As we head into the tail-end of 2023, it’s been an incredible year so far for the aging FSX community. Every year, many new upgrades and improvements are brought out that improve replay value, game features, or even the overall performance of the game itself. When this occurs, it’s up to every single player of the series to actually get involved and make sure that they have the finest selection available to them and at Fly Away Simulation, we have created the perfect collection of some of the finest scenery projects that have been released before 2024.
2023 was a very bright year for Microsoft Flight Simulator X, and the advancements such as new scenery files, aircraft, and many other files created by freeware developers in 2024 reflect that perfectly.
There are more than 24,000 files available to download from Fly Away Simulation, and we are improving that library all the time. With so many items to pick from for our flight simmers, it’s no wonder that we are recognized as one of the largest FSX websites out there on the web!
With the 2013 (Steam) edition giving you, even more, ideas of extras that your FSX game just will not be the same without, why not make sure that your future on the series is going to be as enjoyable as possible?
It’s important that we can get the most out of our games, and especially when it comes to FSX this becomes even more possible. This guide will give you access to some of my personally selected top 20 freeware scenery files and enhancements that have been released for your own enjoyment.
Everything you find on this page has been hand-picked by me to make sure that it covers all of the key features that we look for in every file. While these are not payware expansions, they are very good quality freeware packages created by developers in the flight simulation industry.
Some of the files listed below match the quality of payware. If you are looking for payware quality scenery enhancements for your copy of FSX, you can find those on SimShack. If you have any questions about the files in this list then please don’t hesitate to contact our support team and we can give you all the information that you need to make the right decision.
We have just updated our 2024 list of the best FSX/P3D photoreal scenery - check it out here.
If you are interested in making FSX look and appear more realistic (not just scenery add-ons) then check out our article here.
Because this article is quite lengthy (featuring 20 files), I have separated them up into subheadings that you can jump to using the links below:
Scenery Enhancements are a key part of expanding FSX, and it can make the world below you feel even more engrossing and enjoyable as you fly around. You can add in better detail to the world around you and extra forms of scenery like new trees and other extras that can totally alter the landscape that you fly across. If you are growing tired of the same old scenery that you see every time that you load up your simulator, then these simple downloads should help change that for you right away!
FSX Enhanced Trees
This unique scenery pack will totally re-design the trees within the game, using real photography as a basis for the designs. If you feel that the FSX engine does not capitalize on the graphical power of your machine and you want to have trees that look more realistic and have higher textures, then this is the package that you want to be downloading!
These photo-realistic designs give you trees that look great and have an incredibly high-resolution baseline behind them so that you have an authentic-looking world around you as you fly around.
Every tree species in the game has been modified and made to look far more like their actual realistic counterparts. If you want the world below to look as realistic as it can, then these chromatic designs are exactly what you should be looking for.
Airport Ground Texture Upgrade
This excellent addition makes perfect sense for those who want to enjoy a more realistic world around them. This enhances your typical ground textures within airports and gives everything from the taxiways to the ground itself an entirely new look – something far more akin to what an airport would look like in real life.
It uses a mix of grass & rocks to create a realistic style of scenery within the airport and its surrounding areas. Make sure that every time you take off you are getting the best view that you possibly can as you hit the skies, and don’t give yourself the opportunity to miss out and stick with the same old designs! Don’t let the game grow stale for you and make sure that your own FSX experience is as authentic and well-designed as possible.
Water Effects Texture
One thing that you will be sure of when you are flying in FSX is that you will spend a lot of time over water. Unfortunately, on some machines the water can look quite unconvincing and low-quality, but with this package that problems quickly becomes something that you no longer need to worry about!
This provides you with a 512x512 resolution design on the water itself, that provide smaller waves and calmer oceans to create a much greater design than you are used to receiving with the game typically.
You can even alter the quality as you go throughout the game, using a variety of different installation options. This means that even lower quality machines can still get an improvement to the graphics capacity of the game without having to suffer from a lack of gameplay efficiency or quality. This is a must have download for any simmer of the series.
Shuttle Launch Scenery
This is a scenery add-on which has been included in the series as a whole new idea entirely. You can witness or be a part of a detailed and incredibly well designed Space Shuttle launch. It comes complete with a huge variety of accompanying sounds to help add to the atmosphere of the entire launch, and if you are looking to add more to your game than flying planes and seeing the same old this could be the ideal choice for you. You can fly into Cape Canaveral and witness the launch itself.
If you feel that the game could use more lifelike side-events taking place around you then this is the ideal place to get started. It gives you an extra edge of realism and excellent features to the overall area and can be the catalyst for making the game feel that extra bit more realistic, for those who feel that they are running out of new things to go and see within the game! This is perfect for the "easter-egg" hunters.
Modified Terrain Textures
This is an addition to your terrain.cfg file that can totally alter the experience and style of the Flight Simulator X experience. It gives you all the help that you need to bring the game up to scratch and give you a better idea of what you should be looking for from a high-end flight simulator. Not only will these terrain alterations make the game run smoother but it will improve the overall look and style of the entire game! By making alterations where it can, the game will color your terrain in a more apparent manner so that the balance between the games design and real life is far closer.
Additionally, for those of you who like to do some designing of your own you can do just that with the help of this simple to install addition! This is the perfect solution for those who aren’t quite sure what they should be included or removed from the game, but think that the graphics could do with a little assistance!
As you can imagine, one of the most commonly downloaded and installed forms of an update for the FSX series is that of new airports. With upgrades added in to make them look more realistic or to add in new features that change how the game operates, you can really amplify your FSX experience this way. Give yourself more options and make the flight experience a little faster or a little easier with these graphical and logistical updates to the airports that you will find throughout the game. Wherever your favorite flights take off from, you will probably be able to find a realistic representation of it!
John F. Kennedy Airport
JFK Airport is one of the most important pieces of American flight history and has been used millions of times ever since it first opened. This is a systems-friendly update for the JFK airport and provides it with a realistic design, by utilizing real photographs of the airport itself to really add in the right detail and authentic features where they are needed most. Realism is very important in the simulator, and this representation of JFK airport brings all of the main features of the building to the forefront.
With new parking garages, unique warehouses, extra gates and other scenery improvements you can feel like you are in a far more alive version of the airport than the game traditionally allows. Be warned though, this add-on is quite heavy on the resources of your system so if you are playing on an older machine you might need to compromise on graphics quality to get a steady and fair frame rate when you are flying around. Runways have been increased and expansions added to give a proper scale & size to the airport itself.
Princess Juliana International Airport
The Princess Juliana International Airport is located in the Netherlands Antilles and for many years has been the primary entrance and exit point for the nation. It’s been created to fully represent the actual designs of the Juliana in real life and guarantees that all of the correct fittings and features have been added like runway numbers, parking slots, and lighting.
Every precaution has been taken to give the scenery and extras added in the best chance of being as close to the real thing as possible. If you want to get out of the traditional big name airports and enjoy something a little bit more rural, this could be the ideal choice. It’s easy to fly to and from in-game and gives you plenty of options of where to go once you take off!
This is the airport where you can perfect the famous St Maarten approach - where the landing path goes right over one of the most famous beaches in the world. You can watch an interesting video of a 747 landing here and also a video of the famous jet blast beach here.
LAX (Los Angeles International)
Los Angeles is, without a doubt, one of the most populous and regularly visited cities in the entire world. This scenery package is a complete re-build of the KLAX airport by using a wide array of different scenery creation tools and image sources to create a realistic representation of the airport. Utilizing a wealth of different features to add even more to the KLAX airport like the A380 parking spots, you can feel a genuine realistic approach paying off immediately.
With new, unique terminal buildings designed to give LA its own unique feel, the entire airport has been re-scaled to make you feel like you are landing at one of the truly awesome airports in the world. By using footage and data from Google satellite images, this remake of these famous airports carries all of the charm and style that you would hope to see from this type of project!
Grantley Adams International is one of the most popular airports in the region and is a complete remake of the original airport found within the game. by completely altering the stock & style of the airport itself, including its size & scale, you can really benefit from having a much more authentic design of the airport in your game if you regularly take off from here in real life. Making every attempt to use photo-realistic approaches to getting authenticity down perfectly, you can see the difference between new and old instantly. While some areas are simply impossible to add into the game due to engine limitations, everything that can be there has been added.
This airport has been running since the 1930s, and if you want to see the reasons for why it is so incredibly popular this is the best place to get started! Its friendly atmosphere has never been represented properly in the games before and now you can make sure that is the case today.
San Diego International
San Diego airport is extremely famous, and this total reworking of the area itself will give you something that looks far more like the real thing. By improving texture qualities and the overall positioning of different parts of the airport, you can feel a far more realistic representation of the airport when you load the game up. by utilizing Google satellite images to re-create the airport from a top-down view, this includes many bespoke designs that you simply won’t find in any other pack of the same style and size.
One of the main inclusions in this set, though, is the expansion of Terminal 2 that is set to be completed in 2013. This means that the garages and runways of the airport have also been totally modified so that they don’t look the same as every other airport that you fly into in the series!
Although the FSX series is highly regarded by anyone who has tried them out, they do lack a little bit of graphical prowess – at least in comparison to more modern titles. However, what it lacks in graphical strength can be changed by modders and this list of photorealistic scenery will provide your game with a whole new boost to the system. High-definition textures and a complete reworking of the system will make the graphics far more modern and realistic. Sound good? Then check these five brilliant packages out starting today!
The USA and Europe Photoreal Scenery (New Article)
New for 2019
We have crafted an article featuring some of the best photoreal scenery add-ons for FSX and Prepar3D. This article is up to date (2019). Included are various photoreal scenery packages as well as global mesh scenery. Featured in the article are many of the USA states such as Utah, California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, and Idaho. Also featured and available to download are many European countries including Cyprus, Albania, Hungary, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia, Serbia and Malta.
All of the packages are complete photoreal package and are very large. The files may take several days to download in some cases but it is all dependant on the speed of your Internet connection. You may also benefit from our PRO membership subscription in order to download these files faster.
Also included in this article is the simply stunning FreeMeshX package which is global mesh scenery for FSX/P3D covering the entire globe. It adds detailed terrain mesh leveling and scenery to your flight sim package.
St. Louis is a vast, colorful place to live with many outstanding landmarks and historical aspects of the land that makes up the area. This package will help your FSX installation really do the area justice, by adding in numerous landmarks by providing you with more than 2GB of outstanding photography that’s been turned into textures.
Flying above the area will never better, with around 870 square miles of land covered in total. However, please be aware that this package will only work during the day in the game. Also, the majority of photographs used were taken from 2002 so if you can’t see any project updates in the area that have appeared since then, this may be why!
One thing that many of the add-on packages for FSX do not undertake is extra scenery like mountains. While many prefer to concentrate on cities, this brilliant addition to the FSX game will re-create one of the world’s most notable mountains in Mt. Fuji (Japan) in stunning, high-definition detail that the original engine simply cannot get near.
Using a variety of HD photos that have been taken from above and around the mountain, you can get a complete representation of one of Asia’s biggest landmarks.
USA Ground Textures
The United States, as we all know, is absolutely massive. However, some of the parts of the game are under-represented and the textures can look rushed or poor, even sometimes completely inappropriate for the area in question. This 8-piece download kit will completely alter that, though.
Using various different images taken from all across the country, you can really bring the United States to life. get rid of those barren, boring textures that come within the game and make sure that your color palette as you fly over the States is as close to the real thing as it possibly can be!
Project Canary is an addon for FSX which provides you with a fully updated representation of the area. This fully updates a key part of the world in the Canary Islands to make them far more representative of what they really look like. Using a wide variety of images and sources, the islands look far more like their real selves with this texture pack and you can fully bring the region to life with this pack.
This is perfect for those who know the area well, as many modern landmarks are added in for even more positive recognition.
Mt Washington And The Presidential Range
Found in the White Mountains in New Hampshire, this is the highest peak in the whole of the North East. It’s a massive part of the world, and today stands as one of the genuine natural monuments within the whole of the Americas.
If you are looking to give Mt. Washington the respect and feeling that it deserves using the quality graphics made possible due to the FSX engine, this is the place to be! Fly over one of the biggest mountain ranges in the world with any plane of your choice and truly get to witness first-hand the immense detail put into this package.
Sometimes, it’s a little harder to define the packages that we use in FSX. Some of them are obviously scenery, and some are game additions that change how your planes are performing or how the cockpits look. These brilliant top-5 products are made to give you a better representation of parts of the game that aren’t brought up above, so make sure you check these five out – they give you far more balance in the game, and help to improve the visual aspect also.
The Dubai X scenery package is made up of around 65km of shoreline and is a photo scenery package that is made to fit the Gulf state perfectly. It works in both night and day, and also covers the shorelines to give them more depth and realism.
It covers the city of Dubai as well as the outer areas, so if you want to turn this Middle Eastern jewel into one of the most attractive parts of the game use this HD photo scenery package to do just that.
Lukla Scenery updates the entire Lukla area to bring it up to speed with some of the best mods out there. It adds new parking spots and housing estates, as well as hangars to the area.
It’s a high-quality representation of the area and if you are a local looking to make sure you get all the little details in there about the region, this is a good place to get started. Lukla was rated as one of the hardest places to land in the world - with a runway on a steep gradient and mountain ranges surrounding the airfield.
Kai Tak is a Hong Kong airport and was closed in 1998 but is quite possibly one of the most famous airports because of its approach. It is one of the most famous aircraft approaches both in-game and in real life so if you are trying to master the Kai Tak landing methods this is a good place to get the practice.
With photo scenery used to include all of the extras you would want to see included, you can easily give yourself a life-like challenge to fully understand the entire area and make sure that your landings are going to be absolutely perfect!
This helps to improve the entire Iberian Peninsula with the exception of Portugal and creates a consistent and authentic scenery style throughout so you know just where you are flying above. It fixes coastlines and adds more depth & realism to the cities that make up Spain like Madrid & Barcelona.
This is perfect for anybody within this region who wants to experience their homeland in the FSX world properly.
Fitted with various textures for maximum exposure, this design is made up to improve highways and roads throughout the entire game. by altering the default textures, it improves the overall quality of the game so that every single piece of road or highway that you fly over is going to look absolutely stunning.
You can even choose unique textures from within the installation process to really make the game look exactly as you want it to.
So there you have it, my 20 essential freeware scenery enhancements/packs for Microsoft Flight Simulator X. While the files I have selected for this edition (2017) are the top 20 (in my opinion), there are thousands more available to download from our dedicated FSX scenery section. You can also view all of our addon files for FSX here.
Thank you to all of the developers that have created these amazing files and provided them to the community free of charge. When downloading the files, it would be great if you could post a comment after downloading to let us know what you think of the file - this also provides other users with some information before they choose to download too.
Performance and Installation
Many of the files included above have detailed installation instructions included with the ZIP file after downloading, or the information will be provided on the download page. However, if you are having trouble getting them installed or problems after installation, you can view our installation help page here.
If you are having performance issues after installing any of these add-ons, you may benefit from reading our FSX performance tips and tweaks article over here. This will provide you with information on how to speed up your FPS and other features. You don't even have to install these add-ons to benefit from reading the article - the tips and tweaks provided can be used on a stock FSX install.
I'd love to hear your comments below, please post! Also, if you wouldn't mind sharing the article with your flight sim friends using Facebook/Google+ by clicking on the "Care to Share" icons below, that will be greatly appreciated.
Don't forget... We have a huge selection (over 24,000 files) of free mods and add-ons for MSFS, FSX, P3D & X-Plane in the file library. Files include aircraft, scenery, and utilities All are free-to-download and use - you don't even need to register. Browse on down to the file library here.