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To the newbie - First Time Jitters


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My first VATSIM flight was April 9th, 2009. I definitely had the jitters, butterflies, and sweaty hands. Holding my CH Combatstick 568 was definitely a challenge. To top it off, using the real-world weather and correct time, I selected a VFR flight in my flight planner and took off from St. Cloud, MN (KSTC) to MSP (KMSP) in a Cessna 172 where the winds were 10 knots and 15-20 gusts and the clouds were just above 5k. What a challenge for just my first flight. My little Cessna was getting tossed around all over the place and trying to maintain headings was a challenge in itself. Thanks to Tim Dryml, I was in very safe hands as he was operating as MSP Tower.

 

But yeah, the jitters were definitely present and probably still will be until I get the hang of communications and feel confident navigating the skies and communicating with controllers. Something about flying with much much much more experienced pilots and controllers is extremely intimidating.

 

The truth is out there though in one of the very first posts. 90% of the challenge on VATSIM for newbies is getting the flight all lined up and getting up in the sky. I also think landing is a big butterfly moment since the controller(s) are generally watching. Screw up on the landing, and in my case there were strong wind gusts, it was a very nervous experience.

 

Thanks again Tim for guiding me in. We had encountered some inbound traffic, which I was not expecting. I had to enter a hold pattern until he touched down since the traffic was cruising much faster than I was. I had the biggest smile on my face once I pulled up to the gate though

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Yep, was scared to death! I had 2 VFR flights today.

 

I am considering a PPL at my local airport, been simming for many years, and am very confortable with the mechanized fs9 ATC. I bought the GoFlight radios so I could make this as real as possible. I thought myself well prepared for this, but there were some moments.

 

I tried to initiate my first flight out of KEMT, but all the ATC action was at LAX, so I decided to do my TO at KLAX inspite of the warnings to stay away from busy airports at first. The TO very sloppy on my part, I didn't contact tower when holding short of R25R, so they just cleared me for TO. Then ATC asked me if I wanted flight following, and to squawk Mode C. I didn't realize Mode C is a setting in SB4. Anyway, I eventually got it. And I'm still learning the lingo, though I think its mostly there. I am very impressed with the operations between pilots and controllers, it does seem real in some circomestances

 

The last flight was KEMT to KLAS, and my computer crashed 150 NM from HEC, so I gave up. The last instruction from LAX_CTR was "frequency change approved", but there was no one to contact, so I stayed on until LAX_CTR shut down then fs9 bombed out. What was interesting, I tried contacting various ATC and LAX ground centers for VFR clearance while on the ground at KEMT, but kept on getting the run around as to whom I should contact to receive VFR clearance. Eventually, LAX_CTR responded.

 

I thought this to be a great experience. There are many times I didn't understand what the controllers where trying to communcate to me, (I am a native English speaker), maybe due to my inexperience I didn't know what to expect to hear.

 

I am wondering if ATC prefers handling the faster jets in and out of the larger airports...? Maybe my Baron 58 is too small and slow.

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I've been a VATSIM member for three years but last flew about a year ago. Although I am a RW PPL I usually cannot understand VATSIM ATC and elect to use text. This drives most controllers nuts and sometimes they don't mind texting so! I can understand when it's busy but when workload is low there is no excuse. I hope controllers are reminded now and again of the VATSIM rules regarding communication by text.

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If you are a real world private pilot and can't understand Vatsim controllers something is wrong.

 

Maybe two or three controllers I fly with in a month talk too fast. Ask these guys to "say again" if that happens. Don't ask to "repeat". Use "say again".

 

Learn the basics of the IFR procedures and then the controller's words will get slower and slower in your mind. Be familiar with how to get from point A to B using real world IFR procedures. If you do this then you can start to anticipate your next instruction and you will be on your way.

 

We are blessed to have some wonderful controllers. Most of these guys want to help you so keep that in mind.

Scott D. Williams

KMEM

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If you are a real world private pilot and can't understand Vatsim controllers something is wrong.

 

Several things are wrong First, my hearing is not what it used to be although good enough to p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] a UK Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] 2 medical. Second, many controllers mumble or speak too fast. Third, strong regional or foreign accents do not help - maybe this applies more in Europe than in US. Fourth, odd as it may seem, there are others near me who do not wish to participate in a VATSIM flying session

 

So, text has its uses. I wish controllers were more accepting of it.

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If you are a real world private pilot and can't understand Vatsim controllers something is wrong.

So, text has its uses. I wish controllers were more accepting of it.

 

All controllers are required to give directions on Text if a pilot requests it (by asking them to text their directions or indicating this in their FP's). Sometimes it may seem that you are getting worse service, especially during events...but it is typically because the ATCO is very busy on the voice channel (which if you haven't setup to connect to, or are not listening to) you would have no idea how busy the controller actually is. I'll agree that some people don't like Text pilots, but there are several reasons why a person might be /t/.

0

Anchorage Deputy Air Traffic Manager

VATSIM Senior Supervisor (Team 1)

Have a question or concern? Email me at [email protected].

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OMG. My first flight? This was a shocker...I'll never forget this one.

 

So, my first flight was a short IFR flight from KEWR to KCVG. To start off, I was a controller before hand to I figured I'll try a flight today.....big mistake. Turned out what I didnt know that Cross the Pond was that day (the most recent one) and man I popped up on the scopes and landed right on top of 2 other planes parked at the same gate as me (one appeared as a 747 and the other a concorde). I disconnect in a rush. I figured it was a coincidence so I tried again 3 more times before I found an empty gate way up near the cargo ramps at the north end. So I set my autopilot and prepped for takeoff. I soon called to clearance and he gave me an expected hold time 30 minutes away from then. So I wait. And wait, and wait, and finally I get a clearance to taxi to the active...I believe they were switching from the 4s to the 22s at the time so I taxied over to the 22s and soon got clearance to takeoff. I was relieved I thought it was over until I got a contact me from departure. I was like oh SH*T! I forgot to contact dep which I believe was also the approach controller. So I get instructions from him. Also as I was climbing a must have stalled at least once. He soon told me to contact center. So I contacted center and he told me to resume own nav. So I happily flew to KCVG and finally came in contact with their tower. So I contacted him and he said I was cleared to land...what I also failed to realize was that there was also another plane cleared to land the same runway....the tower made a big mistake. Even though I was in a learjet the 737 overtook me pretty fast and must had missed me by 10 feet overhead. I pulled down into a nose dive and amazingly recovered and managed to go around. I said to the tower controller lets try this again. So I go around and this time a made an ILS approach and perfectly landed....so much for a peaceful flight.

 

Ryan Donahue

Best Regards,

 

Ryan Donahue

Owner/Founder of airAtlantic

NYARTCC-EWR Tower

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

My first flight? I don't really want to think about it too much It was a flight from Salzburg to Frankfurt with my (then) new Fokker 70 I had bought from the shop only a week earlier. I had copied the entire flight plan from the tutorial that came with the Fokker into my FMC and filled a flight plan. I took off and everything was going (relatively) well. So after half an hour I got a pop-up message of FRA_APP asking me if I could contact him. I was getting nervous, after that I got another message from FRA_APP asking me (again) if I could contact him. I was getting really nevervous at this point and said: "Frankfurt Approach eummm...Austrian 263 with you at eummm....flight level......240..."

Frankfurt Approach (or Langen Rader as it's called) replied with: Austrian 263 squawk 1234. I was thinking:"Okidoki, I can do that", and I replied. Then I switched to transponder view then only discovering I didn't know how to use the transponder! The controller asked me to set the squawk code again, but I said I wasn't able to do it (I don't want to know what he thought when I said that). Later that flight, approaching Frankfurt, I got directions to fly to a heading of 110 degrees. I thought I knew how do enter this in my autopilot, but it turned out I didn't. I have no clue how I did it, but I managed to get my plane down in the middle of runway 25L coming in at nearly 200 knots! I was relieved I had landed but I was quite embarresed as well, because I had messed up so badly.

"What comes up must come down"

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The last flight was KEMT to KLAS, and my computer crashed 150 NM from HEC, so I gave up. The last instruction from LAX_CTR was "frequency change approved", but there was no one to contact, so I stayed on until LAX_CTR shut down then fs9 bombed out. What was interesting, I tried contacting various ATC and LAX ground centers for VFR clearance while on the ground at KEMT, but kept on getting the run around as to whom I should contact to receive VFR clearance. Eventually, LAX_CTR responded.

 

Tom,

 

If Center gave you "frequency change approved" he must have been going offline. Otherwise, he would have worked you all the way into KLAS.

 

As for a clearance from KEMT, it's a little confusing because in ZLA we have so many subsectors and a combined approach position, and they're all called "Socal Approach/Departure." In the case of KEMT, that's in BUR_APP's airspace, so if BUR_APP is on (and [Mod - Happy Thoughts]uming nobody local staffing KEMT), you'd call "Socal Departure" on BUR_APP's frequency.

 

If BUR_APP is not on, and LAX_APP is online, LAX_APP is what we call "Socal Combined." It covers the sectors surrounding Los Angeles, Burbank, Ontario, John Wayne/Orange County, San Diego and Palm Springs. Basically most everything from Burbank down to the Mexican border. So if LAX_APP is online, you'd call "Socal Departure" on their frequency.

 

If neither of those approach positions are on, and LAX_CTR is on, you'll call Los Angeles Center.

 

It can be confusing, even to newer controllers there, so don't worry if you don't get it right the first time.

 

I am wondering if ATC prefers handling the faster jets in and out of the larger airports...? Maybe my Baron 58 is too small and slow.

 

Not at all! We love GA traffic and have a lot of active GA flyers. Our TEC route system of pre-determined routes between the many airports within a reasonable distance of each other make it a perfect place for GA aircraft. Not to mention deserts, oceans, mountains - etc...challenging and interesting terrain.

 

You may be interested in the ZLA pilot certification program, which takes pilots all the way from a simple VFR pattern to a complex DME arc approach. See here:

 

http://pilotcerts.laartcc.org/page/Home

 

for more info. Feel free to PM me if you have additional questions.

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Alex, sounds like you should have had a practice flight first mate!

 

I still have sort of similar experiences when I fly cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ic aircraft from the 50s/60s/70s which I like to do from time to time. I get the impression many controllers expect immediate and swift responses to altitude or headings which is fine in a PMDG 737 but more tricky fiddling around inside a Constellation or TU-114.

 

Dave

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Alex, sounds like you should have had a practice flight first mate!

 

The thing was, I had actually taken 2 or 3 flights with it before going online, but I was so nervous I totally forgot almost everything

 

ooh the memories..the PIC767 on a visual to KMIA and spectacularly crashing

in front of an audience because all I could do at the time was tell the plane to autoland

took me three weeks to recover from that one

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back to OT.

I don't ever really remember being scared, per se. I used to fly on a more... "economical" counter-part of VATSIM called eSky World. So, I was used to ATC chat. However, I do remember flying from PHX - DFW one night. My first flight on VAT and i was flying with a buddy. We took off from PHX with no ATC. Coming into ZFW, i wanted to make sure they would stay on so i could experience more professional ATC. I remember asking my friend if ZFW could see us coming, hahah. I had no idea they had RADARs, i thought they used FSNav as did eSky.

 

eSky was ghetto. You didn't have to change your squawk code or even frequencies. They used team speak so it was more like "DL340, after departure contact APP one channel up. Clear for t/o" hahaha

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I was just happy that I managed to get on the server and communicate with Colin at San Francisco ATC. He must have had fun watching me trying to figure out where intersection D was on RWy. 10R. I don't know what I'm doing but I ust wanted to get on.

 

http://www.ambestsquad.com

 

Hey Jim, I'm Colin. BTW you should be thanking Charan Kumar for the SFO ATC, I was on OAK at the time

Don't worry about it everyone was new at some point. Just practice, practice, practice and once you've got that done try going on voice! You never stop learning or having fun...

VATUSA ZSE Staff Mentor, S3

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Hey Jim, I'm Colin. BTW you should be thanking Charan Kumar for the SFO ATC, I was on OAK at the time

 

Hey Colin! I have to say your response on here was made to order to say the least. That's why I didn't mail you on the website link yet because I wasn't exactly sure if it was you at KSFO or not. Now I can go ahead and respond to Charan and I hope to practice going back and forth over the bay as much as possible and practice as per instructions. The website is excellent, and I will practice the Pointe Three departure off line until I think I know what I'm doing. Then I will come back on and try to do it right. There's alot of things to to do and I appreciate your indulgence. I have friends that live on the Indy east side and they used to live just south of San Francisco, and in Sacramento for a little while. They would describe it to me and I tried to picture it in my mind. That's why I have such an affinity for your area besides the cool scenery; and I'm still on FS2002. Not to just focus on myself, but it's amazing what you guys learned and put this whole thing together at the OAK website.

The Indy 500 fly-in is coming up this week so maybe I'll sneak in on that and see what I can do, or don't do, as well

Thanks again!

 

sincerely, =Jim=

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Hi Jim,

 

look back a few pages and you will see my post in this very forum and u can read all about my first flight ...we have all been there...as one of the footer here says here, "the clueless newb of today is the seasoned pilot of tomorrow...", many of us are still getting to the latter part.

 

You might want to try flying "/r" as a first step in voice...This basically means the controller will talk to you, and you have to respond on text. Of course fly text only as long as you want, there are pilots who have flown text only for yrs before they switched and some still prefer text. Whatever works for you.

 

Our scenery is of course a gr8 gift in the area...I fly VFR regularly in the area, about the time you were online the other day. Do check us out when a CTR controller is online, and you can fly along side. Swing by any time we are online and we will do our best to get you up and flying more often than you want to !!

When is your next Flight||VATSIM HitSquad Member, ZOA/ZAK/GANDER/P1

 

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Jim, don't forget to fly KOAK too if you see me on I was a new pilot on VATSIM not too long ago and I'm fairly new at ATC now as well so we both have common ground plus your VFR flights are great practice for me! I agree with Charan, go ahead and try /R or even /V if you can it'll be an even better experience. In general though Charan nailed it though - most ATC are very helpful and don't mind helping the newbies out so long as it's not too busy. Also you can feel free to find me on IM for some help if you would like Hope this helps and good luck with your virtual future!

 

edit: I should also thank Charan personally as I had him on SFO_GND during my first flight as well

VATUSA ZSE Staff Mentor, S3

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I want so bad to fly good, and correctly on Vatsim, but the truth is that just about everytime I log on I screw up.

My last attempt from KTPA-KRDU was so messed up that I just logged off and put my 737 nose first, into the dirt!

Some days, I just feel like throwing FSX out, reinstalling FS98 and stayin' off-line!

This has not been a good memorial day 4 me. I just wanted to fly.

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I want so bad to fly good, and correctly on Vatsim, but the truth is that just about everytime I log on I screw up.

My last attempt from KTPA-KRDU was so messed up that I just logged off and put my 737 nose first, into the dirt!

Some days, I just feel like throwing FSX out, reinstalling FS98 and stayin' off-line!

This has not been a good memorial day 4 me. I just wanted to fly.

 

 

Steevo,

 

Don't give up!

 

It has taken me many months, a few choice words and even a few beverages of choice to get FSX running smooth and perfect. Lots of tweaking. There's lots of us in here to help you.

Or send me a PM and we can SKYPE or AIM chat through it. I've learned a few tips and tricks to over come FSX, Vista,, frame rates, routers, add-ons, etc. and I am sure I am not the only one. Stick with it and the rewards will come my friend. Then you will be like the rest of us...ADDICTED!

 

Later,

 

PJ

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Holy F***. appollogies for the french but i truly am lost for words.

so much is my ignorance and naivity that i've not read further up the thread and just had to post this (i soo normally dont post on any forums.)

Like the very first post...before i jumped to page 20 and didnt read any further...i was so jittery and nervous before i finally made a request to taxi for the first time. I was then almost hand-led to the runway and given clearance (facing the wrong way and run out of tarmac when taxiing but put right by the tower.)

Away i went and everything just went according to plan. My calls, the tower's calls, the "flight plan" - even although it was only in the circuit - all just as should be. The 20 minutes or so i spent doing checks and "rehersing" what was to be said to the tower just went as it should. What were all the nerves about...whatever, it was oh so worth it!

 

Given the euphoria, i would *almost* argue vatsim is *better* than the real thing. I can't thank the twr at EGKA enough for the couple of circuits he let me fly and the messaging he guided me through with. Most definatley a pint he is owe.

 

If anybody is just reading this, doing thier homework before they go for it... just bloody well get on with it !!!! you've done the homework and you know its time to go. Its worth its weight in gold when it happens.

 

pressing submit before i change my mind,,

t.

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