Orbx’s TrueEarth Canary Islands for X-Plane 11 has been out for a while but it has not received the kind of buzz that earlier TrueEarth releases have. I set out to check out this scenery pack for myself by flying a series of flights from island to island checking out the scenery along the way. This is a full review of the Orbx TrueEarth Canary Islands scenery pack for X-Plane 11.
Orbx TrueEarth in 2022
Orbx have really made a name for themselves with their TrueEarth for X-Plane 11. When they unveiled Orbx TrueEarth Washington State, everyone played attention because the scenery package managed to include an entire state with high quality colour corrected satellite orthography. They did that together with an impressive collection of autogenerated scenery to match the location (including vegetation) and some custom created and hand placed scenery points of interest.
When it was announced in 2019, TrueEarth Washington was an incredible scenery package. It wasn’t long, however, before Microsoft impressed everyone with their whole world ortho imagery. While the flexibility and ease of that system is impressive, for X-Plane pilots looking for top notch scenery, the TrueEarth series is the closest thing to what MSFS can offer.
Orbx has been busy releasing Spanish scenery packages starting with the Baeleric Islands followed by the Canary Islands and then TrueEarth Southern Spain.
Nine islands to explore
TrueEarth Canary Islands boasts an impressive feature list that starts with nine islands featuring colour matched satellite imagery and a much higher density mesh than the standard X-Plane 11 scenery. That’s combined with the other usual TrueEarth features such as custom autogen for buildings and vegetation and accurately placed points of interest.
Uniquely among TrueEarth packs, Canary Islands bundles in La Palma airport with Orbx payware quality details, PBR materials and SAM jetways support. Only the one airport is detailed in this way while the rest rely on X-Plane 11’s scenery gateway or your own scenery extensions.
Speaking of the nine islands, each one has their own unique imagery. El Hierro, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, Lanzarote, Chinijo Archipelago, La Palma, Tenerife and La Graciosa are covered by the pack with La Palma and Tenerife standing out by being big tourist destinations. I was equally impressed by all and particularly enjoyed the unique flavours that each island offered.
TrueEarth is, in 2022, still impressive looking. The high-resolution satellite imagery combined with a a detailed mesh really improve the visual quality of the scenery in X-Plane 11. That basic technical quality combined with the stunning natural beauty of the Canary islands really comes together well in this package. Each of these islands has impressive geography with tall mountains, volcanic features (La Palma was in the news not that long ago because of an eruption after all), and some stunning vistas.
Before buying the scenery myself, I checked out a few reviews of the scenery and most of them checked out one or two islands but I was left wondering what the rest of the pack looked like. So, my goal with this was to visit all of them. Fortunately, each one was impressive! In fact Santa Cruz de Tenerife, one of the smaller islands, had one of the most impressive vistas when I flew over to the north western part of the island with its steep cliffs and scenic vista below.
While the natural parts are great, the autogen and custom produced scenery looks less impressive to me in 2022 than they did back in 2019. The custom autogen is thematically accurate enough but the object details are a little less than we’ve seen recently and I can’t help but feel like Orbx has been sticking with a certain spec to make this work. Perhaps X-Plane 12 will enable them to push the scenery to higher levels.
By the way. No SD or HD version of the scenery is available. That doesn’t seem to be a big deal because the whole island set is relatively small and even lesser powered systems should be able to handle the smaller area.
La Palma airport, on the other hand, is very well done and has plenty of details. I didn’t try the SAM-based airport bridges (although they are supported) but everything else was suitably detailed right down to the car park and drive-up entrance.
Orbx TrueEarth Canary Islands is priced to sell at $28 USD. With its eight islands, payware quality airport, and scenic terrain, I think this scenery pack gives you all the excuse you need to tour these islands and fly back and forth on various sightseeing, people-carrying or cargo runs that you can think of. The vertical elements make for interesting helicopter and GA flying while the La Palma airport is a fun destination for longer distance flights (perhaps flying in from the recently released southern Spain!).
For the money and considering what else is available on the market, I think this is one of the best packs that you can get for X-Plane 11. The scenery is only let down by the slightly aged feeling of the autogen which I don’t find as impressive in 2022 and by X-Plane 11’s lighting system which isn’t really the fault of the scenery pack. It still manages to look pretty impressive most of the time despite these features. Orbx hasn’t made any statements about X-Plane 12 scenery support yet but I hope that we’ll see an easy transition as the satellite imagery and detailed terrain mesh would look fantastic with the better lighting system. As it is, it’s already impressive.
I toured all of the islands in the pack with airports and did my best to look at them from multiple perspectives from higher altitudes as well as down low at just meters off the ground. I used a mix of my X-Plane 11 aircraft selection including the Aerobask Phenom 300 and DA62 as well as the BN-2B Islander from Torquesim and even a flight in the 222B from Cowansim.
Tenerife south to north
I started my tour of the islands with a flight that allowed me to cover nearly all of Tenerife starting in the south and then heading north. For this part of the tour I flew with my trusty Aerobask DA62. This part of my tour was also the subject of a recent Flight Journal with a tour of Tenerife.
Tenerife to La Gomera
From Tenerife to La Gomera by way of the western coastline of Tenerife. Once again, I was in the cockpit of the excellent Aerobask DA62 – my preferred touring aircraft.
La Gomera to La Frontera
Changing things up, this next leg I flew in the fantastic but slow BN-2B from Torquesim. They don’t call it “the Islander” for nothing so I thought I should do at least one leg in this aircraft.
La Frontera tour
Before moving on from the island, I wanted a better look at the scenery. I hopped into the Cowansim B222 helicopter and went on a scenic cruise flight. One of my favourite moments was emerging over the ridge into the scenic vista of the north western side of the island. Incredible.
La Frontera to La Palma
Back in my touring aircraft of choice, I flew a beautiful evening flight taking me north from La Frontera up to La Palma. La Palma is the only airport in the pack that has custom scenery. It’s excellent!
La Palma to Las Palmas
I planned this next leg to help highlight the relatively similar names of La Palma and Las Palmas. It was also a slightly longer flight and excellently suited to the phenomenal Phenom 300.
Las Palmas to Fuerteventura
The last two flights were done in an airplane I hadn’t flown in a while. Another Aerobask aircraft from my collection called the Epic E1000 (G1000 edition). Fast, sleek, and turbo prop powered, this aircraft carried me to my next destination with an overflight of the destination airport so I could scout out the rest of the island.
Fuerteventura to Lanzarote
For my final leg of the sortie, I made the short crossing to Lanzarote. But not before once again overshooting my destination on purpose so I could see more.
It’s clear to me that every island in the set has its own unique look and Orbx’s scenery expertise really pay off in giving that feel. I was impressed!