You are about to embark on a highly rewarding journey know as VATSIM. VATSIM, or Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network is an organization designed to provide you with a realistic ATC simulation while flying your simulator. VATSIM is a worldwide organization with thousands of pilots and controllers who are all trying to take their simulation experience to the next level. With a network this size, new members join every day, and many of those new members are extremely nervous on their first flight. So, for that reason, we at BHI strive to make your first VATSIM experience as enjoyable as possible by providing this guide to help reduce the stresses felt by the pilot. The following is a list of tips, tricks, and how-to’s that we hope will make your first flight and enjoyable one.
Never, under any circumstances, connect while on a taxiway, runway, or anywhere but a gate, apron, or ramp. This is the number one mistake that new pilots make, and controllers really don’t like it.
If you’re new, put something like “New pilot” into your remarks section. Controllers really appreciate this, it lets them know to give you special attention, and they’ll probably go a little easier on you as well.
Don’t act like you know everything. Trust me, you don’t.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As a former controller myself, I would rather have to explain something to a pilot than clean up the mess caused by a pilot who agrees to do something he has no idea how to do.
If you can’t fly it, don’t accept it.
If it’s your first flight, don’t fly into or out of an airport that is hosting an event. When placed under stress, new pilots generally falter, resulting in controllers who are ripping their hair out. Remember, we’re only human. In busy airspace and high-stress situations, any slipup can cause a major issue.
With that in mind, always follow the controller’s instructions to the letter, provided that you are able to execute his instructions without issue. Don’t debate orders, just follow them.
However, don’t be afraid to bring it to your controller’s attention if he/she has missed something regarding your flight. (I.E. no descent clearance, wrong heading, missing an ILS clearance, forgetting about you, etc.) But, if you do, make sure it is in a respectful and professional manner. Remember, controllers can make your life very unpleasant if they are annoyed enough.
Remember to read back all instructions, especially hold short instructions, and, if you’re not sure about an instruction, ask the to clarify.
Please and Thank You go a long way.
Don’t contact ground for landing clearance.
Don’t contact tower for approach clearance.
Remember to listen before you speak. Whenever you change frequencies, listen for a few seconds to make sure you’re not interrupting anyone.
Don’t step on a transmission by a controller. Ever.
Don’t keep speaking if someone cuts in on your transmission. Wait for them to realize that they screwed up first, and then quickly resume your transmission.
The rules of etiquette apply everywhere.
Use common sense.
For everyone’s sake, don’t fly VFR into KLAX, or any other major airport until you’re confident and well versed in all Class Bravo procedures.
Don’t be nervous.