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Flight Adventure: Bozeman Yellowstone International

Welcome to Big Sky Country where we are taking the Twin Otter for a nice scenic flight.

We are back in Montana – more precise at the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (formerly known as Gallatin Field) which is located in the heart of the beautiful Gallatin Valley. Most recently Gallatin Field was renamed to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (KBZN), in an attempt to encourage travellers to use the airfield for access to Yellowstone National Park. The airport is centrally surrounded by three National Parks; the Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Glacier National Park.

As a general note I am using an i7-2700 Gaming-PC with 64-bit, 3,50 GHz and 16 GB Ram,  furthermore two SSDs and a AMD Radeon HD 7970 with 1 GB support my Twin Otter homecockpit. As mentioned in previous flight adventures I am putting all sliders to the right in the FSX configuration menu. Here is a link where you can check the add-on software that I am using on my main computer.

As mentioned in my previous flight adventures, downloading the 4 GB FTX NA CRM Central Rocky Mountains and the 1,8 GB KBZN Bozeman  software from the server might take some time but the self-explaining installation itself is quite easy – please note an online validation is mandatory during the setup process. I strongly recommend reading the manuals provided and check the KMZ coverage file in Google Earth.

The NA CRM comes with a 27 page user manual which not only explains the set up process but also gives a background on the region. The add-on CRM is a perfect addition to NA BLUE series. It has been mentioned that over 450 airports and airstrips have been upgraded with more accurate placements of runways and taxiways as well as buildings, hangars, and objects. The product continues with the coverage south-east from PNW and NRM and features superb new Matt Tomkins ground textures as well as the Yellowstone and Grand Teton area.

The FTX US KBZN Bozeman International Airport software also comes with a 27 page user guide including charts, scenery coverage area and settings. Please note that installing the KBZN Bozeman International Airport requires you to update your FTX Central Rocky Mountains region with the CRM.002 (or higher version) patch. You can find the latest CRM patch on the Orbx website. An important note taken from the manual is that unlike many ORBX airports, the custom seasonal variation (NatureFlow) at KBZN will not automatically change. Set at summer by default, this can be changed (fall/winter/hard winter/summer) by selecting the appropriate option.

Orbx Bozeman International Airport (A)Orbx Bozeman International Airport (B)
Orbx Bozeman International Airport (01)Orbx Bozeman International Airport (02)
As Orbx provides a coverage and a proximity map in their manual simmers can not only see that the product includes the entire township of Belgrade but also the five additional lite airstrips. In addition the Bridger Range with the 9.665 feet Sacagawea Peak as the highest point has been included in the software.

Starting the flight adventure with two areal images taken from FL250 and FL150 heading southbound, we can see the dimensions of the Bozeman Yellowstone International and also the city limit of Belgrade. Comparing the first picture to Google Earth you will hardly notice a difference – in fact the Orbx scenery is a lot more colorful than the image that can be viewed in GE. Furthermore numerous local landmarks and POI’s are included which can quickly be identified.

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Today we are heading from Denver to Belgrade for a short test flight with the new Twin Otter DHC-6-100. Summer has just ended but the weather is still nice during this time of the year. Our non-stop flight is operated by a new United Airline A320. During the approach we can see the Sacagawea Peak to our left hand side which is a prominent peak visible to the northeast from Belgrade. The A320 touches down on runway 12 and while we are taxiing to our gate via A we catch sight of the proportions of this airport. KBZN by the way is the only airport serving as a year-round gateway for two Yellowstone National Park entrances. Furthermore it also serves the recreation areas of Big Sky Resort, Moonlight Basin and the Bridger Bowl Ski Area as well as the business centers of Bozeman, Belgrade and Livingston and higher education at Montana State University.

During the final I really admired the modeling of the Bridger Mountains which in my opinion gives a natural touch to the whole scenery. Orbx stated that this add-on is suitable for high-end aircraft which I fully agree after testing with different models. During the approach I had 30+ FPS. Apart from this the scenery looks like a typical Orbx product at first sight, with the things you immediately notice such as the grass next to the runway (NatureFlow) or the static aircrafts.

Orbx Bozeman International Airport (07)Orbx Bozeman International Airport (08)
Orbx Bozeman International Airport (09)Orbx Bozeman International Airport (10)
Almost blue sky over the airport today invites for a big walk around the area. This new terminal has been opened in 2011 adding three new gates and more retail concessions to KBZN. Bozeman International has three runways: The runway 12/30 where we arrived with a length of 8,994 feet, another 2,650 feet one with an asphalt surface is 03/21 mainly for the GA traffic and the third runway 11/29 with 3,197 feet has a turf surface. But before we go on the big walk we enter the terminal building for a quick snack at the Copper Horse Restaurant.

What I really like are the small details that can be found at the airport – such as the unique created StaticFlow for KBZN which can be seen in the third picture displaying the Montana State Bobcats aircraft. The jetway with signs of the Montana State University, ground staff servicing an aircraft or just the skid marks on the apron. The only thing I really like to know is the unusual repaint of the aircraft in the first picture – apart from this a real looking passenger terminal with great jetways, a well-designed apron and a good performance.

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Before we continue inside the airport & apron area we rent a golf cart and explore the airport from the other side which usually the travellers get to see. A huge parking lot, storage warehouses and of course the new terminal & improved building which is – as mentioned – home to three additional gates, an additional baggage claim carrousel and expanded food & beverage and gift concessions. We love the blooming flowers in front of the main building and the accuracy of the outside design.

Comparing the terminal area with internet photos we again notice the high level of detail. Even the barriers at the carpark have been modeled. Looking closely at the terminal you can see the reflecting windows as well as static people and cars. A small thing that I have noted are differences of the textures – as seen in the second picture – between the apron and the outside of the airport. Whereas the runway and apron is designed with a very high resolution, the outside is a bit more blurry. In my opinion the parking lot also could have been modeled better as well as some of the cars and busses.

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Back inside we proceed south towards the GA area. The airport has a full array of general aviation services with fixed base operators (FBO), flight schools and private charter services. We have been invited to the Yellowstone Jetcenter hangar and hear that the company is one of the highest ranked FBO in the Northwest U.S. Just next to the hangar we see the old terminal building with its U.S. Customs and Border Protection User Fee Facility. International flights are now permitted after the set-up of the new facility that opened on July 1, 2012. Proceeding we find the tower around the next corner and some lighter airplanes.

In comparison to all the other areas of the airport, the corner around the US Customs and fire station looks a bit empty to me. A fire truck or some other accessories would have been nice in front of the building. Comparing my screenshots to pictures from the official website of Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport I realized once again the high end modeling.

Orbx Bozeman International Airport (19)Orbx Bozeman International Airport (20)
Orbx Bozeman International Airport (21)Orbx Bozeman International Airport (22)
Walking by another Yellowstone Jetcenter hangar we see the Gallatin Flying Services and the manager tells us that general aviation accounts for 76% of Gallatin Field’s aircraft operations. After crossing the GA runway we see a fuel station and the Central Copters, Inc at the helicopter terminal which is recognized as a pioneer in the helicopter industry and has been serving the Gallatin Valley and Rocky Mountain Region for over 40 years.

After crossing the GA runway we note fewer aircrafts as in the areas before – this might have to do with the StaticFlow which controls the placing of the planes during time of day, but at this point of time we cannot confirm this.

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At the very end of the airport we find the cargo terminal with two planes just being loaded. The ground handler explains that due to the operations of Federal Express and UPS, KBZN is an active air cargo and express airport with over 8 million pounds of cargo and mail passing through the airport each year. We turn around and head back to the GA apron for some more adventures up in the air.

Most of the Orbx Flows have been implemented such as PeopleFlow, Static Flow or TextureFlow and of course the work quite well. The two apron taxiway pictures show the nice asphalt surface as well as the grass in front of the runway signs. The runway/taxiway light have been nicely modeled and shine intensively during night time.

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Our aircraft hasn’t arrived yet; this gives us a good reason to explore the area around the airport. The airport authorities are so kind to offer us using their Cessna 172. As we take off from the GA runway we see the City of Belgrade from up above with its railroad tracks, the Triangle and Quinella Park and the Crop Production Service Company. A wide turn to the right and just a couple of minutes later and some 100 feet higher we see the Bridger Range in front of us. Turning again we visit two of the five small private airstrips located next to the KBZN airport.

For me this is now complaining on a high level – apologies if I offend anyone – but some small differences I noted between Google Earth and the software at the City of Belgrade. Furthermore the ground looks fuzzy compared to the airport ‚next door‘. But again you will only really notice as a very low-flyer as there is resolution up to 2 cm coverage of the entire township of Belgrade. On the other hand the Bridger Range has been created very nicely with lots of small details to the mountain itself. The reason for not visiting the five included airstrips with the Twin Otter is that they are so close to the KBZN airport, that you hardly have time to climb or descent. From up above some of them are really hard to find (even if you are right above them). These airfields received a lite upgrade as shown in the last two pictures. Another important aspect is the fact that the landclass of Belgrade can be deactivated if simmers experience performance issues – which I haven’t.

Orbx Bozeman International Airport (31)Orbx Bozeman International Airport (32)
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The sun has already set as we end our excessive tour around the airport. We are impressed by the services KBZN offers and really taken by the people we met. As we look around we see the airport wonderfully lite with different colors. As we recall today’s activity we have seen that Gallatin County is large and diverse, featuring everything from the spectacular scenery of Bridger Mountain to lush farmland. Our shuttle takes us into Belgrade for some lunch and the overnight – we are already looking forward taking the Twin Otter for a ride in the air tomorrow.

A very nice night lightening creates a quite atmosphere around the airport; we encourage readers to take a look at the light cones and the resulting shades. Coming close to the hangar in the third picture you immediately get the feeling that people are working behind the glass front. As expected the night scenery doesn’t impact the performance on my PC but still displays sharp images.

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Orbx Bozeman International Airport (37)Orbx Bozeman International Airport (38)
After leaving the hotel in the morning we can’t believe our eyes – the region is white as it snowed overnight. As we didn’t expect this and the weather forecast didn’t predict a weather chance we have to postpone our Twin Otter flight. The controller at the nearby tower explains that winters can be brisk with plenty of snow covers the mountain. We have to take into consideration that the elevation is approximately 4.500 feet, nevertheless we continue walking around the airport enjoy the cold but sunny day.

Setting the control panel to hard winter turns not only the scenery into a winter wonderland but also lets the blooming flowers disappear. Of course some snow spots on the apron or buildings would have been nice as well but reduce the overall performance of course. We can’t expect hard winter scenery similar to CYBD Bella Coola but still a nice looking winter airport.

Summary:

In my opinion there is a lot to see and explore in this product, not only at the airport itself but also the five lite airstrips that the developer Jarrad Marshal has included and of course the Bridger Mountain Range covered in beautiful 1 meter imagery and hand-placed autogen. Orbx adds many details to their products and the airport area itself is usually in high resolution, now being spoiled with this we immediately note blurry textures in the wider surroundings of a product. But honestly except for reviewing a scenery we hardly leave the airport area to look at the nearby cities in deep detail. As a conclusion Orbx once again did a great job and this time now only for bush pilots and low-flyers but also for airliners i.e. shuttling to Denver or Portland.

The add-on FTX KBZN Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport can be purchased at the FlightSim Store for currently AUD 32,95. Please note that this is an Orbx FTX airport, and as such a copy of Orbx NA Gold Central Rocky Mountains SP2 should be installed prior to use.

The used Twin Otter Extended has been partially released and can be purchased at the Aerosoft Shop – a great bird to fly and perfect for Orbx add-ons. We expect the release of the 100 series in the next few weeks – check the Aerosoft website and forum for more details.

Please note that some text fragments have been taken from the manual and the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport website. The source of information for this flight adventure was Wikipedia, Google Earth and the internet.