Palm Springs – ORBX – review (6*)

Palm Springs – one of the best sceneries I’ve seen. Great models, perfect animations and good textures. Plus all the objects that bring it to life. 6 stars!


Pros and cons

What I like in Palm Springs?

  • picturesque terminal
  • building models
  • textures
  • taxiway lights
  • static planes
  • people (huge number of people)
  • airport surroundings (cities around Palm Springs)
  • photoscenery
  • cable-car
  • wind farms
  • vegetation
  • performance
  • configurator

What I do not like?

  • photoscenery covering a few places at airport
  • some night textures

What can be improved?

  • night lighting
  • 3d grass and stones could be added

Palm Springs & KPSP

Captain Renault: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

I am sure that those who came to Palm Springs were not misinformed. This resort accounts for a fifth of the California’s water use. There is a saying that “Palm Springs was built on water”. It explains the oasis like looks of this area – green cities and golf courses (120 of them) surrounded with sands and rocks of Colorado Desert.

For over hundred years the growth of Palm Springs was driven by tourism. At first Coachella Valley was recommended for health reasons. Than it was discovered by film stars and famous musicians – their homes are still one of Palm Springs attractions. Today, as the tourism grows, celebrities choose other location in Coachella Valley and Palm Springs is focusing on providing fun to over a million tourists who visit each year.

There is plenty to see. Among tens of museums and galleries there is the Palm Springs Air Museum (located at the airport – it boasts interesting collection of historical aircraft).

If you are interested in aviation records – check out Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This cable car on the slopes of San Jacinto Peak was built with the unprecedented use of helicopters. Till this day they use helicopters for repairs and rescue. If you fly over Aerial Tramway line you will notice landing platforms on cable-car pylons.

Palm Springs International Airport – KPSP

Palm Springs International Airport has two parallel runways 13/31. The southern is 10.000ft long (3048m) and the northern is 4952ft (1509m) long. Their width is (respectively) 150ft/46m and 75ft/23m. Both runways use northern (over the desert) traffic pattern.

If you intend to use the shorter runway – remember about it’s weight limits 5 F/B/W/T classification is just enough for Beech 1900 and Jetstream 41 but insufficient for Learjet 45.

FBOs and general aviation aprons are located on both sides of runways. Airline terminal is located on the southern side. You will also find customs there.

There is no ILS system at this airport. It’s probably not necessary in this climate. In case of bad weather – there are VOR and RNAV instrument approaches.

What to fly and where to?

As a popular tourist resort Palm Springs is visited by several U.S. and Canadian airlines. Rich visitors use air taxi services. There is also considerable general aviation traffic. The statistics are well balanced – all three major types of operations amount to nearly 20.000 (each). Additionally there are about 3 thousand local GA flights and 1620 military operations annually.

What types of aircraft fly to Palm Springs? There are no rules in GA and air-taxi segment – any plane capable of such operations can be seen in KPSP. Among airliners small jets and turboprops are in majority. The biggest planes visiting Palm Springs regularly are Boeings 737.

Browsing through Palm Springs photos on the internet I noticed large numbers of photos showing B-29s, B-17s, fighters and historical jets. This traffic is attracted by the museum I mentioned earlier.

If you are looking for some unusual planes that landed in KPSP – Boeing 747 (Air Force One) brought U.S. president on his visit. I found several photos of large planes like C-17, An-124 and older passenger planes – DC-10 and Boeing 707.

Weight limit of the main runway (64 /F/B/W/T) allows for 767 operations at full takeoff weight. 747-400 narrowly exceeds the limit at MTOW and 777-300 is seriously over this limit (if loaded fully). You should decrease takeoff weight if you wish to fly 777 or 747 from KPSP.  You will also find it difficult to park planes as big. Palm Springs aprons are designed for planes of 737 (maybe 757) size and handling of larger planes if difficult (but possible – I have tried).

ORBX Palm Springs International Airport

Palm Springs was designed for ORBX by Jarrad Marshall (who’s Juneau I have recently reviewed). You can find the scenery description on a product page – ORBX Palm Springs International Airport. Buy Now! button will redirect you to the FlightSimStore where you can buy Palm Springs for 32.95 Australian Dollars (21 Euro or 24 U.S. Dollars – at current rates – October 2015). It’s three dollars more than the usual ORBX price for airport but keep in mind that this is the largest airport scenery by ORBX.

Scenery Coverage

The main subject of this scenery (just as the title suggests) is the Palm Springs International Airport. Additionally two airports located nearby were upgraded (in the manner similar to FTX scenery upgrades for airports). On both – Banning (KBNG) and Bermuda Dunnes (KUDD) you will see improved hangars, static planes and people.

The whole area of this scenery (1500 square kilometers) is covered with photoscenery. Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, Indian Wells, Thousand Palms, Palm Desert and Desert Hot Springs were recreated in detail. Many characteristic buildings or places were modeled – hotels, casinos and hospital among them. On the desert you will find wind farms and a power station.

There is also a cable car located in the mountains and an AI helicopter is flying over the city.

Purchase and installation

The scenery is available in FSS as a download add-on. Order number and date together with the product key are required to run the installer.


Palm Springs scenery requires FTX Global Base.


Scenery configuration tool allows user to choose scenery features that he (or she) would like to turn off.

Airport details:

  • Airside Vehicles and Clutter
  • Non-airside Vehicles
  • Non-airside Vehicles – detailed
  • Animated PeopleFlow
  • Static PeopleFlow
  • Static People Around Town
  • Advanced Vegetation around Airport

Static Aircraft:

  • Airliner Statics
  • Charter Airline Statics
  • Corporate Jets Statics
  • General Aviation Statics

Set Runway Hold Short WigWags

  • Wig-wags functioning night only
  • Wig-wags functioning day and night

Set Runway and Taxiway Light Intensity

  • 100%
  • 85%
  • 70%
  • 50%

Animations and Time-conditional Content

  • AI helicopter, Aerial Tramway Cabins and Coachella Valley Train
  • Airport Fire Rescue Training Sessions

Other Details

  • advanced autogen
  • city landmarks

First impression (5*****)

Three things captured my attention immediately after I loaded the first flight – there are plenty of people, static planes and clutter objects! The more I use ORBX sceneries the more I am used to this, but nevertheless this airport is exceptional – even among other ORBX sceneries. The main reason is… this is not another small rural airport where the developer can put a lot of effort to refine each detail. It’s the largest airport ORBX has created and the attention to details is on par with smaller ones. Let me show you a single example – there is a hangar where a Sky West airliner is being repaired by four men (and I do not count the man by the gate – 30 meters away).

People and animations (6******)

I’ll stop for a moment here and describe it in detail. These men are working on the left engine – two of them stand on a ramp and fix the engine, another works on a part laying in front of him on a table. It’s interesting how he is animated – not only does he repair this part, but from time to time he stops, takes a step back, grabs a bottle of water at another table and takes a sip. Then he puts the bottle back on the table and returns to his task.

Small objects – clutter (5*****)

Everywhere I look there is something laying around – tool boxes, crates, bottles (water? oil?). And it is not just this place – there are more locations like this everywhere at this airport. When I taxied by the terminal I saw warning cones around planes and cars parked on apron, hydrants and fire hoses located close to aircraft gates and baggage carts – waiting for their load.

Cars and planes (5*****)

Cars and planes require separate mention.

As you probably noticed when I described the configurator – you can separately turn off airliners, charter planes, business jets and general aviation aircraft. On my screens you can see all these planes together – I had no reason to turn them off (the performance of this scenery is perfect).

I like the number of planes provided by the scenery author. Even when I fly without AI traffic (when flying on Vatsim I turn AI off) I do not feel alone. In here I pass by ten or 20 planes before reaching the runway! That’s nice – it looks like I was at the real world airport.

It’s the same with cars. At every real world airport, I have been, I saw plenty. And that is exactly what I see here – trucks, pick-ups, vans, tractors, baggage carts – they are all here.

Terminal building

Model (6******)

Suspended roofs are becoming popular – you can see this type of roofing at stadiums and over racing circuit stands. Palm Springs airport also boasts such architectural solution. I think that it doesn’t cause a problem in this climate. It was not a problem for developer either – in a little show off manner he demonstrated his craft and proficiency.

People and small objects (6******)

I took a tour around the terminal (yes – you can actually get under this roof and take a look around). There are plenty of people here too. Some are animated, some – just static. Their surroundings are carefully crafted – with chairs and tables in and in front of the terminal. There is also a small garden in the middle of the building boasting palms and agave plants.

Textures (4****)

Textures are a little less perfect. They are good or very good compared to other sceneries on the market but I feel that they are worse compared with other textures used in this scenery. When I look at the textures inside I can see that the resolution is fine but compression was too severe – compression artifacts look bad in some places but they do prevent signs from being readable (you can clearly see panels like “Gate 4*6*8”). Also on the outside the texture looks a little blurry in places.

Night (4***)

I have mixed feelings about night lighting. From the outside night textures of the terminal are perfect! On the inside you will notice that people and some objects lack night textures and are simply black… It looks odd.

Ground textures – airport (4****)

Most of the airport is covered with medium to high resolution textures. In places that lack this feature – 30cm photoscenery in the background takes over. As I already said in some of my reviews – 30cm/px is not enough for airport texture.

On the other hand – textures that were used are good or superb (especially in case of markings and lettering on the ground). Ant they cover most of airport’s surface.

Around the airport (6*****)

I am stunned by the airport itself but the take-off and low level flight makes even better impression. This is one of the best city-sceneries I have seen in FSX. Autogen is placed flawlessly. Building models fit this region’s architecture and vegetation autogen is meticulously distributed.

In terms of ground textures – airport vicinity is covered with 30cm/px photoscenery. In other parts of the scenery 1m/px is used. This is enough for departures and low level flights. Although I consider 60cm/px a better resolution for a scenery around the airport – in this case 1m/px is sufficient – the quality of images and their editing makes them acceptable at 500ft and very good from 2000ft above.

The photoscenery comes in seasonal variations.

Mesh (5*****)

Palm Springs scenery uses 10m-mesh. Together with mountainous photoscenery it makes great impression and attracts low level trips in a small plane or helicopter.

What to see in this scenery? Why to take a scenic flight?

It may sound absurd but I chose this scenery because I thought that it is the best ORBX airport for Boeing 777. My first trips from Palms Springs headed for San Francisco and Phoenix. But I noticed my mistake early. 1500 square kilometers may sound nice but for me it means nothing – it’s just a random number (I am not that good in remembering numbers or associating them with information). It wasn’t until I departed in 777 that I saw how much time it took me to reach the edge of this scenery until I understood how big it is. So I moved to Comanche and Duke and went for some local flights. Even in a fast Comanche it takes 15 minutes to fly from one edge of this scenery to the other. And there are additional destinations in here – these two upgraded airports are nice enough to land on a short trip.

Helicopters came later. Inspired by a friend’s photos I started doing flights over power lines (and there are plenty of these here). Following them I reached wind farms and an interesting power station. If you are more interested in flying over cities – take a medevac helicopter and fly to the hospital in Palm Springs – there is a helipad on the roof.

You should also remember about the Aerial Tramway and helipad-platforms on it’s pylons.

Wind farms (6******)

I have no idea how they managed to place so many wind turbines without sacrificing the performance. There are places where you can see hundreds of them! Hundreds! It’s amazing.

Shadows in the photoscenery show that these wind turbines are placed correctly.

Performance (very good – surprisingly good)

I did not expect such good performance on an airport big like this. It’s good and sometimes it’s perfect. Only the most frame-rate heavy planes caused the performance to drop below my 30-fps limit.

If you have an older PC – use the configurator to decrease the amount of clutter, animations and static objects.

Summary (6******)

It is one of the best sceneries I have seen. It’s all around very good – in every respect it’s on par or better than any other. It’s a display of great craftsmanship and artistry of the developer. From the flashing wig-wags mounted at hold short marking to the breathtaking terminal building everything in here is stunning. Palm Springs authors care about the fun in flying – the scenery doesn’t end at the airport’s fence but provides an amazing area to fly around. When summed up – this makes a great product.

I almost forgot… (6******)

Did I mention that the escalators are animated? About firefighters training that you can watch at the airport? About the funny hen advertising a bistro in Palm Springs? I did not.

The review is too short to mention all the advantages and highlights of such a good product. If you fly to Palm Springs – make sure you look for playground where children have fun, a spotter who takes a photos of departing planes. Please admire the details of piping around the fuel tanks, the perfect airport lights and signs, the fences around the airport… and many other features.

Quality to price (perfect!)

For a scenery that good 32.95 is a deal.

Add-ons used in this review:

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Palm Springs International Airport - ORBX
Author Rating