installation and configuration are fast and easy, and whilst brief, the manual has enough information to get you going. Although I would have liked it to have a map showing where each airport/airfield is. This would be a fantastic add-on for the Air Haulers amongst us!
Mutley's Hangar Score 8/10
Review machine Spec: Intel Core2 Quad 2.40ghz | 4gb DDR2 RAM |Nvidia GForce 880GTX |Windows 7 64bit Home Premium