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I guess I should say a little about myself. I'm retired from the military and flying for my second airline. I've been flight simming since the 90's. Currently, I'm on medical leave from my current airline due to injuries sustained in the military overseas. I'm about to go back to work and thought I'd use FSX to get back in the saddle, so to speak. This time, however, I figured I'd use Vatsim since I've known about it for years, just never messed around with it. Before I get into what I've noticed let me say that I enjoyed it. Having said that, there are things to be careful with, on the pilot side, that could potentially give me some bad habits that I wouldn't want to take to work with me. I also realize that because most places aren't going to have the full menu of frequencies, the controllers, I'm sure, are doing their best to do things correctly.

 

Things that happened on this flight, an out and back; I filed a flight plan, no different that I'd use at work complete with DP, STAR and Approach. The only controller available during the flight was tower at the airfield I was flying to, it was a very large airfield. I contacted Tower while I'm descending via the arrival so they'd have a heads up and was told to just contact him at the outer marker. I assumed he could see my flight plan. Once I was on the localizer, but not quite to the OM, tower contacted me and asked me to shift left to a parallel set of runways. Ok, no problem. Basically, the flight to the airfield went fine considering there was really only one controller to talk to.

 

On the way back, it was a bit different. As I'm getting my fms ready for the return trip I'm listening to the tower freq. People are using tower for ground. Cool, I know how they're running this. I taxi to the ramp/ground boundary, call tower to taxi to the runway. I get the instructions and taxi a specific runway. On the way to the runway, the tower closes. Great, now what do I do...I noticed however, that someone at the same time as tower leaving, picked up approach/departure. I switch to departure and get ready to taxi on the runway to leave since there's no tower to tell me to. As I'm about to start moving, departure contacts me and tells me I should be at a different runway. I let him know I followed the instructions from tower and that they just logged off. I'm told to go ahead and depart on the runway I'm at. So all is great, I depart, leave the airspace and released on my own navigation. On my way back there are no controllers along my route or at the airfield I'm going to land at as far as Vatspy is concerned.

 

All goes well, at least I think, on the way back. As I'm about to start descending via my filed arrival, vPilot disconnects me from Vatsim. Apparently a center controller tried to contact me via text to switch to his freq. Honestly, I'm like ##### in my head and wondering what just happened. I go ahead and finish the flight and land.

 

After I shut down FSX it looks like someone did try to text me but I had no idea. I do remember hearing a beep but I had no idea what it was. I'm new. In the end, did I enjoy it? Yes, partially, but I didn't appreciate being kicked off even though it wasn't a big deal.

 

How am I supposed to know what freqs/controllers are available during a flight so I can plan ahead? I figured I'd be safe just using Vatspy. I want to use Vatsim again but I want to have the resources available to be able to know who is controlling different areas during my flight.

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Hellu Mate and welcome to the world of Online flightsiming :)!

As you have noticed, we do things quite differently here and I would like to point you to some documents to read, mainly https://www.vatsim.net/pilots/resources

For every one of your questions, there is an answer in the topics listed on the site.

 

Now, when it comes to checking who is online, well you can use different software. I personally use PAID version of http://vroute.net/ because it gives you access to

1) Routes to fly on between destinations. I assume u already have some sort of IRL flight planner which you will utilise instead.

2) Some very nice and lovely 24/7 radio to keep you company.

3) Night layout

4) Full access maps and the designated controller area + their given frequencies.

 

You do not have to pay for anything, you can get all of this for free by combining different software, but please consider as it goes directly to the devs and all those DJ's :)

 

Once in the air, I usually use http://www.tasoftware.co.uk/ where you can plan your flights and see which airspaces you are going to fly through/flying through by connecting to

1) Flightsim -> your aircraft is shown in real time on a quality map

2) Vatsim -> Airspaces and control zones, both active and inactive.

 

If you have any questions what so ever, hollar me.

 

Best wishes and fly safely!

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Like I said, I have been flight simming since the 90's, but flying real planes since before I could drive a car. The main thing I want is to be able to know if there are controllers that will actually be online, through my route, so I don't have to go through getting kicked off again like I did on my very first flight. I use my Surface 3 that work issued me with Jeppensen Flight Deck to plan my routes. I get constant updates for all of my charts and plates though my EFB. Thanks for the quick reply.

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Okdidoki, for all that vRoute is what you need. You will get to see scheduled times of both pilots and controllers alike by clicking on regions(countries) in the Online menu.

 

Ether way, if you want to refresh your VFR RT or just want to fly low and slow with people around your age (with me being one - if only exception), please make sure to check us out.

VFR club based in UK, flying on vatsim with own AFISO 4-5 times a week. https://www.cixvfrclub.org.uk/

 

Flying the tins is awesome, but one musn't forget that VFR is as much, if not more fun ^^. And with us, ATC/AFISO support of highest standard is almost guaranteed.

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I know that this wasn't the question, but if you are using it as a way to get back in the saddle, perhaps it's worth looking at PilotEdge?  It's a paid service, and the coverage area is either ZLA (all towered airports + approach/centre), or ZLA + key western US hub airports .  

 

Whilst you lose out on coverage area and it not being free, what it does give you, over VATSIM is defined service hours (15 hours a day), guaranteed coverage of every frequency from clearance to centre in the coverage zone and a consistently high standard of controller training.  The coverage is achieved by having controllers cover multiple frequencies, so you might (worst case) talk to the same person from clearance to centre and back down, but they will be handing you off at appropriate points and respond based on the frequency you call them up on, even if you've just been talking to them via a different frequency.

 

It positions itself more as a training aid for RW pilots than being a community of enthusiasts, so if training value is what you are looking for, it might be worth a look.  Either way, there's a 2 week free trial available, nothing to lose really  :smile:

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How am I supposed to know what freqs/controllers are available during a flight so I can plan ahead?

 

In vPilot window (left pane) you see the controllers on line within your range.

By their callsign you understand which airspace they control.

You may not know the exact boundaries while flying en route but you can take a guess.

 

Utilities like VATSPY help you see their airspace and your position.

 

VROUTE flight log generated for your route shows at each corresponding waypoint the airspace code you're entering at this fix so this is a tip for what you are looking for.

 

Also when you hear this "beep" it means someone just sent you a private message.

 

Welcome back.

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Vpilot is pretty good on maintaining SA. On the left panel "Controllers in Range" you have listed the Controllers available and COM frequencies they can be contacted on.
In the main window you have Unicom tuned and if a controller messages you that appears as a new tab to the right of the Messages tab (DEBUG) in the image below as an example.

vPilot.png

Vattastic open in another window or screen is invaluable for keeping tabs on who's about near you and controllers in the area.

 

42ffb73f03aeaab3336ea23cf92d6987.png
 

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The problem is that this controller that tried to contact me wasn't logged on when I started my flight. He apparently logged on while I was in cruise. That's what is annoying. Am I supposed to minimize the sim to check on this stuff? If so, sounds like this may not be for me, however, now that I know what the beep/noise is, I now know to check the messages which is fine by me.


I appreciate everyone taking the time to help me out. I'll give this another go and look into the suggestions. I may hang around these forums as well. I've always popped in to read, just never took the time to post. Always too busy it seems.

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The problem is that this controller that tried to contact me wasn't logged on when I started my flight. He apparently logged on while I was in cruise. That's what is annoying. Am I supposed to minimize the sim to check on this stuff? If so, sounds like this may not be for me, however, now that I know what the beep/noise is, I now know to check the messages which is fine by me.

I appreciate everyone taking the time to help me out. I'll give this another go and look into the suggestions. I may hang around these forums as well. I've always popped in to read, just never took the time to post. Always too busy it seems.

 

If that happens just transmit on his frequency - which will have appeared in the "Controllers in Range" window on the left of Vpilot or write a quick text in the Unicom window a quick acknowledge, such as:

 

"FEDEX245 with you, FL360, inbound KUNAV"

 

If the controller is worth his salt he'll be able to see your flight plan (that you filed before T/O, right?) and will either speed you along your way if he can or just acknowledge you back.

 

If you have FSX running in windowed mode you only have to click on the task bar to bring up the vpilot window to accomplish these things.

 

Check out some youtube vids on it. It's easy and after a while simply becomes routine.

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The problem I had on my very first flight is that the Miami center guy wasn't logged in when I started the flight. He came in midflight and expected me to know he was there.

 

Either way, I've figured things out, as strange as they may be. Someone may be running a center, but he's also doing ground, tower, approach and departure all from the one freq. Also, I can't stand to run anything in windowed mode, it kind of ruins everything for me, in the sense of immersion.

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Also, I can't stand to run anything in windowed mode,

 

If you have a spare laptop you can run vPilot over a network.  Of course, that creates some other issues, but you can take a look at the docs if interested.

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The problem I had on my very first flight is that the Miami center guy wasn't logged in when I started the flight. He came in midflight and expected me to know he was there.
The BEEP you get is them saying, hey I am online, please contact me" It is annoying having to switch to another window, but you can run vatspy / vPilot on another machine as indicated, to avoid this. It will work on any Windows machine, so even a tablet.

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I've got it pretty well figured out now between vpilot and vatsim. I use my surface 3 from my company with jeppesen flight deck but I don't know if I can put a program like vatsim or vpilot on it. I doubt I could use my ipad for vatsim, but I don't mind alt/enter'ing out on occasion.

 

What I've noticed so far is that the controllers do quite well and most of them seem to be younger. I'm impressed by that. I mean, occasionally I'll get a heading while I'm in the middle of a RNAV departure lol but overall they are great. Once in a while however, there will be "pilots" that are on that probably shouldn't be on. I'm not talking about people that are learning/struggling. I'm talking about the guy in a B 777 taking an intersection at the middle of the runway to takeoff, or the guy that was told to give way to me, says he has me in sight and just as i'm about to taxi by, he decides to turn and stop in front of me. The ones that aren't taking it serious, but they seem to be exception.

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Never had anyone like that thus far with around ca 100 h logged.

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I'm talking about the guy in a B 777 taking an intersection at the middle of the runway to takeoff, or the guy that was told to give way to me, says he has me in sight and just as i'm about to taxi by, he decides to turn and stop in front of me. The ones that aren't taking it serious, but they seem to be exception.

 

There is always the odd idiot about on VATSIM, but generally everyone is great.

 

I find the standard of controlling to be very good. Unfortunately, controllers logging on while you are halfway through your STAR or SID or in cruise, is quite common - but that's the voluntary nature of VATSIM.  I'm always glad when someone logs on at any stage. ( Except when you are busy, like on final or on a take-off roll).

 

Welcome to online flying.

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I have found that the more experienced controllers will not contact you if you're on final or on the TO roll. The less so, will and it's  annoying.

A quick PM when the busy bit's over will quickly explain why you were unable to contact them when they asked. Their reply to that dictates whether you continue dialogue with them.

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Hi,

 

Nothing wrong with VATSIM - but if you're worried about coverage and proper procedures - have you heard of "PilotEdge" ??? It's a professional service that costs around $20.00 to $30.00 a month depending on region that is staffed by real world controllers using real world procedures - with guaranteed coverage - the only drawback I see is that you are confined to the Western US for flights and well - it's a paid service... It's used for official real world training...

 

 

http://www.pilotedge.net/

 

 

Best of luck...

 

Regards,

Scott

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I use my surface 3 from my company with jeppesen flight deck but I don't know if I can put a program like vatsim or vpilot on it.

 

The surface 3 can run normal windows apps as far as I know so you should be able to run Vpilot on it.

Just install vPilot on the surface 3

Then run vPilot in host mode with voice on your FSX machine

Run vPilot in remote mode with voice on the Surface 3, now you can see everything going on without needing to come out of FSX full screen mode.

 

vpilot.jpg

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