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To the newbie - First Time Jitters

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Although I've been a "member" of this site for quite a while, it wasn't until today that I finally worked up enough courage to test the waters (and, despite the outcome, I'm so glad I finally bit the bullet!)


After yours truly spent hours reading and re-reading the materials listed in the PRC, I decided that no amount of preparation would make me sound like a 'pro' from the get go; ATC services would spot this noob from a nautical mile away, so I figured that a mistake here and there wouldn't hurt (mistakes are what we learn from afterall). My first venture into simulated air was a small VFR flight to the North from KBSA (Santa Barbara). It's layout was simple, and (being completely honest here), it was the first airport I found charts for; I was anxious to get going. A quick overview and a coke later, I was sitting on the ramp with one other aircraft already taxing to the active. I reviewed my charts one last time (I've heard how bad reading Taxiways can be, so I wanted to be 100% prepared), keyed the PTT button on my throttle, and requested VFR departure to the North. Surprisingly, my voice was not shaky, and I was not scared in the slightest, which is VERY rare for me. I read back Tower instructions, requested Taxi clearance, and let the wheels start rolling (after approval, of course). I manage to taxi to the right spot and hold short, get cleared for take-off, line up, advance throttle, rotate at 65....wow, things are going real smooth! The biggest **** eating grin on my face disappeared immediately when Twr said something about Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B airspace. Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] huh? I frantically searched through my charts trying to find anything, something, that resembled a Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B airspace (whatever it looked like was beyond me). After a few very long seconds, I knew Tower was probably getting impatient, so I mumbled "Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] B, 87G..." and figured if I started going in the wrong direction, he'd warn me sooner or later. The rest of the flight was uneventful however, and I was kind of disappointed when, after 15 minutes of puttering around, I came back to KSBA and found the Tower empty =( Land, taxi back to ramp...Kind of disappointing since I was hoping my first flight would have been like those I read here....oh well, let's try an IFR flight from KPDX (hometown) to KSBA!! (can you tell I was already an addict?).


...where to begin on this one. Radio communications were actually not as bad as I thought. I (hoped) I sounded like I knew what I was doing somewhat. I at least understood what the controllers wanted me to do. But I chose an aircraft I wasn't too familiar with, and spent little (if any) flight plan preparation. Instead, I:


1. Pushed the capacity of the fuel tanks by topping them off so much so that both needles (two tanks -- PA250) were a good 1/8 of the way PAST Full (you already know where this is going don't you).


2. Checked latest ATIS report (Crosswinds at 15, gusting to 20)


3. Started the flight just before sundown


What a first flight for IFR, right? New aircraft, pushed to the limits, and about 45 minutes of daylight left.


Needless to say, the thing flew (and climbed just about as well) as a pig. I can't imagine what TWR must have been thinking as they watched my Piper bounce and crab as I barely squeaked out of little old PDX at 65 Kts, bumping along at a steep150-200 fpm (standard climbout for this plane is 95!) After giving her all she got, however, I finally managed to climb, track the VOR AND handle comms at the same time. As I neared KEUG, I was p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed to Seattle Center South, and things quieted down. It was already dark out, so visibility was nilch from my cockpit. After about 2 hours of cruise (and lulled into a false sense of "things are going great" attitude), I noticed a sudden red light flare up inside the cockpit. "Oil Temperature". Checking the gauge, I saw the needle FAR into the red. Oops. I enriched the mixture (as per POH advised), requested immediate transition to a lower altitude, and put her in a 2,000 fpm dive. Leveling off at 9,000, I was very relieved that the temps were once more in the green. Thinking the worst had p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed, I began to calculate fuel consumptions and time. During this time, I was crossing Seattle S Ctr range (Northern California), and told me to "proceed with own navigation, have a good night". After thanking him for his services, I began to track my next waypoint. However...there was no controller online for the NorCal sector. Was I still IFR? Was someone still following me? I don't (and still) am not sure how that works. In the tutorial I had in my lap (First IFR flight from PRC), it says that Center will vector you in to final....I had no Center at KSBA, but there was a tower. 'Oh well', I thought. It was here that things took a very sour turn. Let me attempt to replay this situation as it had occurred to me.


*Dull drone of the engine in the background, no radio chatter for almost an hour*


"OK, I had a total of 60 gallons of fuel on board, both tanks read 1/2 empty, so that means I have 15 gallons of fuel left in each tank....burn rate is 16gph at 75% power, I have 40nm until KSBA....




Pencil and paper went flying into the air (along with myself). While my head was down in the cockpit calculating, I hadn't realized that my 9,000 flight level change would eventually introduce my poor PA250 into the side of a mountain.


I would be more embarr[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed than I already am, if it weren't for me contacting KSBA tower a few minutes beforehand, letting him know that he didn't have to wait up for me (as I noticed through VATSPY that I was his only flight, and at 11:00 pm, was still a good 2 hours away). I just hope to god no one else but me witnessed this...


But despite nearly 3 hours flying and no landing, I couldn't be happier. I've finally gotten over my fear of flying on VATSIM, and I'm HOOKED.





**Sorry for the long post**




Don't tell the FAA, but I was enjoying a cold Blonde Henry Weinhardt's during all of this. Evidence is strewn all over the mountainside anyway, they'll never find out

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I was just reading the other thread, "New to this Simulation and Forums".   Andras Kiss wrote:   Oh man... me too. When I found VATSIM, I was completely stoked about trying it out. It sounded e

Totally. You can even take it a step further and anticipate the clearance you will get - it always comes in the same form ("{your callsign}, you are cleared to {destination} via the {SID} departure, [

Just had my first successful VATSIM flight tonight from KLAX to KSFO in a SF-50. Took me 10 minutes to get the courage to call up Clearance, but got easier with each radio call. Navigraph saved my bac

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Was I still IFR? Was someone still following me? I don't (and still) am not sure how that works. In the tutorial I had in my lap (First IFR flight from PRC), it says that Center will vector you in to final....I had no Center at KSBA, but there was a tower.




If the controller for your airspace goes offline, you're on your own to communicate with other pilots on Unicom. You're still IFR and should still follow your flight plan.


The tricky part is if the weather is pure IMC. If there's not an approach or center controller online, there's nobody to vector you to final. That's where learning how to fly a full approach comes in handy:


The I-6 exam from the ZLA pilot certification program gives a great tutorial:




With that knowledge, you can plan a flight and ensure you can land even if you can't see and no controllers are online.

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I didn't have those experiences..... I am having them right now! I'm to scared to even connect lol. I should just take the plunge but I am frightened.




If you know how to connect go ahead and do it and just observe as you will never regret it when it is time for your first flight. You or the controllers or the both of you will decide when that time is. And here is why I say this.


I purchased FSX in April or May 2009 thinking I was buying a program to p[Mod - Happy Thoughts] the time flying F-18's, etc... offline. When it said online flying on the box I figured it would be like other role playing games I had played before in the past. Was I ever wrong as I soon found out about virtual airlines and VATSIM not long after having the program. I immediately joined thinking I would fly right away until I started reading all the manuals and the training they said you had to take before flying on the network. With each new item I read and seeing all the acronym's , (NOTAM, SID's, STAR'S, HDG, PIREP's, FSInn, and the list goes on, which to this day still makes me wonder why they don't explain them all in the Pilot Resource Center or PRC. See what I mean.)


Anyway after reading all this I started observing for month's going into online sessions at airports all over the network. I figured out how to join a VA or Virtual Airline (the acronym's, please stop), and found people that helped explain things to me and let me fly co-pilot with them and ask them questions. So after some flights one of the members ask if I want to go online and fly...just him asking me my palms start to sweat, my breathing is not so good anymore, my vision is blurred....mind you we are only talking about going online we haven't actually logged onto any network


Fast forward a month or two and I am lurking once again on VATSIM observing at KMEM (acronym or not?), because I live in the actual city and I figure the others are too much for me to handle. So I am sitting and observing for what felt was a million times, (maybe I can fly on VATSIM in the year 2025 I start thinking to myself.) And I hear the sound that will never leave my mind..DING... and I start looking to see if I hit a key by mistake or maybe my computer is about to crash, or maybe the FSX program has decided to give up on me and die.... what have I done wrong...VATSIM is going to kill me if I did something and kick me off the network forever!!!!!!!!!


And all of a sudden I see a text message come through from Memphis ATC....."Wanna fly tonight" or something to that effect...."Who Me?"....here we go again with the sweat, breathing, vision going,...I am going to die over a flight simulation program. What will they put on my grave stone....here lies a man we found with a joystick stuck to his hand and headphones permanently glued to his head from sweat.


Rest of the story I forgot everything I had practiced for months, taxied like an idiot (print the airports charts out they are upside down most of the time online..or they appear to be) all over the place, had to ask for a thousand read backs from ATC and JUMPED and SCREAMED like a little kid when my flight from KMEM to KBNA was complete. And I can not thank the ATC at Memphis Internationl Airport for VATSIM enough. Because of their kind words and calm instructions I was able to perform my first flight on VATSIM and it will not be my last.


BTW...who needs Jenny Craig....when VATSIM helps you loose weight for free



Daryl Jacobs- 1110979


(Forgot to mention I had flown the CRJ700 about 200 times before this flight, and KMEM to KBNA probably 15-20 times. Landing was perfect though..in my eyes anyway...I was so proud! I also found log on early when it is not busy but when you should have ATC the entire flight. I swear to this day that Memphis ATC staffed KBNA just for my flight to land! Many thanks to all of you )

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Daryl Jacobs -1110979

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had to ask for a thousand read backs from ATC and JUMPED and SCREAMED like a little kid when my flight from KMEM to KBNA was complete.


BTW...who needs Jenny Craig....when VATSIM helps you loose weight for free


That's what I did when I used voice for the first time in 7 years of VATSIM flying

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hi I am new here and I have a question for you:


I am trying to understand the world of VATSIM as it relates to FSX:

is it true that the territory covered in VATSIM is replicated in FSX, and the territory you fly over as a pilot in FSX is directly observable by controllers playing VATSIM, and that as you fly your plane, the waypoints you fly past are observed by controllers checking your progress? When you want to land in an airport, will you see the exact same airport in your FSX screen that the VATSIM controllers see, meaning that the AI FSX ATC can be replaced by real people playing VATSIM?


thanks for your help, and my thanks go out to the authors of VATSIM - I finally logged on to a network and am seeing the planes, ooh this is jolly good

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  • 4 weeks later...

Made my first Vatsim Flight from EGFF last night, two circuits VFR in a Cessna. I've spent a few days listing and taking notes before doing my VFR flight. What can I say, My hand was stuck to the joystick, ended up with pins and needles. As I taxied out to the runway a another user logged in request clearance in a 737, i thought to my self great, I hope I don't mess up. Have to take my hat of to Wycliffe at EGFF, helped me every step of the way. Back on tonight to do some more circuits.


I have one final thing to say, I am so stupid that I didn't do this twelve or so months ago when I first started with FSX................ But now I'm hooked.



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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, like so many who have posted on this thread, I too have come face to face with that feeling of apprehension at making a flight on VATSIM. Unlike many, though, I've elected not to take one m[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ive plunge into the rigours and complexities of an IFR flight. Instead I've been trying an incremental approach, gradually getting used to the mechanics of flying on VATSIM.


I was relatively familiar with the general principles of flying, having been reading Rod Machado's books on VFR and IFR flying for a year or so. I'd also found the 'Flight Simulator X for Pilots book' very useful and had flown many of the flights listed in that book. I'd gradually bought all the USA sectional charts and US low (and high) altitude IFR en-route charts, together with all the US Airport/Facility Directories and most of the US Terminal Procedures volumes. Finally I'd printed out and read (and re-read ad nauseam) all the articles in the PRC. If anyone was trying to be prepared, ultra-prepared and over-prepared it was me!


I've seen all the recommendations to start small and slow and to avoid the temptation to start by jumping into a 747 and taking it from JFK to LAX. These recommendations all came from guys who seemed to know the ropes so that was good enough for me. I started in the Cessna 172 and did some late-night (Florida time) short VFR flights in the UK when there would probably be no other pilots or any ATC online - and not likely to be, given the early morning time over there. This enabled me to practice the relatively simple (once you know how) things on the FSInn interface like making text Unicom calls for taxiiing, taking off, entering the pattern etc - all without any worries about those nice ATC chaps or chapesses wanting to distract some of my meagre number of active brain cells by talking to me (and wanting me to talk back to them, Ye Gods forbid). I also got a chance to practice filing flight plans and using the TCAS device - even occasionally detecting one or two early morning owls flying in the UK - as well as seeing how the weather function works.


After a few weeks of this (I'm a slow learner) I switched back to my regular pastures of Florida. Confident that I now knew enough not to make a total fool of myself, I continued with some tolerably successful short VFR flights mostly around the Venice, Wauchula, Plant City, Lake Wales airports - being very careful to stay clear of the Bravo airspace around Tampa and also the Charlie airspace around Sarasota. These flights were now with plenty of other pilots in the sky and the no-doubt watchful eye of live ATC glaring at my little dot on his screen.


Did I say 'tolerably successful' did I say I now knew enough not to make a 'total fool' of myself? I lie!


First flight, VFR from Venice to Wauchula. I've filed my flight plan, logged on to VATSIM, called up the weather - which enables me to work out the take-off runway - and I'm ready to go. Of course, I'd turned off all FSX traffic (I told you I'd been reading the PRC material) but things seem awfully dead with hardly a noise from anywhere. Not to worry, Miami Centre is online and I can tune to him and listen in - even though for my short VFR flight, I wasn't going to need to contact ATC. I think it was Ken Bambach who was manning Centre and when I tune in he's patiently explaining to some newbie pilot that he should have picked up an IFR clearance before taking off. Anyway, it was time to go and I put in my Unicom call to Venice traffic advising them I'm taxiiing to the active, I do the call to say I'm about to take off - but then my Chat bell rings; it's a text message from Centre - how nice of them to have noticed me - now let's see "Cessna N1953, traffic advisories on 122.8 please". Hmm, but I know that already, why was he .... Oh no!! To listen to the ATC chatter, I've forgotten about Unicom and I've tuned my Com 1 radio to Centre's frequency and I'm now sending out my traffic calls to all and sundry. What a complete and utter newbie pilot I really am! But at least I have the presence of mind to send back a quick "Wilco" and then tune to 122.8, using Com 2 to listen in to Centre. Lesson learned - I need to have a checklist to make sure I get everything done correctly.


Third or fourth flight. I'd sort of got used to the basic mechanics of making my flights and had recently taken delivery of a Logic microphone/headset so I could use voice like a real pilot does (although, according to the wife, I look more like a real 8&%@!). So this was it! Tonight, I'd make fearless contact with ATC and with my phonetic alphabet chart and my 'First VFR Flight' notes from the PRC close beside me (covering up my sectional chart - but that's another matter) what could go wrong?


I was going to fly VFR out of Venice then head south down the coast for Page Field, by Fort Myers. So, the usual Unicom calls (on 122.8 this time - the checklist works) to Venice traffic as I taxi, take off and start my climb to 3,500. The weather's benign and everything is going well. Poor Ken, at Miami Center, is still having his patience tested by all kinds of pilots who can't find intersections on their en-route charts or don't know if they're in Miami or Jacksonvile airspace. He handles them all kindly and with patience and I decide I'm really looking forward to talking to this guy.


OK, coming up on 20 miles from Fort Myers and time to give him a call to enter the Charlie airspace surrounding Fort Myers and to get clearance to land at Page Field - which is in tower-controlled Delta airspace (I knew from the Miami ARTCC website that Miami Centre provides tower services to Page Field up to midnight EDT - told you I read a lot!). I've written down my call-sign in big letters just in case I forget it, I've rehe[Mod - Happy Thoughts]d several times just what I'll say and I've got my voice at least an octave below its normal pitch - I'm ready to press that button ... that button ... that button. Oh noooo!! I've forgotten to program any key as the push-to-talk button! My microphone is as silent as a nun on the world's quietest retreat and I'm about to enter Charlie airspace without making contact with ATC. The Feds are going to pull my pilot's licence and, worst of all, the wife'll probably laugh her socks off when I tell her about it.


I'm sorry to say my brain turned to instant mush at this point and I disconnected with my least sweaty and shaky hand (sorry Ken, I know how you guys hate it when pilots do that instead of getting you to help us out of the tight spots we so often put ourselves in). Of course, a moment's thought would have told me to text Centre and establish two-way communication that way. Second lesson learned - think before the flight, think during the flight and then think some more after the flight.


That was a couple of days ago, and this weekend I intend to get everything ready again and to make that flight down to Fort Myers. I guess I'll probably foul up again and make a fool of myself but that seems to be a learning tool for me - and everyone who discusses such incidents on these forums always seems to say that ATC doesn't mind the mistakes, it only minds when pilots stubbornly fail to learn from them. Not me, I learn fast but there sure seems to be a lot of learning to be learned out there.

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I thought your post was excellent! I'm a controller in ZMA and have actually noticed your presence in the airspace late at night here. The areas you are flying were my stomping grounds up until a few months ago, so I'm used to the real world aviation environment in the areas you mentioned. Thanks for taking the time to study your material and read the PRC, as well as the ZMA website. You are definitely an excellent addition to the community and I certainly enjoyed your commentary on your flights.


Ironically, I'm speaking with Ken right now and have p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ed along this post for his reference. Hopefully you continue to grace ZMA with your presence and feel free to step it up and try that IFR flight. Ken is on quite frequently this late in the evening and he is an excellent controller to have for your first flights. Hopefully I will be controlling when you make some future flights, and I'd be happy to walk you through a simple IFR flight around South Florida.


Take care!

Alex Bailey


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Many thanks for those kind words about my recent post. I'm going to keep things simple for a while and will continue with VFR flights - gradually increasing my exposure to ATC by doing more departures from, and landings at, controlled airports (at the end of which a VFR flight from Tampa International to Miami International sounds like a good 'graduation' flight). However, I will be giving IFR flights a go in the not too distant future and if either you or Ken are controlling when I make that first IFR flight, I shall consider myself very lucky to be in such good hands. Just out of interest I'm posting details of a VFR flight that I made a couple of nights ago; I find it amusing to look back on it now, but it was anything but amusing at the time.


I did at last manage to make contact with Ken last Saturday night when I re-tried the flight I'd abandoned upon discovering that I hadn't programmed my microphone. I filed a simple VFR flight from Venice to Naples via Charlotte (KPGD) and Fort Myers (KRSW), made my Unicom calls to Venice traffic and was soon heading off towards Charlotte, making my way up to 3,500'. The weather was nice and stable and I had a good feeling about the flight. I was soon over Charlotte, turned towards Fort Myers and started to plan my call to Miami Centre as I approached the Charlie airspace that I'd have to transition enroute to Naples.


I'd seen that Ken was manning Centre and I'd been listening to him on Com 2, still helping out pilots who didn't know where an intersection was or didn't know if they were in Miami or Jacksonville airspace. He [Mod - Happy Thoughts]isted them all with no fuss and I somehow knew that tonight was going to be a good night - you know, in that same way that you know tonight you're going to win that big Lottery jackpot?


Anyway it was time to make my call and I had everything prepared - my call sign written out in big letters, my position report rehe[Mod - Happy Thoughts]d and, tonight, a working push-to-talk button (not to mention the sweaty palms, the shaky hands and the hopefully not-too-shaky voice). So ... big breath and let's go for it ..."Miami Centre, Cessna one-niner-five-three is at 3,500', 15 miles NW of FortMyers, about to transition Charlie airspace". And that was it! I'd done it with no umms, no errs and I was starting to realise that this was all really just a piece of cake. I'm ready for Ken's response and because I know he's probably going to give me a squawk code and an altitude restriction, I have pen and paper poised to write down those instructions.


So, a minute p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]es and I'm thinking "Come on Ken, I'm all ready and my pen and paper are still poised". I know he isn't that busy tonight because, as I mentioned, since leaving Venice I've been listening in to his ATC chatter on Com 2 ... Com 2 ... wait a minute; if I've been listening to Miami Centre on Com 2 what have I got Com 1 tuned to? "Oh noooo!!" [i've been using that phrase so often when flying recently that the wife's started calling me Yoko]. You've guessed it, my Com 1 is still on Unicom on 122.8 and my so-carefully-rehe[Mod - Happy Thoughts]d transmission didn't get within a million miles of Miami Centre. I've gone and got it all screwed up - again!


Did I mention the sweaty palms, the shaky hands? Well, bear in mind that that was when I was feeling good about things. Right about now my keyboard is two inches underwater, my palms are sweating that much and my hands are hammering out three different samba rhythms on the computer table, they're shaking that much - oh, and that piece of cake I mentioned earlier? Well I'm now realising it must have been one of those shatterproof rock cakes that granny always baked so many of when we were kids.


But hang on. I'm still flying, my engine is running smoothly and I have plenty of gas in the tank. This is not a big deal! Calm down, take a couple of deep breaths and just retune the radio and remake that call. By now I've unfortunately just entered Charlie airspace without first establishing two-way communication with ATC, but I'm only half a mile inside and I hope Ken will forgive such a minor transgression. The call goes through again and this time there's no problem; Ken simply gives me my squawk code, asks me to ident, tells me to maintain VFR at or below 3,500 and asks me to let him know when I'm on left base for runway 6. I read back what he said, do the squawk thing and am mightily relieved to have put that minor blip behind me.


What I didn't realise was that unwittingly I had just created a very, very big blip that in just a couple of minutes was going to come back and kick me in the rear - big time!


Upon receiving Ken's instructions I'd checked the Airport Diagram for Naples and had noticed that there was no runway 6 - but there was a runway 5. This hadn't really worried me too much, and I think I just sort of [Mod - Happy Thoughts]umed that maybe it was one of those instances of runways having to be renumbered because of the drift of magnetic north (some of my charts etc are a little out of date - I can't afford to update them as often as real-world pilots do - and I know that just occasionally my charts won't reflect all the most recent changes). So, having noted that the GA ramp at Naples was towards the end of the runway and that I'd probably want to land somewhat long to avoid a long taxi, I continued on my way - presuming that I was headed to land on what my diagram showed as runway 5 at Naples but that Ken's diagram must be showing as runway 6.


This was what they call A BIG MISTAKE!


A few minutes later I got a call from Ken. He'd noticed that I was south of Fort Myers (whereas for a left base landing on runway 6 at KRSW I should be north of the airport) and he just wondered if I'd got the landing direction correct. His enquiry was very calm and almost casual but as soon as I heard what he said, my demeanour was anything but calm and casual. What was all this about landing at Fort Myers? I was on my way to Naples, I was only supposed to flying over Fort Myers. What was going wrong, what had I done again, why me, why this, why that?


The marshmallow was growing in my brain. You know how in movies when something really bad happens and everything suddenly goes into slow motion, the sound fades away, the image goes out of focus, the director pulls away to a long shot and the actor always calls out in desperation "Noooooo!"? Well that was me, there and then - instantly (except it was "Oh noooo!" for me - a.k.a. Yoko).


I was starting to lose it, and although I'd thought myself well-prepared for the flight, this was mostly in terms of headings, altitudes etc. I'd also prepared for all the likely ATC calls; but this was different. It wasn't like being told to climb or descend a couple of thousand feet or to turn a few degrees this way or that. This was something going wrong in a way I didn't really understand. For a second I was mentally paralysed, I simply didn't know what to do. But then I thought - hold on here, what's the nature of the problem? ATC thinks I'm due to land at Fort Myers whereas I've filed to land at Naples. As before, with the Com 1/Com 2 problem, this is not a big deal. The solution is really very simple - just tell Ken that I'm actually enroute to Naples not Fort Myers.


So I do that and instantly, without any flap, fuss or bother he tells me to disregard the earlier instruction and to maintain VFR at or below 3,500 - and that's it, panic over. A minute or so later he tells me I'm leaving Charlie airspace, radar services are being terminated and I should change to enroute frequency. I continue my descent and make a moderately successful long landing at Naples, leaving myself the just the anticipated short taxi to the GA ramp, where I close everything down and head straight to the pilot's lounge (better known as my fridge) for a cold bottle of much-needed beer.


Even now, I really don't know why I decided to ignore that discrepancy over the runway numbers. I've seen it time and time again in every aviation book and every flight sim forum that I've read - if in doubt about an ATC call, query it, don't just agree or make [Mod - Happy Thoughts]umptions. I knew that, yet I still decided to ignore that advice and to [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume that Ken's runway 6 was the same as my runway 5. I suspect that part of the reason was that when Ken first asked me to let him know when I was on left base, I didn't hear the runwway number clearly and I had to ask him to repeat it. After that, I was probably reluctant to raise yet another query relating to the runway number. I wanted to avoid looking stupid but, as it turns out, didn't I just end up feeling stupider than stupid's dim younger brother?


Part of me is very disappointed in myself over that but another part says just to chalk it up to experience - but to make sure that I take away a lesson well-learned. If anything that ATC tells me seems odd, unclear or wrong - I must ask them about it. No-one's going to bite me - especially controllers like Ken whom I've heard time and again sympathetically coach uncertain pilots through difficult moments.


One thing I still havent quite worked out is why Ken thought I was due to land at Fort Myers; I did check my flight plan and it showed my destination as Naples. I vaguely recall reading something on VATSIM about the strips that controllers get and, seemingly, for VFR flights they're not as detailed as for IFR flights. Maybe when I made my first position call I should have added, after my comment that I was about to transition Charlie airspace, that I was enroute to Naples? I don't know, but I'll go through the PRC material again to see if it mentions anything about that.


All in all, though, some good learning experiences from that flight - somehow I suspect they won't be my last!

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Part of me is very disappointed in myself over that but another part says just to chalk it up to experience - but to make sure that I take away a lesson well-learned. If anything that ATC tells me seems odd, unclear or wrong - I must ask them about it. No-one's going to bite me - especially controllers like Ken whom I've heard time and again sympathetically coach uncertain pilots through difficult moments...


All in all, though, some good learning experiences from that flight - somehow I suspect they won't be my last!



I can't comment regarding Ken's role as I don't fly in US Airspace (I'm UK) but this is the best attitude to take on VATSIM - throw yourself in after preparation and learn from the mistakes made. Be re[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ured, I've been around VATSIM for a number of years and I still get it wrong and learn as I go.


I would recommend that you STOP flying now, uninstall FS and forget VATSIM. If you continue, then the addiction will only grow and it will demand more time, you'll meet some great friends and then you'll be carting bits of kit around the country taking part in Real World meet up events.... Flying and Controlling take on new dimensions when lots of people are in one room - Co-ordination between approach and Tower at one event descended into throwing screwed up paper flight plans at each other!!!


Keep going Brian, you've got the best attitude for VATSIM.

Mark Townend


OC 22 Group, vRAF & VFFG Founder


BAv Captain (Ret'd), UK SERTS S3 (Ret'd)

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Hi all


When this thread was first started way back in time, I never thought it would reach 23 pages, I'm glad it has because every single post is informative funny and a great [Mod - Happy Thoughts]et to the new pilot who might stumble across this thread.


Brian your post was brilliant.



Wycliffe Barrett: C3 Controller


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

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Brian your post is absolutely brilliant and you have great spirit buddy...keep that bunny going!! Being called Yoko is just the start, be prepared to be called a lot more names in the future.


I think in your case, unless you asked for flight following, Ctrlr is not really going to look at your flight strip, and so when u asked for Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C clearance, he must have thought you were landing there. Then again, it's only a guess. Next time ask for flight following to destination airport...you can get tfc advisories

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


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  • 2 weeks later...

Brian, I think the landing mistake was that he thought you may be doing touch and gos at the KRSW because you said you filed a VFR plan via KPGD and RSW when it should have been via the PGD VOR then the RSW VOR to KAPF.


And if all VATSIM pilot's had your attitude, we would be enjoying the greatest online organization ever to exist, ever.

Nicholas Taylor


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Gentlemen - thanks for those encouraging comments on my last post.


Mark - you're advice about ditching FSX etc before the bug takes hold might be good advice ... but I'm afraid it came too late - I'm already well and truly bug-bitten! I can see that in a few months I'll rarely fly offline and will probably end up flying almost exclusively on VATSIM.


Charan, I might well try the flight following 'trick' sometime - the traffic advisories might be useful. Although as I'm currently tootling around at 2,500 - 5,500 in my little Cessna, most of the traffic around me seems to be big birds several miles above me.


I've been trying a few more VFR flights around Florida but still seem to be running into problems that I'm going to have to look into, to make sure my understanding of procedures and practices isn't flawed. I took a quick flight tonight from St Petersburg, Albert Whitted airport down south to Naples. As part of my attempt not to make too much of a fool of myself I've followed the advice that's generally given to new pilots to


1. read the PRC material for general VATSIM procedures, and

2. read the material on the individual ARTCC websites for the areas I'm flying in (so far, for me, this is just Miami ARTCC).


Now, my understanding from what I've read is that there is no restriction on VFR flights entering controlled airspace providing they establish two-way contact with ATC (for Charlie airspace) or get clearance from ATC to enter the airspace (in the case of Bravo airspace). Also, the Statements of Practice on the Miami ARTCC website state that in the case of certain listed airports in Delta airspace, Miami Centre will provide tower services between 0600 and 0000 Eastern time (on a workload permitting basis) if those positions are not filled locally. St Petersburg, Albert Whitted is listed as one of the airports for which such tower services will be provided.


Now, I was fairly certain that my understanding of these points was correct as, frankly, there's nothing too difficult about them. However, when I started my flight tonight, I had the following text exchange (as the ATC window on FsInn was showing a red circle and bar over the voice icon for the Centre frequency) with Miami Centre which has caused me to wonder if I'm perhaps getting it wrong (although I genuinely don't think I am).


COMM1> LOCAL : Miami Centre, N1953 type Cessna 172 is on ramp at KSPG req VFR dep to S enroute KVNC

COMM1> MIA_S_CTR : N1953, Are you able to hear voice ?

COMM1> LOCAL : affirmative N1953

COMM1> MIA_S_CTR : N1953, Did you receive my voice transmission ?

COMM1> LOCAL : negative - I'm tuned to 132.25 in COM1 but not hearing transmission - sorry

COMM1> MIA_S_CTR : N1953, You can depart SPG VFR (on unicom 122.8 ) ... If you want flight following, call me once airborne.

COMM1> LOCAL : cleared for departure on 122.8 neagtive on flight following - thanks

COMM1> LOCAL : am I also cleared for t/o or do I need to get separate clearance from you when holding short RWY?

COMM1> MIA_S_CTR : DAL1994, We consider Albert Whitted an uncontrolled field.

COMM1> MIA_S_CTR : DAL1994, You can depart on unicom

COMM1> LOCAL : I [Mod - Happy Thoughts]ume the call to DAL1994 was meant for me N1953?

COMM1> MIA_I_CTR : N1953, Negative sir, you can depart on unicom, remain clear of controlled airspace. Have a good night

COMM1> LOCAL : wilco Centre - understood - thanks - you too

COMM1> LOCAL : Whitted trfc Cessna 1953 is taxi to RWY 36

COMM1> LOCAL : Whitted trfc Cessna 1953 is t/o RWY36 dep to S


As you can see, we had a little problem getting voice reception going (as in - we couldn't!) so our exchanges were all on text.


I was, of course, expecting normal tower services, given what the Miami ARTCC Statement of Practice said; so I was a little surprised not to be given taxiing instructions but didn't regard it as big thing as there were no other aircraft on the airport and I know my way around Whitted pretty well. However, I remember reading somewhere about the important difference between a departure clearance and a clearance to take off, so I queried whether Centre needed me to pick up a take off clearance when I reached the runway. And that was when I was surprised by the comment that "We consider Albert Whitted an uncontrolled field" - as this seemed to contradict what the Miami ARTCC Statement of Practice says. [in p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ing, I think the comments about Whitted being uncontrolled were in fact meant for me, despite what Centre said, as, although they were prefixed by the DAL1994 call sign, DAL1994 was in the area, but definitely was not at Whitted - I suspect Centre simply typed in the wrong call sign.]


The instruction to remain clear of controlled airspace also surprised me - and caught me on the hop somewhat as I had been intending to transit Sarasota's Charlie airspace enroute to Venice. In my own mind I thought there shouldn't really be any restriction on me p[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ing through controlled airspace - as long as I made the relevant ATC calls.


But I wanted to get into the air and I had no real problem about treating Whitted as an uncontrolled airport (as I've taken off from many uncontrolled airports on VATSIM in the last few weeks) and I could remain clear of Sarasota's Charlie airspace by taking a minor(ish) detour to the west. So I switched to 122.8, made my traffic advisories and took off. All went well and I eventually landed safely at Venice - but about 15 minutes later than planned, as a result of skirting Sarasota.


It's unsettling, though, to do so much work on trying to understand what the correct procedures are, only to see your (apparent) understanding unravel before your eyes. I still think I'm right about the tower services being provided to Delta airports, as most of the ARTCC's seem to have similar arrangements for Centre to provide tower services to nominated airports when the towers at those airports aren't staffed. However, maybe the Statements of Practice for Miami ARTCC have become redundant - or maybe the controller I was in contact with wasn't aware of them? This is probably something I need to take up on the forums at Miami ARTCC itself, to see if some of the controllers there can offer clarification.


I also have some difficulty in understanding why I should have been instructed to remain clear of controlled airspace - which is difficult to do within the Tampa TRACON (but not impossible - I did manage it). I've seen more than a few comments on various VATSIM forums asking whether VFR flights are really welcome on VATSIM and the response has always been that they're more than welcome and that controllers like the challenge of VFR flights. But I know that VFR flights are far fewer than IFR flights and I wonder if some controllers maybe aren't as fully up to speed with VFR procedures as they are with IFR procedures. I suspect that my controller didn't really mean that I was banned from controlled airspace - but the instruction I got was in fact unequivocal - to remain clear of it.


Oh dear, I guess I'm going to have to live a little longer with my doubts as to whether I'm understanding things correctly (or at all). And, as I do most of my flying around South Florida, I'm going to have to ask some more questions on the Miami ARTCC website regarding procedures at Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Delta airports when Miami Centre is online but the individual tower positions at the cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] Delta airports aren't manned.


But I can tell you one thing - I'm sure as heck still enjoying this VATSIM (or should that be VATSIN?) thing and I'm confident I'll get the hang of it eventually. All I have to do is keep asking questions ... and I will! LOL

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Brian, flight following doesn't cost you money here so go for it next time. Unless you are in a 2-way radio contact with ATC, with VFR you have to remain clear of controlled airspace. All you had to do was ask for clearance when you got close to Cl[Mod - Happy Thoughts] C or ask for flight following which gives you the permission to enter C (i think, but someone else can confirm) and you need explicit permission to enter B, which Center will anyways ask when you are about to crash it . Also, even though you don't get much instructions from ATC during FF, it is adding to the realism (fun) of it, I mean why else would we be flying here if all we wanted to see was traffic flying around, albeit, other ppl rather than AI.


BTW, on voice problems, if you were using FSInn, try hitting the STBY button and swap freq a couple of times...that always works for me.


You should definitely ask on Miami ARTCC forums or someone from their ARTCC might post a reply here about the controlled twrs or not!!


Cheers...keep the posts rolling

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


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I'll chime in again


I have been online as a Supervisor tonight and when I'm not busy [Mod - Happy Thoughts]isting any members I tend to have my visibility centered over Florida since ZMA is my home ARTCC when I control online. I noticed that the center controller was a student working with an instructor, and it seems that he may not have provided full service to SPG due to the fact that he is new to the position and his workload may have been a bit high. In an instance such as that, he had you depart on Unicom and told you to remain clear of controlled airspace. While the statement may seem a bit kurt to some, the underlying intent was for you to remain clear (and VFR) unless you'd like to make contact with ATC again and request clearance to transition the Bravo or establish two-way radio communication to transition the Charlie airspace. At that point, I'm positive he would have accommodated your request and you'd be scooting through controlled airspace easily.


It seems you caught the clause - "On a workload permitting basis" tonight and it unfortunately threw you off. Don't let it discourage you because you certainly are versed on the appropriate policies and procedures!


All the best,


Alex Bailey


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Just got done with first flight in LA area. Apologies if you ever had to control N584JA tonight, espically to Socal approach and the guy doing LAX tower when I landed, his name was Josh something, sent me a private message "do not pause your game, sir." I apologize for that, I forgot to disable the pause on task. Other than that and the constant, "repeat last transmission," everything went pretty well. Certainly nerve wracking, epically when tuning to atc, and hearing everyone else speaking so fluently in the aviator talk. If your controlling the LA area tomorrow around this time, hit me up, and be ready I think I'm going to try it all again.

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Oh man, my first official run on VATSIM was quite embarr[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ment for myself and probably for everyone at my VA. I had just joined the network about a week before and I was still very new, I had no idea about STAR's, preferred routes, vectors any of it. So I figured maybe a great way to kick things off would be to fly with people from my VA in this m[Mod - Happy Thoughts]ive event we were holding to bid farewell to the Bae-146. A huge group of us hopped in our planes and headed out to Halifax. Upon arrival I was a deer in the headlights. I'm pretty sure I misread a couple vectors and I know for a fact I annoyed the heck out of the approach controller that night . That's not the worst though, I got so caught up in all the drama of the arrival I couldn't wait to land. Sure enough my rushed mind forgot to lower the gear, whoops. After that incident a few senior members of my VA took it upon themselves to show me the ropes of VATSIM. To this day I'm grateful for all they've done. However, April 1st, 2005 was a night for the logbooks.

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Hi, guys, often newbies forget to do their homework if you know what I mean.

It is essential that you look around and research before flying. It makes it easier for everyone; instead of just connecting and not knowing what mode C is, SID's/STAR's, ILS etc. I remember my first few flights, and I'll be honest on this one, really: I knew exactly what I was doing. I had no usual newbie troubles. Why? Because I did my homework......


Cheers, welcome to VATSIM !

New York ARTCC

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