North Shore – Days 32-34

Life reared its insistent little head this past weekend and took me away from the project for a couple of days. Once I got back, it was clear what had to happen next – the runways needed to be finished. I had been putting this part off because I knew it’d require some experimentation and a lot of pixel pushing and many FS reloads before I got it right. The runway at Plum Island is, to put it mildly, distressed. Winters are tough in Massachusetts, and the cycle of freeze/thaw/freeze wreaks havoc on the asphalt. As a result, the surface is a maze of patches and cracks. It gives it character, no doubt about that, but it makes it tough to model convincingly in the simulator. The final surface is composed of four layers; a base asphalt that has the close-up detailing baked in, a semi-transparent overlay from the actual aerial photo to give the color and tone shifts along the pavement, a layer of markings such as rwy designators and centerlines, and a layer of cracks and patches. Here’s what you get for all that:

Looking down on the field from the air, it’s easy to tell where you are…

Okay, this is one of my favorite details because of the story that goes with it. Apparently, the previous owner of the airfield got into a property dispute with the current owner (I’m hazy on the details), and as a result, he claims the last 400′ of the runway as his property. Look beyond the runway 28 designator, and you’ll see a fence cutting across the runway. Beyond the fence is obviously not usable runway, and in the final version you’ll see RV’s parked right on the tarmac, just daring some hapless pilot to clip ’em.

This parking lot beyond the fence used to be the end of the runway, and you can still make out the old 28 designator, now faded with age, at the far end.

Major modeling is complete, and I’m off on a host of tiny details now. Look for a notice soon that beta testing has begun!


4 responses to “North Shore – Days 32-34

  1. The runway work is a piece of art. You captured it perfectly. Hooray!
    To straighten out the ownershio, it has always been owned by the New England Antiquities. It was operated by a FBO named Hordon for 34 years.
    He and NEA had a difference in opinion so he was kicked out of the airport. But he claimed the last 400 feet of the runway as being part of his property, the twin gabled house at the end of the runway. But since he hasn’t paid taxes on the property for 17 years, technically the city now owns the property. NEA has to get the city to take action and then NEA can claim the rest of the runway, making it it’s full 2800 feet.
    Plum Island Airport only exists today because of a great deal of love and attention given by a great many people.
    However, since the airport is privately owned, it cannot get FAA funds to pave the runway. So until they find a paving contracter with a surplus of hot top, I’m afrraid it will stay as it is.

  2. This looks awesome Bill. I’d love this technique to be used by more designers. Is it a trade secret or would you be willing to write a small tutorial for sim pilot magazine?
    Love your work!

  3. No secrets to it, Christian. I learned all I know about this technique from studying the various FS design forums. I’d be happy to write up an article on it for you when I’m done. How many words are we talking about?

  4. Thanks for clarifying the dispute over that last 400′ of tarmac, Helldiver. As a passer-through who spent a grand total of an hour at the field, I’m not up on the local lore. Thankfully I’ve got old salts like you who know the score.

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