P3D. Have you ever wondered what it might be like to live in the world of our flight simulation environments? A world where anyone can be a professional pilot? A world where you could walk up to any airport or airfield, pick a plane whether it be a Cessna 172 or Boeing 747 and fly away without question? A world where you could fly for any airline or create one for yourself? Well, I recently visited this world and while I was there, I came across some very familiar people. I am now inviting you along for the journey to see just what it's like to be behind the scenes of AirDailyX and there is no better scenery than the recently released Budapest by LHSimulatons. Now whereas this is my review of the scenery, it is completely surrounded by the fictional world I just spoke of. No one in the history of flight simulation has ever done anything like this to my knowledge and as such, it's the longest and most detailed review I have ever written. So come along for the journey. After all, it's a story. Light the fireplace, pour some cocoa, and queue the bandwidth warning. Dubai was popsicles compared to this. Bandwidth Warning!
[Note: For format purposes, images are cropped. Click each image for full size resolution preview.]
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Resemblances to real persons, living or dead, do not represent their real world counterparts.
Friday, August 21, 2013
As some of you know, I am currently in France for the 2013 professional cycling tour (now ended) and my favorite stages are always the mountain stages. A good friend of mine who lives in the UK owns a Cessna 172 and we flew down to the French Alps from Shoreham to see the race. We had been staying up here for an additional couple weeks and with the limited internet access up here, I was barely able to keep ADX running while Dominique was out on the Beach 200 miles away with the Supermodels. Anyway, on the way flying back to England, we had a scheduled refuel stop in Annecy. Now watching the numbers spin on the pump, we were busy sorting our flight plan back to the UK when we heard something unusually loud approaching the airport.
As the loud aircraft got closer, it was clear, that's a 737! But what the heck is it doing landing at this little airport? Emergency perhaps? We watched very closely hoping it wouldn't overshoot.
The aircraft taxied to the ramp and parked on a gate near where we were standing. The L1 door opened and the automated ladder moved into position. Two large stocky men stepped out of the aircraft and walked directly toward me as the other aircraft doors opened. As they got closer, I could see an image on their black jumpsuits bearing the unmistakable MilViz logo.
What the heck? MilViz? I thought as the men approached me and asked: "You D'Andre?" I replied... "Uh... no." To which he replied, "You really don't want to lie to us sir."
Thinking for a brief moment, I asked how he knew my name and how they found me here. He replied that the company has strong connections.
The second man took out a large manual with a contract. "You need to sign for the aircraft sir."
Completely dumbfounded, I asked what this was all about. I was told that my security clearance was higher than theirs and that's all they knew. They handed me the manual and said the following: "R.T.F.M. before you attempt to fly it sir." They promptly left the airfield, got into a waiting black SUV in the parking lot and were gone.
Looking dazed and confused, I realized my friend had disappeared. That's odd. Am I being set up? Staring back at the aircraft I thought: 'screw it' and climbed aboard. I waited a few more hours till noon, and decided to take the 737 up. I just couldn't wait any longer. He is a big boy, he can get himself home. Looking at that fat manual on the F.O.'s seat and remembering what the MilViz guy told me, I tossed the manual into the cabin and began the start-up procedure.
10 minutes later and now on the runway, I pushed the throttles to 40% with the parking brake engaged. Once stabilized, I then pushed the engines to 100%, disengaged the break and listened to the old Canadian Prat&Whitney's scream as I was pushed into my seat as the 737 shot forward like a rocket.
Once airborne, I began to put the 737 through her tests to compile for my ADX FirstLook article.
Once complete with the airwork, I made my way to Friedrischaffen. The only airport I could get clearance to at such short notice.
After a few more hours screwing around with the 737 at the gate, and realizing I was done, I decided to call the number on the contract to let the MilViz guys know I was done with the aircraft. A man answered:
"MilViz, this is Colin."
"Hey Colin, D'Andre from ADX here. Just finished up with the 737 your guys dropped off. What should I do with it?"
"Well that depends D'Andre, how did you like it?"
"Oh I freaking LOVE IT man! You guys did an outstanding job! I really think MilViz is the next big thing in flight simulation commercial aircraft development. Congrats on the release. it's been a long wait!"
"Yes it has" said Colin. "We are very proud of it. We are sure your ADX readers will enjoy it too."
"So, what do you want me to do with this thing"
"Well D'Andre, why don't you go ahead and keep it."
"Really? Wow! Thanks Colin!! But...uh wait, I really need to get back to the UK and I can't afford the fuel this thing needs..."
"We'll that's your problem now isn't it?"
It had been a long busy week. After having spent 3 days on the Isle of Man conducting a complete tour and survey of the island for Earth Simulations, I received a call to my hotel room from the Orbx London office asking me to take the next ferry to Belfast where I would conduct my survey of FTX NIR.
Looking out over the Irish Sea from my room in Douglas, I agreed and headed to Belfast.
Spending the entire day in the sky above the NI countryside, I decided to take a break for a few days. The previous week had indeed taken its toll. Being stranded with a 737 in Friedrichshafen, plus having conducted several tests with Aerosoft's Twin Otter in Switzerland, spinning Alabeo's Tomahawk in France, and conducting ADX FirstLook tests of 3 new airports up in Poland, it was time for some much needed rest. But no sooner than I arrived to my hotel in Belfast, I received a voicemail asking me to make my way to Southampton.
"Hello D'Andre! Lars here. We have just finished the final touches on Southampton. I heard you were in the UK and I was wondering if you wouldn't mind making your way over if you have the time. I am sure the ADX readers would like your input on the work we put together here so if you are free, that would be great. I'm heading off to Berlin in the morning to oversee construction at Brandenburg so I'll miss you but give me a ring if you can make it."
Damn, looks like my break would have to wait another day at least. But, I was excited about Southampton. I was able to get a last minute flight on EasyJet out of Aldergrove to Gatwick where I would then bear the drive to Southampton.
Spending the entire day at EGNI, it was only after I conducted my work for the FirstLook, that I realized just how tired I really was. I decided to spend the night at the airport's Premier Inn motel and take the flight back to LA via the long drive back London the following morning. After some dinner, a couple glasses of wine, and an episode of Top Gear, I slept.
Monday, September 2nd, 2013
The phone rang.
I ignored it.
It rang again.
Fine. I answered.
A very sexy female voice in an Eastern European accent I could not quite make out.
"Hello Mr. Newman. My name is Katalin Ilona from LHSimulatons. I have been instructed to get in touch with you regarding our current development in Budapest. Is this a bad time?
I looked over at the clock. 12:45PM. Shoot. I had overslept. Those thick curtains in hotel rooms really block out the daylight quite effectively.
"Okay hang on just a moment uh.. Katalin you said your name was?"
"Yes Mr. Newman. Please take your time."
I put my iPhone down and made my way to the window. Opening the curtains, EGNI was very visible to the left littered with Q400's, E170's, and Avroliners. Among them, was a Q400 with a rather odd looking livery I couldn't quite make out. The weather was bloody typical with the Sun well hidden under a very thick layer of overcast. It looked cold out there too.
I made my way to the bathroom where I let out a pee so long my legs started to buckle. Too much wine.
I went back to the phone thinking this chick likely hung up by now. She had been on hold for over 5 minutes. It was a long pee indeed.
"Hi Katalin? You still there?"
"Yes Mr. Newman!"
"Okay, what can I do for you?"
Indeed it was cold. But lucky for me, I had spent so much time in this part of the world, I knew well to pack for any kind of weather conditions. Day 1 could be 70+ and day 2 could be in the 40's. Weather in Europe could change that quickly. I made arrangements to return the rental car. The guy from Europcar was very helpful and even picked up the car directly from the hotel. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to the drive back up to London anyway. It had pissed rain the entire drive over and traffic was a nightmare.
The lady on the phone had expressed that the Budapest Ferenc Liszt project was nearing to a close and the team had requested my presence as soon as possible. The airport had not been officially open to scheduled traffic yet but I was told a "soft opening" was being conducted where airlines, contractors, and vendors could test the facilities prior to opening. I suppose you could call it a beta test of sorts.
Keeping in mind I needed a break from these airport and scenery surveys, I also needlessly reminded myself just how excited I was for LHBP and before I could think myself out of it, I had said yes.
Which led me to where I am now, standing in front of the FlyBe ticket counter with a pastry and cup of coffee waiting for the very woman I had just spoken to over the phone an hour ago. Apparently, the guys at LHSim had no doubt I would agree to this and had already sent over a plane. I imagined it was one of those G5's I had saw during my photo shoot the day before. But what was most troubling, was how they knew where I was in the first place. I decided to revisit that thought later.
At last, the tall slender and very attractive Hungarian woman made her way past the counters to where I was standing along with two airport security guards.
"Ah, Mr. Newman! Glad you could make it. I'm Katalin." As I reached out to shake her hand, a shiver ran down my spine quickly reminding me I was a married man.
"Pleasure to meet you Katalin."
"Please Mr. Newman, this way."
Following the security guards, we were led towards a security door behind the ticket counters. One of the guards waived a security badge followed by a key code. A green light, click, and we were in a hallway surrounded by luggage conveyors. Another door, and I was back in the brisk cold. The air filled with the sounds of running APU's and the distinctive smell of jet exhaust.
I realized, we were approaching the Q400 with the odd livery I had noticed from my hotel room earlier. It all came together the moment I saw the lettering on the fuselage in bright blue stenciling was the word MALEV.
A single female flight attendant stood waiting by the open door that doubled as the entrance steps. She was staring directly at me. I guess this is my ride...
Being the airplane lover I am, I couldn't just step on board without a walk around. Being the sole person behind AirDailyX, I am quite used to taking my time when it comes to admiring aircraft. Still pulling my Travel Pro tote bag, I made a full walk around the aircraft while the others watched. A gentleman walked over from one of the FlyBe aircraft and started speaking wildly to Katalin. He was obviously excited pointing to the aircraft. He pulled out his phone camera from his shirt pocket and quickly started taking pictures. He thanked her and left.
I couldn't help but notice a grin on Katalin's face after coming full circle around the aircraft. "Like it?" She said still grinning and not trying to hide it. "Uh... yeah it's okay... I guess." I replied trying to pretend I was unimpressed. But it was too late. She knew I was.
"I am sorry we couldn't get you something faster at last minute. But Sándor had a feeling you would appreciate this."
"Well, he is a smart man. Who was that crazy guy you were chatting with?"
"Says his name is Ben. He is developing some sort of training platform for the Q400. I really wasn't listening actually. He seemed quite impressed with our plane though."
"Well... are we really supposed to limp all the way to Budapest in this? Gorgeous as she is, rather slow for such a long flight isn't it?"
"Perhaps. We do have a fuel stop in Germany, but I think you'll find the ride quite comfy."
Well, it wasn't a jet. But at least they really made the effort to provide transportation. And as turboprops go, you can't really beat the Q400. Seeing the constant orange of those EasyJet's although reliable, was starting to cramp my style...
I stepped aboard the Q400 expecting the typical commercial seating config. What I found, was better. Much better. The interior looked like anything you would expect to find on a Global Express or Gulfstream. Plush wide leather seats, wood trim, an entertainment section... Heck, there was even a sleeping suite. "Yes, this will do just fine."
Not realizing I had actually said those words out loud, Katalin responded by saying: "Perfect!" She spoke a few more words to the airport security guys, and was just entering the cabin as I began to buckle myself in the flight deck jumpseat between the 2 pilots."
"I should have known that's where you would prefer to sit." said Katalin. "Come back to the cabin when you are ready." She then took out her cellphone and began speaking in Hungarian to someone on the line. Never mind that, my focus was now on the 2 pilots preparing the aircraft for departure.
Once we leveled, the first officer disengaged the seatbelt sign, I made my way to the cabin. There I found Katalin having a glass of champagne. "Care to join me?" She said. "Sure." I responded.
After 2 glasses of Moet and some banter talk, I was ready for answers. "So how is it that you can get me into a secured area of an airport and onto an aircraft without screening? Actually, nevermind that. How did you even know where I was to begin with? Honestly, I had only been in Southampton less than 24 hours. In that time you managed to fly a Q400 all the way from Budapest on the assumption I would still be here?"
"D'Andre, we have been making a point of tracking your movements over the last week. We were in the finishing stages of Budapest and wanted to be sure to finish in time prior to your returning to the States. So you can say, this Q400 has been on standby for you for the last week or so. We just weren't expecting you to be so far up in the UK. With the progress of projects taking place in Poland, we were thinking you would still be there. We took a risk coming here to get you, but it obviously paid off."
Shit, Poland. I had totally forgot. The guys at Drzewiecki Design had just completed a bunch of airports up there and I had not yet finished visiting all of them. If I had followed my original schedule, I would indeed still be there now. But a run in with some military guys connected with MilViz had stalled me when I got stranded in Friedrichshafen last week.
"You did not answer my question. How did you know where I was? Tracking my movements? How?"
"Well, we do have some connections." She said reluctantly.
"I'm sorry Katalin, but I have been fed that line before. I'm afraid I need more than that."
"Well, we did read your FirstLook article regarding the MilViz incident last week. We figured, if they could find you once, they could find you again. So we reached out to them."
Freaking MilViz. I guess I should have known. Who else has direct military contacts that could have pulled this off? What amazed me was how all this was going on without me knowing about it. It seemed everyone was relying on my presence to either review or survey their projects. But it was the great deal of effort they were all going through to get my attention that amazed and disturbed me.
I decided not to press the issue any further. Obviously, I was very excited about Budapest.
"Hungry Mr. Newman?"
"Yes. And please, call me D'Andre."
We had a long discussion about the history of Malev and the issues it faced during its last years. As it turned out, Katalin was a flight attendant for Malev for 15 years. When she lost her job, it was LHSim who had brought her onboard as corporate affairs liaison.
We also discussed the histories of Buda and Pest and it wasn't long before we refueled and were airborne again.
"If you don't mind me asking, what's it like running ADX on your own now?"
"To be honest Katalin, I do miss having Dom around. I think he carried with him a persona that ADX is just not the same without. Mostly though, it's a lot of trial and error trying to determine what the majority of my readers will and won't like. What they will read and what they will pass. Feedback is key and has been very constructive. I just don't want ADX to be another typical news site. There are several out there to choose from. People have always respected ADX for its affinity to be different. I want to maintain that without going overboard. The middle ground is in there somewhere and I hope it doesn't take too long for me to find it. Even this very story of which we sit, is an attempt at innovation. Something no one else has ever done. When people visit ADX, I'd like them to feel that they are getting something different.
But nevertheless, I continue to do the work for our amazing developers and for the people who respect what I do. I choose to do my part in providing a resource to the community, developers, and to those new to the hobby as best as I can. I am very grateful for all those who support me. Ultimately, it's really all because of the readers and supporting developers that keep ADX alive. Not just me. And God willing, I'll keep going."
We chatted a bit more about upcoming developments, and soon after, the conversation sidelined to good places to see and eat in Budapest. Before we knew it, the sun was setting and I could see the Q400 starting its landing configuration. I made my way back up to the flightdeck to watch the action.
Now sitting again between the two pilots, we had finally established visual contact with the airport. Even from a distance, I could start to see how well the terminal models were. Looking down, the photo terrain was sharp and crisp with no blur. The custom autogen and trees passing under us represented the quality I had come to expect from LHSimulatons.
I wasn't even on the ground yet and I was feeling impressed. The custom papi, runway, and approach lighting systems were very well done. Not too bright and I noticed the ground lighting was quite colorful.
The captain requested full length of the runway so we could make the long taxi back passing terminal 1. As we crossed over the threshold, I could see many people had come to watch this aircraft. I also noted very smooth frames on the approach. The pilots had no stutters at all bringing her in. It seems, LHSim had made good on their promise. So far so good.
As we taxied, Katalin came forward.
"Why are there so many people out there?" I asked breaking the sterile cockpit rule.
"Well, this aircraft was purchased repainted as a means to symbolize our former flag carrier Malev. It was purchased by a group of hobbyists from across our country. Whenever it approaches, the local spotters send text alerts and the people come out to give their respects. It's really beautiful."
"Well, I feel special." I said while indeed feeling special. The last time I had been here, it was a completely different airport. The quality was not bad at all, but the frame rates were something to be desired.
Once LHSim pledged to take on Budapest, the old Aerosoft variant seemed to just disappear from my mind and my hard drive. Even though I had returned to Hungary since, I avoided Budapest altogether. So in essence, I felt as if I was making a trip here for the very first time. The difference was huge and I was amazed with all the details. Big and small.
I was glad we had made the long taxi. If nothing else, it was a taste of things to come. We parked, the engines shut down, the door opened, and once again, my feet were on the ground in Budapest. The sky was beautiful. I was unsure if I was lucky to be getting such a beautiful sunset, or if it was REX doing its job. Either way, I was happy to be here.
"I am sure you must be quite tired." said Katalin. We have arranged a special ride for you to take to your hotel. All covered by us of course."
We made our way through the terminal where we quickly processed through customs and onto the departures level where a black Ferrari 599 had been waiting.
"Surely this is not for me?" I said with a shock.
"Well for the next 48 hours it is." replied Katalin. "Feel free to explore our beautiful city in style."
She handed me the keys.
As I opened the door and got a whiff of that Ferrari car smell, I felt myself stalling. I had come such a long way to get here... at least it felt that way in the Q400. But the truth was, I had waited years for this airport. Even before the advent of what we now know as LHSimulatons, I had been waiting for the airport upgrade that never came. Now that I am here with the newly modeled terminal looming before me, I just couldn't leave. Not now. Katalin must have sensed my feelings as she instructed the car to be moved and parked.
"If you are ready now, we can start now." said Katalin.
"Well, I did sleep in late and I am feeling a bit excited." I kneeled down and removed the Nikkon SLR from my bag, fitted it with the correct lense, stood and said: "Yeah, let's do it."
This marks the very first time a review from me would start at night.
Indeed the night texture work was splendid. It became obvious that nothing was missed.
The trees and cars were all very detailed.
The main parking area was very detailed. And I really liked how the shine emanated from the light in the lamps located in various parts of the airport.
Lots of billboards advertising in Hungarian.
The last time I saw night lighting this good, I was in Dulles where Amir gave me a personal tour of his FlightBeam masterpiece. In fact, I would say that the night lighting technology implemented here is right on par with FlightBeam Phoenix.
Also note the red lights on the rooftops of the terminals. Nice touch.
So how much can 1 really admire a parking lot anyway? What I expected to be done was done. I have seen many developers get lazy in this area leaving dirt parking lots. But here, I had no complaints. And obviously, Katalin was watching me closely with the development team on speed dial should I run into any issues.
Once inside the main artrium, I really got to admire, the view of the airfield. I was happy to see transparent reflective glass as opposed to texture bake glass. I also commend this effort in FlightBeam Dulles, and in the Upcoming Oslo project by Joerlend. More developers are making this kind of effort and I admire them for it. It's not an easy task but makes a world of difference. I might have liked to see some sort of "People Flow" technology to make the atrium more life like.
Now back on the ramp, I'm amazed to see even the little things like gate numbers lit. The texture baked windows look good here as well. But I was puzzled as to why photoreal textures were not used instead. This would have provided more depth and realism especially as most of the airport is made up of high-res photo textures.
There is a bit more depth to the windows here. But again, I think I would have preferred photoreal.
I always make a big deal about the fencing or lack thereof in other projects. I had nothing to complain about here. And I liked the barbed wire too. Very well done.
In these pullback shots taken from a nearby mobile crane, you really get the overall look at the main terminal area at night. It is well lit indeed. The way the light textures simulate the light splash on the ground and building textures really gives a feeling of realism.
The approach lighting is very crisp. And not hovering in mid air. The lights are all attached to their structures which are also nicely modeled. There was clearly a lot of attention to detail. It's no wonder they went thorough such great strides to get me here.
The night lighting, ground texturing, and fencing. All represented in a highly realistic fashion.
I really love the photoreal texture work here. Just think about it. If you think this review has a lot of screenshots, you have to imagine just how many pictures has to be taken of this hangar alone to get it looking so perfect. I imagine a hundred possibly.
The only thing I liked more about the older Aerosoft version was that one of the hangar doors were left open exposing the inside. I was disappointed to see that the team did not model the hangar interior here. In LHSim's previous sceneries Pecs Pogany and Gyor, the hanger interiors were nicely modeled.
Nevertheless, the exterior is nothing short of perfect. And I liked seeing the retired Malev aircraft there. If most simmers elect to remove their Malev AI, then at the very least these 2 statics will remain forever memorializing the beautiful blue noses in this scenery.
Honestly, I cant think of any reason why any fan of this airport would remove their Malev AI, this scenery just doesn't look right without those blue noses hanging out, coming, and going.
The team did not stop at the airport. Entire neighborhoods surrounding the airport on all sides are represented in custom autogen houses, trees, and street lighting. I imagine several hundred custom houses out here. All houses, trees, and street lights are also perfectly aligned along the roads and are not placed at random. As for FTXGlobal, you need not worry. It blends in perfectly with the surrounding scenery.
One thing I am now going to point out are the non super important buildings one might usually find on an airport airfield. You see, I have observed many developers spend so much time on the main terminals that all other buildings tend to take the back seat when it comes to quality. Here though, I was very pleased to see each and every building on the airport grounds represented in the same quality as the main terminal.
It's no wonder they took as long as they did constructing this place. There was no sign of laziness anywhere. Ever since I discovered Peps Pogany, I have been closely keeping my eyes on LHSim and so far, they are living up to their name and purpose.
Still very impressed by the night lighting methods used here. Now we make our way to the historic terminal 1. It's truly an architectural feat for its time and LHSim did it righteous justice.
The textures and lighting are spot on. All high resolution photoreal of course.
Just love the night lighting. I can't really seem to get enough.
Lots of ramp objects and vehicles can be spotted all over the airport. All well modeled and textured.
The control tower nicely modeled at night. As you can clearly see, I left my Malev AI in. They belong here. This is their home.
From the above helicopter shot, you can see just how damn good the night textures truly are. Well done guys.
As we continue to fly the helicopter, you get a much better example of the custom street lighting. This is your captains view on approach at night. Just lovely.
Not just houses in the custom autogen. Buildings and apartment blocks are present as well.
Now approaching 3AM, I just didn't realize how quickly the time had passed till I noticed the poor Katalin start to slip away mentally. This girl is a real trooper. Time to call it a night and return in the morning. I gave her a ride home in the Ferrari and made my way to the hotel provided by the development team. It was no big deal till I arrived and realized where I was actually being put up. As I drove the sports car up to the valet, I was really astonished at the hotel which was clearly one of the finest examples of art nouveau architecture in central Europe that I had ever seen.
"Welcome to the Four Seasons Gresham Palace Mr. Newman." Jeez does everybody know my name around here? Clearly sensing my confusion, the valet responded: "They told us to look for the Ferrari sir." Okay well I guess that made sense. I proceeded to the check in desk and turned over my passport. Moments later, I was in my room and overlooking one of the most beautiful views I had ever seen.
Directly out my window was the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and looming directly above and behind it was Magyar Nemzeti Galeria. I stood in amazement admiring the view for what must have been forever.
This place was my kind of paradise.
Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013
Ring, ring, ring.
"Good morning Mr. Newman, this is your 6AM wake up call."
I had slept only 3 hours. But I didn't care. I was so thoroughly impressed with all I had discovered at Budapest the evening before, I could not wait to see it in the day time. More importantly, I wanted to see my hotel view at dawn. It did not disappoint. I made my way down for breakfast and coffee, hoped in my Ferrari and made my way back to the airport.
When I arrived at the departures level, I was shocked to see Katalin already waiting for me. Damn this girl was good. No wonder LHSimulations hired her.
"Ready to get started 'D'?"
Hmmm... seems we are on a nick name basis now.
"Yep all ready!"
With the sun rising, I was very pleased to see just how good everything looked in daylight. I was very impressed.
One of the things I did not notice the night before was the sheer quality of the jetbridges. Not only were they modeled well, but they were also reflective. No strike that. They actually mirrored the environmental reflections of the airport. How can I explain this? Okay.
Look at the jetbridge below. Looks like a typical textured jet bridge object correct?
Now look closer. What you are now seeing is the global reflection of the airport in the jetbridge's textures. This is not static. As I walked forward and backward, the landscape moved as well. I had not ever seen anything like this before. Especially not in a jetbridge object. This is just one of those things you have to see to believe.
Looking at the terminal textures by day really gives a sence of the depth and quality. Everything down to the shadows. Air ducts and systems all present on the roofs. In winter, they all are covered in snowy textures.
The reflective technology I noticed on the jetbridge is multiplied a thousand times over when you see the glass of the main atrium by day.
This is how glass should be done. If you cant notice, the airport's environment is accurately reflected in the glass. The image animates as my eyepoint moves across it. This was very impressive.
Accurately environmentally reflective and transparent. This is by far the most realistic glass I have ever seen in a flight simulation product.
Even the animated and static ramp vehicles have the reflective glass. Note our little ramp transport van below. Note the position of the objects in the glass.
As the vehicle moves or the eyepoint changes, so does the image in the glass. And the glass has a transparency depth to it as well. You will find this feature on nearly all the service vehicles on the airport grounds. Freaking wow is all I can say. I have never seen this before. This is basically what I saw in the moving reflection of the jetbridge textures and main atrium glass.
The other terminal windows are also reflective and highly realistic.
The atrium has a long overhang and the shadow follows it. Loving those ground and roof textures too.
Katalin instructed our driver to bring us to the control tower next. We disappeared into a tunnel that ran under the taxiways.
The control tower was shrouded in photoreal and looked as realistic at it could possibly look not being the real thing.
And emerged from the other side a few moments later.
We visited the fire station as well. I was disappointed not to see any firetrucks outside. I am a huge fan of firetrucks and there are none bigger than those found at a large airport. I was sad to not see at least one outside. This whole area looked dead and void of activity.
Getting back to the ramp ground textures, I was quite pleased indeed. Couple that with the roof textures as well. Very well done in this area. Very good quality high-res aerial photo image. This was not cheap to get.
The hangar textures also show off their quality and depth in the sunlight.
The quality of those brick buildings! Very impressive. Nowhere did the quality start to fall off at any point in this scenery. High res textures everywhere I looked. It was amazing.
The AFCAD seems to be off though. I had cargo aircraft and WizzAir parked at terminal 2 (Wizz' new home) leaving the areas around terminal 1 looking empty and dejected. I am hoping for an AFCAD update. Besides that, terminal 1 is looking almost newly built.
All those beautiful trees. I was just so amazed at how the team was able to add so many objects without so much as a minimal frame impact. Amazing. Usually it takes developers years to master this and even then, some don't get it right. I have coined LHSim's Budapest as the most beautiful "Mega Airport" ever made. Of course, this is only my own opinion. But based on the screenshots you have seen thus far, it's obviously beautiful without a doubt.
LHSimulations has officially joined the ranks of FlyTampa, FlightBeam, FSDreamteam, Drzewiecki Design, and A-Flight respectively. Welcome to the plateau LHSim. I am looking forward to much more and cheers to the future!
Get your copy of LHSim Budapest here https://lhsimulations.hu/webshop/
The scenery is also available on Simmarket. But if you can, please support the developer directly by purchasing direct from their webshop. 10% to 15% is lost from developers when you purchase from other webshops.
It was time to get going. We were standing directly in front of terminal 1 after having spent the entire day touring the airfield. My 3 hours of sleep was starting to wear in pretty hard. "The entire place is just incredible." I remarked. It doesn't really get any better than this."
"Actually," replied Katalin while suddenly dawning a large thick jacket and ushanka that bore the LHSim logo. "It does." She pulled out a touch screen tablet computer. "There is another heavy coat and hat in the van. I highly suggest you get them." Reluctantly, I did. As she powered on the device, I could clearly make out the famous REX logo that appeared on the screen. Below the logo read the words:
REX RealTime Advanced Atmospheric Weather Injection + Overdive
...and in bright red lettering read the words:
USE EXTREME CAUTION WHILE OPERATING AND ADJUSTING ATMOSPHERIC TEMPATURES AND CONDITIONS AND ONLY UNDER XE122X PROCEDURES. FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH PROPER PROCEDURES CAN RESULT IN INJURY OR DEATH!
"If you haven't seen Budapest in winter, you haven't seen Budapest." she said.
"But it's September." I replied. She ignored me as she rapidly began to punch buttons on the screen. As she did so, I started to feel a chill. The hell was she doing?
Katalin picked up her hand radio and said in a very serious voice: "Okay everyone, we are switching to code white. Notify the tower on one-two-one point seven-five. We will observe X.E.1.2.2.X beta procedures for the next 10 minutes."
Suddenly, a loud deafening air raid siren was heard. Across the entire airfield, people began rapidly making their way to the nearest buildings and vehicles. Others quickly retrieved heavy jackets and gloves but appeared unconcerned.
As she continued to input commands into the tablet, the weather started to make a turn for the worst. Threatening clouds started to appear on the horizon and rapidly moved their way in. As this happened, I could swear the temperature was dropping a degree every second. The Sun was now fully blocked and I started to freak out.
"Katalin, what the hell is going on?"
"It's REX!" She shouted as the wind picked up. "Their latest product in Beta! You can now change the weather whenever you want in real time without having to load. They kindly added us to the beta team."
Moments later, it was snowing. I was in a complete state of shock and terror. It must have snowed 5 inches in 5 minutes. Shortly after, she inputted more commands on the screen and the snow stopped. Almost immediately, I could feel the temperature warming back up.
"Now!" she screamed, "You see Budapest!"
A few moments later, I was awoken lying in nearly half a foot of snow.
"You okay D?"
"Wa... what... what happened?"
"You passed out. Perhaps not enough sleep."
As I came to, I could see several people standing all around me.
"Come on D'Andre, I'll help you up." Said a familiar male voice.
As he helped me to my feet, I could see right away who he was.
"Are you okay my friend?"
"Yeah I think so." The airfield ambulance had arrived. As the medic assisted me, Sándor asked:
"So what do you think of our work?"
"It literally, knocked me off my feet." I joked. Laughter erupted among the crowd. One by one, he began do introduce me to the development team. Well D'Andre, as it meets your seal of approval, I hereby declare Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport open!"
A loud cheer erupted among the crowd. Followed by the popping of champagne glasses and singing.
A few hours later we made our way to the LHSim headquarters in the Quadrum Office Park where we spent the entire evening drinking, flight simming, and telling stories. They indeed had accomplished a great feat.
Finally, what an interesting time I had here in Budapest. LHSimulations pulled this project off with such precision and detail. It truly is a masterpiece. It was nice celebrating with the development team from dusk till dawn. These guys worked so hard, so tirelessly and the end result of this project had really paid off. The food was good, the beer was good, and the Hungarian hospitality was even better!
Time to return home.
That evening, Katalin had informed me that they chartered a flight back to LA. for me. She offered me one last look at at the airport at night covered in snow. From there she escorted me to my flight.
I was greeted with the retired Malev 767-200 sitting out in front of the Lufthansa maintenance hangar. "This girl will take you home." Katalin said. I shook her hand one last time.
"It's been a real pleasure Katalin. Thanks for everything."
"Come back and visit soon okay?" she replied.
"Are you kidding, I will be flying here on a regular basis!"
I went up the boarding stairs and entered the plane. I wasn't going to be jump-seating this time. I expected the cabin to be empty minus a flight attendant or two. But I was surprised to see 2 gentlemen already seated. Who were they? From the looks of them, they appeared to be Hispanic or Spanish perhaps. No matter. I was just too tired to care and they seemed to ignore me anyway.
I put the "do not wake for meals" sticker on my first class seat. I didn't want to be woken up until it was time to land.
I checked my voice messages.
"You have seven new voice mails. To play, press one"
"Hello D'Andre, this is Cal, just to let you know Fran and I have returned from vacation. I'll have some info on our upcoming Shanghai project from ImagineSim soon. Hope all is well! Bye."
"Hey D, it's Misha, i'll be texting you some new pics of my next scenery. Don't show them to anyone though. Cheers mate."
Damn that kid had such a deep voice.
"Hey D'Andre, Froogle here, just calling to say your blog sucks and my YouTube page is much better. Take care, cheers!"
That guy cracks me up.
"Hi D'Andre, it's Clement, are you ready for me to host your AirDailyX forum? Yeah? No? Yeah? I got some good ideas. Call me back. By the way, people on Avsim are talking crap about you again."
Damn that guy is pushy.
"Hi D'Andre, it's Thomas from JetStream designs, got some info on my next project. Chat soon. Merci."
"Hi D'Andre, it's Stanislaw, hear this:"
There was some piano playing in the background. I had no clue what that was all about.
"Hey babe it's me. Glad you are finally coming home. I miss you. You better not be over there hanging out with some hot girl. I love you bye."
Yeah, I should call my wife.
The pilot came on and gave some information about the flight. A flight attendant came by with a tray of canapés. I took one and reclined my seat. Before the captain finished his report, I was asleep.
Feeling the aircraft lift off I dreamt about camping in the woods near Yosemite. No airplanes, no airports, no more hotel rooms. Wouldn't it be cool if Orbx made a FTX Yosemite? Finally, I was headed home. Peace and quiet await me.
"Mr. Newman sir?"
I opened my eyes to see the flight attendant standing above me. "We will be landing soon sir." She handed me a hot towel which I quickly applied to my face.
"Yes actually. English Breakfast with milk and 2 sugars please."
She handed me the tea and a biscuit which I splattered in clotted cream. "Do you have any strawberry jelly by any chance?" I asked.
"Sure", she responded leaving the breakfast cart as she made her way to the aft galley.
Having a look out the window, I saw the desert terrain I expected to see on the outskirts of Los Angeles. But for some reason, something just seemed out of place. Not quite right. No matter. Desert is desert. I would be home soon. I was even thinking of taking the kayak out on the marina.
The 2 Hispanic men I had noticed earlier before takeoff had emerged from the flight deck and began to walk towards me. One of them had quite a hairy face and was in need of a shave. They stood next to each other hovering over the seats in front of me watching me eat.
"Can I help you gentlemen?" I said with a mouthful.
"Yes you can actually." Said the hairy faced bloke.
"My name is David and this is Cesar."
Now why did those names sound familiar?
"Hello David, hello Cesar. What's this about?"
"Just not coming to you huh?"
This time, the other guy spoke: "You should really know who I am D'Andre. I've been advertising on AirDailyX for over a year now."
They both leaned over the chairs in front of me. Just enough for me to see the green squiggly "M" logo I knew all too well as Taxi2Gate. David and Cesar. Of course!
"I'm so sorry guys! We had never met in person before!" We shook hands. "So what the heck are you guys doing here?"
"Well" said David. "We have been tracking your movements and got a word you were in Budapest. So we personally came to greet you and inform you that our MMMX project is nearly complete. We would like you to conduct a survey of Mexico City for AirDailyX."
"Here we go again with this tracking my movements bullshit. Let me guess, MilViz?"
"Oh no, no!" Cesar said with a chuckle. "Ricardo from LatinVFR told us where you were."
"And how the hell did he know?"
"Russ White told him."
"And how did Russ know?"
"Lars Pikenburg told him."
"And how did he know?"
"Mathijs Kok told him."
"Math... okay, you know what guys? I have had enough of this shit. I'm heading home now. Call me in a couple days about MMMX."
"Well" said David. "That doesn't work for us. You see, we are looking to open MMMX day after tomorrow. We postponed the opening just for you. Come on, what do you say?"
"I say no."
"We'll, I don't know what to tell you guys. I'm going home. Feel free to disagree all you wish."
"Actually senor, no you are not."
"I am not what?"
Then I heard it. "Ding" "Good afternoon from the flightdeck folks. We have begun our decent into Mexico City and expect to be safely on the ground within the next 30 minutes. We sincerely hope you have enjoyed the flight. Flight attendants, please prepare the aircraft for arrival."
I looked out the window again. That was definitely not the Mohave Desert out there. Shit.
David then reached into the galley cart the flight attendant had left behind and pulled out an ice cold Corona beer, popped the cap, wedged a lime on the top, and handed it to me.
"Welcome to Mexico" he said with a smile.
I took a long, long drink.