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Flight Simulator Knowledge Base .: Official Reviews .: VFR USA - Dallas Fort Worth Aerial Photographic Scenery Review

VFR USA - Dallas Fort Worth Aerial Photographic Scenery Review



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Type: Scenery Upgrade for Microsoft FS2002/FS2004
Developer: Horizon Simulation ltd.
Coverage: 9,300 square miles
Price: $29.95
Format: PC DVD-ROM
FREE US Delivery


Horizon description :

VFR USA is quite literally a landmark development in simulation. Using a highly detailed, seamless mosaic of aerial images of the Texan landscape around Dallas/Fort Worth, VFR USA gives you a virtual world so real that you can recognize even the smallest details on maps and flying charts, allowing realistic VFR Navigation and IP to target training.
VFR USA is created from the best survey quality aerial photography from the USA's leading supplier, AirPhotoUSA - simply the best data available. Whilst satellites may be the 'technology of the future', they inevitably suffer from the limitations that such altitude brings to image acquisition. Typically satellite data provides inferior clarity and colour definition when compared with aerial photography.
Being acquired from an aeroplane flying at c. 10,000ft AGL, in the best possible light and weather conditions, AirPhotoUSA's archive of photography is the perfect source data for uses in flight simulation - giving you the same views that the pilots of the survey aircraft would have seen on their acquisition sorties.

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The Region:

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With an area of 696,241 km and a population of 22.5 million, Texas is the second largest U.S. state in both area and population, and the largest state in the contiguous 48 states in area.
The 28th U.S. state lies in the south-central part of the United States of America and remained largely rural until World War II, with cattle ranching, oil, and agriculture as its main industries. The state has two major economic centers: the Greater Houston area and the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Houston stands at the center of the petrochemical and biomedical research trades while Dallas functions as the center of the agricultural and information technology labor market in Texas.
Ranked by population of cities (incorporated municipalities), the five largest cities in Texas are Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth.



Dallas
Dallas is the third-largest city in the state of Texas, ninth-largest in the United States, and is also the county seat of Dallas County with a total population of more than 1.2 million. Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex has a population of 5.7 million, making it the largest economic area in the south-central United States, fifth-largest in the U.S., and one of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the world.


Fort Worth
Fort Worth is located about 30 miles (50 km) west of Dallas on the West Fork of the Trinity River. As of the 2004 U.S. Census estimates, the city had a total population of 603,337 - now the fifth-largest city within Texas, and 19th in the United States. Fort Worth was founded as a military camp in 1849, named after General William Jenkins Worth, during the closure of the Mexican-American War. It was established to protect 19th century settlers from Indian attacks. The fort then became a bustling town when it became a stop along the legendary Chisholm Trail, the dusty path where millions of cattle were driven North to market.


Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is located between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, and is the busiest airport in Texas. In terms of aircraft movements, it is the third busiest airport in the world. In terms of passenger traffic, it is the sixth busiest airport in the world. In terms of land area, it is the largest airport in Texas, the second largest in the United States, and third largest in the world, with a larger ground area than the island of Manhattan.


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My System for the Review:

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biggrin.gif j/k...

Intel Prescott 2,8 E @ 3,5 Ghz
Zalman CNPS7000A-CU CPU cooler
FSB 1000
1024 DDR 533 HyperX RAM ( 2 x 512 )
Asus P4C800 Intel 875 motherboard
200 Gb S-ATA Maxtor 8 MB HDD
ATI X800XT @ 550/1120 Mhz GPU
22' Phillips CRT Monitor
1600x1200x32 resolution



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Not 2 fast and not 2 furious (anymore), but with some tweaks it runs FS9 very smoothly.


System Tweaks:

Some free programs and settings help me enjoy the simulator even more. These are the tweaks I am using with FS9:


- Aperture size in the BIOS is set to 256


- PCI latencies are set to 32 with a PCI Latency Tool.


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- FsAutoStart (fsasv1111.zip at avsim.com) 'allows the user the ability to automatically shutdown services and programs' that can eat away at their PC's potential framerate.

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- my FS9.cfg for photo realistic scenery with autogen:

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The Package:

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The contents include one installation DVD and a 24 page user manual with tips and tricks.

On the CD you will find a PDF ReadMe file, a demo version of VFR Photographic Scenery: England & Wales, an X-Plane 8.11 demo, and 3 videos. What I find missing are VFR charts of the covered area - this would be a nice addition.



The Installation:

It is always a good idea to take your time and browse the provided ReadMe file...

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...in this case there where no unusual events to expect. The installation went flawlessly.

VFR USA / Dallas Forth Worth is made up of three different scenery areas. Most users will wish to install all of these areas for maximum coverage, however you can elect to install only certain areas if you wish.

For better FS performance, the setup routine asks if you wish to perform an automatic optimization of your FS9.cfg settings.


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Since my FS9.CFG file is already optimized for my system I skipped this option.

1.33 GB of data are added to your hard drive and the three sceneries are placed correctly in the FS9 Scenery Library. Starting the simulator will initialize VFR USA Dallas / Fort Worth and we are ready to go. If you already use other addons (like airports) for this area, it may be necessary to move them above Dallas / Fort Worth in order to increase their priority.

Enough info, tweaks and installation - let's go fly!
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The Scenery:

The scenery is generated from aerial photography and is displayed at the maximum level of detail resolution that MSFS can display. The satellite view (ctrl + s) will confirm this statement right away.

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The textures in this package are provided for the summer season only. All four seasons in this quality would have a huge impact on our hard disk as well as our purse. In my opinion the summer season with night lights for this price is a very good value.


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The first impression - awesome...


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At an altitude between 4,000 and 10,000 feet AGL the visual experience is very impressive. Perfect VFR flying.


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The textures are loading well and I get 25 to 30 frames per second with ActiveSky 6 running in the background.


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At lower altitudes - about 2,000 ft - the textures are surprisingly pleasant as well.


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Well-made night lights make flights at dawn spectacular. I am really enjoying this scenery.

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More than 4,000 objects are placed in this 24,000 square kilometer addon - all equipped with night textures.


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A beautiful day - the Siai Marchetti climbing towards 8,000 ft AGL.

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Dallas/Fort Worth International got some special attention from the MSFS team. The airport is much more detailed than 'normal' default airports...

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...and it fit very nicely with the Horizon scenery!

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The Conclusion:

How do we judge an addon... Well, I call it the 'Smile Factor'. The bigger the smile, the better the product. I had no CTDs (crashes to desktop), textures are loading fast at GA single prop speeds, the frame rates are no problem and the visuals are superb. I always had a smile on my face. wink.gif biggrin.gif

Whether or not you can fly this scenery with an F-16 at 600 kts depends on your system and settings - but personally I don't think that's what an aerial photographic scenery package is designed for. For all GA pilots who are looking for a great VFR experience, I can recommend VFR USA Dallas / Fort Worth. Thumbs up to the team at Horizon - a job well done!


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I hope that I could give you a good idea of this product, and I wish you many hours of fun with FS9.
Always happy landings,


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Heiko *Mango*

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User Comments

Add Comment
Comment boeing_737
1-9-2006 at 12:54pm
Splendid review Heiko! Your screenshots are icing on the cake.
Comment Fsimfan
1-17-2006 at 6:47pm
Excellent review! Very detalied and informative. Thanks Heiko, I'm considering getting this scenery!


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