KPVC “To Boston – 20 Minutes by Air”
In March 2019, Jim Wright, known better as “RILockGuy” on the X-Plane.org forums, posted an airport to the download section on X-Plane.org. That airport was 1B6 – Hopedale Industrial Park. This airport is small and simple, owned by an Industrial Park, and near and dear to me as I used to drive by it on an almost daily basis. On one of those occasions, a plane left the runway, cleared the fence by the road, and flew over my head as I traversed that road.
Since the release of this airport, I have collected several RILockGuy freeware airports and have watched the progression from library constructed airports to ones that included more custom objects. With the release of Barnstable Municipal, I wondered how long it would take for his commercial quality projects to find a home at the X-Plane.org store.
Well, the answer to that question has been answered with his release of Provincetown Municipal Airport under the moniker Ocean State Sceneries.
When I asked Jim what prompted him to make the leap from freeware to commercial development, he told me that “Over time, more and more of the objects in my sceneries were custom, until almost all of them were of my own design — something which, for me, was just a better way to get closer to reality. A “beta-tester” that I relied on to give first reviews (who has since become a good friend), and a fellow New England scenery designer (also a good friend), urged me to think about releasing a payware scenery…”
A Tiny Bit of History
In 1692, Plymouth Colony was incorporated into the Province of Massachusetts Bay including their area on Cape Cod that had been purchased from the Nauset people and “assigned to the Collonies use for ffishing Improvements”.
This area became known as the Province Lands where the establishment of private properties continued even though it was state-owned land. Provincetown was carved out of this public land in 1727 and was incorporated as a town in 1797. The Statutes of 1893, Chapter 470 finally codified the reality of the land ownership and split Provincetown from the 3200-acre area north and west of town which remained Province Lands.
From this land, 322 acres were taken to allow for the 1947 construction of the Provincetown Municipal Airport that saw its first scheduled flights to Boston begin in 1949 when John C. Van Arsdale began flying Cessna Bobcats to the city and back. Arsdale, a frequent pilot for the Kennedys, managed the airport, held the air-mail contract for Provincetown, and conducted sightseeing flights using a 1930 Stinson Detroiter.
From these beginnings arose Provincetown-Boston Airline that emerged from Van Arsdale’s Cape Cod Flying Service. The layout of the taxiways at KPVC was designed to accommodate the turning radius of a DC-3 which was the most notable plane in the PBA fleet. Today, the taxiways have been reworked but the grasses around the mid-connector and west-end taxiways still show the jug handle formation of the original taxiways.
On August 7, 1961, President John F. Kennedy signed the Cape Cod National Seashore bill that established the National Park that was dedicated in May,1966. This action made Provincetown Municipal Airport one of two airports located on National Park lands.
The other is Jackson Hole in Wyoming. The land is federally owned, leased to the Town of Provincetown who owns the airport, and the airport facilities are leased to Cape Air who manages daily operations, provides FBO services for general aviation, and conducts the only year-round scheduled flights. Tailwind provides seasonal flights from Provincetown to their own seaplane port on Boston Harbor.
The overall management and oversight of the airport is the responsibility of the Provincetown Airport Commission.
Installation is a simple matter of unzipping the downloaded file into your X-Plane custom scenery folder and double checking your scenery_packs.ini for the correct order. The folder also contains a PDF file entitled ReadMe that contains airport information and airport information and approach charts.
If you wish to experience the scenery as the developer envisioned it, you will need to create your own orthophotos or download them from Verticalsim. You should be aware that the Verticalsim photos are a lower resolution and may not provide the results you would like. You will also need to install SimHeaven’s X-World America scenery. This is found here.
This is the method I am using to review the scenery and is what you will see in the included screenshots. When he was asked about this, the developer stated “I went back and forth on this, actually. I tried to use textures that would do it justice but couldn’t get it right.
KPVC is out in the sand dunes and saltmarshes on the very tip of Cape Cod, and nothing captured the right feel. Orthos are the best way to get the idea of approaching over the dunes, but, like I said, they are not for everyone. It was very difficult to get the surrounding terrain exactly right, so I left it for everyone to decide on their own.”
To help you decide, here is the airport with the default X-Plane ground textures:
Here, KPVC sits atop the dunes and marshes provided by orthos and surrounded by X-World America scenery.
Provincetown Municipal Airport’s airside facilities include a single, 3502-foot, runway designated Rwy 7/25, with accompanying taxiways and aircraft parking aprons. The airport also has an approach lighting system for runway 7, navigational aids, and an Automated Weather Observation Station.
According to the published charts, runway 7 features High Intensity Runway Lights (HIRL), Medium-intensity Approach Lighting System (MALSF) and Precision Approach Path Indicator lighting on the right side (PAPI-R) of the runway. Runway 25 features HIRL, Runway Edge Indicator Lights (REIL), and PAPI-L (left side of the runway) lighting. A windsock is located within a segmented circle between the runway and taxiway alpha towards the eastern end of the runway.
A survey of our current scenery reveals that all these lighting details have been accurately captured and portrayed. A nice touch of detailed modeling includes the boardwalk upon which the MALSF lights are installed to prevent them sinking into the marshy land around the airport and allow the maintenance crews to access them.
The lights are significantly bright during the dark hours and are easily followed to the threshold. The high intensity runway lights clearly mark the edge of the runway and the very visible runway end indicator lights will not let you miss that touchdown target as long as you are on the proper descent angle as indicated by the precision approach lights.
The tarmac all this lighting directs you to is finished with default Laminar surface textures where the developer appears to have selected the best options available to match the real-world airport as closely as possible. The benefit of using this approach is that if you choose to use any third-party packages that modify the default textures, they will work on the KPVC tarmac. Line markings and ground numbers are clear and accurately placed. Directional signs are well done and appear where they are supposed to.
This also means that the new weather effects of X-Plane 12 will appear as intended by Laminar. There is an ongoing joke about the reality of snowfall on Cape Cod but, that aside, Provincetown does accumulate an average annual snowfall of twenty inches. What I would not expect to see would be deep snow cover at the airport.
For some unknown reason, the airport vicinity contains two NDB beacons. One is accurately placed and the other is erroneous. These placements are controlled by Laminar and not the scenery designer. However, OSS has done a nice job of aligning the access road with the correct installation.
The airport’s landside facilities feature a 4800-square-foot terminal building that was reconstructed in 1998, an aircraft hangar, an equipment garage for firefighting and snow removal equipment and ground support facilities. The Michael A. Leger Memorial Sightseeing Shack is also found at the airport, and this may have been the airport’s original terminal.
Apparently, the team that ran Race Point Aviation from the Shack no longer exists which would explain the removal of “Sightseeing Tours” from the airport entry sign. (The white rectangle at the bottom right of the sign in the opening photo.)
One of the things the developer is known for in his freeware scenery packages is his thorough coverage of details. In this respect, KPVC does not disappoint. As he explained it to me, “I have a big desire to make everything incredibly accurate, down to tiny details no one would ever see, and it became too much.
If I modeled that window, then I should model the security camera next to it, then the conduit, then the junction box, then the… It became never-ending. Oh, that park bench has a broken slat? Well, actually I ended up including that and if you look close enough at the bench near the little cottage you can find that broken slat….” Yes, it is there. As is the propellor on the wall.
Then there is the porch with its beat-up floor, worn lumber railing and chairs, the weathered shingles, tiled roof, and the hand drawn sign. This cottage is the Michael A. Leger Sightseeing Shack, which is why it looks a bit unused. It is also a consummate Cape Cod structure and with the ocean wind you can hear and see blowing the animated trees around, I can practically smell the marshes and the land where it meets the sea.
As long as we’re here and ogling the Shack, let’s complete this area with a look at the surrounding features. This is entirely about the detail and the tireless effort to get everything looking as properly as possible. Signs are realistic, accurately placed, and very legible. The antenna placement behind the cottage is perfectly represented in all its complexity and includes the “Danger” sign on the gate.
The picnic area next to the cottage is very inviting with the rail fence adding the Cape Cod charm. Back in front of the building, the signage, concrete barrier, and cones provide details that complete the area. Not to be overlooked is the night lighting for this area that is spot on.
Since I’ve already covered the largest of the airport antennas, allow me to provide you with a view of the details included in the other ones found at KPVC including the ones found on the terminal roof and the airport weather station found net to the segmented circle. I’m also including here the airport beacon that is mounted atop a light fixture in the parking lot. All of these are meticulously constructed and accurately placed.
Not to be overlooked are the custom-made mobile office and the fuel area. While the fuel equipment are standard Laminar fixtures, the fencing is more of OSS’s custom façade with some incredible detail. Given that this is one of the airport’s ramp starts, it is nice that there is some worthwhile eye candy here.
Bypassing the terminal for the moment, we turn our attention to the equipment garage. Not to be outdone by the Shack, the garage area features plenty of detail to help create the sense of an active airport. The building itself features light fixtures, security cameras, and a detailed stone foundation. The yard is occupied by vehicles, lawn mowers, and other sundry items. Outside the gate, a cherry picker sits in wait. It doesn’t seem like the developer could include much else here without running the risk of overloading the area.
Having surveyed the outbuildings, we now arrive at the terminal and its adjacent hangar. With regards to the hangar, there is not much to say other than it is well represented with about as much detail as any hangar can have. The HVAC unit and entry door are nice, detailed touches. The night lighting seems accurate.
The terminal itself is, based upon photographic evidence, a faithful reproduction of the actual building and includes many immersion enhancing details beginning with the use of hinted interior items in the windows and doors. Another nice detail is the open supply garage with the picnic table and cones stashed within.
Once again, since this is an OSS scenery, we must talk about details, and there are many. At the apron entrance, the columns, railings, lattice work, and ground markings are flawless. Look up and you will find a functional anemometer spinning away in the ocean breezes. Apron side night lighting is very satisfying.
We have been touring the airport from the arriving pilot’s point of view which means we end up seeing the best part of the airport last. That part is the front of the terminal where details continue to add so much to the sense of reality that pervades this scenery package.
There is so much that I am going to let the pictures do the talking where you will see a gate in need of repair, a bicycle with tires bearing a brand label, a courtyard with an armillary sundial, benches with intricate mesh work, signage, and extremely effective night lighting.
After that tour, I’m ready to have a seat in that courtyard and grab a rest before leaving the airport. Why leave the airport, you ask? Well, very unexpectedly for a scenery package at this price point, we are going to find so much more around the airport that is very much worth the time it will take to see it. So, grab a sun hat, your sunscreen, and a cold drink. We are going to the seashore!
Race Point at The Cape Cod National Seashore
The Cape Cod National Seashore stretches for a distance of about 40 miles and includes over 40,000 acres of land from Chatham to Long Point at the tip of the Cape beyond Provincetown.
Race Point is located at the northernmost point of the Cape where it lies between the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay. Within the relatively short distance from Race Point to Long Point are three lighthouses: Race Point, Wood End, and Long Point lights. They mark the treacherous waters of the Cape shoals where hundreds of shipwrecks have occurred. According to the National Park Service, about 3000 shipwrecks have been recorded along the National Seashore.
So how do lighthouses find their way into airport scenery? Well, in some ways, it’s more like the airport found its way into the lighthouse scenery. Here’s Jim’s response when I asked him how he chose KPVC to be his first commercial airport:
“I was looking around for another airport in southern New England to model. At the same time, I was getting frustrated that all the lighthouses seemed to blink white and all at the same exact time (I was using SimHeaven add-ons). I grew up in CT down by the Long Island Sound and have been around the water and boats all of my life.”
“My father grew up on an island and when he was little, wouldn’t go to sleep until the Great Captain’s Island light came on. We long-time Yankees know that not all lighthouses are white, and not all lighthouses blink the same. I started to think about how I could help how X-Plane modeled local lighthouses.”
“At one point, I seem to remember flying in on the approach to KPVC (in X-Plane – I’m not a real pilot) and seeing the lighthouse. Everything started to click together. I thought that, not only would I model KPVC as my next airport, but all the lighthouses around the area on Cape Cod. I took up the challenge and started work!”
Race Point Beach
Well, I guess it’s on to the lighthouses but first, we’re going to stop by Race Point Beach where you need to get the sand permit to drive your four-wheel drive vehicle across the sand to the lighthouse. It is either that or walk 2 miles down the beach. All roads to the lighthouse begin at the beach.
Departing the parking lot on one side will take you to the beach, showers, and the Old Harbor Life Saving Station Museum. And, yes, once again we are talking about details. Note the beach access sign and the restroom icons. Also, some doors are open, and some are closed.
The museum is accessed by a sandy path that is outlined with a wooden rail fence. The lumber door is complete with cross braces and the clapboard siding texture is precise and accurate.
Depart the parking area on the other side and you will find the Ranger Station, the Oversand Station where we will get our permit, and a couple of small out buildings. All the buildings are meticulously created with all the aforementioned detail.
Race Point Lighthouse
After procuring our permit, we drive across the sand to the Race Point Lighthouse that was originally sited here in the late 1800s. It has, as many lighthouses do, quite a history and has been rebuilt and refurbished over the years.
Today, it is functional, serves as a tourist destination, and has accommodations in both the Keeper’s House and the Whistle House, both of which are featured in the scenery, that can be reserved for overnight stays. You will find the details continue here and include an anchor and capstans as well as the sign on the oil house door. Oh, did I mention that the lighthouse is fully functional with a light color and timing that matches the published charts?
Now we head up the beach to Long Point and stop at the Wood End light on the way. The Wood End light includes an oil shed and a properly timed, functioning, red beacon.
Finally, we arrive at the very end of Cape Cod when we see the Long Point Light Station with its oil shed and properly timed green beacon. This beacon is not as bright as the other two and I’m not sure why.
Driving back around towards Race Point, we can pick up the main road at Herring Cove Beach and head into Provincetown where we can catch sight of the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum.
Departing Provincetown, we head back to the airport and our day’s ventures come to a close.
Provincetown Municipal Airport. One of only two in the country located on Federally preserved land. One runway, a small terminal, and a couple of out buildings. One year-round operator offering twenty-minute flights to Boston’s Logan Airport. As far as airports go, it certainly doesn’t seem like a whole lot.
However, Provincetown and the Cape Cod National Seashore are so much more than just the airport and Ocean State Sceneries appears to be very much aware of that. As we have heard from him, his interest in the airport began with its surroundings.
Surroundings may be interesting while flying but airport operations don’t happen off airport. If I’m going to make an airport a destination or a base of operations, I want that airport to provide me with enough visual accuracy and detail that it encourages me to feel like I am there.
After all, we can discuss immersion in a simulation environment all day, but it doesn’t happen unless the visuals are there no matter how good other aspects might be. Ocean State Sceneries’ Provincetown Municipal Airport goes overboard with the visual detail necessary to create a realistic small airport environment.
Does that mean it is perfect for everyone?
Well, no, it doesn’t. KPVC focuses on detail and accuracy to create a sense of reality. It does not have a lot of “extras” like the modeled interior of the terminal, animated vehicles, or people models which may be seen as negatives by some. However, the biggest problem with KPVC is this little gem of an airport loses a lot when it is dropped on top of the X-Plane default terrain because that terrain just can’t capture the nuances of the Cape Cod seashore.
As the developer states in the store description of the scenery, the approach over the dunes adds to the flying excitement at KPVC. While he is correct in that the use of satellite imagery in X-Plane does have both proponents and opponents, it would seem prudent to include the imagery and provide a means for the buyer to use it or not use it as they see fit.
The flip side of that coin is it would likely increase the cost of the package and have some people paying for something they will never use. Which way is the correct way? Like everything else, it comes down to a matter of choice. Fortunately, for most that desire it, decent orthoscenery is relatively easy to come buy especially if you take advantage of the link provided elsewhere in this review.
Ultimately, I found myself spending a lot of time at KPVC while doing this review and it is an airport I will return to time and again. The charm and character of the New England seashore pervade the scenery and the nuances of a small airport are elegantly captured. While the area does benefit from satellite imagery, the developer’s choice to add the features of Race Point beach and lighthouse does help to bring the seashore to the X-Plane default terrain.
The VFR landmarks of the two additional lighthouses, various channel markers, the breakwater, and the Pilgrim Monument add to the overall value of the project. If you choose to add satellite imagery and X-World scenery to experience the airport as the developer envisioned it, you will simply add something incredible to an airport that is already amazing.
When discussing the package and his future plans with the developer, he offered this perspective of his own project:
“I am happy with KPVC, although I know there is room for improvement. …things like cars and trucks are a little harder for me to build and texture. I ask all of you to give me a little leeway and a little patience. I sincerely want to improve on this. Also, I am not a real pilot or in any way connected with aviation. I can count on two hands the times I have flown, and on one hand the number of times in a small plane. I have had to learn so much about
airports and the buildings and antennas and out-buildings and markings and everything else, just to get halfway decent at this, and I am still learning with every single object I model. Please, bear with me! I hope that in the end it will be worth it!”
Jim, I think we’re happy with it too, and look forward to where your skills and talents will take you from here.
Until next time, cheers and blue skies.
|Add-on:||Payware Provincetown Municipal Airport|
|Publisher | Developer:||X-Plane.Org | Ocean State Sceneries|
|Description:||Highly realistic representation of Provincetown Municipal Airport|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 453MB (download)|
|Reviewed by:||Paul Beckwith|
|Published:||August 27th 2023|
|Hardware specifications:||- Ryzen 9 5950X CPU @ 3.40GHz
- 64 GB DDR4 3200MHz RAM
- Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 10 GB GDDR6X
- Honeycomb Alpha Yoke
- Honeycomb Bravo Quadrant
- CH Products Pedals
|Software specifications:||- Windows 11
- X-Plane 12.05