ADX FirstLook: Orbx 11S Sekiu
P3D. Misha is back which means I'm back and there is no better region in P3D for VFR flying than the PNW... Well, now that FTX NCA has finally arrived, that could change. I am looking forward to seeing how that region grows. To date, over the past year, Misha has produced 5 airfields under his own name. Two of his most recent works fall under the Orbx umbrella. The first was Vernonia and the latter is the one we are visiting today and I couldn't be more impressed... although I have a feeling I will be soon enough.
One thing that is quite obvious about Misha is his good affinity for location scouting. This is something I personally find myself doing in FS. Looking for places that offer breathtaking vistas while also offering a bit of challenge. The biggest challenge I find of his works though are the ones that keep me from actually flying. It almost seems like a dis-justice to blur in and out of these places without taking a moment to step out of the plane and take it all in with each visit. Fighting that urge to leave the wings behind and walk among the flowers and dense vegetation, to just sit and enjoy the environment is not easy in my case.
Because as far as my FS flying is concerned, my time in the sim is limited and I like to spend that time flying as much as possible. But these days... flight simulation is getting so damn real, flying is starting to become only part of the experience and I don't know whether to be pleased or freaked out because as of right now, I am suffering from both. Come along with me as I head back into another PNW masterpiece. We are off to Sekiu!
[Note: For format purposes, images are cropped. Click each image for full size resolution preview.]
One of the things I have been trying to do with my ADX FirstLook articles is offer a sort of double feature. Because as good as these sceneries are, the only thing that makes them more enjoyable is the aircraft you visit them in. This time, I wanted to feature an aircraft I haven't seen featured in quite a long time. And sometimes, the inspiration I need to write a scenery article comes from the aircraft and not the scenery. Odd as that may sound. My inspiration this time around is the golden age Lionheart Pasped Skylark. Sometimes I scroll my aircraft database for quite a while before I settle on my choice and my collection is quite big as you can imagine. The bigger it gets, the harder my choices. Today however, the choice was easy. As I did my usual aircraft scrolling, I found myself passing up a plane I continue to pass up time and again. I took a moment to ask myself why I keep passing up this beauty and the moment I went back to the selection box for the Skylark, already my head began filling with words for the review. All this before I even had the chance to see the scenery.
Thus, a bit of cliche perhaps to use one of the oldest aircraft in my collection to feature in the work of one of FS's youngest developers. I started my flight out of Misha's own Vernonia and made my way north in this classic string bag. And yes, she sounds every bit as good as she looks! You are back n the spotlight today Mrs. Skylark so let's go grandma!
I have to admit, after I finally got her up to 10,000, I started to think to myself: "What was I thinking flying this thing on such a trip?" This baby was meant for recreation not transportation. Don't get me wrong, the Skylark is much faster than she looks but after 45 minutes in, my ass was starting to hurt. The Skylark's seats are no comparison to the leatherette seats in Carenado's Cirrus. Perhaps just a reminder not to get too comfortable in this baby and besides, I would have just switched on the autopilot in the Cirrus anyway. "Aunt Bee" here likes to be hand flown. She is a beauty and she is enjoying her time back in the spotlight.
As I approached Clallam Bay from the east, it started to become quickly obvious that the airport itself is merely the centerpiece of this scenery. On final, the Strait of Juan de Fuca Highway can be clearly seen snaking it's way from Slip Point through Sam's Tralier Park and up to Middle Point and Sekiu. All areas represented in good detail. Somebody did their homework.
I am fairly convinced that Misha picks his airports based on the approaches. If the approach is not the primary impetus itself, then it's without a doubt one of the biggest decision makers. 11S does not disappoint.
There is much to curtail your attention from the task at hand as you attempt to approach over the marina and surrounding hills covered in tall trees. Watch your altitude. It is perhaps the easiest approach he has made but it's fun nonetheless. TrackIR doesn't help much in keeping me focused. I keep wanting to look around instead of flying. Which is very funny because in real life, I want to stare at my instruments instead of looking around which is an extremely bad habit. I was impressed by the view. If you choose to approach from the opposite end on 8, keep in mind that tall trees force a long runoff area giving you much less runway to work with. You come in higher and at a steeper angle of attack which forces you to be more mindful on how you manage your speed. Aircraft like granny Skylark here can land and stop on a dime so no worries. But if say you want to jam a TBM850 in there or a lite bizjet, be careful.
Once I was on the ground, I felt almost as if I had been here before... Hmm.. what does this place remind me of? Ah! Bill Womack's Siletz Bay! I really like these approaches where I descend into forests shrouded in tall trees on all sides. Like flying straight into nature. I should probably get out of the house more often. I found myself taxiing extremely slow back to the ramp area taking it all in fighting the urge to use the full runway. I like it here. It's really amazing just how real everything looks. It's very hard not to respect the efforts
It's time climb out of this thing and have a look around but before I do, I have one more sales pitch for the Lionheart Skylark. If you are a fan of good looking older women like Robin Wright, the D19 Staggerwing, the C195 Businessliner, and Waco YMF5, then you will really love the Skylark.
That past paragraph really made no sense at all. The Waco is not even old and I am re-watching both seasons of House of Cards as I write this. But let me put it to you like this, put the Skylark and Waco in a hangar next to each other and I think you'll see what I mean. Let's explore!
Now as with all previous products from this developer, this is a "small" destination. Here is what I mean by that: he doesn't like picking destinations with too many airfield buildings and objects. This is a good thing and a not so good thing. The good thing here is by in producing these smaller airfields, he can deliver more products in a relatively short period of time. As I noted earlier, this is his fifth airfield in under a year's time. Couple that with his growing skill, quality, and speed and I can pretty much imagine he will deliver even more over the next year. But the down side here is that his projects might remain small and personally I am quite interested in what a larger airport from Misha might look like.
I am not talking about JFK big or even Juneau size, just something a bit larger in scale. But even if he keeps things small like what we see here, it's still damn good and besides, I am happy to finally see a paved runway and apron from this guy. A step in the right direction. I look forward to Misha making his way down to Northern California. Let's look at the buildings.
Now earlier I said the name Aunt Bee in reference to the Skylark. Now for the most part, I imagine only my more maturely aged American readers know who that is. I grew up with Aunt Bee as did my dad. If you don't know who she is, i'll break it down for you really quick.
If you know the very famous director Ron Howard, then you may know about a television show he stared in as a very young child. No not the Twilight Zone. I am talking about The Andy Griffith Show. Ron Howard played a little boy named Opie Taylor and had an Aunt he called Aunt Bee or more directly: "Ain't Bee". She was the classic American stereotype grandma type character who wore an apron and was always in the kitchen baking stuff. Okay thanks for the rope here guys. Now I will make the connection.
Misha, is the proverbial Aunt Bee in this scenario because he has learned to bake and he bakes damn well. Damn good enough to be carry the Aunt Bee title. But it's not cookies and pies I am talking about here. It's textures! And I am eating these textures up. Because they are umm, umm good! The difference in the texture baking methods are a clear and successful emergence from learning curve seen in his former MCA NA Airfields. Ya' recon he wears an apron while developing sceneries? No matter, i'm off topic. Hell is wrong with me...
Dense vegetation is no doubt a staple in his projects and 11S is no exception. The "digital shubbery" (what I like to call it) looks fantastic. Moving over to Orbx was a good move for Misha in my opinion. In a couple private conversations very early last year before MCA's release, I asked him if he was open to the idea of moving over to Orbx which he was staunchly against at the time. As long is he maintains the freedom to choose his destinations (because he is very good at that) I think Orbx is 100% the proper outfit for him to be a part of. He doesn't have to deal with the hell of coding a lot of things like people flow etc. And access to those object libraries are no joke. But a lot what I find is his own work and that is a good thing too. For example, I can see someone recently bought that Chevy truck second hand from Pacific Coast Auto Center. I wonder if the owner knows how popular his truck just got...
Sure. We have seen the license plate frames: "I'd rather be fishing." or "I'd rather be flying." But a fish flying? Huh! No doubt a tribute to Sekiu's salmon cannery days. At least that's my assumption...
Depending on the time of year, the people flow will come and go. Their background movements are a very nice touch to show there is life in the scenery and you don't have to pay attention to them either. Other little things are the butterflies flopping about the flowers and such. And be sure to look out for the deer in the scenery. Take my word for it, your prop is not a good way to cook a deer. And it's messy.
That is a great approach... or departure.
What I loved about this scenery is I was able to keep all options checked in the Sekiu's control manager and up the water and clouds to full blast while still getting 30-40 smooth FPS. A very big deal in by book as with my rig, she doesn't like to take on too much and if I try, she will retaliate.
I liked the inclusion of the Clallam Bay prison in the scenery. The only other prison I ever discovered in a FS scenery was a part of one of FranceVFR's sceneries. If only he decided to include some people flow inmates out on the yard there. He could have included a mission code for a couple prison flow guys trying to break out. You mission should you choose to accept is to grab your favorite helicopter and search the forest for the escaped inmates. The area is not dead though. There are a few people flow folks hanging out in the parking lot. A helipad is included as well.
Bring on the winter!
I forgot to set FTX to night mode but even so, you get a good idea. The night lighting is bright enough for you to operate at night. Although I am unsure if night operations are aloud.
Final Thoughts. The scenery is not all that big and thus there is not all too much I can say about it besides it's another terrific job my Misha. This is a great location that is far enough away from the cities that you will get max performance allowing many of us to switch on many features we usually keep turned off. The environmental immersion is exactly what I have come to expect from his works which brings be back to my initial point as stated earlier: flight simulation is getting so damn real, flying itself is starting to become only part of the experience. Now I very well could be speaking only for myself. I don't know if anyone else suffers from this but as I have mentioned in other reviews, sometimes, it's just nice to hang out at these little airfields and enjoy the atmosphere when I really should be flying. I can only imagine as these works get better and more plentiful, the more I time will be spending at each airfield between hops.
Someone once left the comment on ADX saying that he did not see the point of small airfields like this. And all I can really say in response to that is: too bad for you mate.
Per my firstlook at 11S, Misha rolled out an update that was simply too good not to pass up. One of which is the triple installer which allows users to use Sekiu in all 3 current platforms: FSX, P3Dv1, and P3Dv2. But most notable is the PR coverage area being extended by almost twice the original size, at a detail depth of 60 cm in coverage, and offered for free! The areas added are Neah and Makah bays which lie on opposite sides of Bahokus Peak where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the Pacific Ocean. This is where I am gassed up and heading out to now. Sadly, unlike my last visit to 11S, the weather was not on my side and with other destinations awaiting my visit, up we go.
Before heading west out to the point, I decided to have another look around Clallam Bay. No doubt the update brought changes to this area too. I noticed a VASI system was added to 11S, which is very helpful to ensure you don't instantly go from flying an airplane to climbing a tree which remains activated 2 hours daily unless deactivated via the control panel. The helipad at Clallam Bay prison was upgraded as well adding new textures and hardened pad. Some of the autogen buildings in town were replaced with custom models as well as the sails lowered on the boats in the marina. Sure, they look more aesthetic raised but that is not very realistic as I myself live near the worlds largest man made marina. They are never raised while parked.
Getting a look at Neah Bay and Waadah Island I head up and over Bahokus Peak and into Makah which is a bit more desolate in comparison to Neah which has a town. As I get closer, I hit the deck and drop flaps for a slower and closer look.
Getting late, time to head back and return the borrowed aircraft.
Again, as if this amazing little scenery with so much to offer could not get any better, it did! As you no doubt clearly see. But is it possible that I could be disappointed in any point of the product? Well... yes.
The way I see it, if you are going to go through the trouble of modeling way out here, might as well include the most scenic parts of it. Nevertheless, I was pleased with the addition we did get.
This makes yet another great job by Misha and please, by all means, don't take my words for any of this. Head over to The FlightSimStore, get your copy of 11S and see for yourself just how good this destination is. And when you do, don't touch and go. Park your plane. Shut off the engine. Get out. Listen to the sounds. Watch the trees sway. Look around. Admire the atmosphere even if it's for a moment. Because after all, FS is becoming much more than just flying weather we are willing to accept that or not. I suppose it just depends on what kind of pilot you are. What kind of person you are. But if you have never done so before, take the moment. Trust me, you won't regret it.