Southend Airport has a history dating back to 1914 when it was established as a base for the Royal Flying Corps. It was closed in 1920 and reverted back to farmland. It stayed that way until September 1935 when it was officially opened as a municipal airport. Although, in 1939 it was requisitioned by the Air Ministry and renamed RAF Rochford and was used as a satellite airfield throughout WWII, during which it hosted Spitfires, Hurricanes and Bristol Blenheims. In 1946 it was decommissioned and civil aviation took over once again and it was then that it was renamed Southend Municipal Airport. After many years making a loss, Southend Borough Council sold the airport to Regional Airports Ltd (RAL) and London Southend Airport Company Ltd was formed, under whom the airport operates with its present name, London Southend Airport.
The ensuing years saw a variety of owners and in 2008 it was bought over by the Stobart Group, whose famous green livery can be seen on all major British roads and rail networks. The airport was expanded in 2012 with a new terminal catering for passenger flights, leaving the original terminal playing host to private jets. After a major refurbishment by Stobart Air, an executive business lounge was created in the original terminal. With extensions to both the runway and the newer terminal in 2012 and 2014 respectively, we have what is the present airport.
Operators include EasyJet, Flybe (operated by Stobart Air), SkyWork Airlines, and Volotea, reaching destinations throughout Europe.
Southend Xtreme is available from UK2000 web site as a 'download only' product. It is priced at £16.99, or the equivalent on currency cross rates.
There is also a free demo version (reduced detail) of Southend Xtreme available for download which gives you the opportunity to “try before you buy”. A list of the differences in available features between the demo version and the full version are on the product page of the UK2000 web site.
Covering an area amounting to just over 1.5 sq km, Southend Xtreme is not the largest airport to be produced by UK2000. What has been covered though, is the whole area within the airport's boundary. This includes the immediate main terminal area with its connection to the railway network on the Shenfield to Southend line.
The scenery depicted above shows the area which UK2000 has covered. The surrounding scenery is generated by the England region from Orbx, so do not be expecting to get the same view as I have here unless you have installed this region.
All the usual features which you would expect to find in any UK2000 airport sceneries are included. From atmospheric night lighting to airport clutter, you will find it here. The amount of static aircraft is tremendous considering the small scale covered, with EasyJet making a rather large statement. Other aircraft you will find include the now retired Vulcan Bomber, which is parked at the Eastern end of the main terminal complex. Even the UK2000 is ever present if you look hard enough.
With Southend Xtreme being quite small compared to the other London airports, Gary has done a super job of rendering most, if not all the buildings associated with it. The attention to detail, whilst trying to maintain healthy frame rates, has not been overlooked at Southend and Gary has modelled some very realistic looking buildings. The combination of getting an almost like-for-like model whilst keeping the polygon count down (which results in higher frame rates) is, by no means, an easy task - but Gary has done just that.
As is evident from just the small selection of screenshots above, the level of detail which Gary at UK2000 has afforded Southend Xtreme, is truly consistent with all his previous airports. It is this amount of detail which really lifts the airport and gives it a nice feel. There were some anomalies which I picked up as I wandered around the airfield, and while they do not affect the way the airport feels and operates, they do have a tendency to take the edge of an otherwise good work of art. As for the various people dotted around the airport, I need to remind myself that Gary just has an alternative way of including people in his sceneries than other well known scenery developers. So in that regard, it is a matter of treating them for what they are and that is a two sided polygon and not a 3D object. There is also a fair amount of airport clutter lying around, which we have come familiar with now from Gary and UK2000.
Anomalies I found here are the water apparently leaking from the pool / storage tank near the Southend Flying Club and the huge hole in the ground where I think a pond should be.
As you can see from the left screenshot below, the people are flat as you move around them and on the right, a misplaced bridge which some of you may experience. I did find however that this may not be the fault of UK2000, it may be an object within the Orbx FTX EU England library.
Seasonal textures have been rendered very well and the airport sits very well with Orbx FTX England, which is the additional scenery I use alongside UK2000 Southend Xtreme. There is one exception to this and that is when you get to January and you are using Orbx FTX England scenery, you will have a hard winter setting which UK2000 have not covered. So the airport is not covered in snow.
The actual quality of the buildings and objects that are included in UK2000 Southend Xtreme are of a high standard, notwithstanding what I have already mentioned previously. The main buildings around the airport have been replicated extremely well, although I felt that some of them did not quite look as though they were on the ground, but this may be just a shading issue. As for the 3D objects, they too are good quality, however, I found a lot of the 2D models are simply that and are not very convincing as you move around them.
Lighting has also been well covered with some of the buildings having some good atmospheric lighting applied, although I did not find this the case for every building. Runway and taxiway lighting has been well done and it is not difficult to know where you are during dusk to dawn.
There is a seven page PDF user manual which covers installation and preferred settings. There is also a link to online charts for Southend Airport. It is a very succinct document and basically, it is all that is needed to run this scenery. The main portion of the document is the settings section, as this determines how smoothly you get FSX to run with UK2000 Southend Xtreme enabled.
Southend Xtreme is a great airport with a good amount of detail. In my opinion, it is excellent value for money.
Having locked my frame rates in FSX to 31fps, (which is half my monitors refresh rate plus one, as described in Steve's DX10 Fixer) and with my system specifications, I was able to consistently achieve between 25 to 31fps. As Gary has tried to optimise Southend Xtreme as much as possible, following some simple settings instructions you should be able to achieve comparable frame rates, notwithstanding any limitations of your personal computer specifications.
All in all, this is another fine airport from UK2000. If you do not expect the full bells and whistles seen in some other sceneries, then Southend Xtreme is going to be a good addition to your UK airport library. Although there is some animation around the airport, the more static nature of the scenery makes for a ordinary airport add-on. If, however, you are on a low budget, then UK2000 Southend Xtreme would be a good purchase.