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Poll: Online flying with VATSIM, IVAO, or Pilot Edge

Online flying with VATSIM, IVAO, or Pilot Edge  

187 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you fly with online networks ? (VATSIM, IVAO, PilotEdge)

    • All the time
    • Sometimes
    • Never
  2. 2. If you DON'T fly online, what is the PRIMARY reason for not doing so ?

    • Not enough time
    • Not confident enough with phraseology and/or procedures
    • Too many immature people online spoiling it for everyone else
    • Insufficient ATC coverage where and when I want to fly
    • I do fly online
  3. 3. If you DO fly online, which network do you use PRIMARILY?

    • VATSIM
    • IVAO
    • Pilot Edge
    • Combinations of the above
    • I don't fly online
  4. 4. If you DO fly online, what would you PRIMARILY like to see improved?

    • Better voice quality
    • Much better supervision and a quicker response to trolls online
    • Lower latency
    • More people using online networks
    • I don't use online networks, so I don't have an opinion
  5. 5. If you use 'off the shelf' options (ProATC, VOX etc) INSTEAD of online, have you tried online flying before?

    • Yes and I prefer offline solutions
    • No but would like to try online
    • No, and I'm not interested in doing so given the available options
    • I fly online

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Often discussed, quite divided in opinion.

Would be interesting to see general views on the online flying scene and how many here use online networks, the reasons if you don''t and the improvements you'd like to see if you do.

Quite broad brush but will give a fair general view.

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My view of online flying is that without Vatsim and IVAO, flight simming is a boring world. Nothing cranks up the realism quite like online simming.

I would suggest joining both networks and giving it a go.


Unfortunatley both networks have this culture of keeping the secret of their networks as some  word of mouth only secret members club, its crying out for expansion and has been stagnant for numbers for a decade.

Despite Vatsim especially having countless managers and directors they cannot advertise their networks, they are closed to any mention  of a merger with IVAO or even participation with them at any level, its due to empire building and titles and status and the pissing contest within the network that stops the big picture being seen...the small minded negative approach to increasing numbers of both ATC and Pilots either by megers/partcipation with other networks or advertising themselves has left the door open for other networks like Pilotedge and Matt Davies new baby Poscon.


Vatsim have petty censorship on their forums and a reputation for being unfriendly and unforgiving to newbies, my advice is join IVAO first where its more of a European based network where English is of course the language used online and in forums but not being 100% fluent members in English helps take the unfriendly side of online simming down a few notches.



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I am definitely looking forward to POSCON, but a network is only as good as the number of people that use it. That would necessitate a mass migration of controllers and pilots from other networks. 

Vatsim seem to be providing too little too late, so we’ll see how that pans out. Agree with the unnecessary burocracy and seemingly fifedoms within fifedoms in the Vatsim hierarchy

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I tried VATSIM for awhile but there audio is horrible.  Sometimes u have no idea what the controller is trying to say and u have to have them repeat it over and over.  But other then the occasional controller that needs taken out back and beaten I have found the community quite helpful.

Matt Wilson

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I really don't know why we need two networks

Guenter Steiner

Betatester for: A2A, Hifi, Simstarter, AivlaSoft, LORBY 

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In fly online rarely. Not because I don't like it or because I don't know the phraseology, but because flying into a ghost airport with no controllers for hundreds of miles lessens my experience. Don't get me wrong, when controllers are on and there are multiple people simming it is an awesome experience.

The vast majority of the time its you simming alone with no aircraft in sight on an online network. Frequently, IMO, a 3rd party ATC is a much better option as you see other planes, you can hear radio chatter and you are receiving instructions. Additionally, there are no trolls when you're using a 3rd party ATC.

Too bad that there are big egos in this niche market as perhaps enhancing and merging the networks would be best.

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"I am the Master of the Fist!" -Akuma

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The main reason I don't fly online was not listed in the poll, so I'll explain here:

Flightsimming allows me to escape the real world, namely, other people. I like to do my own thing in my own way without having to interact with anyone telling me how to do things. There are already enough such people in my life. Offline ATC is of course not perfect. It's in fact annoyingly bad in certain aspects (I'm referring to all offline ATC products, not just the built-in). But I'm free to ignore its instructions at my choosing and without consequence, so it works for me.

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Walter Meier


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I fly Pilot Edge almost exclusively.   Occasionally I'll get on vatsim if there's an event for an area I like to fly in.  The service and realism on PE is unmatched. 

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|Ryan Butterworth|

| i7 4790K@4.4GHz | 32GB RAM | EVGA GTX 1080Ti | ASUS Z97-Pro | 1TB 860 Evo | 500GB 840 Evo Win10 Pro | 1TB Samsung 7200rpm | Seasonic X750W |



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Online simming is exactly a niche market, Vatsim/IVAO can produce membership numbers that are impressive but hide the online numbers on a daily basis which have hardly changed for a decade, there are online tools that show numbers connected, after a  while you can guess very accurately how many are connected before checking at any given time.


At this time its:


690 Vatsim

647 IVAO


If you look on an online map of the world its like a jigsaw puzzle with big pieces of ATC coverage missing because thats covered on the other network, its so obvious 1 network would benefit simmers, its been obvious for many years that stagnation of numbers isnt going to change or one network will be the dominant one.


Empires and egos is the problem.....that of course would never be admitted.

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Online flying is fantastic if you like flying with Unicomm as your ATC 90% of the time. 


Bob Cardone        MSFS 2020       FlyVirtual.net   Aivlasoft EFB2  /pf3-supporter.gif




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Pilot Edge may not be for everyone, but for any real world pilot who wants to gain/maintain proficiency on the radios, it is hard to argue the value they provide. And for a GA guy like me with absolutely no ATP aspirations, it’s really the only good online option that I have found.

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2 hours ago, polk2 said:

Empires and egos is the problem.....that of course would never be admitted.

Which empires and whose egos?

In more than twenty years of 'online flying', is it that surprising that there is more than one group of people with an idea about how best to run such a network? It's like any community -- virtual airlines, news websites/forums, football clubs -- not everyone has the same aims and ideas and everybody has a different idea of what's important, so it's almost inevitable that over time there will be more than one.

As I've said in the past: I hear a lot of people moaning about the people that run VATSIM, but nobody can ever articulate to me what exactly this supposed bureaucracy is stopping them from accomplishing.

There are some basic common sense rules which fit on one sheet of A4 paper. From an ATC point of view there is some fairly well-defined training to be completed to staff the various positions. That's about it really: fly, control, enjoy.

Personally, I'll take flying online with real humans over AI any day. On the odd occasion I've tried various AI packages and ATC software, and have always pretty much instantly remembered why I didn't use them in the first place: one or more of pressing buttons to communicate a small set of pre-defined messages to ATC, predictable communications with ropey phraseology, little or no regional variation or intrigue, AI traffic that cuts you up on final and just generally behaves with very little "intelligence" at all, a limited range of voice sets and accents for controllers, standardised vectors to a standardised final approach (and maybe in to a mountain if you're lucky), very limited if any VFR support... the list goes on. I should stress, I'm not having a go at any particular piece of software and I know there's a number of options out there, some of which I'm sure are better than others and may cover one or more of those issues, but at the end of the day a computer is a computer and there is (so far) only so much one can achieve with software.

VATSIM and other networks are far from perfect, but for me there's nothing that beats the experience of flying to JFK, for instance, which with the time difference means one can depart late afternoon UK time and more often than not pick up some ATC on departure, then by the time you reach the other side of the Atlantic Canada and the East Coast starts to light up with ATC, hearing the accents, experiencing the unique procedures and phraseology used at each airfield and in each area and seeing the lights of other aircraft in the sky knowing that those too are real people, perhaps half a planet away, but nonetheless all coming together for the same reason -- a shared interest in and passion for aviation. Knowing that it actually matters that I take the time to prepare for an approach or fly a particular route, because unlike the offline environment there's real people who will be affected.

A couple of years ago I flew to Rovaniemi with a VA colleague who happens to be a real airline pilot in connected flight deck. When we called up Tampere Radar, the controller -- an actual Finn, of course -- acknowledged each of our transmissions with a clipped "Tampere." "Brilliant," said my mate. "That's exactly what they do in real life!" I've been to Beijing where I've been controlled by locally-based controllers, smiled (in a friendly way!) at a fellow with an AAL callsign who was clearly a little alarmed and confused at being cleared to a flight level in metres (and quietly dropped him a link to a conversion chart). I've flown across Africa overnight from Entebbe, broadcasting 'blind' position reports on the IFBP frequency, seeing similar broadcasts from another aircraft on a converging track and establishing that, purely by chance, it happened to be another pilot from my VA heading 'home' from Nairobi. We converged over Khartoum in the dead of night, he two thousand feet above, the glowing lights of the city sprawled across an inky black desert 35,000 feet below us, and then I watched him slowly slide away in to the distance (my 767 being no match for his 777 in a foot race!). I've tuned in to London Control after a long-haul flight from somewhere hot and sticky and enjoyed hearing the sound of 'home'.

I've met people on and through the network who have become some of my best friends in real life as well. Through my involvement in training and the pilot rating schemes I've got to know people from all over the world and all sorts of different backgrounds -- from Hong Kong to High Wycombe and quite a few places in between, from teenagers with dreams of the skies to retired airline captains and everything in between.

Maybe one day software will be able to do all of those things and give all of those unique, memorable experiences. Until then, however, I think I'll accept the odd period of Unicom and the slightly emptier airports and look forward to what looks to be an exciting future for online flying with what I know are some really exciting developments on the way.

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Simon Kelsey



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7 hours ago, skelsey said:

Which empires and whose egos?


Well here's a brief example of why some people might think that.  It's not that the advice given was wrong, but the way it was dealt with.    Department this....department that... couldn't possibly speak to a VP...way too important.  Nonsense.   

7 hours ago, skelsey said:

Personally, I'll take flying online with real humans over AI any day. On the odd occasion I've tried various AI packages and ATC software, and have always pretty much instantly remembered why I didn't use them in the first place:

Agree.  In fact, discovering VATSIM is one of the primary reasons that I decided to stay in the flightsim hobby.  Real ATC interaction is one of the best enhancements to the overall experience of flightsimming you could ever wish for. I'm okay with the occasional 122.8 - even if it is the whole flight - which is rare in Europe at the times I fly.    

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I always fly offline using default ATC. It's good enough for my needs, and when it starts to talk nonsense, I can always ignore it.

Prefer offline flying as the areas I fly most of the time don't have any coverage, and when they do it's at a specific time and date, which is very restricting, as I prefer to fly when I "feel like it" or have free time available. With offline flying this is hard to combine, so I don't even bother.

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Dmitrij Nazarenko

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