A scenery and a livery to go over today, and a little news too…as well as this morsel about the unusual weather we’re experiencing in the US this “winter”. I don’t normally bring up stuff like this, but the following image and information is from NASA’s Earth Observatory, and it’s rather interesting (to say the least, if a bit alarming). First, look over the image below, then read the following few paragraphs from the NASA post:
“A huge, lingering ridge of high pressure over the eastern half of the United States brought summer-like temperatures to North America in March 2012. The warm weather shattered records across the central and eastern United States and much of Canada.
“The unseasonable warmth broke temperature records in more than 1,054 locations between March 13–19, as well daily lows in 627 locations, according to Hamweather. Cities as geographically diverse as Chicago, Des Moines, Traverse City (Michigan), Myrtle Beach, Madison (Wisconsin), Atlantic City, New York City, and Duluth, (Minnesota) all broke records for high temperatures in recent days.
“The intensity and scope of the heat wave is clearly visible in this map of land surface temperature anomalies. Based on data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on the Terra satellite, the map depicts temperatures compared to the average of the same eight day period of March from 2000-2011. Areas with warmer than average temperatures are shown in red; near-normal temperatures are white; and areas that were cooler than the 2000-2011 base period are blue.
“Land surface temperatures are distinct from the air temperatures that meteorological stations typically measure. LSTs indicate how hot the surface of the Earth in a particular location would feel to the touch. From a satellite vantage point, the “surface” includes a number of materials that capture and retain heat, such as sand in the desert, the dark roof of a building, or the pavement of a road. As a result, daytime land surface temperature are usually much higher than air temperatures—something that anyone who has walked barefoot across a parking lot on a summer afternoon knows instinctively.
“Records are not only being broken across the country, they’re being broken in unusual ways. Chicago, for example, saw temperatures above 26.6°Celsius (80°Fahrenheit) every day between March 14-18, breaking records on all five days. For context, the National Weather Service noted that Chicago typically averages only one day in the eighties each in April. And only once in 140 years of weather observations has April produced as many 80°Fahrenheit days as this March. Meanwhile, Climate Central reported that in Rochester, Minnesota. the overnight low temperature on March 18 was 16.6°Celsius (62°Fahrenheit), a temperature so high it beat the record high of 15.5°Celsius (60°Fahrenheit) for the same date.”
Yeah, I know all that stuff about Chicken Little and The Sky is Falling, but this is spooky data. I’m in touch with people on an almost daily basis in Australia, France, the UK, Germany, Holland, Russia and (The Republic of) Texas, as well as Montana, Washington State and California…and everyone is grousing about the unusual weather we’re experiencing, and almost always because it’s either been too warm (in the US), or too cold (in the UK and Europe). It seems that almost everywhere it’s been too dry.
Something is beginning to feel very, very wrong about these emerging weather patterns. Kind of a nascent thought here, but we’ve been having huge weather fronts moving across the eastern US for a month or so, and wouldn’t it be interesting to use METARs to fly near or even through some of these in XP10, and record the observations? No reasons why that I can think of right now…it just seems interesting to me. As tornado season comes along in the next few weeks and months, this could provide some very unusual flying conditions. Anyway…just a thought, and I may try it a few times.
Oh well, in other news:
- Sales are starting to take off again for the business aircraft industry, says an expert who’s predicting 12% growth through 2017. “Companies are making record profits” and could make purchases of new or used business aircraft, says Richard Aboulafia, aerospace analyst and vice president at Teal Group. AIN Online
- The new 20-year plan for Colorado’s Aspen-Pitkin County Airport calls for a new terminal and parking garage — and possibly one or more new fixed-base operators. Once the five-phase plan is approved by local authorities, it must get the blessing of the Federal Aviation Administration. The Aspen Times (Colo.)
- Sikorsky Aircraft is getting bigger in Texas, where its Composite Technology Inc. helicopter facility expects to churn out 3,700 refurbished rotor blades this year. “With the right market conditions, we can get to 5,000 a year,” said Composite Technology President Bob Ellithorpe. Last month, the Sikorsky subsidiary completed a $15 million “whirl tower” for the balancing of helicopter blades. The Hartford Courant (Conn.)/Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- Harriet Quimby didn’t receive the credit she deserved when she flew across the English Channel 100 years ago, this feature says. Her accomplishment was dwarfed by the sinking of the Titanic a day earlier. However, nearly 100 female pilots have gathered in Kent, England, to remember Quimby and to re-create her historic flight. BBC
Anyone wanting to submit screenshots for the weekend, please send them along today.
Now let’s head out over the Atlantic and check in with Cestomano!
I’ll certainly understand your confusion about these two scenery files. I first reviewed the El Hierro ortho scenery back in early February and really liked it, and commented at the time that all the island scenery really needed was to have the airport on the island modeled and included. FlightTime56 looked at the file as well and really didn’t care for many terrain features on the orthos, but that’s the way things go sometimes and sorry if this came across as mixed signals. Well, maybe I’m just not all that picky but I still like this one, and the ortho package was revised just a few days ago too.
Well, that was then, and this is now. Take a look at the image above and note the little splotch of light lower left. That’s the airport that was missing from the original ortho release, and I’m here to tell you, this is one world class fine airport file for X-Plane. I’m not going to go out on a limb and say this is the very best airport in X-Plane, but it’s real close to perfect.
And in XP10, it’s just spectacular.
With GI compliant lighting the terminal buildings stand out wonderfully at night, and the revised orthos look spectacular (to me, anyway!).
The buildings showing up in this file are custom, and extremely well done. I mean EXTREMELY well done.
Above, El Hierro in context, as seen in Googel Earth, and below please note the two villages that flank the airport.
Also of note, the tunnel under the runway at the south end of the airport.
And below, a panorama of the terminal area:
And here’s an approximate view from that vantage in XP10:
And just above, the airport opened with Runway Follows Terrain “CONTOURS OFF“, while below we’ve switched to Runway Follows Terrain “CONTOURS ON“, and the first thing to note is that the runway is quite useable, next, that the airport and runway are perched atop a small cliff, and this is indeed the way the real facility looks.
Cestomano has included a few little extras: a couple of sunbathing bikini-clad beauties frolicking on the, er, rocks, and a Beech1900 that seems to have seen better days.
Including with the download is one additional file, and this extra file is going to require a little choice on your part because as with many such choices you gain a few things of interest, but you give up a couple of nice things too. Let’s take a look.
First things first; the file in question is called ZZZ GCHI (and you’ll note that GCHI is the airport and there’s one other file that contains just the airport, and GCHI goes into Custom Scenery regardless). ZZZ GCHI adds really accurate terrain in the area immediately around the airport, including the sloped threshold markers seen just below (these are flat in the default version, sloped in the ZZZ version).
The cliffs and surrounding terrain, with the ZZZ file added to Custom Scenery, makes the cliffs look completely realistic. Even the surf line looks better.
Now let’s complicate things. If installing in XP9.70, both the airport file and the ZZZ GCHI file will go into custom scenery, period, and this is what you’ll get:
Same orthos, same buildings, different lighting and rendering but all in all GCHI looks about as good as an airport can look in XP9.70.
Now below, the area again with ZZZ GCHI installed, and note the two villages that flank the airport at either end of the runway. With ZZZ GCHI installed these villages are rendered as ortho textures, and they look okay from altitude (say 2500MSL up), but down near the runway they look like, well, like orthos.
Now, below you’re looking at the area in XP10 and with 10 handling all the rendering duties around the airport. You gain the nice Rancho Cucamonga Estates southern California housing, complete with tree lined streets and Southern California Edison approved street lighting, but you lose the threshold markers and the super detailed cliffs astride the airport. See the dilemma?
Frankly, the housing adds nice detail to the approach and take off that is lost with the ZZZ GCHI file added to the mix. What will NOT be lost, however, is the absolutely great buildings used to make this airport look so bloody perfect!
Below, ramp side in XP10, with Global Illumination handling the lighting chores…
…and below, in XP9.70 with LIT textures doing the honors. The only errors I find are the light poles are red on the ground and yellow in the scenery, and one small roof element on the terminal building has a steeper pitch than the others. Oh, well, the interiors of the buildings are not lighted but that hardly seems to matter as the rest is so well executed.
Oh yes, the flags wave in the breeze.
I was able to take the ATR-72-500 and Dash-8 Q400 in and out of here with no problem, the An24RV presented no problem as well. I thought the 733 would be an issue on this 4100 ft runway, but it too proved to be no problem, at least in X-Plane.
And here we have a fictitious RAF livery for the Am-X, by gabalco. Well done indeed, and a must have file for a must have ACF.
That said, I’m turnin’ out the lights and headed out the door. Y’all have fun and be safe, and we’ll seeya again soon. C&S