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Skiathos X
For FSX/P3D Published by Aerosoft
Reviewed by Brian Buckley
September 2013


Skiathos is the westernmost island belonging to the Sporades archipelago in the Aegean Sea and lies approximately 83miles from Athens, on a northerly heading of 341 degrees.

It is best know as a tourist island, serviced by ‘Alexandros Papadiamantis’ airport, which is the only airport on the island. Alongside the airport, the island is a hub for the numerous ferries and day excursion boats that visit the other islands in the Sporades group.

The airport is similar to St Maarten, due to its amazing approach. The runway is a mere 1628 metres long and reaches the sea at both ends. If you fly in with any of the larger aircraft, you will be forced to make a low approach from either end.

You will see spotters and tourists at both approaches, who dare to stand in awe (or stupidity), as aircraft land or others taking photographs, whilst jet engines are spooling up and waiting for the buzz of standing directly in the path of jet blasts, despite numerous warning signs posted along the perimeter fences.

Blast Sign
Download and Installation

The download passed by without any problems. Then, as with all Aerosoft downloads, the installer did it's job once again, also without any problems. You can download the installer after you have purchased Skiathos X, and it takes approximately 1.5Gb of disc space. This is due to the photo coverage of the island. Unless you have a weak or unreliable internet connection, this shouldn't cause any problems. If you do have a dodgy connection, I would suggest purchasing the boxed version, which is now available through Aerosoft and other software retailers.

The installation comes not only with Skiathos X but also there are several airport charts and a concise 16 page manual.

Scenery Manager

Skiathos X comes with a scenery manager which enables the user to tweak various settings, relating to the vast amount of 3D objects, animations, textures etc. A prerequisite of the Scenery Manager requires that you have .net Framework 3.5 or higher installed.

Once you have completed the installation of Skiathos X, you will be presented with the 'Launcher Setup' screen on the left below. This is completely optional but if you choose to check the box to run the Launcher Setup, you will be faced with the 'Skiathos X Manager' screen on the right below. This is where you can edit the amount of detail you wish to run on your system.

Details range from what animations you wish to use, to what textures you would like to see, the amount of static objects, 3D grasses, boats and ships, leading to what HD terrain features you want.

Again these are all optional depending on your system spec's and the frame rates you are happy with. Personally, I like to delve straight in and choose the Max' for all choices, then work my way backwards until I find the right FPS for my system. I found that I could actually run everything on Max' with my system with very little change in my frame rates.

Run Launcher

Scenery Manager
Area Covered

29 Palms have recreated the whole island most realistically and have included in excess of 250,000 custom made autogen objects, which have been hand placed in exacting detail, covering the whole of the island and six outlying islands also. Which equates to over 100km2 of high resolution satellite imagery (0.3 - 05m/px).

Area Covered

The Airport

This is where all the action takes place. '29 Palms' have crammed as much detail into the airport and the immediate surrounding area, as is possible. They certainly haven't skipped anything in my opinion. From the lowly baggage carts to the textural detailing in the buildings, the runway the static objects and the list goes on.

The runway runs north-south -ish and it lies between two hills, making low level approaches quite interesting, to say the least. Being situated where it is, the airport is almost invisible when approaching from the east or west, until you are almost ready to touch down. Then, once you have landed, you only have 1,628 metres to stop safely (unless you happen to like the taste of salt water).

When flying on a southerly approach is a fairly simple task, until you get to the last part, because you will be having to decelerate on a downward sloping runway. On the southerly approach (runway 20), the runway is only level for the first 427 metres, then there is a 0.7 degree slope downward straight to the sea.

Heavy jets have the hardest landings compared to the smaller aircraft and having landed there in a passenger jet myself (as a passenger I might add), you could almost feel the captains feet thrusting downwards with his toe brakes and the roar from the reverse thrusters was palpable. All making for an exhilarating landing, with everyone onboard applauding the efforts of the crew.

Runway 2 Approach

Runway 20 Approach

With the night comes a whole different feel to Skiathos and the airport in particular, because of the amount of work the guys at 29 Palms have put in to making this scenery come to life.

The approach onto runway 02 from the south is quite a brightly lit affair. You have the town of Skiathos to the west but apart from that, there are bright red hazard beacon lights adorning every high or tall structure, in the bay area, for pilots to avoid. This really is an approach not to be missed in my opinion, especially at night.

Night Approach Rwy 02

Some flights departing Skiathos for British airports cannot take sufficient fuel to complete the trip without stopping at an intermediate airport to refuel, due to the limiting length of the runways. Aircraft such as the Airbus A320, Airbus A321 and Boeing 737 typically stop at Thessalonica International Airport to refuel. The B757-200s, however, are usually able to carry sufficient fuel to operate directly to British destinations, such as London Gatwick. On one occasion, Air Italy used a Boeing 767–200 on the flight from Milan, making this the largest aircraft to have used the airport.

Only Captains are permitted to land the large jets at Skiathos due to the nature of the terrain.
If you are one of the large jet pilots, it would be well worth planning a stop for refuelling to make Skiathos as real as it can be. Although 29 Palms have done a mighty good job of that already in my opinion.

Terminal Front

People Waiting

Terminal Exit

Fuel & Fire Trucks

Holiday Coaches

I know what you are thinking. Why are there fuel trucks yet no refuelling? This did cross my mind also. This all down to take off weights and the length of the runway. Aircraft departing usually have to make a short refuelling stop at Thessalonica before carrying on their journey.

There is some discussion being carried out on Skiathos at the moment though, which will hopefully see the runway being extended by 110 metres taking it from 1,628 metres to 1,738 metres and around 32,000 M2 of additional ramp/apron space being constructed. Work will also be carried out to improve the access from the island to the airport. The works should be completed by the summer of 2014. 'Watch this space', as they say.

The Island

Now you have the business of landing and paying your landing fees sorted, it's time to explore the island of Skiathos.

29 Palms have peppered the island with buildings, trees (thousands) and a myriad of other scenic objects for you to find and fly past. There are numerous, glorious white sandy beaches to fly over and if you're lucky, you might just spot the odd tourist also. Skiathos isn't a hot dry island like many of it's counterparts, as it lies in the northern Aegean Sea, it has a more temperate climate. You will find the hot dry pine forest clad hillsides but when you venture into the one or two valleys and down towards the coastal regions, you will find lush green fields. On really hot days, the sweet aroma of pine sap fills the air all over the island.

Having stayed on the island near Koukounaries Beach, I did try to find where we stayed but there are that many little sandy paths leading off the main road, that I have to admit defeat. I couldn't decide where it was we actually stayed, suffice to say it was a privately owned bungalow, away from the hustle and bustle of the vibrant night life. And in my defence, it was a few years ago. Anyway, I digress.
Here are some screenshots of various parts of the island.

Koukounaries Beach

Hills to the west

Xanemos Beach
Tourists gather on this beach to watch the aircraft landing and taking off

Xanemos Beach on a low arrival.
Here you can see the proximity of the beach to runway 20

Asselinos Beach on the North West side of the Island

Over the hill

As you can see from this particular screenshot, why pilots are not able to see the airport when on a northerly downwind leg for landing at runway 20. This hill is the western guard for the airport and indeed, the town of Skiathos also.


I followed the advice of the manual, when it came to the display settings and continued to push the sliders to the right until I found I had a decent level of performance. The outcome for me was very surprising, in that I had almost all my sliders set to maximum, barring the Land and Sea traffic sliders.

I decided that for me personally, I didn't want to go beyond what '29 Palms' suggested in the manual, as I feel that to have hundreds of cars, ships and boats using up vital system resources, was not why I wanted to fly around the island. There really is no need, apart from the settings offered as a guidance by '29 Palms' to push your system to it's upper limits, only to have a stuttering flight. It just doesn't make your flight very enjoyable and on top of that, it's not very realistic to have your aircraft and your system juddering along. This is only my opinion and what I feel is a happy medium for me, might not be for you, so I would suggest you push your sliders as far as you dare, to find the settings and eye candy that suits you and your system.

Here are the recommended settings from '29 Palms' as suggested in the manual, followed by a screenshot of the frame rates I had.




As you can see by the frame rates in the top left of my screenshot, I was able to achieve very satisfying results, using these settings.

Mesh complexity at 69

I then pushed the mesh sliders to 100%, just to see what if any, detriment it had to my frame rates. I left the Graphics and Traffic settings as above to ensure I was certain what was affecting the frame rates, should they fall. As the results show, I had no reason to be concerned. My frame rates were just as high as with the lower settings. Testament to the hard work the guys at '29 Palms' dedicated to this small island.

Maximum Mesh

And here as you can see, I managed to achieve a steady flight around the island, whilst still achieving extremely good frame rates.

Mesh complexity at 100

One point worth noting here is, that to achieve the high level of textural detail that is possible with Skiathos X, you will need this line in your 'fsx.cfg' file: TEXTURE_MAX_LOAD=2048 or higher 4096

Overall Quality of Scenery Components

The astounding work that '29 Palms' have put in to the individual components of Skiathos X is, in my opinion quite simply amazing. From the custom created buildings to every blade of grass. I am astounded at the very high quality of the textures for example, on the walls and roofs of the houses.

Having dabbled in scenery design myself, I know the hours that get eaten up just in producing even the most simple of objects. So for the guys to come up with over 250,000 objects and trees, many, created from scratch is mind blowing. I have included just a minute selection of the kind of objects you are going to find when you install Skiathos X.

Birds-eye view of the airport




These few pictures do not do this add-on justice at all. It's just a small way of showing you the incredible attention to detail these guys have put in to making Skiathos X a superb 'must have' addition to your scenery library.

Summing Up

I swear I could smell the sea air and the aromatic baklava being made in the bakery in Skiathos town.

Once you've landed and paid your airport fees, get down to the harbour side and settle in to one of the many tavernas and crack open a bottle of Retsina, order your fill of Moussaka and wait for the baklava to come out of the oven. Ah! my holiday on Skiathos is coming back to me now. As I fly around the island, I can almost hear the tunes being played on the balalaikas all around me. It's been great fun flying around Skiathos and it's accompanying islands, so my next jaunt is going to be a full flight from the UK, to Skiathos.

The hard working guys at '29 Palms' have produced a piece of outstanding, quality scenery on our behalf, that it would be a shame not to add it to your scenery library. After all, Skiathos X is not just an airport, it's a whole island with smaller islands included. Admitted, it doesn't take long to fly around it in a fast turbo prop, but Greek life is all about taking your time and relaxing. I suggest you do just that. Break out the Cub or even the Robinson R22, and take a leisurely flight around, explore the island and it's neighbours. Land on the beaches, have a picnic and fly back to the airport. Make Skiathos X your stopover for a long haul flight. Just enjoy it, as I have.

The hours, weeks, months of eye straining labour, staring at pc monitors to produce some of the very finest 3D modelling I personally, have ever seen in flight simulation has paid off. I'm sure you will be pleasantly surprised at the detail in this masterpiece and I'm doubly sure you won't regret adding this to your collection.

A beautiful little island made better by the marriage of photo scenery and 29 Palms' superb 3D modelling. Even the price tag doesn't let it down, £19.00 and pennies for either the download or the boxed version. A snip in my opinion, as I dare to repeat myself, Skiathos X is not just an airport, it's a whopping 100km2 of idyllic scenery to explore.
Review machine Spec:
    • Asus P8Z77-V Motherboard: Intel i7 3.4Ghz sandybridge:
    • 16Gb DDR3 Corsair Vengeance 1600Mhz Ram: Geforce GTX 570SC 1280Mb:
    • 500Gb WD Velociraptor - OS: 128Gb Corsair Force 3 SSD - FSX:
    • 1.5Tb Flight Add-Ons
    • Matrox TripleHead2Go - 3 x 23" Acer lcd Monitors
    • Operating System - Win' 7 64bit

 Verdict:   silver
• Level of Detail: 9.0/10
• Performance: 10/10
• Scenery Coverage: 9.0/10
• Quality of Objects & 3D models: 10/10
• Documentation: 8.0/10
• Value for money: 9.5/10
Mutley’s Hangar score of 9.25/10, "Highly Recommended" and a Mutley's Hangar Silver Award.