Welcome to Maps2XPlane Faroe Islands
Where Sheep Outnumber People
Adrift in the North Atlantic Ocean, some 320 km. north-northwest of the United Kingdom, and about halfway between Scotland and Iceland, lies the Faroes. The archipelago is comprised of eighteen major islands and many islets and skerries. Lítla Dímun, the less-than-a-square-kilometer smallest major island, remains uninhabited. The land area totals 1399 square kilometers of mountainous island geography while the sea area encompasses about 274,000 square kilometers.
The Faroes are an autonomous territory of the Kingdom of Denmark and home, according to the Faroe Islands web site, to 80,000 sheep and 55,000 people. This seems appropriate given the name of the islands, Føroyar, means “Sheep Islands” in the old Norse language of the Viking age Norsemen settlers. Eighty five percent of the population is connected by roadway with forty percent of the population living in Tórshavn, the capital of the islands located on the coast of Streymoy.
Residents on the more remote islands are connected by government subsidized helicopter service. Due to the subsidy, the transport is mostly reserved for residents and sightseeing trips are provided by other sources.
The islands are a self-governing nation with autonomy in foreign relations. Although Denmark is a member of the European Union, the Faroes are not. According to the Government website the main industries are fishing and aquaculture, shipping and offshore services, tourism and prospects for petroleum in Faroese area. Surprisingly, perhaps, sheep are not included in the list though they are a staple in the native diet and the wool is utilized for knitted clothing.
The Faroes climate is driven by their location at the doorstep of the Arctic where the cold waters meet with the warm Gulf Stream. The resulting variance of winds and currents, combined with the different altitudes found in the islands generates an unpredictability in the harsh weather of the islands. It is not impossible to experience the weather of all four seasons in one day with rain and snow giving way to sun. Temperatures will run between an average 12° C in the summer and 3°C in the winter.
Geographically, the islands are of volcanic origin and remain rugged and rocky with little terrestrial life forms but plentiful with seabirds and fish. The highest mountain, at 880 meters above sea level, is Slættaratindur on the northern part of Eysturoy between Funningur and Eiði. Also notable are the coastal cliffs that reach three to four hundred meters over the water. The highest is Enniberg at 754 meters directly up from the ocean. It is located on the island of Viðoy and ranks as one of the highest promontories in the world. It is also the northernmost point of the Faroe Islands.
Installation and Documentation
Installation is straightforward utilizing the Aerosoft One utility. Once the purchase is added to your account, the utility will install the package into either your Custom Scenery folder or a Library folder that you can specify outside of the X-Plane 12 installation folder. In this case, shortcuts to the scenery files are added to the Custom Scenery folder.
Maps2XPlane has provided an optional custom installation module that will update the X-Plane map with more detail of the islands than is present by default. The instructions for doing this are found in the package manual that is located in the folder Faroes4XPlane – Addition.
According to the description provided by Aerosoft, Faroe Islands XP features a “Realistic recreation of the complete Faroe Islands with an area of about 1.400 square km. High resolution terrain mesh with various texture sets for a seasonal representation. Customized local terrain details, e.g. realistically sloped runway at the Vágar Airport. Detailed rendition of the Vágar Airport and the eight helipads spread over the archipelago.
Faroese themed autogen, navigation obstacles and dynamic traffic on the islands
Hundreds of custom objects with PBR materials, 3D vegetation, night lighting”
Maps2Xplane is very well known in the X-Plane world for projects built on custom mesh development and we will be looking for the recreation of some of the major landmarks found in the islands, two of which have already been mentioned. The airport and helipads have been modeled by Albert Ràfols who collaborated with Maps2Xplane on other projects including the Leeward Islands that you can find reviewed here at X-plained.com.
Vágar (Bight Island)
Vágar is the first stop on our tour of the Faroes as it is the home of the Vágar airport, the only airport within the archipelago. Vágar is the third largest and most westerly of the large islands and contributes 178 square kilometers to the Faroes’ land space.
Aside from being the home of the singular island airport, Vágar is noteworthy for its resemblance of a dog’s head on maps and from an altitude that not many aircraft can reach.
In 1963, Vágar airport transitioned from a World-War-II era airfield to a civil aviation airport following a modernization of the runway and other facilities. The Danish Civil Aviation Administration oversaw the airport as it grew from servicing only propellor driven aircraft to the onset of jet aircraft traffic in 1977.
In April, 2007, the airport came under Faroese control and is currently administered by Vágar Airport, Ltd.. It is the home of Atlantic Airways, the national airline of the Faroe Islands. The airline operates international passenger services, domestic helicopter service, and has search and rescue responsibilities for the islands.
The current terminal was inaugurated on the 17th of June 2014 and, in 2019, the airport exceeded the 400,000 passengers per year the terminal was designed for. So, as we approach the airport from the ground, the large number of automobiles in the parking lot does not seem unreasonable. The current configuration of the parking lot and the roads was done in 2017 when the pedestrian tunnels were also added.
The terminal itself is home to passenger services as well as several businesses as evidenced by the detailed signage over various entryways along the well-constructed and textured external walls of the building. The angles and joins are accomplished without blemish and the sweep of the terminal entrance roof is a demonstration of precision in modeling.
An interesting feature of the Faroes Island XP package is the seasonal textures that change based on the date you set in the sim. While perhaps not as obvious in XP 12 because of the native seasonal effects, they can be seen here at the terminal as the roof becomes snow covered in the winter. According to the developer, the XP weather effects that are controlled by the runway conditions set in the weather settings overlap their seasonal terrain textures that are controlled by the day of the year.
Here is an example of the Faroe textures only and then the Faroe textures combined with XP weather effects.
Continuing the survey of the terminal and moving in for a closer look reveals a large number of varied shapes, textures, and colors used in bringing the details of construction to life. The surface textures that are complemented very favorably by the new X-Plane lighting environment. The one curiosity that arises here, and repeats elsewhere, is the appearance of “wet” textures. The developers have plans to address this issue that arises from some textures used in XP 11 being brought into XP 12.
At the end of the old section of the terminal, there is a small site office that, if you look closely, will find is occupied by our scenery developers.
Moving away from the terminal, the remaining major airport structures include the control tower and the Atlantic Airways hangar. There are also a handful of ancillary buildings and minor structures. We’ll start with the tower area where an interconnected series of buildings shows off a variety of textures and colors no less than the main terminal. The squat and heavy design of the tower structure certainly looks like something that was designed to resist potentially extreme weather conditions. Minor drawbacks include the perpetually wet roof and the lack of a door at the top of the outside stair spiral.
Across the way is the large Atlantic Airways hangar and garage. The bright yellow of the hangar door is an excellent example of how X-Plane’s ambient lighting can alter the appearance of an object. Unfortunately, we also have a perpetually wet roof on this structure detracting from the interplay of texture and color effect created by the contrast of the white logo on the dark roof. The architectural details of the structure serve as continued exemplars of the fine work prevalent in this project.
The developer’s focus on creating an environment as real as possible is captured in the inclusion of a number of minor structures that support the functions of the airport including fuel tanks, light fixtures, storage sheds, and the like. The skilled modeling capabilities are no less on display here than on the major structures we’ve already reviewed.
Beyond the buildings around the tarmac is the tarmac itself. Runway 12/30 is 5902’ in length. Runway 30 has an elevation of 235’ while Runway 12 has an elevation of 264’. The airport elevation is listed as 280’. Both runways are equipped with HIRL, CL, HIALS, and PAPI lighting. Runway 12 has three flashing lights that begin at 2526’ from the threshold and end at the beginning of the HIALS.
The Faroes Islands XP runway flashing lights on runway 12 run into the first two HIALS towers so you need to be aware of that on your approach. Also, runway 30 is equipped with flashing lights not documented on the most recent Jeppesen charts but they do exist. The slope of the runway is accurate and can be deceiving on approach leading to floating over the landing zone and touching down late or having to go around.
The textures of the tarmac are very well done, and the varying types of surfaces are seamlessly merged. Taxi lines and parking markers are very clear and legible, making it easy to acclimate to the airport. Helicopter landing areas get the same detailed treatment which is appropriate given the importance of helicopter travel in the islands.
What we see on the island of Vágar is exemplary of what we will see on every island in the Faroe Islands XP scenery package. The most noticeable feature is the developer’s choice to forgo the use of orthoimagery as part of the package and, instead, use their own custom ground textures.
If you are at all familiar with Maps2XPlane, you ‘ll know that their predilection is to create a simulation experience that accurately captures the spirit of the environment they are creating. This is done, at times, by sacrificing things that would factually duplicate the real world and, in some cases, adding things that do not exist in reality. In the case of the Faroe textures, you will find there are four distinct seasonal textures that are possible since they are not stuck with “baked in” features of orthoimagery that cannot change other than covering it with snow.
Faroe grasses have four seasonal variations that include changeable amounts of snow cover that is independent of XP 12’s runway conditions setting. The importance of this increases when you realize there is not a plethora of trees to reflect seasons changing. Here we have Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn.
Here on Vágar, we also see the autogen and some of the features that are found throughout the islands. The autogen is themed to represent the style of structures found on the Faroe Islands. The developers are aware of the placement issues plaguing some of the buildings and are looking into how to best manage fixing the problem since it is a combination of mesh and placement considerations. The structures themselves are very well done and do capture the essence of the Faroes. Their properties interact very well with the new XP 12 environment in terms of a proper amount of shadow and light creating the depth of the structures.
The developers have also created some individual structures for buildings of note such as Sandavágs kirkja found in Sandavágur. Built in 1914, it is the oldest Faroese church that is both designed and built by Faroe Islanders.
The Faroes also include a number of ancillary structures that are found throughout. The first of these that appear in the harbor off the end of runway 30 are salmon farms. I have to admit, this one took me a little while to figure out! You can also see an example of the piers and docks that appear throughout. These are constructed with the native XP facades and have benefited from the XP 12 upgrade.
One parting observation about Vágar is it is connected to its neighbor, Streymoy by undersea tunnel. The Vágatunnilin is a 4940-meter undersea tunnel that was the first subsea tunnel in the Faroes and was designed to connect the airport to Tórshavn, the country’s capital city on Streymoy.
Our developers have not missed the entrances to that tunnel, and they can be found on either side of the Vestmannasund strait.
A Visual Survey of the Islands
What we have seen on Vágar is repeated throughout the 18-island archipelago. Rather than constantly repeating what has already been written, I’ve decided to take you on a visual tour of what you will find in this scenery package. There are a few considerations of things not seen on Vágar that will include additional comments.
Koltur and Hestur, southeast of Vágar. Koltur must be clearly visible for VMC take-off from runway 12 at Vágar.
Sandoy (Sand Island), the flattest, by Faroese standards, of the major islands. The main town is Sandur.
Skúvoy and the heliport EKSY found on the island. It is named after the large number of Great Skua found on the island. Skúvoy is the only settlement on the eastern coast. The 300 – 400 meter cliffs on the west are a favored breeding site for a number of birds. The island has been identified as an important Bird Area by BirdLife International.
Stóra Dímun is accessible only by sea during calm and clear weather. There is a helicopter service twice a week. The island has a single farm famed for turnips and sheepskin.
Lítla Dímun is the smallest of the main 18 islands and the only uninhabited one. Here is a good place to look at how the lighting plays off the amazing rock texture created by the developers.
Suðuroy (South Island) is the southernmost of the Faroe Islands and is the fourth largest in the archipelago. The only point further south is the archipelago called Flesjarnar which is not currently part of the Faroes scenery.
A view north from the lighthouse at Akraberg on the southern tip and finally, the EKFA helipad.
The following screenshots are as Paul describes a collection of his visual tour of what you will find in this scenery package. The screenshots are arranged in the same order as in the tex above.
And here we continue with part 2 of my 18-island archipelago tour. Mykines is the westernmost island of the 18 main islands comprising the Faroes. As with Koltur from runway 12, Mykines must be visible from runway 30 for VMC take-off. To the west of Mykines is the 1 km long islet of Mykineshólmur. The lighthouse was built in 1909 and a 40 m footbridge connects the islet to the island though that is not modeled here as well as the EKMS Mykines Village Helipad.
Streymoy (Island of Currents) is the main island of the Faroes and is connected to Vágar and Eysturoy via undersea automobile tunnels. Of course, we won’t be seeing that from the air but we will find plenty to see in the capital city of Tórshavn on Streymoy. It is here that we get to see several different custom buildings created by the developer, an example of one of the more complex sea fronts, and a view of more of the various ancillary structures they have created to add to the reality of the scenery.
Nòlosoy sits pretty isolated to the east of Streymoy and has the dubious distinction of protecting the capital of Tòrshavn from the worst of the ocean waves. At times waves will crash across Nòlsoy right next to the village which lies at the low point of the island.
Eysturoy (East Island) is the second largest island and the second most populous. It is connected to Streymoy via Eysturoyartunnilin, a 11.2 km undersea tunnel that features the world’s only undersea roundabout that allows the driver to connect with either Runavik or Strendur on Eysturoy.
Approaching Eysturoy from Streymoy presents you with a choice of flying to the left or right side of Skálafjørður. To the right is Toftir, part of the Nes municipality and home of Fríðrikskirkjan modeled by the developers. There are a few other unique structures to be found here but not so many in Strendur across the fjord. The interesting thing about Eysturoy is that it is the second most populous island in the Faroes but does not have a helipad or airport.
NORÐOYGGJAR (The North Islands)
Three of the six northern islands are connected by causeways whilst the other three can only be reached by boat or helicopter. The Northern Islands are known for their steep and high mountains. Of the ten highest peaks in the Faroe Islands, seven are found in this grouping. -Faroe Islands Official Tourist Guide
Kalsoy (Man Island) is known for the village of Mikladalur where wave break over the lifelike bronze statue of the Seal Woman. This legend became the basis for the movie “Ondine.” The village is the largest of the four on Kalsoy.
Kunoy (Woman Island) Approaching Kunoy is to approach a formidable sheer wall of basalt. It is home to two villages, but neither is apparent as you cross the sound from Kalsoy. On the other side of the island, you will find Haraldssund connected to Borðoy by one of the causeways.
Borðoy (Headland Island) Flying southwest from there, you encounter the Borðoy town of Klaksvik. Klaksvik is noted for the Christian church with the boat hanging from the ceiling and the Norðoya Fornminnasavn museum. The developers have provided a nice assortment of autogen to complement the church. Klaksvik is also the location of one of the eight helipads in the islands.
Svínoy (Swine Isle) is an isolated island in the north group that has no connection outside of helicopter or boat. One tourist guide goes so far as to say that simply getting here is a major achievement. It seems that rough weather and rough water are not uncommon here.
The first view of Svínoy from the air gives the impression of a flat surface jutting from the water with no advantageous place to tie a boat. The developers have certainly done their homework on the nature of the cliffs in the north islands. This view changes at the midpoint of the isle where the cliffs giver way to the valley of Svínoy where we find another of the eight heliports. This one is very simple without so much as a hut for passengers to warm themselves.
Fugloy (Bird Island). Speaking of simple, around the mountain is another simple helipad located at the village of Kirkja located on the easternmost island of the Faroes. This island is home to a large number of birds that nest on the island’s cliffs.
Vidoy (Wood Island) is connected to Borðoy via a causeway. Apparently, the name comes from the driftwood that floats into the island from Siberia and North America. What Vidoy does have is Enniberg, the highest cliff in the Faroe Islands and the second highest sea cliff in Europe. It is also the northernmost point in the Faroe Islands.
That concludes our survey of the extensive scenery package of the Faroe Islands XP.
Scenery developed for XP 12 no longer exists in a vacuum, so to speak. XP 12 has introduced new environmental factors that will have an effect, good or not so good, on the third-party development. Ambient lighting factors, direct lighting, changing weather and weather effects will either augment the scene or detract from it.
In the case of the Faroe Islands XP package, even though it has yet to become truly XP 12 native, the work of Maps2XPlane and Albert Ràfols benefits remarkably from its move into XP 12. The predominant benefit is the new water features within the simulator, but the texture work takes on new life in the updated environment as well. Shadows, highlights, and the changing light conditions as the amount of cloud cover changes and moves all serve to bring this package to life.
The above final screenshots to demonstrate the night lighting and the effect of XP 12 snow as well as the summer texture created by the developers since most of the screenshots you’ve seen were taken in early spring while some snow still covered the ground.
Faroe Islands XP has been in existence for quite some time. In a discussion with the developer, I realized that translated to over 5 years. Somehow this package never came to the attention of X-Plained.com for review at that time. It has now, however, and it may be that it was worth the wait because it has only benefited from being introduced into the new world of X-Plane 12.
As the developer’s stated, this was more of a compatibility fix than anything else. The bathysphere work of Laminar Research played havoc with many island scenery packages where the custom water work joined with the default water. The visual anomalies were bizarre to say the least. These have been corrected along with some animations that no longer worked.
While Faroe Islands XP is a tremendous piece of scenery, there is some work to be done and the developers are aware of it and looking at the best ways to complete it. Some things, by necessity, must wait upon some finalizations that need to be done by Laminar Research.
Other things are already undergoing revisions. As we’ve noted during the review, there are issues with textures that appear to be constantly wet. This is not unique to this package, but they are already looking at what needs to be done to correct this. They are also aware of some of the problems related to the autogen and are looking forward to taking the additional skills they have developed while doing packages that came after this one and applying them to the Faroes.
The Faroe Islands XP is an award-winning scenery, and it continues to demonstrate exactly why it merited that award. It is amazing as it is and the promise is that it is only going to get better. Exactly what that will look like is something we will have to patiently wait for while the developers continue to work on both new scenery packages and revisit old ones to provide compatibility fixes to bring those into XP 12.
Once that is done, I anticipate their mastering all the new possibilities that XP 12 has to offer and then skillfully applying them to their existing masterpieces. After all, we are talking about developers that have never seemed willing to accept things the way they are.
Faroe Island XP. Buy it. There are few packages that are as worth the asking price as this work by Maps2XPlane and Albert Ràfols is. You will not regret it especially if you are a fan of helicopter flying and challenging your landing skills. If you are an airliner pilot, the Faroes are an increasingly popular destination in and of themselves, and the airport at Vágar is sure to challenge your skills especially when the weather is less than cooperative.
They can also make a nice stop over for anyone traveling from Europe to Iceland or Greenland. And, for those of you who might be thinking flying around islands doesn’t take much time, I spent over 10 hours with my helicopter examining this scenery and I know I haven’t seen all of it.
Until next time, cheers and blue skies!
|Add-on:||Payware Maps2XPlane Society Islands XP12|
|Publisher | Developer:||Aerosoft / X-Plane.Org | Maps2XPlane|
|Description:||Faroe Islands X-Plane 12|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 2.7GB (download)|
|Reviewed by:||Paul Beckwith|
|Published:||May 3rd 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