Featured Freeware: X-Plane Orthophotos Project

Recently I got pretty much tired of my main operation area, which is Europe. Although I consider the Austrian Alps to be the most beautiful area to fly in, I just needed something new. That’s when I stumbled across the X-Plane Orthophotos Project by community member Forkboy2. Forkboy2 provides free ortho packs for various areas around the world, for the most part in the US, though. These packs have certain advantages over regular Ortho4XP packs, see for example:

  • High resolution orthoimagery, which is a combination of ZL16 (2.4 m/p) for flyover areas and ZL17 (1.2 m/p) within 6 km of airports.
  • High resolution elevation data based on 1/3 arc-second USGS DEM (~10 meter spacing between elevation points).
  • Road networks and custom autogen buildings from HD Mesh Scenery Version 3 by alpilotX (with permission).
  • Custom water masks (with some of the packages)

The best part, however, is this. Forkboy2 color corrected the source images to remove the “washed out” appearance that is common with orthophotos. The settings vary a bit by region, but in general, the colors should appear darker and deeper than they would without the color correction. This is a huge improvement over regular Ortho4XP. I downloaded California and Arizona and so far I haven’t seen any patched areas, none.

There is only one downside (actually not really a downside, but the next steps involve some DIY on your side). Once you comfortably downloaded a certain pack via BitTorrent, you need to convert all .jpeg files to .dds files with the provided batch file. The reason is, .jpegs are much smaller than .dds files, so this saves a lot of bandwith for everyone. The conversion can take a few hours or more (depending on your hardware) but the results are simply stunning!

To learn more about the project, download .torrents or to watch more screenshots, head over to x-plane.org here! Enjoy!

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8 comments
  • Freddy De Pues24. September 2017 - 23:18

    I prefer the reliable http://zonephoto.x-plane.fr, it keeps the original autogen and it’s one click away.ReplyCancel

    • Ollie25. September 2017 - 19:51

      Zonephoto is great but they have a lack in US orthophotos. This project promises to cover all of the US, so I believe the focus is quite different. Anyway, it’s always good to have options.ReplyCancel

    • Mario Donick28. September 2017 - 18:20

      The US Orthophotos project is US focused and has a much better quality than the old tiles at ZonePhoto. It’s also good to have a legal source of Orthophotos without copyright issues.ReplyCancel

      • Ollie28. September 2017 - 20:29

        I am already dreaming of full coverage for the entire US!ReplyCancel

  • kyle sanders25. September 2017 - 20:13

    looking forward to this. Downloading now!ReplyCancel

    • Ollie25. September 2017 - 20:31

      Kyle, you will definitely enjoy this! Best Orthophoto pack ever imho!ReplyCancel

  • Kyle sanders25. September 2017 - 21:38

    If I am just now downloading the Florida Zip, is it necessary to download the Updates/Patches for that state or is it included with the latest general Florida download?ReplyCancel

    • Ollie25. September 2017 - 22:54

      I believe it is necessary to download the two patches and to apply them before you run the batch file… Haven’t tried Florida yet, though. I am totally satisfied with Cali, Washington, Arizona and Oregon! Massive coverage and all looking great…ReplyCancel

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