TAP Tapini Airport – ORBX – review (5*) PNG#4

Tapini – the second PNG scenery by ORBX. Seven airports scattered around PNG mountains and jungle. Bush pilot’s heaven. 

tap

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Pros and cons

What I like in TAP – Tapini Airport

  • 7 small airports and villages
  • airport diversity
  • real world objects (schools, missions) modeled in the scenery
  • photo-real airport backgrounds
  • enhanced landclass and vector scenery between the airfields
  • vegetation
  • animals (butterflies, cows, hens and other birds)
  • stones and small objects in the scenery
  • performance

What I do not like?

  • exaggerated runway bumpiness

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Summary – 5*****

It is a different world. You will not find concrete runways or navaids here. There are no runway lights. But there are chickens. And dense bushes right next to the runway (sometimes on the runway). These runways here are sloping. Usually they are steep. And bumpy.

This is something different from what FSX got us used to. Tapini Airport is a complete scenery for a bush pilot. Seven airports scattered around a considerable area and the landclass+vector scenery between them create a perfect place for any a pilot of Twin Otter or other bush planes.

Tapini Airport (TAP) – ORBX

The scenery consists of 7 airports. Among them Tapini is the best known. Each airport is surrounded with a small photoscenery (or a photo-real background) and there is an enhanced landclass scenery covering mountains and valleys of the Owen Stanley Range. Thanks to this scenery the ugly default landclass for this area was replaced by something that looks like a mountains covered with tropical forest. IFR flyers (those who say “I Follow Rivers”) will be glad to find streams and small rivers placed correctly (as far as I could compare them with U.S. army tactical maps). Free mesh for PNG gives the mountains a proper shape.

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Purchase, installation, documents and mesh

You can buy this scenery… oh for Christ sake, I have written this so many times that you should know this sentence by heart. If you do not know how to install ORBX scenery – read this part in my previous review.

Let’s concentrate on what is important – the price for TAP Tapini Airport is $ 34,95 (Australian Dollars / $ 27 US / 24 Euro – at current rates).

The freeware mesh is obligatory!

Judging from the number of complaints on sim-related forums and Facebook groups – people do not read the manual for this scenery. So I will remind you that you have to install the freeware PNG Holgermesh from ORBX website. The scenery will not look good without it (actually – you may be unable to land without this mesh).

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Scenery coverage

7 airports (marked with blue circle on the map below):

  • TAP – Tapini
  • WTP – Woitape
  • FNE – Fane
  • ONB – Ononge
  • KSP – Koispe
  • ASB – Asimba
  • KGH – Yongai

ORBX-PNG-Bush

You can see airports positions on the map I made. The full map that includes Port Moresby and Jacksons scenery is available for download on my google drive.

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Similarities between these airports?

The airports share some features that I like very much. I think that what I see is the characteristic touch of two talented creators – Tim Harris and Ken Hall, who also made the Jacksons scenery, that I recently reviewed, and Pago Pago – which I know only from the screenshots but I hope to test it soon. What is so special about their sceneries? Small details placed on a very small area. In both sceneries (Tapini and Jacksons) they created small airfields and very small villages. As shocking as it may sound – I think that such places are much harder to design in FSX than large airports. On Heathrow, St. Maarten or Madeira developers will place a few baggage carts, lamps, power connectors or other small items then add a high quality texture to the apron making everyone satisfied. On an airport that is only 40m wide designer needs to think of each and every square meter because any empty space will stand out wrecking the experience. I can say with pleasure that I did not notice any empty spaces in Tapini scenery. Instead, wherever I looked, I found baggage and supplies, tools (even a lawn mover), animals, people, small buildings, fences…

About people. I should warn you. At one airport there is a scary looking man carrying a shotgun. I am not sure whether you are safe landing there – he looks like he is enforcing some new noise abatement rules that I broke in my previous flight. So keep that in mind when you see him. And remember that PNG is one of the last places on earth where incidents of cannibalism were noted recently.

Just like in the previous review – I noticed that this one is also a little tourism-oriented. I know that there are missions in all these villages and this means westerners, visitors and so on. But I think that the number of external visitors is a little exaggerated by this scenery. Just a little – much less than in Jacksons scenery.

What I do not like about this scenery?

Unfortunately I have to repeat what I wrote about the Jacksons scenery runways. They are way too bumpy for any real world plane to land on them – no one would risk a multi million dollar plane (DHC-6 Twin Otter) on such a runway. You can watch some videos of these runways on youtube (even Tapini is shown) and you will see the difference between FSX experience and the real world. I wish these runways were just a little smoother.

Fortunately – our aircraft are not so fragile and their repair is easier even in places like Ononge so we can manage with these runways.

They require skill, but landings are possible and actually – the challenge is quite fun!

Suggestion

To make landings safer I make notes on each airport writing down all the necessary information about the landing and departure. It is not my idea – Matt Dearden, the author of bushflyingdiaries.com described his notes once or twice. That is the way you stay safe in places like PNG.

Side story

You may be used to the way you fly around Europe or U.S. where each airport has its website or a dedicated page on Skyvector or a similar website. Most of the airports have their documents in AIPs. It is all so well organized, safe, and civilized.

PNG is different. There is no AIP for these airports. The notes of pilots may be shared or copied by others who fly to an airport for the first time. Pilots still use charts made in 1970s and 1980s by the U.S. military (TPC, ONC or even the army topographical maps).

Of course – you can just set up your GPS for “direct TAP” (all airports are included in FSX database this time – not like with the Jacksons scenery). But I would strongly encourage you to try flying with scanned charts like the one I published. It’s way more fun to look out of the window and find a river or a valley or just a ridge that will lead you to your destination.

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Diversity

This is the most important difference between this scenery and the previous – Jacksons International Airport. Each airport is so much different from the others. They differ by location – scenery includes a single airport located in the middle of a valley, two airports at the bottom of the valley – but close to ridges, two airports on top of the mountains and one (Tapini) that is located right in the middle of a hill. They differ by the runway type – there are 3 grass runways and 3 muddy runways. And one about which I am undecided. And  each village is different from others and many include models of buildings I saw on the real world photos from these locations.

 

Runways – my notes

Tapini – TAP

One way in, one way out. Heading on landing – 270. Runway elevation 3078-3223ft. Warning: bumpy runway! Runway slopes down in the touchdown zone and then it slopes upwards. Use goat trails as a approach altitude indicator.

Asimba – ASB

One way in, one way out. Curvy runway (!!!) Landing heading – 270. Heading mid-runway – 280. Runway elevation: 1130-1189ft. Steep slope in touchdown zone. No people at airport – butterflies instead.

Yongai – KGH

One way in, one way out. Curvy runway. Heading on landing – 210, rollout heading – 220. Bumpy runway. Elevation: 6389-6468ft. Warning: Chickens in rollout area. Plane spotters standing close to the threshold.

Woitape – WTP

Large runway. Easy approach. One way in (northern heading), one way out (southern departure). Lateral slope (slight). Elevation: 5182-5212ft.

Kosipe – KSP

Elevation: 6310ft. Due to terrain north of the runway – one way in (northern heading) and one way out (southern). Loaded Wilga struggles on take-off.

Fane – FNE

My notes say: “Insane runway sloping in every direction”Elevation: 4329-4473ft. One way in, one way out…

Ononge – ONB

One way in, one way out. Very curvy. Landing and rollout heading – somewhere between 0 and 30. Some parts sloping laterally. The first 200-300 feet unusable due to steep lateral slope. Poor vegetation management – bushes on runway.

In short – you should get it!

Performance – perfect

It’s great. What else can I say.

Summary – 5*****

It is a different world. You will not find concrete runways or navaids here. There are no runway lights. But there are chickens. And dense bushes right next to the runway (sometimes on the runway). These runways here are sloping. Usually they are steep. And bumpy.

This is something different from what FSX got us used to. Tapini Airport is a complete scenery for a bush pilot. Seven airports scattered around a considerable area and the landclass+vector scenery between them create a perfect place for any a pilot of Twin Otter or other bush planes.

Quality to price ratio – great

24 Euro or 27 USD for 7 airports. It less than 4 bucks for an airport. It’s a deal.

Following add-ons were used to make screenshots for this review

TAP – Tapini Airport – ORBX

and:

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Tapini Airport (TAP) - ORBX
Author Rating
51star1star1star1star1star

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