Orbx FTX NA Sonoma County Regional Airport – or „the perfect 10“
Orbx latest release features the Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa or in brief ICAO language KSTS. Sonoma County is located some 40 miles north of the San Francisco bay area and forms the heart of the Californian wine producing regions. Sonoma County is framed by mountain ranges to the west and to the east, with the Pacific coast right after the western ridges. To the east the 4340ft high Mount St Helena is the most prominent landmark.
The triangular shape of the airport gives away its origins easily. It started life as a small municipal airfield back in the 1930s and was later enhanced to a full scale military airbase – the Santa Rosa Army Air Field – in 1942, giving it its present triangle shape.
The airport features two ~5000ft runways oriented 01/19 and 14/32 connected by a taxiway in the south. In 2014 the runway lengths were increased by 200 and 800 feet, but aerial imagery became available too late to be incorporated into this scenery.
Santa Rosa is primarily a General Air Traffic airport today, but it is also serves as an “Air Attack Base” for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in the north eastern corner of the airport. Two Grumman S-2 water bombers are based here for this purpose.
Commercial airline service nowadays only comprises Bomardier Dash-8s of Horizon Air, though in the past the airport was also served by for instance Fokker F27s of Hughes Airwest, Metroliners of American Eagle, Twin Otters of United Express or even BAe 146-200s of Air West connecting Santa Rosa with Los Angeles.
The scenery was developed by Misha Cajic, whose previous releases KTVL Lake Tahoe, 11S Sekiu, 05S Vernonia and S93 Cle Elum were well received by the simming community. Expectations were thus high when starting up this area in P3D for the first time.
As with all Orbx download titles, FTX NA KSTS Sonoma County Regional Airport is only available through flightsimstore.com and costs 24 US$. The 1.5 Gigabyte large files are installed by using the standard flightsimstore wrapper, requiring to enter order date, order number and license number.
The installer lets you choose your simulator and adds itself to the scenery library. Within the FTX configuration tool you may adapt the settings of the KSTS scenery to the power of your PC.
Orbx recommends using this scenery together with their FTX NA Northern California region for best performance. According to the manual it should run without, but you will lose the smooth blending of the KSTS scenery into the area, enhanced night lighting as well as typical Californian trees and houses.
The scenery comes with a 21 page strong manual, which describes in detail the recommended settings and provides the necessary aerodrome layout map and approach chart.
Time to start the sim and have a look at Sonoma County
The file size already suggested this is not just an airport. No, instead it covers an area of about 250 square kilometers, stretching from Santa Rosa in the south to Mount St Helena in the North. The whole area is rendered in 60cm texture resolution, not bad, isn’t it? Well, the airport area and Santa Rosa town center even come as 30 cm textures. You want more? No problem – the airport itself is rendered in a staggering 7cm texture size! You will need to set your max texture load entry to 4096 to fully experience these 7cm textures.
Describing the airport is hard, as there is so much detail, that you simply don’t know where to start. I was roaming around the scenery using Orbx’s “Bob” for more than an hour and I could continue for several more.
Due to the use as an Army Air Field in the 1940s, there are still several small aprons and parking positions all around the airfield. In the south we are greeted by a parked DC-3 (also visible on Google Earth) and a large area with small GAT hangars. Continuing clockwise around the airfield there are several more unused parking positions in the south west of the field and another GAT area in the north west. This area is a nice example for the attention to detail that Misha Cajic used – the trailer amidst the small hangars again is also clearly visible on Google Earth, realism at its best.
In the north east of the airport we will find the Air Attack Base with its water basins used to fill the locally stationed water bombers. One Grumman S-2T was placed here as a static object, the nice freeware S-2T will fit here nicely and give you lots of flying opportunities.
Next to the buildings of “CAL Fire” is the business jet apron with the hangars of Kaiser Air. The hangar is open, so feel free to park your Carenado Hawker 850XP or Lionheart Learjet in here.
Separated by one of three helipads is the tower and terminal with two parking positions, optimized for the Dash8-Q400. One is included as a static model at gate 2, you will have to fight for gate 1 with the ai traffic. Make sure to also take a look inside the terminal, as the love for detail continues here as well. As the airport was named after the creator of Snoopy, Charles M. Schulz, who lived in Santa Rosa, you will find a large Snoopy character at the terminal wall.
Moving further south we find another GAT apron and two large GAT hangar complexes. Move down the first row of hangars all the way to the eastern perimeter fence and you will reach the Pacific Coast Air Museum. Needless to say that this too, is recreated in a very nice and detailed way. Though Misha could have used the real aircraft on display here and not his own mix – and this ladies and gentlemen is the only ‘criticism’ I found when exploring the scenery!
Thanks to Orbx Object Flow one really gets the feeling of visiting a living airport.
Performance and compatibility
With this high level of detail one would expect a significant drop in performance. I explored the scenery using the Milviz MD-530, the A2A Cessna 182 and the Piper 180 and the frame rate always stayed at my locked 30 fps, at worst dropping to 28 near the terminal briefly.
In regards of compatibility, I did not encounter any issues. The scenery blends in seamlessly with the FTX NA North California region, it is virtually impossible to tell where the KSTS scenery actually ends.
The airport is nicely populated by MyTraffic 6 with General Air Traffic, as well as the mandatory Horizon Dash 8.
Who is it for?
If you are the captain of a big airliner, then this will not be your scenery (at least not if you like it realistic). But else Santa Rosa offers lots and lots of opportunities. It can serve as a beautiful destination for your Majestic Dash 8, Just Flight Fokker F27, Razbam Metroliner or CLS and Qualitywings BAe 146. Thanks to the mountain ranges to each side of the valley, you will be rewarded with a scenic approach into KSTS.
Or are you looking for a new home for your Carenado Hawker or Citation? The open business jet hangars await you. Or are you into GA airplanes? Then this scenery is a must have on all accounts. Misha was kind enough to leave hangars of every size open, so we can park our aircraft in there.
But also the CAL Fire base gives us new flying options utilizing the free S-2T firebomber with droppable retardant.
I for one will place my A2A war birds in one of the many hangars, preparing for the airshow season.
The headline says it all – for me this scenery is the perfect 10. As long as I explore the scenery, I cannot find any setbacks, but only more and more jaw dropping details instead. The manual leaves no question unanswered, the performance is very good – way better than many far less detailed airports of other major studios. The attention to detail is second to none and almost every type of simmer is served with this airport. What could one want more?
Long story short – this is the most amazing airport, I have ever installed on my hard drive.
Processor (CPU): Intel Core i7 CPU 4790k @ 4.6 GHz
Memory (RAM): 16 GB
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970
System type: 64-bit operating system
Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium
Primary monitor resolution: 1920×1080
Thanks for Computerpilot Magazine for supplying me with the reviewcopy
visit them here : http://web.computerpilot.com/