Pilot Discussion With a Global Perspective
By Neal Howard 880773
#543656 Finally getting back but I am very rusty. I would appreciate a few suggestions for flight plans to get back to speed. I like to fly both Majestic Q400 and RealAir Duke Turbo. While a licensed pilot I ceased active flying 15 years ago. Still remember procedures, etc. but need to fly a few routes with forgiving controllers :)
Thanks for reading this.
Neal Howard
By Tobias Dammers 1442528
#543836 I would suggest the following:

1. Keep an eye on a vatsim map for a while to see where and when it gets particularly busy. You probably want to pick your time and location such that it gets lively, but not too crowded - ideally, you want to be one of no more than maybe 3-4 pilots that one controller is managing at any time; this gives them enough time and headroom to be more patient with you and accommodate your rustiness.
2. Do your homework. Pick airports and routes that you are familiar with, make sure you have all the charts, know what to expect during your flight, be in a position to anticipate. Don't file procedures you're not comfortable flying - it's better to write "NO STAR/SID" in your flight plan remarks, or request vectors for the approach well ahead of time, than to attempt a procedure that puts more workload on you than you can manage. Worst case, you'll be asked to hold or divert, but IME this is rare (especially when it's not too busy where you're flying - see suggestion 1).
3. Make a suitable remark in your flightplan ("Returning pilot, please be patient" or something to that extent). Not all controllers read it, but most will.
4. Fly an aircraft that you know by heart. Most of the traffic you'll see on vatsim is airliners, but you can pick a slower GA aircraft instead, which gives you more time for almost everything you need to do. If you are going to do that, it helps to fly into an airport that uses a dedicated runway for GA (e.g., EHAM uses runway 04/22 for GA, at EDDF you might get 07R/25L, etc.), this greatly reduces the stress factor of being sequenced in between faster traffic.
5. Before getting your clearance, just sit there and listen in to the radio communications on the delivery, ground and tower frequencies to get a feel for the communication, and to know what to expect. If 5 people before you get the same departure instructions, odds are you'll get the same ones.
By Neal Howard 880773
#543890 HEY!!! Many thanks for such a set of pointers, especially the no SID/STAR note. Been a LONG time since my last ones although I am comfortable with an ILS .
Most of my flights are in the USA mainly because most of my time it is already night in Europe. Still, whenever possible, a flight in Switzerland or UK are really enjoyable.
Thnks again
Neal Howard
By Tobias Dammers 1442528
#544001 If you're not comfortable flying in night conditions, I believe it's perfectly acceptable to set your simulator to daylight conditions and write "DAYLIGHT" in the remarks of your flight plan. I've seen this quite a bit, especially with GA flights in the European winter months.
By Robert Shearman Jr 1155655
#544010
Tobias Dammers 1442528 wrote:If you're not comfortable flying in night conditions, I believe it's perfectly acceptable to set your simulator to daylight conditions and write "DAYLIGHT" in the remarks of your flight plan. I've seen this quite a bit, especially with GA flights in the European winter months.

I don't even know that it's necessary to specify that you're simulating daytime in your remarks. I simulate daylight for pretty much every flight I do. Since I work a regular day job, the only time I'm available to fly is when it's nighttime locally for me. However, I don't want every single one of my simulator flights to be at night. Flying with different weather than the rest of the crowd has an effect on your plane, but, daylight is just light -- it doesn't affect your movement. Therefore, a controller doesn't really need to know what your simulated day conditions are.

The only time it has affected me was once recently when I requested a circling approach to a specific runway at a given airport where that procedure was not authorized at nighttime. For me, it was broad daylight. The controller advised me that they were unable to approve that approach during the night. I simply responded that that was fine, but I was simulating daytime conditions if that made a difference to him. He said, well in that case, cleared for the VOR-A Approach, circling Runway One Seven. However, if he had stuck to his guns about it being nighttime and not being able to approve that, I certainly would have abided by whatever restrictions he wanted to put in place. It is, after all, his simulation too.
Last edited by Robert Shearman Jr 1155655 on Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
By Don Desfosse 1035677
#544013 Another suggestion regarding night -- dip your toes slowly.

For one flight, set your sim to take off in late afternoon such that you'll arrive at dusk. Do 1-3 of those flights while you're in that "in-between" regime of dusk.

For your next 1-3 flights, set it to arrive half an hour later, when there is very little light left at landing, which may even involve dusk takeoffs.

Then, go "whole hog" -- try a night flight or two. Assuming you don't use those aircraft tags where you can artificially see other aircraft's callsigns, types, etc., it is so incredibly cool to see distant aircraft in the sky just from their strobes, landing lights, etc.

It's a nice way to ease yourself in and slowly raise your comfort level and reduce nervousness. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and there's a lot to gain! :)
By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#544022
Robert Shearman Jr 1155655 wrote:[..]daylight is just light -- it doesn't affect your movement. Therefore, a controller doesn't really need to know what your simulated day conditions are.

The only time it has affected me was once recently when I requested a circling approach to a specific runway at a given airport where that procedure was not authorized at nighttime. For me, it was broad daylight. The controller advised me that they were unable to approve that approach during the night. I simply responded that that was fine, but I was simulating daytime conditions if that made a difference to him. He said, well in that case, cleared for the VOR-A circling Runway One Seven.
There you just answered the question to yourself, why it may be a good idea to add a remark if you are flying during daylight conditions. Especially for VFR flights this is an important piece of information for ATCOs.
By Robert Shearman Jr 1155655
#544058 True, but that's one instance in nine years of being on VATSIM. ;-) I'm not saying you *shouldnt* -- just that to me it was easy and quick enough to deal with the one time it mattered.

But, okay, okay, your point's taken. LOL. Fair enough.
By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#544082 We have an active VFR community here, so we are used to this piece of information being added: "RMK/Daylight Ops CAVOK WX". The amount of work for pilots to add such a comment is negligible.
By Tobias Dammers 1442528
#544133
Robert Shearman Jr 1155655 wrote:I don't even know that it's necessary to specify that you're simulating daytime in your remarks. I simulate daylight for pretty much every flight I do. Since I work a regular day job, the only time I'm available to fly is when it's nighttime locally for me. However, I don't want every single one of my simulator flights to be at night. Flying with different weather than the rest of the crowd has an effect on your plane, but, daylight is just light -- it doesn't affect your movement. Therefore, a controller doesn't really need to know what your simulated day conditions are.


Indeed; for your typical IFR flight, it doesn't make much of a difference. Most of the time when I see this in the remarks, it's a VFR flight though, and for that it does matter a bit.