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To the newbie - First Time Jitters

Thomas Parker

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I was just reading the other thread, "New to this Simulation and Forums".


Andras Kiss wrote:

Oh man I remember my first vatsim flights, my joystick set up in my room, I was half scared to death Laughing


Oh man... me too. When I found VATSIM, I was completely stoked about trying it out. It sounded exactly like what I'd wanted out of FlightSim. But jeesh did I get nervous. It surprised me because I'm a RW private-instrument pilot w/ 260 hours. I've flown into Van Nuys, John Wayne, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria to name a few.


I couldn't believe how nervous I was. My palms were sweaty, my heart was racing.


The whole point is that it's easy to get yourself worked up after reading the PRC, code of conduct, blah blah blah. But the truth is that the controllers and other pilots are all very friendly, professional, and helpful. If you can get yourself to log on, you've won 90% of the battle.


Anyone else have the same experience?



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Nice thread! I'm at 120 RW hours and working on my Instrument Rating and was a little nervous too. The structured PRC and code of conduct like you said were intimidating at first.


Intellectually, you know that everyone's here as a hobby and we're all having fun in our own way. But part of that enjoyment is in getting everything right, including (and especially in VATSIM) ATC communications. It's just something that's difficult to learn how to do by reading a set of instructions. It's easier with an instructor saying what you should say seconds before you transmit to ATC, at least until you learn what you're actually saying. Most people using VATSIM don't have that advantage I'm guessing. It's something that takes practice to become proficient in doing.


And maybe that curmudgeon of a controller that gives you a little attitude in his tone of voice is flustering you, but stay calm and stick it out with him. Or do as my instructor told me to do if I ever detected that ATC was getting onto me, "(ATC), (callsign) is a Student Pilot (request)". Not sure how well that would go over in VATSIM with someone flying a 747 though

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Oh gosh yes -- was I ever nervous before I started flying on VATSIM.


I was very lucky in that a number of experienced pilots at my VA provided a lot of encouragement, answered questions, and helped me to prepare to 'take the plunge.'


I agree, the PRC and all the rules were a bit intimidating at first, but, it's important to understand all aspects of VATSIM flying (even those that may not be pleasant to think about; in the end, it's like learning traffic laws -- sure, if you're caught making a serious infraction, there are penalties, but for most of us, it never happens.) There's also lots of really useful info in the PRC that helps to ease the transition from offline to online flying as well.


Anyway -- on to other subjects: My first flight ocurred in October 2004, and was from Calgary (CYYC) to Vancouver (CYVR). I still remember the first controller I talked to -- I had figured out how to fly my aircraft, flown the route offline, read the PRC and provided an appropriate flight plan. I still remember being at the ramp, and getting a nervous as I prepared to push the PTT button.


In the end, I still fumbled around a bit, and I'm forever grateful that the controller was patient with me, and helped me to get off the ground. I still smile to myself when I fly through his airspace and he's online. After a short while, just like that moment when you realize that if you pedal quickly enough you won't fall off your bicycle, I eventually got the hang of it thanks to the resources made available to me and the kindness of both my VA and the VATSIM community. The rest, as they say, is history. I've put in a flight or two nearly every weekend, and I've yet to have an experience that was less than positive.


In the end, even though I'm only a pilot and (relative to many) a novice here, I really enjoy being part of this group.

Victor Sussman, VAC061

Virtual Air Canada


Vancouver Crew Base

'Splendor Sine Occasu'


Victor Sussman, CDN115

Canadi>n Airlines Virtual

Toronto Hub


'There's a Goose on the loose!'


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Now this is a really nice thread. My first experience was many years ago with the old network. It came from the ATC side and I can tell you...it was just as nerve-wracking. Way back in 1997, I decided to take the plunge by working approach control out in San Francisco with some guy I didn't even know at the time working as Oakland Center or as SFO_TWR (I don't remember which....the guy turned out to be fellow VATSIM Founder Tom Schroeder...Tom and I still laugh about it to this day...). Everything was done by text back in those days as there was no voice software to speak of and there were no tutorials or mentors on how to provide ATC. We just logged on and used whatever knowledge we had picked up from the real world. We were literally flying by the seat of our pants (pun definitely intended!).


I can remember having sweaty palms and being so nervous when that first target popped up on my radar screen and I began to pound out vectors and instructions on the keyboard. Then I had to work TWO aircraft at the same time ...one coming from the south and another from the east (which for those of you who know KSFO realize means simultaneous ILS parallel approaches to 28L and 28R!).


When it was all said and done, both aircraft were on the ground safely and I felt like I had just finished a 10 Round prize fight, even though I don't think I worked more than 2 or 3 aircraft in that first session. But it was exhilirating and I was back for more the next night! I can't say that I remember my first piloting experience but it had to have gone easier than ATC.


It's interesting to see that much is still the same today. Make no mistake, you should take advantage of the PRC as a pilot and the ATC courses as a controller because they really do help. Nothing, however, beats getting online and just trying it out for the first time. It's an experience you will always remember.

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George S. Marinakis

VATSIM6, co-Founder, VATSIM


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I was beginning to think I might be just getting out of the New Pilot stage, I mean I've been online approx 8 weeks and gaining in confidence all the time.


That was until yesterday afternoon. My usual flight from Cardiff to Gatwick was filed with my usual STAR I was happily flying along hadn't missed one call, although i was slow in replying to one particular one. No problem..


I confidently repeated "Gatwick Tower say again new hdg G-CK"


It was then the nerves came back and I started sweating, the new heading was way off my normal route in, he was going to bring me in on a different runway and STAR.


All my other flights to Gatwick had been on the regular Star I'd used.


Was the controller just testing me? Had I forgot to read the rwy in use? Why was ATC making me dance all over the sky?


Jeez I was sweating, my wife came on the flight deck (must get that red light over my study door) and started asking me questions about oil in her car and such like. Stress levels went through the roof.


Finally I was established on rwy heading and I could see the VASI lights, I came off auto pilot as I like to hand land my 737, then it happend the weather changed 2 miles out, mist came in, I couldn't see the far end of the runway, i could only just see the VASI, it was going to be tight. ATC was calmly giving me calls, I was flapping like crazy.


Imanaged to get my Boeing down but god it was tight, used all the runway. Phew


ATC calmly said "G-CK Welcome to Gatwick please exit to your left at your discretion"


Yeah right. Dont you just love flying on VATSIM. It's a hell of a diet I lost 5lbs on that flight I'm sure.

Wycliffe Barrett: C3 Controller


"if god meant for us to fly, he would have given us tickets" Mel Brooks

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My first real-world solo, I got my clearance to taxi. My hands and legs were shaking so bad, I couldn't hold a straight line. Twice, I almost rolled off the side of the taxiway. My first VATSIM flight, I got my clearance to taxi. My hands were sweaty and shaking so much, I couldn't hold a straight line. I almost rolled off the side of the taxiway. Anyone who wants to claim that VATSIM doesn't emulate real life, you'd be hard-pressed to prove it by me.


I followed the recipie in the PRC. Start small and on equipment you're familiar with. I started C-172 at Man[Mod - Happy Thoughts]as (KHEF). Familiar with both. I did VFR to Richmond with flight following. After I landed, I was so excited, I immediately logged back on did an IFR flight right back down to Richmond. Same route and everything. Except this time, ATC gave me vectors for an ILS. After I landed, I jumped out of my chair. "Damn that was cool!!" I think I nearly gave my wife a heart attack.


Of course, the controller recognized me on that second flight. "Back for more, eh?". Absolutely! Now I'm hooked.

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I have not logged hundreds of hours as of yet but enough to really enjoy myself and not get too nervous, although when I put on the head set and tune the radio I still get some fun butterflies every time. The first flight I remember was KSFO to KLAX (of course), at night, when traffic volumes were nice and high (sorry to all ATC involved). As a newbie you see lots of traffic and you think, perfect, this will be fun. As an ATC you see lots of traffic and probably think, please don't be any newbies who are testing the waters Either way, I had read over the PRC docomeentation many times and p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed all the tests with 100% correct (several I had to retake). So in a way I had a little misplaced confidence. If I p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed all the tests and read the docomeentation then this will be a breeze. Right now I exclusively fly the PIC-ERJ and at the time I had only flown default FS9 ATC so I really had no experience with SIDs/STARs. I am a RW PP but my knowledge was really only of sectionals etc...This night of my first flight was actually very special as approach was online for both KSFO and KLAX with KZOA and KZLA online as well. At the time I did not realize how great I had it I just [Mod - Happy Thoughts]umed ATC was always online where I wanted to fly. So there I was sitting at a gate at KSFO, my headset on, PRC docomeentation in my lap, and I was confident as to all he##. Connect!! I am on. AHHHHH, planes everywhere. First set on nerves set in and my head went a little dizzy. No problem. I tuned the radios to listen to Norcal approach. Then the nerves really went wild. Listening to everyone on the frequency was just nuts. I did not know when I could find a break in the channel to even call, let alone sound professional. I took a big gulp and read verbatim from the PRC docomeentation in my lap for clearance delivery. I even said the airport within the docomeentation instead of KLAX After having the controller repeat my clearance 4 or 5 times (do they all talk this fast?) I finally had it. Although it was all written down, somehow the transponder code and initial altitude did not make it from paper into my cockpit. Luckily my FMS had the SID already programmed and after taking off I hit LNAV right away. Although, now I perfectly understand SIDs, I thought it was all magic at the time. Even though approach had to help remind me to enter the transponder code and I realized I forgot my initial altitude when I received a a final altitude, there was no feeling like lifting off and actually flying online. I was sooooo nervous yet also filled with extreme elation as I flew out of KSFO on my flight. I did not even have Servinfo at the time. I was blind but having the time of my life. My callsign was SW(something), so I wanted to be called Sierra Whiskey....., but was always called Southwest. I did not get it.I was also so used to having FS9 tune the radios for me that I had trouble with that at first. Switching to center was interesting. I thought I had made it through, the rest was going to be cake. Then, I flew into KZLA airspace. Gulp...Oh my dear God, what have I done. I had no idea about the vertical navigation planning on the STAR so when I received my altitude clearance, to cross at SYMON i think at 12,000 I was like O.K. I think I repeated something like, "cross at SOMEN at fiffourton"...mumble. ATC was like, ahh, yeah close enough, move on to next call. Then it was a mad dash to study the STAR to see what they were talking about. O.K., this has more info then I thought. After I realized what it was all about, I had missed my TOD (even though at the time I had no idea what that even was!). Also, as I was figuring out what I was doing I was not paying any attention to the radio. Until I received a personal message from center. DING!! That got my attention. For the rest of the flight it was all DINGS, here is your personal message. Ooppss. I knew I had bit off more than I could even see, let alone chew. Some how I made it into approach and even tuned the radios right. By this time my head felt just like a balloon (from the song) and I was not sweaty anymore (I had lost all bodily fluid somewhere back at cruising altitude). Unfortunately I was not proficient with programming my FMS so when I entered the runway and ILS approach for 24R and hit activate my airplane started a 180. Ohh NOOOO, not now. I stopped the turn just in time for a DING! from ATC. Cross SMO then turn something and descend to something. O.K. SMO was still on on FMS and I turned the plane in that direction. Spent the next few seconds programming the ILS (by now the PRC docomeentation was all over the place) and then I saw it. KLAX off to my right with many planes on the ground and many leaving and many coming in for the approach. Elation once again. I could not believe what I was seeing. Pure delight. I crossed SMO and after a while I went ahead and turned to intercept the ILS. Then DING!, OK I see you have already began your turn for the ILS, go ahead and intercept. I thought approach was impressed that I began my turn already without him having to tell me. I landed and taxied all around the airport as I did not know where to go. I am sure they thought it was hilarious. It was indeed a crazy night, but many flights later (all on Vatsim of course) I really am having the time of my life. The ATC and pilots are so helpful and have really made flying online the highlight of my week (until I fly for an airline someday soon). I understand SIDs, STARSs and my FMS as well. This has just been fantastic. I am 24, one semester left with college then I go to flight school and I know the knowledge I have learned here will no doubt help. Thank you all for listening to my ramble.


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ME!!!! Well, I would first like to thank my 6th grade English teacher who said, "who needs multiple paragraphs?" Then, of course, I must thank Vatsim for giving me the opportunity to show, that yes, it is possible. Dream big and one day you too could write a LONG and ENDLESS piece of writing. I give kudos to anyone who actually gets through it!


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Wycliffe Barrett 895867 wrote:

my wife came on the flight deck (must get that red light over my study door) and started asking me questions about oil in her car and such like.


Hehehe... don´t you just love it when that happens? Laughing


Indeed, very interesting post. Funny, while reading the thread the quote above is the first thing I copied and Andre beat me to it. Unless you are a member of VATSIM, people don't understand how serious this stuff is! I have had numerous encounters where flights and controlling sessions ended due to this. So frustrating...


Anyways for my first flight, well I can't talk about my first because that was so long ago and I had 0 idea what I was doing, and I think I was around 10 yrs old. The earliest I can remember. I had my little cessna on the ramp at CGX with my pen in hand, pad right next to me (even though I was on text half the time because I was too nervous for voice). When I did start using voice I had to mentally prepare to transmit something. My voice was shaking, along with every other part of my body . Anyways once I got off the ground I did some rectangles around CGX. Each flight there after I gained more and more confidence and knowledge to where I am at today.

Alex Goldstein


VFR Trips - Coming Soon

The first online community specifically geared towards the common private pilot. Everything ranging from published VFR (Visual-Flight-Rules) trips to an online aviation community.

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My first day on vatsim was horrible, but great at the same time! I didn't even know the PRC existed at this time and kinda just logged in as soon as I created my account. I also didn't know much about flying and atc in the first place


first login was at an uncontrolled KLAX on a Saturday afternoon. I was pretty much just seeing if it worked and had no idea how to tell if there was ATC online or how to do any radio communicating. There were a few other craft around and I taxied around to see how well they displayed, and just because it was so cool lol. Now that I look back at it, I'm thinking I probably annoyed someone out there by taxiing without any radio comm.


Later that night I logged in at KLAS. I made the mistake of forgetting to load FS at the ramp, and appeared on the default active. I looked around and didn't see anyone else, so I preceded to take off. A couple of minutes into my climb I get a popup window from a LAS V TWR saying to contact on xxx.xxx and I'm like ...huh?... I managed to contact the controller after a short while and I start hearing radio chatter in the speakers for the first time, amazing feeling.

First thing the atc said to me was 'first time on vatsim?'. he/she nailed that one right on the head Then the atc let me know what all I did wrong, told me about the PRC and LAARTCC, taught me how to use squawkbox, gave me a lesson in vectoring and communications, and brought me in for an approach and landing.


I have no idea who the controller was that night, but whoever you are, thank you! I really appreciate you taking the time to teach me so much.



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My first time online? Back in 2003 , ( and over 700 online hours ago) , at Sydney International Airport ( YSSY ) , on a Saturday evening , in the middle of a VA Fly-In!! I had previously sat at the gate , and just listened to the exchanges between ATC and Pilot , and felt pretty confident that I was up to speed with the patois ( or lingo as we call it here in Australia). Figured if I could " Talk the Talk" I could " Walk the Walk!" . I was doing just fine , got connected to the tower , asked for a flightplan ( verbatim as I had read it somewhere) , and received my clearance. This is where it all started to fall apart. On read back I mixed up the taxiway with the runway , gave the departure frequency as my initial altitude , and vice versa . I was sweating bullets , the harder I tried , the worse things got. * Tip # 1 : Write everything down! Finally managed to get to the active ( with a lot of " take next turn left , then first taxiway on the right from our long suffering ATC) . * Tip # 2 : Have a map of the airport next to you!


Then , those glorious words ; " QANTAS 123 , cleared for takeoff ! ". There is no other feeling quite like it , I had actually been given a real live clearance to takeoff , I was interacting with several other people , and I was hooked !! Dont actually remember the landing part , so it probably wasnt that awful , but over the last couple of years i have had some of the best times whilst flying online. I have flown online in England , America , Canada , The Pacific Islands and parts of Europe , and of course , many thousands of miles here in Australia. I have taken part in a Virtual Airshow , joined a VA ( where I do the Online Training ) , and have made some tremendous friends , both here and overseas. ( that includes you Norman ) .


For those of you who are very new to Flight Simming , and online flying , hang in there , you too will be able to complete a readback in 3 seconds , whilst taxiing , with a wife/child / cat vying for your attention , and loving every minute of it !!!



Ross Moir

Taxiway ALPHA Landing Expert

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I have been flying FS for quite a while now. Looking for some way to make flight simming even more realistic I decided to join a VA. While there I learned about Vatsim and online flying. This really sparked my interest. I thought there was no way to make FS even more realistic with flying with real pilots and real ATC. AI and other ATC software just dosen't compare. So I get my ID and p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]word, downloaded the software, I move over to the PRC and start reading up. Reading all the info about VATSIM and the operations was absolutely amazing. It really takes real skill and professionalism to be flying online. Then I log on for the first time and listened in to the radio traffic. This is what got me a little nervous. So I listened a few more times and started feeling comfortable with the flow of traffic. Then the first flight came. Some fellow pilots from my VA were meeting at KIAH for a flight to KATL. So I got the courage and logged on. Fortunately it was a quiet night, not a whole bunch of flights in the area, and ATC was on. With my heart racing I contacted ATC for my IFR clearance to ATL. When I got the clearance I was absolutely excited. It really sank in that I was actually flying online is when I got my takeoff clearance and I left the runway. The flight to ATL was perfect. Now every flight I make for my VA, and some GA flights I do inbetween flight [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ignments, I fly online. And another thing I want to say is that all the controllers I had the pleasure of flying through their airspace are extremely professional and helpful, this goes for the pilots too. You see the professionalism and cooperation of the pilots when ATC isn't available, and you communicate together on UNICOM. It's truly a pleasure flying with the worlds best FS pilots and ATC.

Capt. Michael A. Pedde

Eastern Virtual Airlines

[Mod - Happy Thoughts]t. Hub Manger


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After I read all your stories about nervousness while flying online the first time I feel very relieved. I always thought I was the only one!


But have you guys ever thought how even worse it would be if you would have to do the whole voice in a foreign language as we not English natives have to do it and how we felt the first time?



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