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Flight Adventure: Seychelles X

We are taking the Twin Otter down to the Seychelles for some island hopping.

This is the add-on I have been waiting for a long, long time. Honestly I started this flight adventure 18 month ago with a different product but soon discovered that I didn’t like the photo real scenery at all. I was flabbergasted when I read the preview news in the Aerosoft forum and only days later it was released. No doubt about it that I really wanted to review this scenery as it is perfect for the Twin Otter.

The Seychelles, located in the Indian Ocean, is an archipelago of 115 islands 600 nautical miles east from the African continent – but to most of us the name is a synonym for a tropical paradise, for luxury vacations, for superb dive sites or just breathtakingly beautiful nature. Much like the Maldives, the Seychelles consist of coral islands mostly, though most of us are much more aware of the rough mountainous characters of the main islands Mahé and Praslin. This combination of big islands with cities and rather high mountains on one hand and the many small coral islands on the other, makes the Seychelles such a special and diversified place. I personally was amazed by the fact that the rich culture of the Seychelles is a melting pot of the many different types of people who settled the islands, each of whom have left their mark.

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. I have followed the Aerosoft setting recommendations taken from the user manual. Here is a link where you can check the add-on software that I am using on my main computer.

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Users can download the 3,3 GB zip file directly from the Aerosoft website. The installation is extremely easy if you click yourself through the set-up menu. A 30 page pdf manual is included in the package containing setting recommendations, Seychelles overviews and much more useful information on the area you will be flying in. An appendix with characteristics for all airfields is included in the manual as well as the kmz file and coverage map shown above.

Quite a new gadget is the geocaching mission that has been integrated into this software. The developers have placed 50 geocaches all across the scenery of the Seychelles and included a list of all of them within the mission briefing. For further details please refer to the use manual.

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Our Qatar flight arrives right in time at the Aéroport International de Seychelles (FSIA) located on the main island Mahé. The airport is located approximately 11 km south-east of the capital Victoria and has one 9,800 feet concrete runway 13/31 which has an elevation of 10 feet. The airport was officially opened on March 20th, 1972 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The airport has roughly 5.000 aircraft movements per year and can handle commercial aircraft up to the Boeing 767 or the Airbus 330.

From the first view a very nice modeled airport with animated ground traffic such as service vehicles. Furthermore simmers can find signs and smaller items that are also present on the real airport. The vegetation around the island that we saw during our approach looks realistic and integrates itself into the scenery. Additionally we noted the high resolution mesh for Mahé as well as the water textures around the island.

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Mahé is the largest island of the Seychelles, lying in the north east of the nation. Almost 90% of the country’s total populations live on the island which also contains the capital city of Victoria. Mahé’s tallest peak is Morne Seychellois with 2,969 feet, which is located in the Morne Seychellois National Park. Eden Island – here in the third picture – is a residential marina development located just a few hundred metres from mainland Mahé. Back to the main island; we definitely recommend the Sir Selwyn Clark Market with its resh fruits, vegetables and spices as well as the Victoria Botanical Gardens with over Five hundred species of exotic plants and giant tortoises.

A high resolution mesh is present at all islands. Flying around Mahé we noticed some POIs such as the clock tower or the Anglican church. Unfortunately some parts look blurry and the Eden Island Residence in the third picture seems a bit empty compared to GoogleEarth and my private experience. While flying around the island the beautiful powder-white sand beaches such as Anse Royale can be easily spotted from above.

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The FSIA airport is locally also known as Aéroport de la pointe Larue, and is the transportation hub for island-hops and day excursions to neighboring islands and all other islands within Seychelles. All scheduled domestic flights by Air Seychelles originate from Mahé to the serviced islands. The domestic terminal is a short walk north of the international terminal and offers the above mentioned inter-island flights with a peak of a departure every 10–15 minutes at busy times which corresponds with international arrivals/departures and every 30 minutes at other times.

FSDG has created a detailed scenery of the Mahé International Airport along with photorealistic ground and water textures. I really enjoyed the 3D night lighting when I started the review around Mahé. Personally I would not do island hopping at night time but dusk or dawn is great with the shadows, lights and different colors.

Side note: As my FSX crashed completely I continued doing this review with P3Dv2 – the following screenshots are therefore made out of Prepar3D along with the Seychelles X add-on.

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We are walking north to the domestic terminal where we find the DHC-6 300. Our passengers arrive some minutes later at the plane and after the luggage is stored we are ready for our round trip and some island hopping. The first leg will take us from Mahé to Frégate Island where we will drop off a Hollywood star at the 5 star resort. The actor has chosen this island as it is one of Seychelles superb dive sites.

While flying over the ocean we noticed AI ships around Mahé. The user manual also states that AI traffic features cargo ships between Victoria/Mahé and other countries, but also transit cargo traffic as well as military patrols, fishing boats, yachts, scuba boats and passenger ferries between the Inner Islands. In order to see those ships you need to select your traffic settings have to be set to 10% or higher.

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We are leaving Mahé from runway 13 and have roughly 10 minutes until we arrive at the Fregate Island Airport (FSSF). Frégate is located 55 km from Mahé in the Inner Islands Group. Around 200 people live on the former pirate hide-out which also accommodates more than 50 different bird species. Frégate also hosts the world’s only population of the giant tenebrionid beetle as well as numerous giant tortoises.

I experienced some mesh issues while still flying with FSX – nevertheless also P3D is a bit buggy here and after installing scenery add-ons sometimes the sim loads the wrong textures. A simple work around is to change texture resolution on the graphics settings page to another value, click ‚ok‘ and change it back to the previous one.

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Still flying in the Inner Islands our next stop is Praslin, the second largest island of the Seychelles, located 27 miles northeast of Mahé. The island is known as a tourist destination with very nice hotels – no wonder that we are dropping off some passengers. As we are approaching the Praslin Island Airport (FSPP) also known as Iles des Palmes Airport we see the beautiful turquoise water in front of us. The airport has a 4,600 feet concrete runway which is currently only used by Air Seychelles, who fly scheduled flights to Mahé and charters to the other islands.

Low flyers will definitely experience the animated wildlife consisting of birds, turtles and seagulls. AI Aircrafts commute between Mahé and the islands of Praslin, Bird and Denis. These AI flights are done by Twin Otter 300 in two different Air Seychelles liveries and programmed flight plans that follow their real schedules. Praslin is by the way one of the few island where the night lighting is very beautiful – or as I recommend it, the dusk or dawn times.

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We now continue our trip to the Outer Island with a short stop at Platte Island which is located 85 miles south of Mahé. A submerged coral reef rim surrounds the island which basically has been cut in half by the designated 17/35 grass runway of the Platte Island Airport (FSPL). It seems that this island has a fuel station at next to the terminal building. A small settlement on the western shore with the manager’s house and a few guest cottages to the northwest is present on the island. As tourism and fishing are the two most important industries for the economy of Seychelles it is no surprise that we drop off passengers and take onboard fresh tuna fish.

Speaking about the frame rate and the performance-friendly scenery with very high frame rates that the developers promised. I followed the recommended settings from the user manual and got around 10-15 FPS on FSX whereas the frame rate on P3Dv2 was around 20+ with the Twin Otter Extended in use. I personally like the approaches as they are different and challenging for each island.

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Our next stop is at Desroches Island, the main island of the Amirante Islands and also part of the Outer Islands. The Desroches Airport (FSDR) has designated 12/30 runway with a concrete surface which is most likely due to the fact that the island was an important producer of copra (dried meat of the coconut). Desroches was named after a former French governor of Mauritius, and like many of Seychelles’ islands, was once a prosperous coconut plantation. A direct flight from Mahé takes approximately 50 minutes.

Before landing you should fly low and slow to find the ship wreck – I also recommend using real weather as winds can be tricky during the final. We should not expect too much on the small islands – and this is realistic – hardly any terminal areas or well-equipped runways. Instead you find small concrete, grass or gravel runways and a small cottage for passengers.

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Some of the atolls are far away such as the Aldabra Atoll or the Providence Atoll, and with only three existing airports (FSAS, FSSA and FSFA) I am a bit torn inside if it makes sense flying hundreds of miles to the Assumption Island (FSAS) just to visit a ship wreck, a former coconut or sisal plantation. At the end of the day I really enjoyed flying the Inner and Outer Island with its nice and diverse islands.

During the review we have covered only a part of the islands that have been included in the product. Nevertheless each island is individually with its own beauty and some of the airports are challenging due to the size of the runway or weather factors. The photo realistic ground and water textures are really nice especially in the second part of this review when I switched to Prepar3D.

Summary:

A very nice add-on which is perfect for the new Twin Otter Extended. I am sure that virtual pilots will spend hours flying around this huge territory once they have installed this scenery. Instead of posting screenshots of each island we suggest purchasing Seychelles X and simply enjoy the beauty of the 115-island country spanning an archipelago.

Taking into consideration that FSDG covered a huge area and 15 airports in total along with other features in the Seychelles X add-on, I believe the products is worth every penny. Although I am not a huge fan of buildings randomly placed on a photo scenery, I really enjoyed the island hopping in the Indian Ocean. Simmers can also make use of the pre-saved free flights with diverse flight and weather scenarios or the geocache mission with 50 geocaches across the Seychelles. Additionally to the airstrips we have found a few more helipads, it has also been mentioned that landing places on ships are present.

The add-on Seychelles X can be purchased at the Aerosoft Store for currently EUR 22,95 as download version for FSX and P3D. The system requirements and a product description can be found on this side as well.

The used Twin Otter Extended has now been fully released and can be purchased at the Aerosoft Shop – a great bird to fly and perfect for the Seychelles X add-on. The repaint has not been released yet but we ask simmers to check the Aerosoft website and forum for more details.

Usually I am not doing this but I have had a wonderful holiday myself – so if the Seychelles have caught your attention and you would like to exprience its spectacular beauty you should have a look at the Lavigne Reisen website for your unique vacation.

Please note that some text fragments have been taken from the user manual and the official website of the Government of Seychelles. The source of information for this flight adventure was Wikipedia, Google Earth and the internet.