Greece FlyTampa Adventure
It’s cold in the Netherlands, and once a while it’s raining, so time to leave my country and seeking for warmer areas. It’s time to visit the southern European countries and then in particular time to visit FlyTampa Heraklion and Thessaloniki.
According to FlyTampa’s dedicated web pages:
– Complete city add-on with custom mesh, vegetation and lighting
– Full city coverage with custom buildings and landmarks
– Sloped airport terrain
– Animated apron vehicles and road traffic
– PBR materials
The dedicated FlyTampa LGIR web page offers also airport charts from JeppView. What I didn’t found where ready to go files for either WT3 (World Traffic 3) or JARDesign X-Life. Since I work with WT3, it’s easy to make your own files, but I had hoped it was included in the package since both airports of this review are dedicated developed for X-Plane 11. By the way, the FlyTampa LGTS (Thessaloniki) web page offers also the necessary charts. You can grab the charts via this link.
After you’ve downloaded the FlyTampa Heraklion package, and basically it is the same for the Thessaloniki package, you’ll be surprised of the overall size. The reason is simple; the FlyTampa airports offer a bit more then only the modeled airport. A huge area around the airport is included like photoreal material, the correct mesh, the cities of Heraklion and Thessaloniki and forests or lets say trees.
When unzipped and installed in your Custom Scenery folder it looks like this. The example below represents the individual folders of Heraklion. The Thessaloniki folders are build up in the same way, but instead of Heraklion you’ll read Thessaloniki:
All together Heraklion has an overall unzipped size of 2.33Gb while Thessaloniki goes even beyond the 3Gb. To be exactly 3.48Gb!
In each airport folder (0FlyTampa_Heraklion_0_airport or b0FlyTampa_Thessaloniki_0_airport) you find the manual. The provided manuals offer some airport background information, the recommended airport X-Plane 11 settings, some F.A.Q. and some links in case you need to know more or in case you need FlyTampa assistance. It’s not much, but I think it’s enough and then in particular the first question and answer section regarding the correct sequence needed of the Heraklion/Thessaloniki folders in the scenery_pack.ini file.
Exploring Heraklion (LGIR)
What said before, the FlyTampa Heraklion package for X-Plane 11 is a bit more then only the modeled airport. As a side note; normally I would say go to the Zones Photo website and download all the ortho texture packages for the island, but this time I’m a bit cautious. The FlyTampa package works well with the Zones Photo ortho textures installed however, the Zones Photo textures aren’t always nicely blended by itself. Due to this I don’t recommended it this time. We need to accept this and this means that when we fly along the island for a runway 27 approach and landing, we will see the default X-Plane island textures which are not really realistic.
Although LGIR has three runways, the main runway is 27/09. It’s an easy runway to depart from or to land on and looking to the design of the runway, most departures are only from 27. From the aprons only taxiways go to the beginning of 27. The other end – 09 – has a taxi turning point with no taxiway connected to it. But this doesn’t mean no aircraft is taking off or landing on/from 09. I checked to be sure what I’m seeing several movies at YouTube and although the majority of landings and takeoffs are from 27, some are also from 09.
Although LGIR is basically no more then just several aprons with a couple of buildings. There’s some ground equipment modeled and all what belongs to this, then some taxiways and the two runways. It’s all nicely modeled. It’s weird when you think about it. The name of the airport is Heraklion International Airport, but the main runway for landings is 27 and being so important, it has no ILS or whatsoever so approaches are based on VOR beacon IRA 108.8 (IRAKLION).
At the Airport Apron
Back to the modeled airport.
Everything within the fences looks good to me. Sometimes I’ve got the impression that the ortho textures aren’t as sharp as I had hoped for. Anyway, the passenger terminal dominates the apron. It’s well done with a lot of details and some objects are covered with sharp textures which is good news. The area around the passenger terminal which has no jetways, is filled with all kind of highly detailed and animated ground equipment like baggage carts, stairs, cars, buses , trolleys and so on. At the other side of runway 27/09 are a lot of military bunkers and buildings and worth to mention, the military section does come with some animated military jeeps.
Oops, hold on, did you say military objects are included in the airport? Check out the following, taken from Wikipedia “Heraklion International Airport “Nikos Kazantzakis” is the primary airport on the island of Crete, Greece, and the country’s third busiest airport after Athens International Airport and Thessaloniki International Airport. It is located about 5 km east of the main city centre of Heraklion, near the municipality of Nea Alikarnassos.”
“It is a shared civil/military facility. The airport is named after Heraklion native Nikos Kazantzakis, a Greek writer and philosopher. A new airport for Heraklion, located 39 km to the south-east of the city at Kasteli, is under construction and due to open by 2025. Once completed, the new Kasteli International Airport will replace the current Heraklion International Airport as the hub for central Crete.”
Because there are no jetways, the aprons feel a bit lonely and therefore it’s a good idea that when you have WT3 to generate flight information, parking positions and so on. Once that’s done, it will be a lot busier then before. The taxiways and runway textures are great. They are sharp, but there’s also a lot of weathering to see, so yes, it looks used! In the areas surrounding the taxiway and runways, you find a lot of grass which makes the look and feel of this complete.
That used tarmac can also be found at the different aprons. Perfectly done I would say. But as I mentioned before, at the areas near the airport fences the ground textures are a bit blurry and that’s for sure also the case outside the airport fences. It’s not unusual to see this, but I’m not so sure if this is due to the quality of the included ortho textures of because of the used Zoom Level.
Further away from passenger terminal I spot the fuel department with some trucks, also nearby is I think the GA (General Aviation) apron. Worth to mention that all the ground equipment, whatever it is, is not brand new. Depending a bit on the object involved, it’s either dirty or weathered and this is also the same for the many building west of the passenger terminal. I took the time to walk from east to west, but I hope that when you decide to do that too, you will see with your own eyes that a lot of time and effort is put into this modeled airport and you will be surprised just as I was, seeing all those tiny details.
Another small FlyTampa detail is the waiting lounge in the passenger terminal with access over the apron. The glass wall with the seats behind it very well done and you can even take a seat yourself. That said, this rest area is completely modeled, but that’s it. Other parts of the passenger terminal aren’t. Not that this is a problem to me. I just wanted to highlight the modelled resting area.
And finally some words about the control tower. It’s not the most impressive tower, but what is modeled by the FlyTampa team is gorgeous. So, at the end, the control tower is weathered as I saw already with lots of other objects at the apron. Some parts at the tower are sharp while other parts like the concrete construction are a bit blurry. This is also visible at the small containers/buildings at the base of the control tower. But the majority of all these buildings is good, for sure it completes the realistic look of the airport apron.
At the Public Area
Many, yes, many objects can be found outside the airport fences. Nothing wrong with that. You’ll find animated buses, parking lots, entrance gates, pedestrian gateways, a realistic looking passenger terminal entrance side, different trees, car rental places, military bunkers and a military radar unit. Great, but what I personally had hoped for that the ground textures used for this area where a bit sharper. The roads for example to the airport parking places and passenger terminal are blurry as well as all the other areas. This is in particular visible when you hover at a certain altitude above the public area.
Besides that, it looks good and makes the overall Heraklion impression complete. And then I didn’t talk yet about the included rural areas and ground textures that stretch far beyond the airport itself. I wasn’t planned to add this in the review, but at the last moment I decided to add one screenshot that shows you default X-Plane 11 Heraklion airport including the surrounding city. And guess what, I was even blown away by seeing how the default airport looks like and what you miss when you decide not to buy FlyTampa’s Heraklion.
The Surrounding Area
As seen on the previous screenshot, the FlyTampa Heraklion package offers a lot more then just the airport with adjacent area. It comes with a huge area of ortho textures, nearby villages and the city of Heraklion and the belonging industrial area with the harbor. Not sure what the quality is of the ortho textures – ZL (Zoom Level) 16 or 17 – but keeping the overall size of the package in mind, I think it will be ZL16. For IFR this is quite normal to use. It gives a realistic look and that’s what we want.
Although the blending with the default X-Plane textures is well done, you always see where FlyTampa Heraklion textures end. But at some places it is not easy to see, at other places it’s very easy because for example due to vegetation which is visible at the FlyTampa ground textures and not at the default tile. But overall it’s a large area that is included and yes, of course who doesn’t, it was awesome when the whole island was covered with FlyTampa ortho textures, but it isn’t.
Besides that the city of Heraklion and nearby suburbs are included as well as the harbor. Already mentioned before, you’ll also find a modeled industrial area, the local harbor, the local fisher market, and some stadiums. If all the houses I see downtown are as real as it should be, is something I can’t say, but I have a bit my doubts. I got the idea that many objects are basic objects except of course for the dedicated Heraklion objects.
Do all those autogen objects and dedicated FlyTampa modeled objects decrease the frame rates? For sure they will reduce the amount of frame rates, but I have my sliders set quite high and must say that together with the Toliss A319 or the Flight Factor A320 Ultimate loaded, I’m still having reasonable frame rates. So there’s not so much to complaint about.
Last thoughts LGIR
FlyTampa Heraklion is tested with X-Plane 11.41r1 and of course the latest version of Heraklion. I mentioned in the beginning something about ortho textures from Zones Photo, but that wasn’t a success. This was due to the different and wrong colours of the different texture packages. Perhaps worth to bring to your attention is the dedicated FlyTampa Heraklion forum. It’s not much but discussions started about the Ortho4XP compatibility and X-Europe compatibility.
Approaching Thessaloniki LGTS
Thessaloniki Airport (ICAO LGTS), officially Thessaloniki Airport “Makedonia” and formerly Mikra Airport, is an international airport serving Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece. It is located 13 km (8.1 mi) southeast of the city.
The airport is the third-largest airport in the country after Athens International Airport and Heraklion International Airport. It opened in 1930 and was the second-busiest airport in Greece in terms of flights served and the third-busiest in terms of passengers served in 2016, with over 6 million passengers. It is the main airport of Northern Greece and apart from the city of Thessaloniki it also serves the popular tourist destination of Chalkidiki and the surrounding cities of Central Macedonia. The Athens–Thessaloniki route is the tenth busiest in the EU with 1.8 million passengers. To cope with demand, a second terminal is currently under construction as part of a billion-euro investment by Fraport Greece, the company which operates the airport. (courtesy of Wikipedia)
When you approach LGTS you hardly believe this airport is the third is row and that Heraklion is the second largest. One of the reasons I bring this up is because Thessaloniki has two runway of roughly the same length (16/34 and 10/28) and runways 10 and 16 have ILS CAT-I. Ok, it’s not really something for bad weather conditions, but it does have ILS while we’ve seen that Heraklion has no ILS till the new airport is finished. Then Heraklion also has ILS.
Anyway, the airport is well modeled and then in particular the passenger terminal, the apron and the area filling up around the taxiways and runways. It’s quite a clean airport as it is modeled, but it’s representing the real LGTS. By the way; in case you’re looking for charts, check out this official Greece link. Lets check it out, right?
Thessaloniki Apron Overview
What previously said, the passenger terminal is gorgeous although this is just a part of the modeled airport. I can’t say anything else then that the terminal is modeled with so much love, with some much precision and eye for all small details that are implemented. The same as we’ve seen at Heraklion, the passenger terminal has no jetways. Aircraft are parked at the good looking apron, connected to an extensive taxiway system. When you use World Traffic 3, you need to generate the ground routes and parking definitions yourself since it’s not included in the package. Not a lot of work, but I sincerely hope that FlyTampa will include these WT3 files or X-Life files in their future package updates, if there are any updates planned!
Anyway, without any AI WT3 or X-Life aircraft or the recent released Just Flight Traffic Global which is of this writing only for Windows OS, the apron and the airport looks a bit empty, so something is needed and static aircraft isn’t really good option in my humble opinion.
Besides a couple of other buildings, a small hangar and some offices at the airport, the passenger terminal can’t be missed. I’ts not a big building, but what said before, it’s modeled with so many tiny details and this is also applicable for the public side of the terminal building. Nearby the terminal, FlyTampa modeled many static and animated objects like stairs, passenger buses, trucks, baggage carts, airport authority cars and so on.
I also spot, I think it’s Russian, a static aircraft nearby at the northwest apron. And of course, I can’t miss the control tower. It’s not a big tower, and there’s also no need for due to the open almost unlimited view over the airport, but the tower is modeled with eye for details. What we also saw at Heraklion is the weathered look and feel of most objects. Nothing you see is clean. It’s dirty and paint on the objects wherever applicable, is weathered. Well done!
East of the passenger terminal the apron continues. Not that it is all for parked aircraft, but in case of busy hours, it is possible. But actually, the extended apron is for the well modeled cargo terminal although “a terminal” is a big word. A bit further to the east there’s a hangar with a static Hercules aircraft parked in front of it. Not 100 percent sure, but I think the hangar belongs to Olympic Aviation. At the opposite of this apron is another apron which is officially according to the papers for military use. Could be, but it is now filled with four static firefighting airplanes and a Douglas DC-3. And that’s it! Ok, at the airport near the passenger terminal apron I see the airport navigation equipment, but much more then this isn’t modeled since there’s nothing more to see.
When you read all of this you might think “it’s not much, it’s doesn’t offer much airport for its money, but no, that’s not the case. The airport is as it is. I checked with a couple of real photos and the airport is correctly modeled. The design of having no jetways or other terminal extensions give it a “clean” and “open” structure.
The ground textures, signs, lights and so on are basically the same for Heraklion and Thessaloniki. Everything and then I mean the ground textures within the airport fences are sharp. Ok, I have seen sharper tiles, but it’s ok. And, although it’s not easy to check this, at all points where you expect signs to indicate the right taxiway, or runway entrance or limitations, all are there so it looks like that’s OK.
Oops, almost forgotten .. the military bunkers. Not sure if it are bunkers, but along both sides of runway 10 I see many bunkers including on the right side also a military hangar. Since all doors are closed, I can’t see what’s in. Perhaps nothing, perhaps a fighter, but I doubt that.
Even further forward of holding point runway 10 is a kind of airport extension may be? When I look to the ground textures it could be an extension for bigger, larger and heavier aircraft. The overall ground textures suggests that hardly any green grass can grow here since all the textures are sandy coloured or even worse, a bit brown. I can imagine that in this climate grass doesn’t has a change to survive.
Driving to Thessaloniki Airport
It looks to me that the Thessaloniki airport was build somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Like Heraklion, that’s pretty close to the city, but with Thessaloniki it isn’t. The city is far away, and it seems that all has been build with the idea to make it even bigger or to increase the amount of arrivals and departures. As it is now and as it is modeled, the public side of the airport is very clean, but not really filled with lots of buildings, or nearby supermarkets. What you see at the public side is, yes again, the beautifully shaped terminal building, but also the car parking places.
Driving from the main road to Thessaloniki to the airport is a road, but a bit blurry, the same as I’ve seen around Heraklion. Along the road to the passenger terminal I pass the car return of the major rental companies like AVIS, Hertz and Sixt. Besides that, I pass a lot of trees, own FlyTampa trees. They look nice and perhaps worth to highlight else I forget it, I did install nothing else then only the Heraklion and Thessaloniki packages.
Lucky that the signs along the road are not only in Greece, but also in English else I’d got no idea where to look for. Almost nearby the passenger terminal I can park my car every where. Ok, I need to follow the signs to go to “this or that” car parking, but there’s enough place.
The last part I need to walk to the passenger terminal and needles to say … awesome. I did mention this before for the apron side, but for the public side it’s the same. Very well modeled terminal with many many tiny details. Before checking in, I take a cup of coffee at the “flocafe”.
Visiting the city of Thessaloniki and Others
Driving from the airport towards Thessaloniki, you see a lot of things. The drive isn’t boring at all. Not far from the airport you pass a large IKEA complex, McDonals and InterSport shop. The ground texture are as expected not really impressive, but on the other hand, it’s not fair either. These ground textures are OK when approaching or departing the airport. Then they are sharp enough.
As you see often and the same with Thessaloniki, I see some floating houses so there’s perhaps something wrong with the mesh – only mesh that’s installed for this review is that of Thessaloniki – and I’m also not sure of all the houses I see are typical Greece houses for this area. I think it’s the autogen that fills up to give Thessaloniki a city look.
While driving thru the streets of Thessaloniki, you and I will see once and a while FlyTampa modeled 3D objects like churches, stadiums, a park near the boulevard with some old historical objects and much more. I never knew that Thessaloniki is such a big city. Now I know!
You probably won’t walk thru the whole city, but it’s good that it’s modeled with such effort since approaching or departing from LGTS it gives a great look down there and don’t forget, it’s not only that the city of Thessaloniki is included, it are also the ortho ground textures that complete it.
And finally I reach the border of Thessaloniki FlyTampa land textures. I’m now near the harbor which is completely modeled, but I’m also reaching the outskirts of Thessaloniki and this means that the ortho ground textures are no longer applied and I’m back in default X-Plane land.
When I started thinking about this review and how to pack it all together, I thought it would be easy to connect these two airports with their scenery together, but while writing, I found out that this wasn’t as easy as expected. At the end, I think I’ve seen enough to write about all the ins and outs of these FlyTampa airports.
Of course, I had hoped that FlyTampa could have included all the ortho textures for Heraklion, but I’m also aware that this would be then a huge package. For Thessaloniki is isn’t possible since that’s a part of the Greece mainland. But still, FlyTampa includes a lot more ortho textures then most other scenery developers.
Although not included in the package or added to the Acrobat documents, from the FlyTampa website you can download all the necessary charts for your departure, arrival and parking position. What I noticed and mentioned before are the slightly blurry ortho ground textures outside of the airport. This is something that’s seen with other scenery developers too, so not really surprising. But it would be an idea if FlyTampa plans an update for both Heraklion and Thessaloniki to add World Traffic 3 and X-Life support. At the moment I’m using only WT3 and this means that I need to generate the necessary WT3 files by myself.
Overall it was nice to check these two Greece airports. As of this writing January 2020, Heraklion and Thessaloniki both cost 22.00 USD. For Heraklion there’s an alternative from JustSim, but I don’t own that package so no idea which one is more realistic.
Angelique van Campen
|Add-on:||Payware FlyTampa LGIR and LGTS|
|Publisher | Developer:||X-Plane.Org | FlyTampa|
|Description:||Realistic rendition of the airport LGIR and LGTS|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately Heraklion 2.3GB (unzipped)|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately Thessaloniki 3.5GB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Angelique van Campen|
|Published:||January 27th 2020|
|Hardware specifications:||- iMac Pro|
|- Intel 3GHz Intel Xeon W / 4.5Ghz|
|- Radeon Pro Vega 64 16368 MB|
|- 64 GB 2666 MHz DDR4|
|- 1 internal 1TB SSD (Catalina 10.15.2)|
|- Saitek Pro Flight System X-52 Pro and X-56 Rhino|
|Software specifications:||- Catalina (10.15.2)|
|- X-Plane 11.41r1|