How X-Plane can fulfil childhood dreams, almost

A guest article by Walter, one of our biggest supporters:

Since about four years, I am a supporter of the X-Plane Flight Simulator and since my childhood, I am an Aviation-Enthusiast and an even bigger fan of the Antarctica. Unfortunately, Antarctica in X-Plane was something like ‘the lost continent’, because it simply did not exist. Ok, the area of the North Pole does also not. But up there is almost nothing else then water, not exceptional fascinating to fly, maybe for sailing. I have never missed the Arctic in X-Plane but I have always missed hard the Antarctic.

You can imagine, I felt like a little child on Christmas day (in fact, it was during the last year Christmas days) when I received the present and the opportunity to fly in the Antarctic in my Flight Simulator. After my first test flights, I was so excited by the Mesh and the first scenery additions for Antarctica, I started (after sending a first donation to Maps2XPlane) a new thread called ‘Antarctica: Flying the White Desert’ in the German Aerosoft Forum. There I began to post some screenshots with short descriptions of my flights around this area and some fictional adventure flyer stories. Apparently, the guys of Maps2XPlane liked my travelogue, because Matthias, one of the three explorers of the Antarctica for X-Plane, kindly invited me to write an English language guest article for this website. After initial hesitation, I decided to do it. In spite of the facts that English is not my mother tongue nor am I a real pilot or a polar-scientist, and the most important circumstance, that my free time is very limited. I am just an Antarctica- and Flying-Enthusiast with a Flight Simulator. However, I am of the opinion that the project Antarctica4XPlane deserves any possible support. And Matthias, Paolo and Nino from Maps2XPlane, earn my highest appreciation for their work. Thank you, guys. This is my contribution. Moreover, I apologize for my not always accurate English.

In my first article here, I would like to invite you on a journey around the north of the Antarctic Peninsula and show you some visual impressions of the enchanting beauty of this remote and largely untamed continent, very well realised in X-Plane. I do not want to create a common review, in which I write what I like and what I do not. This is finally a matter of personal taste. I also do not want to write about things, which one could have made maybe better. I would not be able to do it better, so how I have the right to criticize. Antarctica in X-Plane is absolute new and a gift for me. So why should I criticize something that I have wished for almost four years. I just want to enjoy and demonstrate how much fun it could be to fly there. And I hope I can infect some of you with my fascination. In a few commented pictures, I present you some ‘points of interest’ down here and introduce you the first additional sceneries, built by the team of Maps2XPlane. Because of the dimensions of the Antarctic Peninsula and because of so many well worth seeing places here, this article will be appear in three separate parts.

Let me first say a few words about the X-Plane 10 rendering settings for this area. Due to the absence of auto-generated objects like trees, buildings or roads in the Antarctica you have the opportunity to turn up your rendering settings very much higher than you are used to it in other areas of X-Plane, without collapsing frame rate. Especially when you turn the ‘Texture Resolutions’ to extreme you can see how detailed and accurate some airplanes and custom liveries are done. Furthermore, a very important fact, you will get a sharper texture resolution on the Antarctica-Mesh and the scenery objects too. Try it out.

So now, let us finally take off: It is eight o’clock in the morning on the British Rothera Research Station on Adelaide Island, off the shore of the Antarctic Peninsula. The weather forecast promises a beautiful day for flying and the airplane for our today’s journey is already standing in front of the hangar, ready for boarding. So please take a seat and fasten your seatbelts.

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The DHC-6 Twin-Otter, operated by the British Antarctic Survey, is the perfect aircraft for some sightseeing in the ice. So, enjoy the flight!

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Against the wind, we are standing on the start position from Runway 18.

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The Tower gives us clearance to go.

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After a few meters of acceleration, the Twin-Otter is taking off and rapidly gaining altitude.

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We turn to the right for some kind of a traffic pattern over Rothera.

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From up here you have a first good view over the Rothera Station and a part of Adelaide Island. In the ice fields below the plane are two ski ways, supplying two small weather- and research stations. It already exist two third party freeware sceneries, built by Heinz Flichtbeil from Aerosoft.

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While we turn our cosy round, we can see some summits on southern end of Adelaide Island. In the middle, Mount Liotard and on the right, Mount Gaudry. Off the shore are the Léonie Islands.

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Now we are heading west to the Boyle Mountains, a mountainous massif, only about 35 nm away from Rothera on the Arrowsmith Peninsula.

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A last look at Rothera Station through the cabin window…

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…then we leave Adelaide Island behind us.

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Already we reach the Boyle Mountains between the heads of Lallemand Fjord and Bourgeois Fjord. For these high plateaus, there is a pretty cool expedition-scenery available, with one harbour- and two landing-strip-sceneries, again from Heinz Flichtbeil by Aerosoft.

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Nearby looms Bartholin Peak over the shore of Lallemand Fjord.

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Here we change our course to Nord East and follow the western coast of Graham Land, the northern part of the Antarctic Peninsula.

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Our altitude is 9’500 feet. The outside temperature is minus 26 degrees Celsius. Very Summery.

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We are overflying Mount Peary, a conspicuous massif on Kiev Peninsula, on the shore of Graham Land.

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From here, we take a direct course to our first stopover destination. About 350 nm from Rothera, on Seymour Island off the northeast coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, lays Marambio Base, the largest argentine Antarctic Research Station.

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But about this Station and the remainder of our trip, I will narrate you in part two of my article. For now, I say thank you for your kind attention and I hope you will follow my travel reports in the future. So, stay tuned here.

Cheers, Walter