L70 Agua Dulce – ORBX – review (5*)

A quiet Californian airport. A scenery that is just a little too beautiful to be perfect. I wish it was a bit more dusty, but this is the only complaint in the whole review! Agua Dulce – L70.

l70-agua-dulce

 

Pros and cons

What I like in Agua Dulce

  • great mesh
  • mesh again – perfect rock formations
  • autogen
  • photoscenery
  • airport textures
  • buildings
  • airport building backyard

What I do not like in L70

  • extremely clean and freshly painted hangars

What can be improved

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Short version – 5*****

Agua Dulce is a great scenery that I like very much. L70 is located in a beautiful area, which charm was successfully brought to Flight Simulator. The scenery recreates what you would find in Agua Dulce in the real world – a small Californian airport close to Los Angeles. It is a beautiful place and my only complaint about it is that it is too beautiful – too clean. Fortunately – it is clean but does not have a “plastic” feel – so this is not something you should be overly concerned with. The strengths of this scenery – like the great mesh, high resolution photoscenery, quality 3d models and perfect autogen – are much more pronounced.

L70 Agua Dulce

The name brings the memories of Spanish colonization of California – Agua Dulce means Freshwater in Spanish. Currently it is a small community of around three thousand inhabitants located in Los Angeles county.

When compared to other U.S. airports – this one has small traffic – only 720 operations annually. This may be caused by restrictive noise abatement procedures.

Single runway is 4600ft long and 50ft wide (1406x15m). There are no lights – the airport is open from dawn to dusk. There are also no instrument approaches. Runway threshold is displaced at both ends (580ft for runway 04 and 838ft for 22).

Recommended traffic pattern starts with perpendicular crossing of runway right in the middle of the airport. Helicopters should use the smaller pattern when possible.

from_sky_

Finals for both runway directions are offset by a couple degrees to avoid raising terrain and lower the noise pollution at nearby settlements.

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What to fly and where to?

Airport procedures limit its availability to aircraft not heavier than 30,000 lbs and helicopters up to 10,000 lbs. Jets are prohibited from landing in L70. There is an exception from these rules for emergency situations, aircraft operated by government agencies and military. Medical flights are also exempted from this restrictions.

If you are in doubt what to fly when going to L70 or flying from here – I suggest a small general aviation plane or a helicopter.

Where to? California is full of airports and there are thousands of good destinations in the range of typical GA aircraft. I recommend Palm Springs (check out my 6-star review). It’s just a 30-60 minute flight from L70 and it has a great scenery by ORBX. If your PC can handle a large city – you can go for a trip over Los Angeles.

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ORBX L70 Agua Dulce

Agua Dulce is the first airport published for FTX Southern California. This scenery is recommended prior to insallation of L70.

Scenery features (based on the product description):

  • Over 200km sq of crisp photoreal terrain to explore
  • Advanced AO baking techniques for realistic shadowing
  • Super high resolution mesh for incredible definition of rocks, mountains and terrain!
  • Nearby famous Vasquez Rocks included
  • Custom vegetation at airport
  • TextureFlow optimized and includes most Flow technologies
  • Challenging mountainous terrain makes for a very interesting approach
  • Optimized for high performance using similar techniques to KSTS
  • Developed by Misha Cajic

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Purchase, installation, manual and config tool

As always with ORBX sceneries you can buy it in FlightSimStore. L70 costs 34,95 AUD (around 23 Euro or 25 USD at current rates – February 2016). It is available as a download – the file has a size of 357MB.

You will need the product key, order date and number to run the installer.

Manual (like with nearly all products by ORBX) includes a short description of the scenery, information about the creators and recommended FSX settings. As always (sadly) it lacks airport diagram which would show starting locations for FSX Free Flight.

Additionally the manual contains airport description with departure and arrival procedures.

Configuration tool enables or disables:

  • 3D Grass
  • PeopleFlow
  • CreatureFlow
  • Static Aircraft

First impression

A difficult traffic pattern

When I flew here for the first time (of course I did it before I read the manual and local procedures) I found myself wondering how the hell should I fly the traffic pattern. When you look in direction of runway 22 you will see a high ridge on the left. To the right there is a lower hill, but it is still high enough to make me uncomfortable on approach – I felt like I was just above the back yards of the houses on that hill. (By the way – these are a very well placed houses!).

I will start with a description of the traffic pattern. The local procedures state that you must not perform straight-in approaches. Always enter the pattern after crossing the runway in the middle – like it is shown on the image below.

 

from_sky_

When on downwind – do not descend below 3500ft (runway elevation is 2660ft). Start your descent only after turning base. If you are used to a safe margin of altitude on approach – forget about it – on this approach you will find yourself flying low over rocky terrain.

When approaching runway 04 – fly around the hill protruding south from the main ridgeline.

For runway 22 make sure you fly around the group of houses shown on the picture above.

Departures should be flown at Vx – the speed of the steepest climb. Usually it is 5-15 knots lower than your usual climb-out speed. After departure turn 10 degrees – right for rwy 04 and left for 22.

What a beautiful, new hangar…

The second impression was made by this marvelous red hangars. As a matter of fact – they are so beautiful that they look a little out of place here. Like they were all just painted or cleaned. It does not feel very natural – I would prefer some dust and dirt here (we are on the desert – aren’t we?).

But it is not a huge problem – this hangars do not have the plastic feel of some buildings that you can find in FSX.

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The airport

Buildings (4****)

At the airport you will find over a dozen hangars located by the main taxiway. There is also a small office building (a bar?) right in the middle. Next to it – there is a traffic pattern indicator painted on the ground.

At the southern end of the airport there are additional hangars. These are a little dirtier and they look much better in my opinion.

Some of the hangars are open – you can see parked planes and some items placed inside.

Backyard, people and butterflies (5*****)

The airport building (offices? cafe?) is surrounded with a small, fenced garden. I think they should trim the grass there, but otherwise it is quite nice with several tables where people can sit down and rest after the flight. A few men and women are already there. If you stop for a moment – you may notice a butterfly flying around.

 

Static planes (5*****)

I like when the scenery includes static planes. In this case the number of aircraft is just right for the airport of this size and traffic like that. I especially like the Robinson helicopter in long term storage – with window cover on and dismantled rotor.

Volumetric grass (6*****)

In the previous review I complained about the amount of grass. Agua Dulce shows opposite approach – grass is everywhere. It is perfect – varying kinds, shapes and high only adds to the experience.

Airport surroundings

Town (5*****)

Agua Dulce uses 30cm/px photoscenery around the airport and 1m/px further away. The 30cm part includes Agua Dulce town – which is the best choice I could expect and allows for some low level flights.

The town is completely filled with autogen buildings and/or scenery objects which are perfectly aligned with the background.

Vasquez Rocks (6******)

Vasquez Rocks is the Natural Area Park in Northern Los Angles County. This scenery includes some of the most amazing rock formations of this Park. Using 5-meter mesh resolution the author of this scenery was able to form this rocks supposedly without using 3d models. I think this is an amazing achievement and it really shows how far a developer can go with a proper mesh design.

Make sure you have 5m mesh resolution selected in FSX settings.

Antelope Valley Freeway and surrounding mountains (5*****)

I always admire mountainous terrain based on high resolution mesh and covered with photoscenery. The 30cm/px resolution ends at the Antelope Valley Freeway – you can not miss this highway winding through the mountains. To the north 1m/px photoscenery extends several miles from Agua Dulce suburbs into the mountains. With high quality mesh you will find this photoscenery sufficient for flights at altitudes of 1000ft above the ground.

Performance – good enough/good

I think that in terms of performance the L70 Agua Dulce scenery is good enough. Some may say it is good. With the high end planes I mostly use I never got below 22-24 (A2A, most of my Carenado planes and Real Air Duke) when taxiing through the central part of the airport (where the drop is most significant due to high grass and numerous objects). Some glass cockpit planes caused frame rates to drop as low as 18-20fps. In flight I observed frame rates in the range of 25-40 (which is my current limit).

Comparing this with other sceneries I use – I think this is a result I can live with – considering the quality of this scenery.

Summary – 5*****

Agua Dulce is a great scenery that I like very much. L70 is located in a beautiful area, which charm was successfully brought to Flight Simulator. The scenery recreates what you would find in Agua Dulce in the real world – a small Californian airport close to Los Angeles. It is a beautiful place and my only complaint about it is that it is too beautiful – too clean. Fortunately – it is clean but does not have a “plastic” feel – so this is not something you should be overly concerned with. The strengths of this scenery – like the great mesh, high resolution photoscenery, quality 3d models and perfect autogen – are much more pronounced.

Quality to price – good enough / good

23 Euro or $25 (U.S.) may be considered just a little too much for such a small place, especially if you care about the real world rules and restrictions.

In my opinion – this is a good ratio if you fly over California. Certainly, at this price, it is a must have for those who already have Palm Springs.

 

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L70 Agua Dulce Airport - ORBX
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