Helicopter fliers, this one is for you. Looking to fill a major gap in the simulator and turn all those real-world helipad locations into something that actually resembles a place where you can land your helicopter? Then today’s freeware recommendation arrives at just the right time. It’s called MSFS Autogen Helipads, and it leverages data from OpenStreetMap to automatically generate helipad scenery in MSFS for thousands of helipads around the world that you can spawn on!
This innovative project from Simfocus, which is free to download, aims to address a significant shortcoming in the simulator: the lack of a comprehensive list of real-world heliport locations as properly generated default scenery. MSFS Autogen Helipads takes care of this with a simple but powerful script that pulls data from OpenStreetMap to create accurate and realistic helipads in various shapes and positions.
The tool doesn’t just stop at placing helipads; it also considers several important factors, such as edge lighting, exclusion of buildings and vegetation, and accurate terraforming based on elevation data.
- Realistic Helipads: The tool generates helipads with correct shapes and positions;
- Edge Lighting: It provides edge lighting around helipads, making them visible and functional during night flights;
- Terrain Adjustments: By retrieving elevation data, the tool applies terraforming to ensure helipads blend seamlessly with their surroundings;
- Exclusion of Obstacles: It generates polygons to exclude buildings and vegetation, ensuring clear and safe helipads;
- Additional Data: The tool fetches names, ICAO codes, and adjusts materials based on available OpenStreetMap data;
- Navigation Enhancement: It produces a .csv file with userpoints for use in Little Navmap;
While the tool brings numerous advantages, it does have its limitations, particularly in terraforming. The elevation data, which is crucial for accurately modeling the terrain, is not always reliable. This inconsistency can lead to helipads being inaccurately placed, such as being sunk into the ground or placed on sloped terrains. However, the project is continually evolving, with updates aimed at refining these aspects.
It’s also worth noting that this mod doesn’t cover the whole world. The United States, Canada, the UK, Germany, Italy, or Japan, are well covered, along with other countries, but there are some major gaps everywhere else. A map is available on the website, but you’ll also see the scenery availability in the MSFS World Map.
How to Get It
MSFS Autogen Helipads is available for free from Simfocus. You need to register an account and “purchase” the mod, but it doesn’t cost a dime!