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Flight Adventure: Kastellorizo – The Aegean Pearl

We are taking the DHC-6 to the lovely island of Kastellorizo for some island flying.

Kastellorizo is a small island located only 2 kilometers from the Turkish coast in the southeastern Mediterranean. It`s past its heyday as it now only has just under 500 inhabitants while it used to have as many as 10.000 at the end of the nineteenth century. But for the many people who love island hopping in Greece it is a very attractive destination because of its originality, easy pace of living and the stark natural beauty.

The software can be ordered through the Aerosoft Shop for currently EUR 17,95 as a download version for FSX and P3D. Downloading version 1.0 with a size 613 MB can be done from a choice of three different Aerosoft servers. The installation itself is self-explanatory by clicking on the .zip file, optionally the Aerosoft Launcher can be executed at the end. The software also contains an English and a German 11-page user manual with set up suggestions and some island plus airport information – both manuals are identical. Nevertheless I am missing an airport chart which would have been wonderful if you are not too familiar with the location itself – Aerosoft suggests in their manual to google “LGKJ charts” to find free charts.

I am using a 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.

Kastellorizo Island Public Airport (LGKJ) is located in the middle of the island, about 2.5 km southwest of the city Megisti – by the way the official name of the island which is rarely used in Greek as the traditional name Kastellorizo is more common. The 474 feet elevated LGKJ airport has a paved 798 meter runway which is surrounded by fences. I assume it took a lot of work and dynamite to create a flat runway on such a small island. The runway itself is difficult to see during the approach and the challenge is clearly not to come to close to the steep face next to the airport.

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Looking for 35.000 feet above at the beautiful island surrounded by the turquois sea gives you an impression on the photo-real texture coverage of Kastellorizo and the nearby islands. Furthermore it can be seen that high resolution custom-made terrain mesh covers the entire island. The rough mountains have been created after the real archetypes if you compare it with GoogleEarth. Chirping sounds and goat bells can be heard across the highlands in addition to many more realistic sounds. One of the things that I really enjoy is the animated swarm of birds that fly over the harbor.

Apart from the airport, there is one other place to land on the island of Kastellorizo, which is the helipad at the military area above the village. During World War II Kastellorizo was an important military base and after the capitulation of Italy in 1943, the British used the island as a refueling station.

Kastellorizo (021)Kastellorizo (022)
Certainly challenging to land a big heli at the military premises but great for island hopping between Kastellorizo and the nearby island of Stroggili which is 5 minutes away. Coming close the area it looks a bit squared and blurry but still with the ground textures at a high standard, and therefore looking really good from the air. Further up the mountain we find some smaller shelters most likely for sheepherder and some old military bunker with camouflage doors.

It is 5.45 am at the Μegisti Hotel and we are just woken up by the Muezzin call from the mosque in Kas (Turkey). It is already light outside when we finally get up and have a typical Greece breakfast while looking at the port entrance. The waiter at the coffee bar tells us that the the MeisExpress, a small passenger ferry between Kas (Turkey) and Kastellorizo, should be arriving at 10 am.

Kastellorizo (03)Kastellorizo (04)
Nice modeling of the area as shown in the first picture, but in reality the houses are a bit more colorful and located closer to each other. I would have preferred a more realistic touch even from a close-up. In the second picture to the left hand side a boat seem to have sunken and appears close to the pier. This is a scenery error that disappears as time goes by due to the movement of the ships and vessels. Aerosoft stated that the AI ship traffic has not only realistic ferry models but also schedules. In order to see these ships you have to put the ships and ferries traffic settings to 10% or higher.

I have to mention that the sounds are excellent, with the Muezzin call or the Church bells right after the Muezzin at 6 am – many more sound can be heard throughout the day which leaves a realistic touch. You will by the way also hear the horn of the Meis Express when it leaves the harbor. I am aware that various discussions are ongoing on the necessity of add-on sounds in sceneries but honestly I am enjoying it.

Today we are shuttling passengers from Kastellorizo to Rhodes which is a 25 minute flight. Our rental DHC-6 from Solomons Air is already at the airport and is replacing the daily link between Rhodes and the island that Olympic Air is operating since the runway and terminal were finished in 1986. As we arrive we find on small terminal building with passengers already waiting for us. Some smaller maintenance buildings are flanking the main one – sneaking behind we see baggage carts, lots of antennas and of course waving flags. The sun is already up and we hide in the shade of the terminal building as our Twin Otter is being loaded.

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LGKJ itself has been nicely designed with a fully accurate rendition of the airport and surrounding features. Furthermore we spot neat models of grass and vegetation around the apron, with some static 3D human models included at the terminal building. The scenery is rounded up by a static plane and some vehicles. Due to the airport and small apron size, it is not possible for AI aircrafts to land and depart there in a realistic way. Planes from AI traffic add-ons covering LGKJ might try to land on the airfield but most likely fail to do so. Keep in mind there is really only one parking position available. Aerosoft’s Airport Enhancement Services AES 2.32 now also support Kastellorizo X but leaving a strange impression with huge busses picking up the passengers and disappearing into the mountains.

Before taking off we have to call Info at 122.90 to avoid conflicts with other aircraft. We get clearance and taxi to the end of the runway where we turn around and push the levers forward. While lifting off towards the island of Stroggili we again enjoy the colorful ocean in front of us and the rough mountain to our left hand side. Leaving the 6 kilometer long island behind us we turn towards the Turkish coast which is very close to Kastellorizo. Careful not to enter the Turkish airspace we set our heading which for the next 75 miles will be 294 degrees.

Kastellorizo (09)Kastellorizo (10)
While taking off from the airport I am getting around 50 FPS with all sliders to the right as usual in my flight adventures. The ground textures at the airport itself are good, with detail put into the runway textures and apron textures. During take-off we can see the fences around the airport which have been nicely modeled and pilots definitely have to take care not to crash into the fences at both ends of the runway during take-off and landing.

After a long day we are arriving back at our origin with the lite runway and the 2-light a PAPI system in front of us. It is only shortly before 6 pm but the sun has already set. Catching a glimpse of the beautiful sky we gently touch down on the runway and taxi back to the sole parking position. We are happy experience such a nice landing as usually strong winds pull on the aircrafts.

Kastellorizo (14)Kastellorizo (15)
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I was impressed by the night lighting during the approach and noted that the area is easy to spot from far out with a realistic touch. Apart from the NDB KASTELLORIZO L KZO 416 kHz there are no navaids for the Kastellorizo Island Public Airport. The last picture shows the road from the airport into the city which also features street lamps which are connected via a power line.

Airport at night is definitely an eye-catcher, and while waiting for our transportation back into town we enjoy the silence paired with the light effects. Even at this time of day we can clearly see the skid marks on the apron caused by turning aircrafts. Once our bus has arrived we are driving up the hill and as soon as we reach the peak we have an excellent view on the city with its lights and moving ships.

Kastellorizo (18)Kastellorizo (19)
Looking closely at the airport now we can see the realistic night lighting – I will not comment on every single detail but rather give an overall impression. Nice light around the airport and well developed cone of lights around the buildings are quite spectacular to watch. Even at night we find shadows on all 3D objects appearing on the ground.

Kastellorizo at night is more than beautiful – it is 8.30 pm and we hear the Cemetery chapel bell in the background. As mentioned we are taking the bus back into the city center and overheard a conversation of a Twin Otter on Floats that just arrived today. In the beginning of the 20th century, the island of Kastellorizo was linked by seaplanes – these floaters used the natural horse-shoe sized harbor of the island. As we arrive we look up the mountain and see the grand staircase that lead up to the top.

Kastellorizo (20)Kastellorizo (21)
Also at night – or better at 5.45 pm – we can spot the included famous landmarks such as the Knight’s Castle which have been neatly developed. Certainly something to try for Twin Otter on Floats lovers it the arrival into the horse-shoe sized harbor and the attempt to carefully unload passengers on the docks. The frame rate didn’t significantly go down during the night and there was no noticeable stuttering of the displays.

As we are sitting at the Restaurant Olive Garden trying their traditional food we see pictures of the neighboring island of Stroggili which also has a working lighthouse that can easily be seen from Kastellorizo at night. Stroggili is about five nautical miles south-east of Kastellorizo – it has a lighthouse, which has the characteristic of being the easternmost building in Greece.

To the other side we find the island of Ro (which is not in the picture) which is uninhabited except for a small Greek military unit which is now based on the island, with the primary duty of continuing the tradition of raising the flag that has been started by a Greek woman called Achladioti.

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The island of Stroggili is only minutes away from Kastellorizo. The day shot clearly shows the lighthouse and the heliport next to it. During the night the lighthouse can be seen from LGKJ as well with its rotating beacon.

Summary:

Certainly a beautiful destination for GA pilots who love thrilling approaches and island hopping. Keeping in mind that the island is rather barren and dry and missing vegetation in the virtual world, I have been informed that in the real life this isn’t the case. I had criticized the missing colors of the house in the city but clearly have to mention that the boats, vessels and ferries look excellent with a lot of shiny colors.

So, all in all FSDG developed a nice scenery with some limitations… I have experienced a strange mesh on the Turkish coast line which did not go away also after a new installation using UTE. Furthermore my PC crashed a couple of times after installing the software and only after deactivating the UTE in the scenery library it was fixed – help was provided from the Aerosoft Forum where I have been told to update UTE to version 1.04 and 1.05. I strongly hope that these important information will be added to the use manual. Except for some waterwalls on the left hand side of the mountain facing the airport, everything is running very smoothly now and I did not experience and FSX breakdowns any more.

A short side note: The free flight mentioned in the Aerosoft manual did not show up in the FSX flight menu – until this article has been published there was no reply from the developers if this might be a bug.

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 this add-on. We expect the full release in the next few weeks – check the Aerosoft website and forum for more details.