ADX FirstLook: MCA Designs North American Airstrips!

FSX/P3D. Here we are, our first look at MCA Designs' North America Airstrips Volume 1! We followed this development from the very early stages and have been quite eager to give it a go. This afternoon, we finally got our hands on the scenery package and I managed to find some time to complete an AirDailyX first look article. So here we go, see inside for plenty of screenshots and some initial impressions.

Firstly, the package includes three Oregon airstrips, Hilltop (98TE), Flournoy Valley (95OR), and Riverview Ranch (8OR3). Although the scenery was primarily designed with Orbx FTX PNW in mind it is fully compatible with default FSX/P3D installations. The package includes two different installers based on your personal preference. However, I chose to write this article using the package in conjunction with FTX PNW. 

If I were to sum up this scenery package in one sentence I would say that it is both well done and unique. In saying that, let's take a look at each airport separately.

[Note: For format purposes, some images are cropped.  Click each image for full size resolution preview.]


Hilltop (98TE)

Now this is probably my favourite airstrip of the entire package. It is literally sitting in the hilltops, hence the airport name. The strip is very challenging and spectacular yet simple at the same time. There really isn't much to it, basically, a small airstrip with a couple hangers and surrounding clutter such as empty fuel drums, crates, and that type of thing.

The hangers are well done with high quality textures. Clutter also appears realistic with similarly high quality texture work. The airstrip is noticeably sloped and includes significant amounts of volumetric grass, flowers, bushes, etc. Overall, the general feeling is very lifelike, especially with the surrounding undulating terrain visible from the elevated viewpoint of the airstrip.

Performance is excellent with no measurable FPS hit. I was able to maintain 30FPS with every FSX setting maxed out including overcast skies. In essence, if you can run FTX PNW satisfactorily, this airstrip or I suppose this scenery package in general will not be a problem. No odd texture flashing and no stutters either. I did complete several flybys with the Carenado TBM850 just to get a performance benchmark and I was still able to maintain 30FPS. As usual, I have left the counter showing in several shots to reinforce this point. 

The strip is of course very short and you will not be using the TBM here. In fact, I don't think too many advanced high detail aircraft will make it into the 1040 foot runway. I played around with my usual Alabeo aerobatic aircraft but landing was a challenge to say the least. If you've got a favourite Piper Cub in the hanger, this is the time to dust it off. I ended up using the default Maule anytime I wanted to actually walk away from a landing.

As you would expect, there really isn't too much nigh lighting at Hilltop, a couple lights on in the hanger and that's about it.

The surrounding area is complete with photoreal ground and hand placed autogen. There has obviously been a significant amount of work put into this part of the scenery and it looks quite good. There are four distinct seasons and they all have a realistic look to them. In general, scenery bending is well done and borders are not particularly noticeable.

The airport also includes ambient bird sounds, a nice touch.

So my final thoughts on Hilltop...this airstrip is a lot of fun and I mean it. This is one of the most challenging approaches I've tinkered with and it will no doubt take some time to master. The hilltop or elevated location is unique and really offers some spectacular viewpoints of the surrounding area. Everything is well done and high quality.


Flournoy Valley (95OR)

Flournoy Valley is located a more ordinary location compared to Hilltop. There are shallow hills or mountains in the distance and again, there is not much to this airstrip. Basically one hanger, the landing strip, and what looks like the home of airstrip owner.

The hanger is particularly high quality both inside and out and includes a very small yet crisp ground polygon. Again, lots of volumetric grass and such. The strip is very narrow with grass on both sides and measure 2200 feet long. I was a little more successful landing my usual aerobatic aircraft at this airstrip compared to Hilltop.

Same deal with four distinct seasons all done quite well. There is again plenty of custom placed autogen surrounding the airstrip as well as photoreal ground. I did not notice any obvious scenery borders and the scenery area seemed to blend quite well.

Performance was similar to Hilltop with no FPS problems whatsoever. I again did several flybys with the Carenado TBM850 and maintained my 30FPS as expected. No stutters, flashing, or any of that annoying stuff.

Night lighting is again very basic with just a coupe lights in the hanger. Nothing too profound but exactly what one would expect from this type of airstrip.

The same as Hilltop, Flournoy includes ambient bird sounds.

In general, I am very impressed with this airfield and surrounding area. My only criticism is some strange road colouring in the photoscenery. There is the odd road that appears teal coloured, not an uncommon problem with photo imagery. I have included a screen capture to illustrate.

So my final thoughts on Flournoy Valley...very high quality and immersive airfield! Other than my observations about road colour everything was fantastic, really a pleasurable place to fly. Note the teal road colour in the last shot.


Riverview Ranch (8OR3)

Now for the last of the three airstrips, Riverview Ranch. The first thing I noticed about this field is the challenging landing requiring a very short final approach due to hills/mountains obstructing the approach path from both direction. Basically, the approach requires a very tight turn to final. Nothing too difficult but it will keep you on your feet, especially with only 1800 feet of runway.

The strip is quite simple, one storage building, what looks to be an old hanger, clutter, the actual landing strip, and wood fencing. It all looks quite good and up to the same high standard of the other two airstrips. Excellent building detail and textures as well as high quality clutter objects. Again, plenty of volumetric grass, weeds, flowers, etc. The fencing looks nice, even close up and does create a realistic feel when taxing around the field.

The surrounding area is once again a combination of photoreal ground and hand placed autogen. As expected, this is well done and looks good. No defined borders and everything is blended nicely. Same deal with night lighting, not much but a couple lights on the airport building.

Performance is the same as the other strips, basically no FPS hit whatsoever. Did the usual flyby with the Carenado TBM850 and maintained my 30FPS. Still no stutters, flashing, or anything like that.

Again, like the other two airfields, ambient bird sounds are audible.

I did not note any deficiencies at Riverview Ranch.

So my final thoughts regarding Riverview Ranch...great high quality airstrip with a challenging approach and landing! Just like the other two strips, simple but very well done.

So my conclusion...this is a fantastic package, especially for the $19.99USD price tag. Although the airstrips are simple they are very high quality. No feature or area has been untouched, pretty much everything has been done with care. Further, the surrounding areas are impressive and help to enhance the immersion factor during approach and landing. The teal coloured road issue I identified is very minor and does not detract from the overall enjoyment factor of the scenery. Lastly, you get Hilltop, one of the coolest little airfields I have flown in FSX! The product is available at PC Aviator. 

-Mark Hrycenko