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Cloud9 "X-Class USA" - THUMBS UP!!!! :: Archived
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 2:28 am
Post subject: Cloud9 "X-Class USA" - THUMBS UP!!!!

One of the few personal semi-disappointments I've had with this new version of FS is that there hasn't been much improvement on how small and medium-sized towns are represented, as well as the barren wasteland that seems to exist in some areas. This particularly holds true of some places back in SoCal that I get homesick for and want to "see" again, but in FSX, just like previous versions, they're complete barren wastelands since I'm a small-town kinda dude.

And although I'm not too terribly much into "payware" either, I've no interest in buying some huge package that adds overhead and burden to my sim, or become one of those "add-on guys" that has a specialty-this and a custom-that. But I've been hearing good things about this thing called "X-Class USA" from Cloud9. It's payware, but it's el cheapo.....nine bucks! And the word on the street is it makes a good improvement to the Landclass Detail (what types of country/city/suburb/rural/urban terrain tiles are used by FS to depict areas so they look like the real-world counterparts) plus it installs easy and can be uninstalled easily too if it don't work out. So, I figured what the heck and gave it a shot....here's the link before I forget:


Gotta say, TOTALLY IMPRESSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I went for a checkout ride through some of my old stompin' grounds and am completely happy now! I'll let the pictures tell the story below, but the things to keep in mind are:

1) Pretty much ALL the scenery below, at least most if not all of the desert, was a complete ghost town period, and by that I mean...NUTHIN' there.

2) I was bookin' along pretty fast in the FSD T-38 Talon so overran the sim's ability to keep the textures updated in some areas so there are a few shots with "the blurries"....in normal VFR prop flight on my system, this doesn't happen.

3) The season was set to "Winter" so naturally, some areas like the mountains and Big Bear are arid-looking, which is accurate (it's forested mountains but still in the middle of the frikkin desert) Smile

Anyway here's what I saw and the differences.....

Starting out from our last "Home" airport, Redlands Municipal located in the lovely little town of Mentone (ICAO code L12 if ya wanna compare) just East of San Bernardino, ol' San Gorgonio mountain to the East (which I've hiked to the top of and back down after splitting my toe open on a pinecone when peein' barefoot in the dark at our camp the night before)* ...looks just as accurate as it already did, but the field behind the runway, which was an Avacado grove when we moved away (and has since been lost due to a tragic fire in the orchard) is no longer populated with stupid multi-story OFFICE BUILDINGS that were never there (one of which, was located right at the END of rthe runway!). Looks much better now (imagine several large insurance company buildings being located just beyond the apron previously)......

* Tell me if this is too much information....

Taking off and heading west a few miles and then north to the High Desert, as the highway reaches the top of a mountain pass and it levels out to the high desert plains, previously all was empty in FS, barren desert with a highway going through it. Now, the town of Hesperia CA shows up right on cue, including the area near the highway and the main section of town to the East......

Since it's one of my main hometowns from my youth it bears checking it out for accuracy. Hesperia airport is where I took my first plane ride (b-day present for my 8th birthday) and has always been easy to find in FS becuase it's always way out in the middle of nowhere by it's lonesome.....but believe it or not, people actually live in areas that have airports nearby (historically this has always been established as one of the factors supporting a need for airports) and so now, there's STUFF near it just like in real life!

And even better, since for a couple of years in high school I worked as a machinist in a small manufacturing building located on the far side of the road parallelling the west side of the airport, if you look on the other side of that road, there's a small, square flat building that I can easily convince myself is THE headquarters of "Victor Products"....manufacturers of high-quality aftermarket gears and sprockets for dirtbikes that have egg-shaped holes drilled in them by the new kid running the drill press.....

Heading North, I saw this golf course and had to think for a little bit before remembering that years ago, as a matter of fact, Hesperia DID have a golf course built (who cared at the time???) ! So, again, right on the money here.....

Decided to head farther north into God's country, and saw Apple Valley airport accurately depicted, becuase this airport really IS in the middle of nowhere (which is a fine, FINE thing late at night when you're a kid with a fast car or a heavy date, or BOTH ) ...just a little bit of housing that's crept toward it, which I understand is accurate since the area is booming for some strange reason...

Headin' on up into Barstow now, this is the road (Dale Evans Blvd, yes, the wife of Roy Rogers who lived in the area and....well....some automotive pranks are best kept secret) that my bro Wayne lives on....as a matter of fact, that smudge down there, just to the left of center and to the left and below of the T-38's tailpipe, isn't hard to imagine is Waynie's house. And what a house it is. Lucky guy has all the peace and quiet and stars at night he can handle, just the lights of the highway traffic in the far-off distance....heaven on earth I tell ya.

Heading North a bit more on the I-15, here's the exit to Lenwood right before Barstow, that's Lenwood road heading off up to the left (west), and the intersection has a few businesses now, looks about right......whereas before, again, there was nothing, not even the Del Taco on the side of the freeway (rumored to be the FIRST Del Taco of the entire franchise, FWIW).....

Heading West now past Lenwood, we pass a nice little place we like to call "Delaneyville" where my Uncles of the same name lived....sadly, the small houses and remnants of their junkyard business aren't shown, but very interestingly enough, the teeny-weeny little dirt airstrip (that had a Taylorcraft and a Cessna 170 parked at it all the time) is barely distinguishable just up ahead on the left side of the road (although credit for the airport placement likely goes to FSX not Cloud9)

Oh, hey! See that plain-tan area up ahead and off to the right, in the pic below? Those are sand dunes, and they're really there!!!!! I got a HILARIOUS story about how Wayne and I got stuck out there with a big ol' Kawasaki dirt bike that....well I'll tell ya the story later it's kinda long and has cussing in it......

Following this road, which is part of the original old Route 66 we're heading back south and West now...this is a great drive with lots of old, (now mostly deserted) small mom & pop gas stations and stuff....here's one of the surviving little towns, Helendale, and farther down, Oro Grande, both of which also were NOWHERE TO BE SEEN in the stock landclass.....sorry about the blurred textures but I was pretty much at Mach at this point in the flight.....

After returning back down to Victorville and checking out Geroge AFB base (which flew F-4 Phantoms along the valley floor when I was a kid...WOW).....I poked my nose east to Lucerne Valley, and there are the dry lakes PLUS the alfalfa fields and the small town itself way out there, which weren't there before....the road following the foothills to the left is Highway 18 and where it goes around the foothills there, the curve is called....corny but true..."Dead Man's Curve". With roads that go on forever and fast but terrible-handling 60's musclecars back in the day, it's not far off the mark either.

Heading South back over the mountains, Big Bear Lake was previously a horrible write-off, as it's one of the gems of Southern California but really sadly, inexcusably barren in versions of FS until now. This time around, there's a town on the far side of the lake right where it ought to be!!

Now back down into "civilization" of San Bernardino and Ontario, heading west just east of Ontario airport, here's the city of Fontana. Previously, this was already rendered as city/suburbs but the cool thing I noticed is.....look there, just forward of the left wing of the T-38......looks like a little airport, doesn't it? But it's not on the GPS or facilities list. Fontana had a small, black-pavement airport that has been closed for years and years, and this is where we'd go to fly R/C planes (crashed my Sukhoi Su-26M there as a matter of fact). So, that looks right to me!

Heading further West and South of Ontario airport just a tad, this is Chino Airport (home of the excellent Planes of Fame museum)...what's impressive here is that Chino is referred to by the rest of us as "Cow Country" (and SMELLS like it too) due to the dairy farms it still has.....note the presence of pastured fields squeezed in among the industrial zones that accurately depict this now! Previously, this was just icky, bland FS-style suburban/city mish-mash.

I decided to book on West to hit the beach near Santa Monica, and passed Dodger Stadium on the way....looks like the Dodgers are headed for a slump thus year huh??? Smile I believe this anomaly is due to FSX terrain mesh, not the Cloud9 stuff, as the improved landclass has no bearing on terrain or scenery elevation, just the textures that are used to represent the land type:

Nothing really much to report on the beaches, since they're pretty well-populated and not very diverse in nature, so weren't terribly innacurate in the stock landclass. But headin' south toward San Diego, Torrey Pines looks pretty good, and the area south of the golf course where the parasailers go and R/C Slope Gliders are flown looks great....

That's about it.....my SoCal landclass checkout tour ended there, since the X-Class USA area ends at the border of Mexico, which I was about to cross since I was now on a hunt to find a surfing spot I've never been to south of the border, called K-39 (39 Kilometers south of the border which puts it near Ensenada). There isn't much else to this but you can keep reading if you want, because then......

"So There I Was....."

.....After cruising around for a couple of hours with NO gauges at all working in the VC of my trusty T-38, because it's sooo old and FSX don't like 'em. But it's no big deal, I know this bird like the back of my hand now and she's never let me down yet. Of course, after crossing the border and checking the GPS, I kinda realize that Mehico has like, not many airports at all...as in, next stop, Ensenada.

So a glance at the clock and I realize I'd been flying for about two hours, maybe 2 and a half, and this makes me a bit curious as to the state of the fuel tanks.....and I swear, as God is my witness, that the very instant that I think these words, I hear the familiar sound of those lil' twin engines give up the ghost and start winding down with a "RRRMMMMmmmmmmmmm........". Followed immediately by dead silence and wind noise.

At this point I'm like, 35 miles or so from Ensenada and over the coast, following the shoreline at about 3,000 feet under the clouds. Fortunately, the T-38 is hauling along quite nicely just under Mach. So a gentle climb, verrrrry gentle, is pursued....I top off in the clouds at about 7500 feet or so, close to minimum speed...but this is cool since a lot of ground has been covered due to not bleeding off speed too much....but I' worried since Ensenada airport just HAS to be located on the OTHER side of the bay (where else do they put airports when you need 'em??!!)

I come out of the clouds and....WOA!!!! Can hardly believe my luck, the ol' T-38 did the job once again and it looks like full flaps and speed brakes are gonna be needed.....I start thinking about battery life and hydraulics and figure that I can afford to loose some speed and glide efficiency by hangin' the gear out NOW while I can, no use making the field without being able to drop the gear on arrival!

Sure enough, I had to dial in full flaps and also jockey the speed brake a bit to keep her at some sane point within the approach envelope....looks like we got it made, can't wait to chalk up another dead-stick landing in this plane (yes, sadly it's not the first.....and ain't likely gonna be the last, the way things go with me and her).....

YEAHHH......Down safe and sound again!!!!!!!

Even had enough left to cruise down the taxiway a bit at the end of the runway.....nice service and friendly folks they got down here, hey think we can get a coupla Margaritas delivered while we wait for our tow????

Anyway.....probably about the best nine bucks I've ever spent!!!

"Once your reputation is ruined, you can live quite freely."
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:21 pm
Post subject: Re: Cloud9 "X-Class USA" - THUMBS UP!!!!

Very nice review with a personal twist. For 9 bucks I just might have to try it ... thanks Stoopy!
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 10:30 pm
Post subject: Re: Cloud9 "X-Class USA" - THUMBS UP!!!!

Thanks glad ya liked it.....I forgot to add, that if anyone is wondering about how this may improve anything in their own neck of the woods or a specific place, I'd be willing to post some screenshots of what it looks like when this is added so they can have some idea before buying - just give me a place to point at and click the camera. As long as it's in the US, of course, as I probably won't pick up the Canada or Europe packages, since I wouldn't know the diff. Smile

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:57 pm
Post subject: Re: Cloud9 "X-Class USA" - THUMBS UP!!!!

How about the area around KBEH - Saint Joe/Benton Harbor Michigan?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 11:35 am
Post subject: Re: Cloud9 "X-Class USA" - THUMBS UP!!!!

- HF_SlowHand
How about the area around KBEH - Saint Joe/Benton Harbor Michigan?


Sure thing!

Here y'go......from 5000 ft. looking N, E and S, first in winter, then in summer. If you want more detail lemme know!

Just out of curiousity does it look better, worse, or same??

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 12:42 pm
Post subject: Re: Cloud9 "X-Class USA" - THUMBS UP!!!!

Wonderful reading about your past Stoopy as well as the review...
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 7:47 pm
Post subject: Re: Cloud9 "X-Class USA" - THUMBS UP!!!!

Good to know the toe thing wasn't too much Laughing

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 11:45 pm
Post subject: Re: Cloud9 "X-Class USA" - THUMBS UP!!!!

thanks Stoopy!

Thats my 'ville!

And it looks pretty realistic right down to the marshes and woods around the airport (Whirlpool Corporation's home field basically LOL)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 11:47 pm
Post subject: Re: Cloud9 "X-Class USA" - THUMBS UP!!!!

Bush is right Stoop, it was like reading an article out of a travel magazine with pictures! Thx!

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