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To the newbie - First Time Jitters


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Yeah I was a bit off runway heading while climbing to about 1200 as instructed. TBH I was climbing quite quickly and more worried about overshooting the altitude and failed to realise the wind was pushing me off.

I suppose there are a number of reasons I am uncomfortable: -

1. I hate to cause problems for others, even in my general life. As I said, some people take this really seriously and I don't want to spoil their flights by making them wait or go around or avoid me.

2. I don't want to look incompetent. I have flown quite a bit on the sim so usually know what I am doing, but just got flustered with trying to be so careful to listen and reply and keep to altitude. I felt like an idiot who didn't deserve to belong to "the club".

3. I don't know how others would react - especially if I am breaking the rules without knowing it.

As I said, the GND at Jersey was a really nice guy and my tutor friend has helped me gain confidence by doing some ATC with me but doing it with strangers and plenty of traffic, was genuinely scary for me. I'm not a young chap who feels indestructible, rather I am older and only really want to do this as a hobby.

I would love to stick with computer ATC but I have not found one that deals well with VFR, especially circuits.

Sorry If I come over as a wimp but that's ok. I'd rather be calm and wimpy than overconfident and stressed out. We're all different personalities.

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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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Don't worry, thorough preparation, departure briefings and routine in instrument scanning will iron out this kind of stuff.

That TWR-controller should not have barked at you. In your position, after having landed, I would have sent him a polite text message, pointing out that I was new to VATSIM and online ATC and that I was hoping for friendlier treatment - the mistake was not intentional. ATC simply could have told you that you should try to avoid diverging from the centerline.

I do not know what your exact clearance was. If you were instructed to "maintain runway heading" or to "maintain runway track": the first one would have seen you drifting off with crosswinds, the second one was meant that you apply a WCA (wind correction angle).

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1 hour ago, Kevin Giles said:

Yeah I was a bit off runway heading while climbing to about 1200 as instructed. TBH I was climbing quite quickly and more worried about overshooting the altitude and failed to realise the wind was pushing me off.

 

 Yeah. You get pushed around, or off, by winds, and go above so-called assigned altitude, where you just throttle back a bit and drop it down. Same way with me if I can't get to minimums on departure. If that's an issue, ya just call 'em up and say I ain't gonna make it to 10K, at whatever int.  Otherwise,  I don't think I've ever heard of such a thing since I've been on here.

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2 hours ago, Kevin Giles said:

Yeah I was a bit off runway heading while climbing to about 1200 as instructed. TBH I was climbing quite quickly and more worried about overshooting the altitude and failed to realise the wind was pushing me off.

I suppose there are a number of reasons I am uncomfortable: -

1. I hate to cause problems for others, even in my general life. As I said, some people take this really seriously and I don't want to spoil their flights by making them wait or go around or avoid me.

2. I don't want to look incompetent. I have flown quite a bit on the sim so usually know what I am doing, but just got flustered with trying to be so careful to listen and reply and keep to altitude. I felt like an idiot who didn't deserve to belong to "the club".

3. I don't know how others would react - especially if I am breaking the rules without knowing it.

As I said, the GND at Jersey was a really nice guy and my tutor friend has helped me gain confidence by doing some ATC with me but doing it with strangers and plenty of traffic, was genuinely scary for me. I'm not a young chap who feels indestructible, rather I am older and only really want to do this as a hobby.

I would love to stick with computer ATC but I have not found one that deals well with VFR, especially circuits.

Sorry If I come over as a wimp but that's ok. I'd rather be calm and wimpy than overconfident and stressed out. We're all different personalities.

Don't be so hard on yourself.

That tower controller was probably taking "firm controlling" a bit too far; if they barked at you, it was probably at least somewhat uncalled for. It's normal to be talked to in a somewhat stern voice when quick responses are required, and diverging from your assigned flight path in a critical flight phase kind of merits that, but still, there's no reason to positively bark at you or call you out. Just "Cessna Alpha Bravo, you are left of the assigned flight path, turn right NOW" should do.

Also keep in mind that most controllers are mostly used to IFR traffic; the vast majority of VATSIM flights are airliner operations, and so when the odd VFR flight comes around, they don't always know how to handle it as well as they handle those tubeliners. And in a way, VFR can be more difficult: with an airliner, it's set takeoff thrust, 80 knots, V1, rotate, V2, positive climb gear up, autopilot on, retract flaps, and then watch the aircraft do its thing and occasionally twist the ALT knob and push FLCH - but flying patterns in a Cessna, you'll be hand-flying the whole thing, so on top of talking to ATC and finding your way, a sizeable portion of your brain is busy just flying the aircraft.

Then, causing problems: everyone makes mistakes, and we've all been fresh beginners who made a LOT of mistakes. Here's just a small collection of things I did wrong on VATSIM in my relatively short career so far (by no means a complete list):

  • Forgot to set QNH before departure and ended up flying at the wrong altitude
  • Forgot to set the autopilot lateral mode to "FMS", and made a sharp left turn right after takeoff when I should have been turning right
  • Fat-fingered the speedbrake mid flight, stalled, and crashed into the mountains
  • Missed my exit on the taxiway and had to get a new taxi route from the ground controller to get me out of that mess
  • Upon changing the FMS route, failed to notice that the FMS had jumped back to the start of the route, and made a 180° turn back towards the departure airport, flying back into the APP controller's airspace, who promptly contacted me and asked me what was going on
  • Dialled the ILS frequency for the wrong runway into the NAV radio
  • Failed to read the approach plate properly, attempted to intercept the glideslope from too high, overshot the beam, and had to go around. Twice. Controller then offered to get me down on an NDB approach, which, knock on wood, I nailed on the first attempt.

I've also been held on the ground, or forced to go around, due to other people's mistakes. That's quite alright, it happens, it's part of the experience, I don't mind, as long as it's not gross incompetence, like repeatedly spawning on a runway, or trying to fly into Midweek Madness with a complex airliner you've never flown before. Making mistakes like this is part of being "in the club", and as long as it's not too wild, dealing with human errors may even spice things up for controllers and other pilots. Like this one time when I was descending towards my destination, and there was another pilot who had issues with his FMS or some such, and the controller decided to treat it as an emergency; me and two other flights were asked to "expect to hold at {waypoint} for approx. 5 minutes" - at this point, my first thought was not, "man, what an idiot, this sucks", but "oh, cool, this is something different for a change".

Now, if this flight was a not-so-nice experience for you, let me tell you that it's not normally like that. Most controllers I've had the pleasure to fly with are extremely well-mannered, patient, and professional (ironic, since they're not getting paid for it, but oh well). Jersey has a reputation for being friendly to beginners and relatively easy going as far as traffic levels are concerned, but they're staffed fairly regularly, so that would be a good choice; there are regular "First Wings" events targeted *specifically* at beginners; there are events with a focus on VFR, and you can expect controllers to be prepared for the task; any of these would probably make for a much nicer experience than this one, even if you make similar mistakes.

And finally: VATSIM is supposed to be (among other things) a learning environment; as long as you learn from your mistakes, you're good.

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I wouldn't worry too much about it Kevin. Mistakes happen, and they happen to all of us, regardless of experience. 

If the controllers reaction to a new pilots mistake was such that it might lead you to quitting the network then he should absolutely need some talking to, as that is not how things are supposed to work. I would definitely recommend sending feedback directly to vatsim UK: https://www.vatsim.uk/mship/feedback/new

That aside, you did everything right. You started small, began at a smaller airfield, and are interested in learning how to improve. It would be a pity if an exaggerating controller would take you away from vatsim, it's a great place to spend a few spare hours.

Give it another try. And if you make another mistake, then so be it, we all made (and in many cases still make) them, it's part of the process. As Andreas said, with time and some more preparation that will all be ironed out.

Edited by Andre Almeida
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14 hours ago, Tobias Dammers said:

Don't be so hard on yourself.

That tower controller was probably taking "firm controlling" a bit too far; if they barked at you, it was probably at least somewhat uncalled for. It's normal to be talked to in a somewhat stern voice when quick responses are required, and diverging from your assigned flight path in a critical flight phase kind of merits that, but still, there's no reason to positively bark at you or call you out. Just "Cessna Alpha Bravo, you are left of the assigned flight path, turn right NOW" should do.

Also keep in mind that most controllers are mostly used to IFR traffic; the vast majority of VATSIM flights are airliner operations, and so when the odd VFR flight comes around, they don't always know how to handle it as well as they handle those tubeliners. And in a way, VFR can be more difficult: with an airliner, it's set takeoff thrust, 80 knots, V1, rotate, V2, positive climb gear up, autopilot on, retract flaps, and then watch the aircraft do its thing and occasionally twist the ALT knob and push FLCH - but flying patterns in a Cessna, you'll be hand-flying the whole thing, so on top of talking to ATC and finding your way, a sizeable portion of your brain is busy just flying the aircraft.

Then, causing problems: everyone makes mistakes, and we've all been fresh beginners who made a LOT of mistakes. Here's just a small collection of things I did wrong on VATSIM in my relatively short career so far (by no means a complete list):

  • Forgot to set QNH before departure and ended up flying at the wrong altitude
  • Forgot to set the autopilot lateral mode to "FMS", and made a sharp left turn right after takeoff when I should have been turning right
  • Fat-fingered the speedbrake mid flight, stalled, and crashed into the mountains
  • Missed my exit on the taxiway and had to get a new taxi route from the ground controller to get me out of that mess
  • Upon changing the FMS route, failed to notice that the FMS had jumped back to the start of the route, and made a 180° turn back towards the departure airport, flying back into the APP controller's airspace, who promptly contacted me and asked me what was going on
  • Dialled the ILS frequency for the wrong runway into the NAV radio
  • Failed to read the approach plate properly, attempted to intercept the glideslope from too high, overshot the beam, and had to go around. Twice. Controller then offered to get me down on an NDB approach, which, knock on wood, I nailed on the first attempt.

I've also been held on the ground, or forced to go around, due to other people's mistakes. That's quite alright, it happens, it's part of the experience, I don't mind, as long as it's not gross incompetence, like repeatedly spawning on a runway, or trying to fly into Midweek Madness with a complex airliner you've never flown before. Making mistakes like this is part of being "in the club", and as long as it's not too wild, dealing with human errors may even spice things up for controllers and other pilots. Like this one time when I was descending towards my destination, and there was another pilot who had issues with his FMS or some such, and the controller decided to treat it as an emergency; me and two other flights were asked to "expect to hold at {waypoint} for approx. 5 minutes" - at this point, my first thought was not, "man, what an idiot, this sucks", but "oh, cool, this is something different for a change".

Now, if this flight was a not-so-nice experience for you, let me tell you that it's not normally like that. Most controllers I've had the pleasure to fly with are extremely well-mannered, patient, and professional (ironic, since they're not getting paid for it, but oh well). Jersey has a reputation for being friendly to beginners and relatively easy going as far as traffic levels are concerned, but they're staffed fairly regularly, so that would be a good choice; there are regular "First Wings" events targeted *specifically* at beginners; there are events with a focus on VFR, and you can expect controllers to be prepared for the task; any of these would probably make for a much nicer experience than this one, even if you make similar mistakes.

And finally: VATSIM is supposed to be (among other things) a learning environment; as long as you learn from your mistakes, you're good.

Thanks Tobias. I feel a bit better now. I don't feel the ATC really barked at me but I had said in my remarks on the flight plan that I was a beginner in VATSIM so perhaps a gentle "turn right heading 80" would have been better than "You turned right when I asked you to do rt circuits".

I was probably just really sensitive. I have gained courage from your comments - will try again fairly soon.

 

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10 hours ago, Andre Almeida said:

I wouldn't worry too much about it Kevin. Mistakes happen, and they happen to all of us, regardless of experience. 

If the controllers reaction to a new pilots mistake was such that it might lead you to quitting the network then he should absolutely need some talking to, as that is not how things are supposed to work. I would definitely recommend sending feedback directly to vatsim UK: https://www.vatsim.uk/mship/feedback/new

That aside, you did everything right. You started small, began at a smaller airfield, and are interested in learning how to improve. It would be a pity if an exaggerating controller would take you away from vatsim, it's a great place to spend a few spare hours.

Give it another try. And if you make another mistake, then so be it, we all made (and in many cases still make) them, it's part of the process. As Andreas said, with time and some more preparation that will all be ironed out.

Thanks Andre. Will give it a go again soon. Maybe check to see if there is a lot of traffic or not first.

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First flight, first everything on VATSIM. MSFS2020. All ok from Pearson, Vancouver, WA to Astoria, OR. Got about 25 nm out from Astoria and ATC asks if I see a plane. I say NO, but my tracker show a 172 Skyhawk (SAME as me) taking off going east out of Astoria. I tell ATC i changed my mind, want to cancel ILS and go visual. ATC says OK, but do I see the coming at me plane going east (I am going west) at the same altitude?! ATC says turn east, I do - to stay ahead of the plane (for awhile). After awhile, maybe 20 nm, I tell ATC I want to turn west again and visual into Astoria. ATC says OK. The east bound plane is heading straight for me, turning as I turn. The plane image "hits" me - midair, and the ATC says to have a moment of silence for the crash. I go ahead and land at Astoria. All ok, until I turn off runway. Guess what! As I taxi, the 172 Skyhawk has spawned right next to me. LOL. Well, for a first timer, that was a handful. As someone who has seen hundreds - thousands? of kids like that on the 'World Wide Web', I am not sure VATSIM has a way to capture the kiddies - yet anyway. And that's the rest of the story, for today (1-31-2021, circa 1600).

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The way is called .wallop -- type that into your Pilot Client followed by a message indicating the problem.

.wallop aircraft N514DV trying to crash into me intentionally

A network supervisor will respond and handle it.  Even if they don't respond in time to mitigate the situation, at least there's a record that there was a report of inappropriate conduct, which might become useful for more serious corrective action later if said conduct by the same member becomes a pattern.

Cheers,

-R.

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On 1/31/2021 at 5:31 PM, Bonnie Whitehead said:

First flight, first everything on VATSIM. MSFS2020. All ok from Pearson, Vancouver, WA to Astoria, OR. Got about 25 nm out from Astoria and ATC asks if I see a plane. I say NO, but my tracker show a 172 Skyhawk (SAME as me) taking off going east out of Astoria. I tell ATC i changed my mind, want to cancel ILS and go visual. ATC says OK, but do I see the coming at me plane going east (I am going west) at the same altitude?! ATC says turn east, I do - to stay ahead of the plane (for awhile). After awhile, maybe 20 nm, I tell ATC I want to turn west again and visual into Astoria. ATC says OK. The east bound plane is heading straight for me, turning as I turn. The plane image "hits" me - midair, and the ATC says to have a moment of silence for the crash. I go ahead and land at Astoria. All ok, until I turn off runway. Guess what! As I taxi, the 172 Skyhawk has spawned right next to me. LOL. Well, for a first timer, that was a handful. As someone who has seen hundreds - thousands? of kids like that on the 'World Wide Web', I am not sure VATSIM has a way to capture the kiddies - yet anyway. And that's the rest of the story, for today (1-31-2021, circa 1600).

Thank you the advice! The sticky on the edge of the monitor reads ".wallop". But I would have to be seriously disrupted to use it. Now I know though. Thanks again R.

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From your description it sounds as if ATC dropped the ball on this one.  You do not say if the controller was also in contact with the other pilot and reporting your position and inquiring as to whether that pilot also had a visual on you.

What you describe is a very rare occurrence on the network-keep joining us and I doubt you will encounter anything quite so dramatic in the near future!

Roger Curtiss

VATGOV12

VP-Virtual Airlines & Special Ops

r.curtiss(at)vatsim.net

 

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It sounded more like the other pilot did not contact ATC and that the other pilot was possibly trying to do stupid things. In this case you can only ignore such behaviour and follow ATC instructions. The biggest reward to disruptive pilots is reacting to them, the biggest punishment to them is you ignoring them (apart from sending out a WALLOP to report such behaviour).

Edited by Andreas Fuchs
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I honestly thought I'd never find myself flying on VATsim, but here I am now with maybe a dozen flights under my "belt" and starting to feel somewhat confident though still haven't completely mastered IFR readbacks. I am often surprised I get a "readback correct", when I shortly realize I left out on piece of info. All the controllers I've run into have been forgiving and helpful and I actually like occasional the terse/stern sounding voice, makes things feel more real. There is something about being one of a handful even of pilots at an airport with several active frequencies and getting things mostly right, having a smooth takeoff, doing all the channel switch overs with minimum hesitation/mistakes. I've been mostly flying the MSFS CJ4 with the working title mod on network and it's been a real blast. I am not always in the mood to fly the CJ4 with live ATC, sometimes I like to just "play around" and go wherever I want and relax offline, but when the mood strikes me its fun to do all the preparation and get my pad and paper ready and feel like I'm sort of doing this flight simming thing "for real". I need to try joining a planned event one of these days to enjoy additional traffic, thats the only thing I miss from flying normal multiplayer MSFS with Live traffic also, just less planes to see flying around. Feels great to be part of this community finally! 

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I want to thank the two controllers that guided my flight last night in Florida. Jacksonville Center and Jacksonville approach were calm, clear and super kind and helpful. I announced "student pilot" and maybe that was part of it, but listening to them handle the other aircraft was a great experience. This was my first real flight with Vatsim - I made it to the request for taxi the other day, the controller gave me instructions and I froze and aborted. Crazy...I have no fear talking in front of people, but for some reason (and other folk seem to be the same way) I am a nervous wreck just before keying the mike.

Not only were the gentlemen super kind and helpful, but Jacksonville Approach vectored me right in for landing without me asking first. That felt like a super awesome extra white glove service! So much better than FS 2020's lame ATC.

As I fly my Cessna 172 back "home" to PA over the next week or so, I'm looking forward to more cool ATC encounters. It adds a completely new dimension to the sim.

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  • 1 month later...

I've just completed my third proper full flight on Vatsim and it is getting a bit easier. I still get nervous talking to ATC but I'm getting better at it and I'm starting to pick up a few tricks such as having the next frequency lined up ready to go although be careful to listen to ATC as you don't always get what you expect! 🙂

While I'm here I also want to say a huge shout out to all the EGKK controllers and to last nights EIDW tower controller for making my flight enjoyable. I will also add that sitting at a holding point at EGKK watching all the planes lined up for landing and those there for take off was really cool and certainly added to the immersion.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Had my first flight on Vatsim tonight.  I really enjoyed it for the most part.  I need to read up on routes apparently, that all confused me.  I set my route and had all the info, just had no idea what it meant.  Also on landing, not having any idea where a specific runway is at a field is problematic.  I tried picking the specific runway I was told to land at through the MSFS ATC but it wasn't listed, so that was fun.  I'm guessing there are charts or flight maps out there I need to get my hands on?  ATC got quite a bit annoyed with me.  Think I'll stick to just flying the sim for now, hate pissing people off while trying to figure things out.

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1 hour ago, Mark Russell said:

Had my first flight on Vatsim tonight.  I really enjoyed it for the most part.  I need to read up on routes apparently, that all confused me.  I set my route and had all the info, just had no idea what it meant.  Also on landing, not having any idea where a specific runway is at a field is problematic.  I tried picking the specific runway I was told to land at through the MSFS ATC but it wasn't listed, so that was fun.  I'm guessing there are charts or flight maps out there I need to get my hands on?  ATC got quite a bit annoyed with me.  Think I'll stick to just flying the sim for now, hate pissing people off while trying to figure things out.

Depends on where in the world you are, but, SkyVector.com has most all of the US ones, and ChartFox.org has a good number of them outside the US.

Don't get discouraged if you don't get everything right the first few times out.  Pilots on VATSIM don't typically have the benefit of dozens or hundreds of hours of real-world ground school and instruction time that a pilot typically receives before flying for real -- VATSIM pilots get the unique experience of learning a lot by trial-and-error.  It *IS* worth it in the end.  In the meantime, coming to the Pilot Discussion forum here or onto the VATSIM Discord #pilot-training channel and asking questions about what you did wrong, or joining up with a VATSIM Authorized Training Organization (I recommend vatstar.com) are great ways to get some helpful insights on what happened so you'll know for next time. 

Cheers,

-R.

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  • 1 month later...

found the courage to jump on Vatsim & got a taste of enroute ATC stations. Flew SAS527 from ESSA to EGLL. I was on Unicom for much of the trip, suddenly Sweden Control calls me up & rather than disconnect like I did earlier in the day, I mustered up the courage to talk. All went well, I get handed off to Copenhagen Control.. notified them of my inbound waypoint & current FL, suddenly they say ''Scandinavian 527 identify'' & I froze up... turns out it was just a simple button to press. All was well & I received my squawk code.

the rest of the flight went pretty smooth, had the pleasure to talk to Heathrow Ground as I was on the taxiway. I wanna give a big thanks to London & Copenhagen control centres especially, you guys were very helpful & definitely made me want to come back for more.

 

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2 hours ago, Magnus Aabye said:

suddenly they say ''Scandinavian 527 identify''

It sounds more likely that they said "identified", which is just another way of saying "radar contact", meaning they have verified that a certain radar blip with a certain squawk code is SAS527.

You may be thinking of "squawk ident", which which means you should press the "Ident" button on the transponder (and reply by saying "squawk ident, SAS527"). This causes your blip on the controller's screen to be highlighted in a special way which is a way of distinguishing your radar blip from others.

Note that you should only press the "Ident" button when asked to do so by ATC. On VATSIM I see many pilots pressing it whenever they get a squawk code, or maybe just to get attention! The protocol is that ATC are only allowed to use the the Ident feature as a method of identification when they see the indication on the screen in response to their request for an aircraft to "squawk ident", so if the controller sees a flight "identing" without being instructed it means nothing more than some annoying extra flashes on the radar screen.

Martin Loxbo

Director Sweden FIR

VATSIM Scandinavia

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29 minutes ago, Martin Loxbo said:

You may be thinking of "squawk ident", which which means you should press the "Ident" button on the transponder (and reply by saying "squawk ident, SAS527"). This causes your blip on the controller's screen to be highlighted in a special way which is a way of distinguishing your radar blip from others.

yea thats the one! still kinda tired so I messed up. As I departed ESSA, I went for squawk 2200, after establishing contact, he asked me to squawk ident, was unsure if I was supposed to read it back so I was silent, though after some help I pressed the Ident button & I was given my squawk & he replied ''radar contact''

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Normally, for an IFR flight with no code assigned (IRL it would be in an area with no radar coverage, but on VATISM also applies when flying outside ATC coverage), you should squawk 2000. The code 2200 is an old "VATSIMism" - the pilot client would automatically switch from 1200 (which is the US VFR code that was set by default in some flight sims) to 2200 when a flight took off, as the 1200 VFR squawk meant the controller had no way to interact with the blip on the radar.

What's odd about your flight is that apparently Sweden Control didn't give you a squawk code. Normally the first controller you come into contact with would assign you a so called discrete code (a unique code, which must not end in 00, that identifies your flight by correlating the code on your transponder with the assigned code for that flight). In some areas, mode S identification is used instead. This means that ATC identifies you by your mode S callsign (i.e. the callsign reported by the mode S transponder - on VATSIM this is simply the callsign you logged on with; IRL you would need to make sure that the correct callsign is entered in the transponder or FMS). With mode S identification, the transponder code is not used individual identification, so code 1000 is assigned to such flights.

The procedure used in Sweden is to always assign individual squawk codes. If this wasn't done on your flight it could have been a simple mistake from the controller. As a pilot, it helps if you are aware of what to expect, so for example if you're flying around with code 2000 (or 2200), you should expect ATC to assign a squawk code (either a discrete one or 1000) and you could politely ask if they have a squawk for you if it's not assigned on first contact. 🙂

Martin Loxbo

Director Sweden FIR

VATSIM Scandinavia

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4 hours ago, Martin Loxbo said:

Normally, for an IFR flight with no code assigned (IRL it would be in an area with no radar coverage, but on VATISM also applies when flying outside ATC coverage), you should squawk 2000. The code 2200 is an old "VATSIMism" - the pilot client would automatically switch from 1200 (which is the US VFR code that was set by default in some flight sims) to 2200 when a flight took off, as the 1200 VFR squawk meant the controller had no way to interact with the blip on the radar

Ah fair enough, just read around for squawk codes whenever you were on UNICOM & it seemed like 2200 was the one the majority used, so I just went with it. I'll keep that in mind along with asking centers if there's a squawk code available, thank you very much Martin 🙂

Edited by Magnus Aabye
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