FeelThere Las Vegas International Airport
The first aircraft to land in Las Vegas was on May 7, 1920. The Curtiss ‘Jenny” Biplane, piloted by Jake Beckley, landed on a dirt field that was owned by a Mr. Harry Anderson. As expected, everyone that was present in the area that day stopped what they were doing in order to get a glimpse of the future.
One of the spectators that day was Robert Hausler, a former Army Air Mail pilot who had flown air mail routes from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City, passing by Las Vegas on the way. Hausler’s job was to scout potential air mail routes. Hausler wanted create an airfield that could establish itself as a modern facility designed to take advantage of air mail routes that were being created by the U.S. Government. He also wanted to establish a flying school and aircraft service station.
Leasing the Anderson property, Hausler continued to make improvements to the dirt strip and on Thanksgiving Day, 1920, Anderson Field was open for business in the hopes of taking advantage of the fledgling air mail routes that were being established across the nation. Unfortunately, the air mail routes bypassed Las Vegas; following the route to Reno instead.
However, Hausler believed in the importance of aviation and the airfield was opened with a full airshow of three biplanes; one flown by Hausler himself. This air event showcased the purpose of aviation and its potential as an economic driver for the community. Hausler would go on to be known as an aviation pioneer and was enshrined in the Nevada Aerospace Hall of Fame in 2010.
Hausler’s lease was picked up in 1925 by the Rockwell Brothers and Anderson Field became known as Rockwell Field and in April 1926, Western Air Express started mail and passenger operations out of the airfield. This finally put Las Vegas on the map. There was also another first as Maude Campbell became the first woman to fly commercially, paying USD160 for a round-trip flight from Salt Lake to Los Angeles via Las Vegas. Western Air Express continued to operate out of Rockwell Field until 1929.
However, the airport was becoming too small and inadequate to handle newer aircraft. When the Rockwell Brothers sold their lease, Western Air Express moved to a new airfield eight miles northeast of Las Vegas that was constructed as a base for Nevada Air Lines. Anderson/Rockwell Field ceased operations in 1931.
Simon Field was subsequently leased and renamed Western Air Express Field, developing over the next decade as the City’s airport. When the City tried to buy the airfield, Western Air Express refused. But with the onset of World War II, Western Air Express sold the airfield and Nevada Senator Pat McCarran helped the city obtain federal funding to purchase the field and to build a terminal. He also helped establish an Army Air Corps gunnery school. The airport was named McCarran Field in 1941.
The Gunnery School closed in1945, however, the Air Force wanted to reopen the local base; provided commercial air traffic could be shifted to another location. Enter George Crockett, an aviator and descendant of Davy Crockett, who established Alamo Airport in 1942 which was located four miles south of Las Vegas. Crockett agreed to sell the airport to the city which became the Clark County Public Airport.
All commercial aviation operations moved to this new site and on December 20, 1948 the airport was renamed McCarran Field. The old airport was reopened as Las Vegas Air Force Base and was ultimately renamed Nellis Air Force Base in 1950. In 1968, McCarran Field gained its international designation with the first international flight from Mexico to Las Vegas. The airport then became known as McCarran International Airport and in February 2021, the airport was renamed to Harry Reid International Airport.
Today, KLAS is situated 2,181 feet above mean sea level and is located about 5 miles south of downtown Las Vegas. The Airport occupies about 3,000 acres of land and has four runways and two terminals:
- 01L/19R: 8,988 x 150 feet
- 01R/19L: 9,771 x 150 feet
- 08L/26R: 14,515 x 150 feet
- 08R/26L: 10,526 x 150 feet
At 14,515 feet in length, Runway 8L/26R is the second-longest commercial service runway and the third longest civil runway in the U.S. per FAA data. Denver’s runway 16R/34L is the longest civil runway in the U.S. at 16,000 feet while Edwards Air Force Base has the longest military runway at 15,024 feet.
KLAS is home to thirty domestic and international airlines including Allegiant, Frontier, Southwest, British Airways, Condor, Edelweiss, and others. It also supports other commercial, military, and general aviation operations, but is also home to FedEx and UPS and other cargo carriers. Both Maverick and Papillion Grand Canyon Helicopters operate out of the airport and provide tours of the local area and the Grand Canyon. Janet Airlines, operated by the United States Air Force, also operates out of KLAS.
The Feelthere KLAS – Las Vegas International Airport scenery for X-Plane11 is a budget-minded, detailed rendition of the real-life airport. The airport layout is based on the existing airport configuration and facilities and boasts advanced features such as physical based rendering (PBR) and night lighting, custom lighting, high resolution USGS orthophoto scenery covering the airport, the Las Vegas Strip, and the surrounding area, custom terrain mesh and animated SAM animated jetways and a host of other features.
FeelThere is a very established simulation company that has been a part of flight simulation going back to 2002. This July celebrates 20 years that Vic, FeelThere’s founder, and his staff have been contributing to the simming community, having developed what is potentially the largest number of simulator aircraft in the history of flight simulation. Many aircraft that FeelThere has developed over the years included the Cessna 208, the Airbus 330, the Boeing 737, and Embraer E-Jets, just to name a few. Many of the FeelThere employees are also involved in aviation in real life from former air traffic controllers to private pilots.
FeelThere started developing sceneries in 2011, interestingly enough, for their well-known Tower! Simulator. According to Vic, FeelThere started developing scenery for X-Plane last year as a means to also incorporate the developed scenery in to their upcoming Tower! Simulator 3 which will be using the same high-quality models as X-Plane and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. KLAS was selected for development as it is a very interesting and very popular airport that is used within their existing Tower! Simulator 3D and Vic is looking to include it in Tower! Simulator 3 as well.
Developing any scenery, not matter the flight simulation platform, can be challenging. Scenery developers struggle with finding the sweet-spot between quality and budget. The same goes for flight simulation enthusiasts. In developing KLAS for X-Plane, Vic and his team knew that they would be facing a comparative to Fly Tampa’s KLAS scenery. Thus, Vic and his team decided that their development strategy would be to deliver budget-friendly scenery packages that can still provide an excellent rendition of existing airports.
What impressed me the most in talking with Vic is the credit he gives his competition which I find admirable. That speaks to honesty and their years of simulation experience which is evidenced by their longevity in the aviation simulation market. FeelThere currently has six other scenery packages for X-Plane. All of the packages include orthophoto real scenery meshes that interconnect with existing default scenery seamlessly. You can learn more about what FeelThere has to offer by going to their website.
Installation and Documentation
The installation of the KLAS scenery is very quick and easy for those who are familiar with normal X-Plane scenery add-on installation. The scenery compressed file size is approximately 8.7 GB. Upon downloading the file, the scenery is extracted into a temporary folder and then copied to the X-Plane\Custom Scenery folder. Please note the download archive contains both the Windows and MAC versions of the scenery. The uncompressed file is about 9.2 GB.
The minimal system requirements are as follows:
- X-Plane 11.50 or a later version of X-Plane 11
- Windows, Mac or Linux
- Scenery Animation Manager (SAM) Plugin (Required)
The following is a list of features for KLAS:
- Realistic Airport layout
- SAM animated jetways
- High Resolution edited USGS orthophoto covering the airport, the Las Vegas strip and surrounding area
- Custom terrain mesh
- Custom lighting
- Custom ground textures with specular reflections
- Custom ground lines, runway markings, and detail textures.
- High quality PBR building textures with night lighting
The documentation consists of a short readme file that goes over the installation as well as technical notes related to SAM, other KLAS scenery, and World Traffic 3. I do not have the World Traffic 3 add-on; however, I do own the Traffic Global for X-Plane and I had no issues with the scenery.
Scenery Review Overview
The review of the KLAS scenery was completed by comparing the existing real-life airport areas with the scenery package. Thus, the areas reviewed were as follows:
- Default and FeelThere Scenery Comparisons
- East Cargo Apron
- Terminal 3 Area and Concourses D and E
- Terminal 1 Area and Concourses A, B, and C
- West Aprons and Associated Ramp Areas
The off-airport areas located were also reviewed, however, they were not strictly scrutinized due to scenery inconsistencies that can occur within X-Plane. However, those areas will be briefly mentioned as they pertain to a particular section.
Default and FeelThere Scenery Comparisons
To kick things off, I did a comparison of the FeelThere and the X-Plane 11 default scenery. This was completed to establish a scenery baseline which I used as a point of reference when comparing the two sceneries. In comparing the FeelThere and XP11 default scenery, they may seem to be very comparable, however, you can start to see and appreciate the subtle changes that the FeelThere scenery offers.
The use of ortho-photorealistic meshes are present and provides a good interpretation of the desert climate and ground cover. The following pictures provide various views comparing the FeelThere and default XP11 scenery versions.
East Cargo Apron Area
Our first stop is the east air cargo area, known as the Marnell Air Cargo Center, is located directly north of Runway 26R and east of Terminal 3. The area provides a good rendition of the air cargo area and the Harry Reid Marketplace located immediately east of the air cargo area. The air cargo apron has various renditions of Unit Load Devices (ULD) and pallets. You do see moving vehicles from time to time and there are static 3D models of tractor trailers. FeelThere also makes good use of orthophoto scenery in this area to capture the look and feel of this busy area.
The pavement markings are clean and true to life. There are other little nuances like the Holding Areas 6 and 7 and additional air cargo buildings that add to the ambience. One little gripe, however, is in regards to the aircraft parking areas. Using real life photos, the pavement markings in the holding areas are very dark and can appear very faint when brought into the sim. If there is an update in the future, I would recommend that the parking lines for the holding areas be a little more defined.
The night lighting is very well done and looks really good. I liked the subtle lighting changes along with the soft amber glow of certain parking areas like the off-airport vehicle parking islands. Overall, the lighting is excellent.
Runway 26L and 26R look good and the markings and signage are very well done. I especially liked the weathering effects shown on the markings. I even like the cracking on the threshold markings. I do wish that there wear a little more “rubber” on those markings.
However, the markings are excellent and shows a good attention to detail. The night time runway lighting also looks really good. The terrain mesh surrounding the runways does look a little bleached. However, this is related to the orthophoto scenery itself. Maybe in the future, the mesh can be highlighted just a bit.
Terminal 3 Area and Concourses D and E
We will shift from the air cargo area to the Terminal 3 area which contains Concourses D and E. Built in 2012, this USD2.4 Billion project was one of the largest public-works projects in Nevada history at that time. Terminal 3 currently serves both domestic and international flights. Concourse E contains 14 gates while Concourse D contains 44 gates. The detail in this area is very good for the budget-minded scenery. There are moving vehicles to give a sense of activity around the gate areas.
The gate areas are modeled well and have the appropriate jetways and pavement markings. There are various baggage carts and ULD containers sprinkled throughout the different gate areas. The 3D building modeling is very well done for this basic-entry level scenery. You will not see a lot of eye-candy type elements such as transparent windows on the terminal or signage on the jetways, like seen in other up-scale scenery packages. However, the overall look and feel is excellent.
The Terminal 3 Parking garage is very well modeled and the use of orthophoto scenery in this area really gives the impression of activity. Changing from daytime to night time, you can see the glow around the different vehicle parking and terminal areas.
Speaking of daytime to nighttime transitions, watching the light changes around the Terminal 3 area was an unexpected treat. The lighting depth added a whole new character to the Terminal 3 areas. I appreciated the work that was put into this, especially for an entry-level scenery package.
Finally, the Airport Air Traffic Control facilities are a welcomed update from the default scenery and is modeled true to life. Overall, I liked the modeling and look and feel of the Terminal 3 area. Could there have been a little more visual treat? Yes, there could have been. However, as previously mentioned, the scenery is purposely designed to be budget friendly. I believe that the nuances they have included within the Terminal 3 area provides a very good rendition of the real-life area.
Terminal 1 Area and Concourses A, B, and C
Continuing to the west take us to the Terminal 1 area and Concourses A, B, and C. Terminal 1 serves domestic airlines only such as American, Delta, Southwest, and Spirit airlines. The Concourse A has 16 gates, Gate B has 17 gates, and Concourse C has 18 gates. As with Terminal 3, these areas look really good and the 3D building modeling is excellent. I currently use Traffic Global add-on so I wanted to also check and see if the gates would work correctly, which they did.
The day/night transitions for the Terminal 1 areas also look really good as shown below.
I was very impressed with the vehicle parking and landside terminal building modeling. It is outstanding to look at and is an excellent example of the overall craftsmanship of FeelThere’s 3D modeling. Even the centerfield holding and fuel farm areas are modeled true to life. Impressive!
West General Aviation Areas
Our final stop on this scenery review takes us around the ends of Runway 19L and 19R as we head over to the West General Aviation areas. Traveling past the runways you see the jet blast deflectors for Runway 19R as well as all of the real-world standard airfield marking and signage. Both day and night runway representations are shown below.
Traveling southwest takes you past the various general aviation parking and hangar facilities. Atlantic Aviation and Signature Flight Support provide support services to private aircraft. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection General Aviation Facility, or GAF, is also located in this area. Janet Airlines, which is owned by the USAF, is based at KLAS and operates flights to and from the Nevada National Security Site airports such as Homey Airport (KXTA).
The scenery in this area, with the backdrop of the famous Las Vegas entertainment areas looks very good. The graphics are crisp, however, generic in nature. I wished that some of the buildings in this area were spruced up a little more, especially for the business jet or helicopter simmers who simulate those types of operations. Overall, the area looks good. I was even able to find the world famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign which is located adjacent to the general aviation areas.
FeelThere is no stranger to the flight simulation arena. They have been around for more than twenty years, and are very well known for their aircraft and air traffic control simulations. Developing scenery for X-Plane 11, as well as Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, allows them to provide very well-designed scenery at a low cost. As I had mentioned earlier in this review, I am very impressed with FeelThere’s approach to scenery development and I see no issue with providing a product that is reasonably priced to match the development provided within the scenery package.
The scenery is very much a real-life representation of the KLAS – Harry Reid International Airport that has been painstakingly updated to introduce simmers of all levels to the airport. The 3D modeling is excellent and the runway and taxiway textures, markings and signage are well done. The scenery transitions from day to night are also outstanding. There were no issues with the airfield lighting except for on little nit related to the rotating beacon that FeelThere is aware of and is fixing.
While I understand that the scenery was developed with the budget-conscience simmer in mind, there were a couple of areas that I felt would have been a welcome addition to the overall scenery package. I think a little more signage textures around the gate areas and the general aviation areas would have made the scenery pop even more. Some of the building textures appeared a little bland, but not enough to deter me from enjoying the overall scenery package. The inclusion of orthophotographic mesh scenery with package is a nice addition, however, some of the ground textures appear to have a washed-out effect on the textures. For some simmers, they may be looking for a little more robustness in the package and may not like the look of the textures. But, for the budget-minded simmer, it is an excellent scenery alternative.
Regarding frame rates, I had no lagging issues. Even when I turned on my ai-traffic add-ons, I saw no impact to framerates, including when using Vulcan. The night time textures are well done and you truly get the impression of expansiveness when flying into and out of the airport. Coupled with the city’s backdrop, the airport looks really good. Finally, I would like to thank Vic and Lilla at FeelThere for being very responsive to my questions and taking the time to answer some additional questions I had regarding the overall scenery.
In giving my recommendation, there are a couple of items that I want to make clear. First, the FeelThere scenery is not meant to compete with FlyTampa’s Las Vegas scenery. FeelThere has been very upfront about this and made the decision to provide a budget-friendly version of the scenery that can still provide an excellent scenery experience for simmers. Secondly, FeelThere has done an excellent job in balancing the price of their scenery with what’s contained in the scenery. Think about how many times you may have paid for a simulation add-on whose price did not reflect what was actually created. I commend FeelThere for the creation of their budget minded scenery packages that appear to be perfectly priced in comparison the package itself.
In summary, the FeelThere KLAS – Las Vegas International Airport – XP11 scenery package is very well done and is worth the USD19.99 that is being charged for the scenery. The scenery goes on sale from time to time and if you are budget -minded simmer, I recommend picking it up. For those simmers that are looking for system friendly packages that have minimal system impacts, this is also a great package to consider. Finally, I am very appreciative of the hard work that Vic and his team has put into the modeling of the airport which results in an excellent rendition of the KLAS-Harry Reid International Airport.
More information can be found at the dedicated Aerosoft store page or at FeelThere.
At the time of this review, there is an ongoing sale underway to celebrate FeelThere’s twenty-year anniversary. The current developer’s sale price is 15.99 USD and is a great bargain. The current sale finishes on July 25, 2022.
|Add-on:||Payware FeelThere KLAS - Las Vegas International Airport|
|Publisher | Developer:||Aerosoft | FeelThere|
|Description:||Realistic rendition of Las Vegas International Airport|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 9.13GB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Todd C.|
|Published:||July 25th 2022|
|Hardware specifications:||- 3.6 GHz Intel Core i7-9700K
- NVIDIA RTX 2080 8 GB GDDR6
- 32 GB 3200 MHz DDR4 RAM
- Samsung SSD 860 EVO 2TB
- Saitek Pro Flight System X-52 Pro
- Razer Tartarus Chroma
|Software specifications:||- Windows 10
- X-Plane 11.5x (64 Bit), Private Use
- A variety of freeware and payware aircraft and plugins