Let me alleviate any suspicions you might get later, I’m a native of the Pacific Northwest and there is certainly some bias present. Therefore, when I get an opportunity to review scenery that is so near and close to home, such as Allan & Burrows, I immediately get excited!
Where is it?
That said, lets take a closer look at X-World Sceneries’ beautiful Allan & Burrows islands (ALBU). Allan & Burrows islands are two tiny islands that are situated within the heart of the picturesque San Juan Islands located in the far northern corner of Washington state in some of the most photogenic coastal scenery located in the United States.
The strategic location of the Islands makes it a short hop (5-10 minutes) between Friday Harbor (KFHR) or Anacortes (74S) to even, Bellingham (15 minutes) or Seattle (20-30 minutes by helicopter).
The small airstrip on Allen Island (once owned by Microsoft’s Paul Allen and sold for $8 Million) appears to be well maintained but not much other information is available.
Why a light house?
Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza first charted the islands in 1791, christening them: Isla y Archiepelago de San Juan.
Today, the San Juan islands are vital tourist destination in the region, welcoming several thousand visitors a year. The islands are called home by roughly 16,300 full-time residents spread out amongst 400 islands (primarily the main three: Orcas, San Juan and Lopez Islands) and 478 miles of coast line.
The islands are connected only through air or over water. An extensive Ferry network is present which operates four separate water-going vessels and three small air-carriers. The islands themselves see upwards of 500 oil tankers and thousands of ferry and recreational boating traffic a year.
Given the shipping traffic in the region and prompted by the loss of several vessels to nearby Dennis Shoal and Lawson Reef in the early 1900’s, the Lighthouse Commission selected Burrows Island in 1905 as home of the light station and associated Keeper’s facility.
The light was automated in 1972 and the original Fresnel lens was replaced by the current helipad and modern optics used at the light to this day. The lighthouse and keeper’s quarters fell into disrepair until 2011 when the Northwest Schooner Society began restoration of the facility.
I was happy to see some scenery of this region and it mesh’s well with other popular sceneries in the region (Arlington for example). The area holds a lot of promise in X plane 11 and I really hope more developers would take a page out of X-World Sceneries’ book and start to branch this way. For a helicopter pilot, the region really is ideal.
X-World Sceneries did a fantastic job on the scenery itself! Allen island is full of charm with two stationary Cessna 172s and a rudimentary campsite.
The long grass strip is approximately 2,500 feet long, 150 feet wide and lined with tall Douglas Fir on either side and on the approach and departure ends (roughly 010-190 degrees). The ends of the runway fall off about 50 feet, as common with many back-country airstrips, with the central landing area and ground run-region being elevated. This is to allow fixed-wing aircraft a little bit of extra room to climb away from those pesky, squirrel-infested trees.
Burrows Island, off to the North about 3 nautical miles, is hard to miss. It’s a conical island with one flat region on the west tip that houses an already-restored lighthouse, dock-house, keeper’s quarters and helipad. Large trees surround the helipad itself which can make for some fun, challenging approaches.
The vegetation is cleared off to the west naturally, due to the rocky coast and would make a good approach and departure angle if flying larger helicopters or power-limited.
X-World Sceneries’ volumetric grass, accurate vegetation coverage and interesting little details make these two islands delightful to circle around. Their proximity to Anacortes, Bellingham and the Seattle region make them ideal for short helicopter flights or interesting adventures.
Sadly, I must talk about the cons of this scenery. Thankfully, there are not many. I felt the scenery was lacking. As a designer, I believe X--World Sceneries could have been more creative with details. The aspects they included were executed very well, but there just wasn’t enough. Anacortes is so close to Burrows that seeing the airport there and the little community, I though that would have been a perfect outlet to include some additional eye-candy; maybe even Friday Harbor.
The region very-much reminds me of a small airstrip I used to frequent when I lived in North Carolina. That strip mostly serviced para-gliders and ultra-lights. But later, after land-owner approval, it became a favorite spot for our helicopters to fly into. On weekends after the flying was done, we would all hang out, barbecue, shoot guns or just stay warm around the campfire. Thanks to X-World Sceneries, Allan and Barrow Islands, that’s the impression and memories I get when I fly around this little airstrip. That little bit of nostalgia, if I can get that out of a simulator, I’ve already gotten more than I bargained for.
- Orthophotos for both islands (USGS)
- Custom accurate forest type.
- 3D volumetric grass.
- Highly realistic ground textures
- Custom textures for trails on island
- Animated traffic on trails and by sea.
- 3D trees and bushes.
- Custom and accurate Mesh for both islands.
- Campsite with animated smoke that reflects wind direction and strength
- Night textures
- 3D Rocks
- Central location to Seattle, Bellingham and the Pacific Northwest including Vancouver.
- Great on frame rates
- Vegetation is well executed
- Textures are crisp and sharp
- The helipad and airstrip provide access to both airplanes and helicopters
- Nice details show an affection and care for the facilities
- Good value for money
- Lacking in depth (sparse man-made objects)
- Colors of the Ortho’s overlays created hazing, purple shorelines in some spots
- Lots of un-used potential (expanding the region)
- 3D rocks and shoreline definition could have been enhanced
Please note: the link above was either provided by the author of the product, the store that sent us the review copy or a personal choice of the article writer. It does not, in any way, indicate an endorsement of HeliSimmer.com to the website hereby linked.
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