True Earth EU Canary Islands Scenery
Although I never visited the real Canary Islands and used Wikipedia to provide some background information, I enjoyed every minute exploring the Orbx TrueEarth EU Canary Islands package.
According to Wikipedia “The Canary Islands, also known informally as the Canaries, are a Spanish region and archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. At their closest point to the African mainland, they are 100 kilometres (62 miles) west of Morocco. They are the southernmost of the autonomous communities of Spain. The archipelago is economically and politically European and is part of the European Union.”
“The eight main islands are (from largest to smallest in area) Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro and La Graciosa. In 2019, the Canary Islands had a population of 2,153,389. The population is mostly concentrated in the two capital islands: around 43 percent on the island of Tenerife and 40 percent on the island of Gran Canaria. The Canary Islands, especially Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote, are a major tourist destination, with over 12 million visitors per year.The islands have warm summers and winters warm enough for the climate to be technically tropical at sea level.”
“The seven major islands, one minor island, and several small islets were originally volcanic islands. The Canary Islands is the only place in Spain where volcanic eruptions have been recorded during the Modern Era, with some volcanoes still active. Volcanic islands such as those in the Canary chain often have steep ocean cliffs caused by catastrophic debris avalanches and landslides. The island chain’s most recent eruption occurred at Cumbre Vieja, a volcanic ridge on La Palma, in 2021.”
Overall, all interesting issues to consider when flying around the islands!
Information supplied by Orbx states that this scenery package covers nine idyllic islands to explore (El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, Lanzarote, Chinijo Archipelago (North of Lanzarote), La Palma, Tenerife and La Graciosa) in phenomenal detail and also includes the fully hand-crafted and highly detailed GCLA La Palma Airport, including detailed modelling and SAM Jetways.
Each of the Canary Islands in the archipelago has its own characteristics and charm that have been stunningly recreated. From local hotels and resorts in Santa Cruz to seaside towns and harbours across the lakes of Arrecife, each island has unique locations to explore from the skies.
Download and Documentation
The scenery package can be bought from the Orbx website. In order to purchase Orbx products it is necessary to create an account. Once this is completed the product can be paid for and is added to the owners account. Orbx supply a free download of their product management software called Orbx Central. Once this is downloaded the user signs in with their account details and Central loads the products belonging to that account. All available products are listed.
On first use the user is led through a process which “points” Central at the copy of X-Plane the user dictates. It is possible to link several copies to one account. Once the copy is selected the user highlights the selected scenery and this creates a management page for that product. The main option is to install the scenery. Once clicked Central manages the whole installation process. Once complete the folders for the scenery are loaded in to the X-Plane Custom Scenery folder.
Central also gives access to the Orbx store, providing a second method of purchasing products. Other options allow the user to configure some aspects of the scenery such as static aircraft and various textures. Where a problem may have occurred with a download a “Verify Files” button causes the system to check the download and try to rectify the problem. Should this not resolve the problem access to support is available through Central. The page also gives access to the user manual for the product. Once the product is installed the page contains an uninstall option.
In relation to the Canary Islands scenery Central managed the whole download and four folders appeared in the Custom Scenery folder covering ortho scenery, overlay, custom items and a specific folder for La Palma airport. When I opened the product management page for the scenery in Central I tried to access the User Manual but the page stated there is not one provided for this scenery. I confirmed with the developers that no manual is provided with this scenery. Given the intuitive and helpful process created through Central this is not an issue.
In order to view the scenery across the package I decided to fly from west to east, visiting each island and, where one exists, its airport. I intended that this would allow comment on the general scenery, specific landmarks and the airports, especially La Palma airport which is an Orbx product included in the package. I’ve included at each start of an island a brief summaries from Wikipedia. This could be useful for planning my flights and your flights too in case you want to do the same island hopping. Perhaps you’re familiar with the Canary Island, or perhaps you’ve never heard of them. In that case and for all our readers who love to do island hopping, I’ve included a map of what to expect.
As you can see, the Canary Island are situated west of Africa, near Marocco. It’s a famous destination for surfers, tourists in general from all over the world. Discover the hidden gems of the Atlantic – fragrant pine forests, live volcanoes, moon-like scenery, secret beaches, secluded coves, and luxurious beachfront resorts are just a taste of what awaits when you visit the Canary Islands. Travelers will find a hospitable climate, spectacular landscapes, an abundance of outdoor activities as well as a unique and welcoming culture.
Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria are located on the two largest Islands and together, share the status as Capital of the archipelago. Santa Cruz de Tenerife is also home to the second most popular and stunningly spectacular Carnival in the world, attracting over a million people every February.
Are you ready to check out with me the islands?
El Hierro, the southwestern most island
El Hierro, (with the airport ICAO code GCHI) covers 268.71km2 (103.75 sq mi), making it the second smallest of the major islands, and the least populous with 10,798 inhabitants. The whole island was declared Reserve of the Biosphere in 2000. Its capital is Valverde. The airport is on the coast to the north east of the island not far from Valverde. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
As my next flight would be towards other islands to the north I departed the airport to the south. The scenery was immediately impressive with the sea looking extremely realistic and creating a great comparison with the land. Colours were convincing and the formation of the island is very evident. Signs of habitation and land use are clear and the modelling of buildings and roads actually enhances the natural scenery by creating scale and contrast. Light and shadow work well and create texture on the ground surface.
Between two and four thousand feet there are good views across the island. Continuing towards the south tip of the island I flew over Tabique and this shows how well the more built up areas are modelled with specific landmarks and buildings individually created. Just beyond the town the interesting land formations of the island are evident.
Passing the south tip of the island creates an opportunity to view different terrain along with the sea and buildings. All work together well and the scenery overall looks very impressive. Having travelled west along the south of the island I turned north to head up the western coast. The view from the south west covers Pico de Malpaso, at nearly 5000 ft (1500m) the highest point on the island, giving good views of the busier, contrasting coastal plain beyond.
The scenery has great atmosphere and the clarity of detail draws the user to look for more and more points of interest. The plain itself has more human activity with buildings, roads and other detail very well modelled. Approaching the north of the islands the overall realism of the scenery is obvious as silhouettes of La Palma and Tenerife came in to view in the distance. The distinct geographic forms are modelled in detail giving character to the scenery.
Having crossed the top of the island west to east I overflew the capital Valverde before experiencing the interesting approach on arrival back at the airport. This tour of the first island in the chain shows impressive attention to detail. The clarity of the scenery and the addition of specific detail make flying a very immersive and interesting experience.
Following my tour of El Hierro I departed north to La Palma.
La Palma Island with GCLA
La Palma, (with the airport ICAO code GCLA) with 81,863 inhabitants covering an area of 708.32 km2 (273.48 sq mi), is in its entirety a biosphere reserve. It is the second-highest island of the Canaries, with the Roque de los Muchachos at 7,949 feet (2,423 m) as its highest point. Santa Cruz de La Palma (known to those on the island as simply “Santa Cruz”) is its capital. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
After final views of El Hierro I made the short flight across the ocean towards La Palma. As I flew closer the impressive scenery of the second island became more distinct and defined. The different rock formations and cliffs make a real impact and the modelling is crisp, clear and with a huge variety of colours and textures. Settlements and roads look good from a distance and become clearer on approach.
On approach to La Palma airport the surrounding human activity is well modelled and the airport is very clear and defined. A view from greater altitude shows the highly detailed airport site and the nearby buildings and the roads. The final approach reveals clearly marked runway markings and realistically modelled activity. As stated before this airport is modelled by Orbx and is not a default facility. The airport itself therefore warrants a closer look.
The airport can be approached by road from north and south. The roads and markings are clearly modelled and the road signs are legible. Parking areas and static cars appear very realistically. Nearby buildings and features such as wind turbines are modelled in detail and the airport terminal entrance looks very impressive. The airport sits very well in the surrounding scenery. Colours are bright and clear and the textures of road surfaces and buildings are convincing.
The developers have shown real attention to detail with modelling of the airport sign, control tower and even the roof top solar panels. This creates a very interesting experience even without going airside.
Once airside static aircraft and equipment are well presented with a good variation of trucks, trolleys and machinery. The airport is also equipped with jetways. The gates are well marked and ground traffic adds to the effect. All elements are produced with clear, crisp visuals and the colours and textures work well with different light.
Beyond the passenger gates there are other airport facilities that are modelled. Towards the southern end the fuel store and servicing trucks are produced clearly and add interest. Across the runway to the west of the site the fire station is created to a high standard. A view from altitude shows the layout of the complex and the clearly modelled gate markings on the ramps. The model provides two runways with three mile and ten mile approaches, eight helipads and eleven ramp starts.
In low light the airport continues to look impressive with the approach roads and terminal well lit. The airside view shows very good lighting applied to the gates and parking areas. The runways look very good from either direction and all lights are clear and bright. A very impressive airport model in its own right which adds value to the wider scenery package.
In order to view the island I departed south from La Palma airport, slightly retracing my course when approaching the airport. Flying south to the bottom of the islands the wonderful presentation of vegetation and different rock textures is very evident, creating a very realistic experience. The roads presented sit well with the rest of the scenery.
Scenery in the far distance is presented with fainter colours and the detail fades the further way it is. Flight along the south coast shows how well the scenery blends with the sea effects and the detail of the human activity which is modelled. Turning north the human activity is laid out over the coastal plain with different buildings clearly modelled.
Looking beyond the plain the modelling of the mountains and the lie of the land is very evident and all works exceptionally well together. Over flying the mountain tops shows the various rock formations in detailed relief and how the light and shadow gives the scenery great depth. Just beyond the mountains, as the island starts to slope back towards the sea in the north, the developers eye for detail is illustrated by a collection of telescopes built on the hillside. These are modelled in detail and create real interest. Turning east to cross the north of the island the land surface has a very volcanic appearance, true to the nature of the islands.
Turning south to approach the airport the capital Santa Cruz and its port is modelled in detail and during my trip a cruise ship was lucky enough to be visiting. I then flew back to the airport to prepare for my flight over La Gomera and on to Tenerife.
La Gomera Island
This island with the airport GCGM has an area of 369.76 km2 (142.77 sq mi) and is the second least populous island with 21,136 inhabitants. Tenerife, (Airport ICAO Code GCTS) with its area of 2,034 km2 (785 sq mi), is the most extensive island of the Canary Islands. In addition, with 904,713 inhabitants it is the most populated island of the archipelago and Spain. The mountain, Teide, with its 3,715 metres (12,188 feet) is the highest peak of Spain and also a World Heritage Site. Tenerife is the site of the worst air disaster in the history of aviation, in which 583 people were killed in the collision of two Boeing 747s on 27 March 1977. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
I left La Palma flying south and turned towards the next two islands. La Gomera appeared ahead with Tenerife beyond. I decided that I would not land on the island but I would use the tools within X-Plane to view the scenery from different altitudes. As I climbed I could see more and more of the island until I could see it all. The scenery did not reduce in quality and indeed the depth of the textures, shadows and colours changed to add realism to the flight. The scenery has tremendous quality however it is viewed.
I then overflew the island’s airport before moving on to Tenerife. Whilst the airport is on a small, quiet island, and the airport is a default model, the developers have ensured scenery detail surrounds the runway. A close view shows a cluster of aerials modelled in detail with Playa Santiago beyond. Attention to detail can be found throughout the scenery and no part is neglected.
I followed the route to Tenerife Norte airport which took me to the north east coast. It was immediately clear that this island has far more habitation and activity. I used the magic of X-Plane to change the view to darkness. The developed area had pinpoints of light from various buildings and development and the road lighting and that of the airport was bright and crystal clear.
This maintains the quality and enjoyment of the scenery. Instead of approaching the airport I turned north and followed the coast. Immediately it was obvious that this was a busier island with detailed buildings and development below. This all looks really great with a coast road to follow at the waters edge.
Climbing to clear the mountains to the north the road system and development appeared below following the lower lying land in the valleys and on the coast. The scenery remains very convincing and immersive, whatever is presented.
Having crossed the island I turned south and arrived at the port and town of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Again the detail became busier with human activity. Looking south beyond the town I caught my first glimpse of Teide. The modelling of the capital illustrates a busy area with detailed urban features.
I gained altitude and was rewarded with a fantastic view of the east side of the island. Again changing altitude changed the various aspects of the scenery with some items becoming less clear and others becoming more prominent and noticeable. I used X-Plane settings to move to later in the day and the settled area was appropriately lit with Teide looking very impressive against the setting sun.
I continued to climb in order to fly over Teide and the interaction between the formation of the island and land use appeared below. The two are very well integrated in the scenery and compliment each other in terms of providing realism.
I continued to fly towards Teide and whilst the mountain certainly holds your attention the detail on the ground does not stop with another observatory modelled on the side of the mountain. To the south down to the coast the rock formations are beautifully created with impressive textures and use of light and shadow. Turning west just south of Teide the modelling and detail of the natural surface of the islands continues its high standard with different rock types and different vegetation all having its own colours and textures.
This route also gave a view of the islands in the scenery that I had already visited. This is high quality scenery that works well together. Turning north again the habitation appears again producing a stark contrast with the more mountain and southern coast. Looking east into the island from the coast the modelling of the sea works well against the coastal areas and cliffs.
I followed the coast and then turned east on the approach to the airport. The airport sits well in the scenery and the approach is detailed with housing and roads. On arrival the airport looked very realistic and as a default airport looked very good within the scenery. All blended together extremely well.
I took off from Tenerife for my next stage of my trip to Gran Canaria (Airport ICAO Code GCLP) which has 846,717 inhabitants.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
The capital of the Canary Island with 377,203 inhabitants is the most populous city and shares the status of capital of the Canaries with Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Gran Canaria’s surface area is 1,560 km2 (600 sq mi). In the centre of the island lie the Roque Nublo 1,813 metres (5,948 feet) and Pico de las Nieves (“Peak of Snow”) 1,949 metres (6,394 feet). (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Gran Canaria is almost round and I was approaching the ten o’clock position with the airport at three o’clock and so as I arrived at the island I turned south to tour the scenery from the air and then to land at the end of this stage of my trip. From the map Gran Canaria appeared to have rougher terrain than the other islands so far and I was looking forward to comparing it to them.
The initial approach did not disappoint with a rugged coastline and towering cliffs. The colours gave real depth to the view. A planned turn to the south presented a rugged surface which demonstrates the volcanic past. Despite the rough relief there was still areas that were inhabited and in use and these areas are well modelled, some appearing to sit in old craters.
The south coast becomes more severe again and the modelling produces a daunting view of inhospitable peaks and gullies. The map shows there is no habitation or roads here and the scenery demonstrates why.
Travelling east the landscape becomes slightly less daunting and signs of human habitation and land use become more common and are modelled in an appropriate and varied manner. Even here Orbx have taken the time to actually model some of the buildings. To the south east corner this development has markedly increased with numerous small ports and beaches, along with hotels, that have become associated with the Canary Islands.
The modelling from the rough, rugged landscape to the seaside resorts makes this a varied and interesting flight. The flight north up the east side of the island opens to a large flat plain with numerous industrial activities modelled, including working wind farms and the map shows that this is, indeed, marked as the islands industrial region. There is great contrast here compared to the earlier views of the island and this area is totally flat and the airport comes in to view to the north.
Instead of flying directly to the airport I turned west and flew to Pico de las Nieves in the centre of the island. This area becomes more mountainous and a close watch is needed on the altimeter! Human activity is still modelled in the area and Tenerife can be seen in the distance. Again the modelling of this area is superb with contrasting rock formations, textures and colours. A turn to the north, towards the coast, creates a flight over a flatter and more densely occupied area, with roads and buildings modelled in large numbers.
Time to head to the airport and so I flew to the north east corner of the island before turning south. This takes the flight over the port and town area of Las Palmas De Gran Canaria with port facilities modelled in interesting detail. Beyond the port the town itself contains numerous interesting buildings and features. I finish my flight with a landing at the airport.
Fuerteventura with the airport GCFV with a surface of 1,660 km2 (640 sq mi), is the second-most extensive island of the archipelago. It has been declared a Biosphere reserve by Unesco. It has a population of 113,275. Being also the most ancient of the islands, it is the one that is more eroded: its highest point is the Peak of the Bramble, at a height of 807 metres (2,648 feet). Its capital is Puerto del Rosario. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
After leaving Gran Canaria I approached Fuerteventura from the south west. Despite being a short flight the island is modelled in complete contrast to Gran Canaria. The landscape is flatter and the flat areas appear far more sandy than those of the other islands. This island has a far more ribbon type shape as compared the rounder earlier parts of the scenery. This does not mean there are no geographical features and these are all produced to the same high level as the islands visited earlier.
This island’s contrast illustrates how Orbx have worked hard to make this scenery provide a varied flight experience and have not fallen to the temptation of making each rock formation, mountain or coastline look the same as the last, the variation is very impressive. This island seems more sparsely populated but different points of interest are still created such as wind turbines and their associated buildings. The more undulating, rounded hills continue up the west of the island heading north. The north coast area is flat and mainly empty all the way around to the Isla de Lobos off the north east corner.
The main habitation is apparent moving south down the east coast, including Puerto del Rosario and the modelling of buildings and facilities becomes more commercial. I flew past the airport to view the land to the south, which had returned to being quite flat and empty, before turning north to land. The default airport sits well within the scenery.
Lanzarote Island, the most northern
The most northern island with it’s own airport (GCRR) is the easternmost island and one of the most ancient of the archipelago, and it has shown evidence of recent volcanic activity. It has a surface of 845.94 km2 (326.62 sq mi), and a population of 149,183 inhabitants, including the adjacent islets of the Chinijo Archipelago. The capital is Arrecife, with 56,834 inhabitants. The Chinijo Archipelago includes the islands La Graciosa, Alegranza, Montaña Clara, Roque del Este and Roque del Oeste. It has a surface of 40.8 km2 (15.8 sq mi), and only La Graciosa is populated, with 658 inhabitants. With an area of 29 km2 (11 sq mi), La Graciosa, is the smallest inhabited island of the Canaries, and the major island of the Chinijo Archipelago. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
There is no airport in the archipelago and a visit may include a flight into Lanzarote and then a ferry to the islands. I approached the island from the south at an altitude in excess of 20 000 feet to view the shape of the island and to see the scenery from this sort of altitude. The scenery still looks impressive and the modelled settlements and ports are still visible.
This wider view allows the topography to be appreciated and continues to look realistic. This view also shows how the sea looks very convincing with the islands even over a wide area. At lower level the coastal buildings are well modelled and the open park areas are displayed behind them.
Even hotel swimming pools are visible. The small inlet at Hoya on the eastern coast marks the start of the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya. This is intriguing to fly over as it contains numerous volcanic craters which, rather than crating mountain chains, stand alone and independent. Once these disappear the north coast is quite flat until the final north east corner which is a ribbon of land with a spine of hills, pointing the way to the Chinijo Archipelago.
Despite being close together the islands have different forms and character and the modelling conveys this. The first island off the coast is Graciosa. It is not a long flight over the archipelago and I soon turn south to head to the airport.
On the way to the airport I overfly the capital Arrecife with its port facility. This is modelled in detail with a mixture of buildings surrounding the port. The port has some quite characteristic pontoons and moorings which make it quite easy to identify from the air. The detail even goes down to the leisure boats in an inlet next to the port itself.
Using the tools of X-Plane I viewed the port from a greater altitude looking over the airport. This shows how the modelling of the various areas blends cleverly with the natural scenery and how all the modelling works well with each other. I land at the final airport of the scenery tour. Again this default airport looks great within the Orbx environment and this blend of quality throughout is a real feature of the Canary Isles package.
I have certainly not covered every part of the scenery but have tried to make flights and remarks that give a flavour of what is provided. The experience of using this scenery immerses the pilot in a high quality, detailed and interesting world. The attention to detail is highly impressive as is the consistency of quality of scenery.
The scenery contains many remote areas and it would be easy to give this less attention than some of the busier places, especially around the airports where the X-Plane pilots would be likely to spend more time. This is not the case and the user not only concentrates on the scenery for the purposes of flying safely but also in order to discover the next piece of modelled detail.
Despite all being volcanic islands each one has its own terrain and formations. This is produced not only by the changing shapes and character of the mountains, gullies and plains but also by the fact that individual outcrops have their own textures and colours and are not simply a repeated copy of the same set of modelled rocks. The blend of naturally formed scenery and that of human activity works particularly well and is another positive in this scenery package.
The tour of the islands I undertook for the review shows how varied Orbx have made this package and how there is something of interest when viewed from any altitude and distance. The package is also ideal for pilots of all abilities as the islands are close together and it is difficult to get lost when flying from one to another and, due to the detail, it is easy to pick out towns, ports and natural features from the air.
This allows the pilot to concentrate on other aspects of the flight such as the aircraft itself or simply viewing the scenery. The package works well where it blends with default airports and the included La Palma airport is of high quality and adds to the experience. It also maintains its quality at lower light levels. This is a great scenery package and its beautiful creation of the natural environment and detailed provision of the man made aspects blends exceptionally well. A great flight experience.
|Add-on:||Payware Orbx TrueEarth EU Canary Islands|
|Publisher | Developer:||Orbx / Aerosoft | Orbx|
|Description:||Realistic rendition of the Canary Islands|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 39.5 GB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Andy Clarke|
|Published:||March 15th 2022|
|Hardware specifications:||- iMac Intel i5 27"
- 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5
- AMD Radeon R9 M290X 2048 MB
- 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 RAM
- Logitech Force 3D Pro
|Software specifications:||- macOS Monterey 12.3
- X-Plane 11.5x (64 Bit) Private Use
- A variety of freeware and payware airports