I have always been envious of FsX users simply because of the vast amount of high quality sceneries available to them, and FlyTampa’s St. Maarten package, with TNCM, TFFJ, and TNCS, is the one scenery pack I always wanted to have while flying in XP. From what I could tell the package elements really mimics the terrain and layout of these island airports, and I was never able to get this level of immersion while flying around these islands in X-Plane. The buildings didn’t look a whole lot like the ones in real life and the terrain was “off”, making the approaches into St. Barts and Saba unrealistically easy. Improvements have been made to those XP sceneries lately, buy they still don’t come anywhere near what you’ll find in this package for FsX.
What appeals to me the most are the difficult approaches at airports. Each of these airports is very challenging in a different way, and there’s nothing more fun in a flight sim than executing a tough approach!
St. Maarten (TNCM) is the biggest airport in this series and can be purchased alone without St. Barts and Saba, but why not pay a little more and get all three while you’re at it!?! Below are a couple images of TNCM. Keep in mind this is a first look, and these are images taken while I was exploring this scenery for the first time. In the near future I will take more screenshots that really show more detail.
Here are some shots of TNCM, and I had set my target FPS to 30. The images here are with Carenado’s Cessna 210, and FPS can drop to as low as 18-20, but I found it usually within the 25-30 range. This is without using an external limiter or doing much tweaking, and 18 FPS isn’t too bad in FSX, like it is in some other sims…
St. Barts (TFFJ) is my favorite airport in this package. FPS performance is better here, and barely ever goes below 25 FPS. The approach here is very difficult in the 210. Diving down the hill increases speed and causes the plane to float. I found that using less flaps helps fix that.
Here’s that hill imaged from different angles…
Take note of the detail beyond the hill like the sailboats, buildings, trees, etc.
The last airport in the package – but certainly not least – is Saba! This little airport is well known for its incredibly short runway – with rocky cliffs at each end of the runway. Very few commercial aircraft can land here, with one regularly in use here being the STOL-equipped DHC-6 Twin Otter. If you don’t make a slow approach – or brake effectively – you’ll go right over the edge of the cliffs and hit the water after a surprisingly big fall!
As mentioned I was using Carenado’s new HD Series Cessna 210; probably not the best choice, but it worked! Here are the first images…
Bottom line: You can’t find better executed, more immersive Caribbean island package than this. Every element that makes a great scenery was put into this product, from trees to static aircraft to terrain features, and the effort shows the moment you open the islands in SIM, and I would highly recommend this package to anyone who is even remotely interested in flying around these islands.
That’s all for now! I’ll be back with some more images as I get better acquainted with the scenery!