Juneau International Airport – a very good scenery of a remarkable airport. I like the atmosphere and character of this place. PAJN by ORBX – 5 star review.
Pros and cons
What I like in Juneau?
- realistic approach and departure conditions
- building models
- Alaskan airport atmosphere
- surrounding photoscenery
- small objects
- static planes
- animated people
What I do not like?
- float plane base
What can be improved?
- night lighting
- airport diagram in manual
- (lack of) snow cover on apron, taxiways and runway
Juneau & PAJN
Alaska’s State Capital is one of this incredible places on mainland that you can not reach on land. The only way in and out of Juneau is by sea or air. Like on an island.
Ferry service is provided by AMHS – Alaska Maritime Highway System ferries. Heavy loads are carried to Juneau by freighters.
There is one more curiosity – Juneau is the second largest municipality in USA and it’s area is larger than the state of Delaware or Rhode Island. Large cities are the Alaskan specialty – top four cities in USA by their size are located in Alaska. Jacksonville, Fl, that holds the fifth place is just 1/4 of the Juneau’s area.
It is often difficult to find a suitable place for a runway in this part of Alaska. Juneau International Airport took the only location available despite unfavorable approach and departure conditions – high mountains surround the airport cause 14 degree offset for localizer and RNAV approach path. Localizer’s back course guides departing aircraft – if the plane is taking off eastwards – pilot has to turn back to intercept LLZ course.
In 1985 and 1986 two planes crashed on approaches to Juneau – a Lear jet 24 and military King Air – C-12 Huron. In both cases the crew was in fault – these were typical CFIT examples on a difficult approach. Currently there is an additional RNAV approach that steers aircraft clear of some obstacles – but it’s offset is even greater than localizer’s.
What to fly and where?
Alaska Airlines flies it’s 737s to Juneau. Delta uses the same plane and smaller jets.
The most popular type of operation in Juneau is air-taxi – so every plane suitable for this role will fit here – from a small Cessna to a business jet (Gulfstream, Citation or even BBJ).
If you are looking for interesting route – look for Alaska Airlines’ Milk Run – a route from Anchorage to Ketchikan or Seattle with multiple stopovers at airports on the way. Juneau is an important stop and kind of a hub for such operations in this area.
Freighters are often seen in Juneau due to transport difficulties. Alaska Airlines flies its cargo and combi 737s on a schedule. Other operators visit this airport on demand.
When I was looking for unusual planes that visited Juneau I found a story about C-5 Galaxy landings. Recently the giant transport plane brought a Coast Guard unit from Los Angeles (two boats, trucks and staff). Earlier three C-5s visited at one time. As the C-5 does not fit at any apron in Juneau – it was unloaded and serviced on a taxiway. There were no delays due to this obstruction.
U.S. military aircraft sometimes stop here to refuel.
Juneau International Airport – ORBX
PAJN covers the airport and close vicinity for which it provides a high resolution photoscenery which is especially stunning south of the airport – at the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge.
The scenery does not cover Juneau city – but that does not matter as the city already has a great scenery in FTX Southern Alaska (SAK) and I do not think that it needs improving. FTX Southern Alaska includes an upgraded town scenery for several locations and Juneau is one of these.
FTX Southern Alaska is required. Juneau International Airport should work with no problems without FTX SAK but some elements of scenery may be missing. I honestly recommend FTX SAK – expect it’s review soon.
Scenery page at Fullterrain.com – Juneau International Airport, redirects to the FlightSimStore where you can buy it for 29,95 Australian Dollars (19 Euro or 22 U.S. Dollars at current rates – October 2015). It is published as a download add-on.
Installation process is no different from other ORBX products. If you wander how it works – read one of my earlier reviews.
Scenery manual / documentation explains how to configure your FSX to get the full experience and the best framerate. There are different settings suggested depending on your PS specs – adjust to the one closest to your machine. As usually the manual includes credits and license information.
There is also a short description of the airport and it’s diagram (copied from SkyVector).
On an airport like this I would expect an additional diagram showing stands numbers so that I do not have to guess when I select my starting position in FSX.
It’s an empty, gray and sad place… and it rains! This rain and gray clouds are an almost constant nuisance – I did about 40 flights while testing this scenery – nearly all of them with the historical weather from Juneau (between May and October). It was raining once for three flights. In 3/4 of my flights it was cloudy…
In some unusual way this airport is… boring. It is not an accusation! Russ White did a great job recreating the real world Juneau which looks so sad…
It is the atmosphere of this place. I am not sure if I would like to visit this place as a tourist (I mean – the airport; I am very interested in visiting Juneau and Alaska). The terminal building is simple and unattractive, apron pavement shows signs of several repairs – do not be surprised when you see a different texture that is not fitting it’s surroundings – this is exactly how it looks. Architecturally… it is a disaster. (I hope that no one feels offended). I am not surprised that this airport looks that way. It had to be a cheap but functional airport. It has to serve it’s purpose without generating extensive costs in a place where everything had to be brought by sea or air (including machinery and workers). Under such circumstances spending additional funds on fancy architecture would be foolish. The scenery recreates this beautifully. And my weather generator adds rain…
At first I noticed how many there are – it’s Alaska – huge aprons with rows of parked planes are out of place here – hangar space is much more desirable. I counted 30 or so. Some smaller, some bigger, new, old, clean, neglected… When I moved around the airport hangars clearly show how it expanded. The western part is a conglomerate of hangars of various colors, shapes and sizes. Newer red hangars of similar design are more common in the eastern part. I like how the developer showed their condition and age covering some with rust and other with freshly painted textures.
Some may say that the building models are simply – the real world shape of these hangars surely helped but this simple models work great with detailed and photo-realistic textures covering them. It is the amount of details that really makes this buildings – I could even distinguish the knob on the door at the back of a hangar.
Terminal building (5*)
Terminal building is the most complex building model in this scenery. It is still not a model that would be shocking in FSX scenery but again – textures make it look very good – even if I look from a very close distance. The control tower is the most distinctive point of the building and it seems a little more detailed – with a small balcony and a railing around it and a set of antennas on the roof. For some reason jetways’ textures are a little blurry (low-res). On the other hand – there are air ducts and air conditioning units below the jetways – they look just like someone will connect them to a plane in just a moment.
Airport clutter (6*)
Even the most beautiful hangars and buildings and perfect ground textures will not make the realistic airport if there is nothing beside them. Fortunately – in Juneau I found lots, and lots of small objects, crates, barrels, warning cones, cars and other accessories that are usually found on an airport. There is a number of static planes and helicopters on GA aprons and one 737 (Alaska Airlines of course) parked in front of the terminal building (you can turn it off in configuration manager).
Hangars’ surroundings are filled with things that are usually found around the airport – containers, crates, trash containers, warning cones, pallets… It’s clear that the developers did not place these objects at random but carefully studied the real airports and adjusted object placement to each location’s character. So it’s more orderly around the terminal building – with some baggage carts standing around it and it’s messy by the shabbiest hangars – where old pallets and crates are just thrown on piles at the back.
Somewhere in the middle of apron there is a fuel station and several tanker trucks are parked there. I can easily read most of texts on the fuel tanks.
Cars parked at the airport look very realistic. There are plenty! My estimate would be – hundreds of cars are parked at and around the airport!
The only difference I saw in the float plane base after I installed this scenery was a different ground texture and slope mesh (improved). It is sad – I had high hopes for this seaplane base. It’s a pitty it is not covered by this scenery.
People at the airport (5*)
Considering the number of men sweeping the apron – it has to be the cleanest airport in FSX! I like ORBX animated people and this scenery is no different from other products of this publisher. I would even say that it is one of the best I have seen. There are plenty of people and the animations are authentic.
I need to make reservation about the grass. It’s my personal opinion and your’s may be completely different.
Let me describe Juneau’s grass more precisely. This is a very nice grass – the models are good, texture – superb and density is great. But this grass grows in patches – there are places covered with it and other… where nothing grows. It may raise doubts. And I was doubtful. It does not look like I imagined it should. But then I looked at photos taken in Juneau… and I saw something similar. There are places where grass grows high, but most of the airport is covered with short turf that doesn’t look as impressive as grass in tempered climate. That is why I do not like grass at this airport (both in real world and in this scenery) but I recognize the effort to make it realistic.
Ground textures and photoscenery (5*)
The airport is covered with high resolution textures. Multiple pavement materials used in Juneau are well recreated in the scenery.
Yellow and white lines of taxiways, runway and apron stands show wear and look like they were drawn on rugged surface – like an old asphalt or concrete.
Photoscenery around the airport has sufficient resolution to enjoy flying over the river at low altitude in a Cub or (in my case) in PBY Catalina (it’s not much faster than a Cub). This is a multiseason photoscenery so you will enjoy it in the winter as well. In fact – it may look even better in winter – that is very unusual for a photoscenery.
On the other hand – I do not like winter textures on aprons and taxiways – they are too clean.
When I fly aircraft that performs well I see no impact of this scenery but with planes that are hard on frames Juneau takes a small tall. Depending on the aircraft and the weather I observer 30 fps (this is my limit) or a drop of 1 to 8 fps (so 20-30fps).
Juneau International Airport is a very good scenery of a remarkable airport. I like how ORBX was able to recreate the atmosphere and character of this place. PAJN is also one of this sceneries that have no flaws that would be worth mentioning – it is a fusion of good models, great textures and proper performance. That is exactly what I look for in a scenery.
Price to quality ratio – great
$21 (U.S.) or 19 Euro for a very good scenery – this is a very good deal.