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Most Challenging Aspect of Vatsim - A beginners viewpoint

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I'm about a dozen flights in on Vatsim. Long time 737 simmer, capable of reading NaviGraph charts, user of Pilot2ATC, frequent listener of LiveATC.net, reasonably proficient with the aircraft systems and FMS, so I felt that I had enough of the boxes checked and was ready to begin using Vatsim. I was right.....kinda, sorta. After three successful flights with only a couple minor stammers (listening and retention skills are much more difficult when you're a bit nervous) and feeling good about myself, I had a disastrous flight from KCLT to KATL mainly because of something that hadn't happened on my first few flights but has now happened several more times....the dreaded change of approach and/or runway from what I was expecting. Vatsim ATIS for KATL was not up so I could only guess on the arrival runway based on winds. Very real life to be sure, but task saturation took over. Entered new runway in the FMS, simple. But the arrival was not valid for that runway so now I'm trying to pull up charts. KATL arrivals from the east have two different "OZZIE" arrivals. Ugh. Then further instructions from ATC - descend, turn to new heading, airspeed was off so I was asked to adjust, descent profile was getting way off, ATC asked if airport was is sight....I don't know I don't have time to look out the window right now! Now I'm trying to go down and slow down, two things that don't work well together in a 737. Overshot the localizer, situational awareness was gone. I apologized to all online and said I'm going to save them the aggravation and bail. Approach is a very busy phase of flight, just curious if others have experienced similar issues and if you have any tips you'd like to share for dealing with approach changes and speed/ descent management. Practice is one answer and a timely "plan on runway X" from ATC is another.

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My VATSIM story echoes yours, except I began flying VATSIM in 2010.  The first flights were much the same as the one you describe above.  Hang in there!  You'll get better and flights like the one you had from KCLT to KATL will become fewer and fewer.  There will be challenges from time to time but you'll adapt quicker and with more experience you'll do just fine.  Most of all, remember, have fun!!!

Bob Bressert

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5 hours ago, BobKinSTL said:

.the dreaded change of approach and/or runway from what I was expecting.

I picked up on something from B747HEAVY on Twitch and started using Flightaware.com to determine the RW runways before I input my arrival into the FMC.

If you open Flightaware, chose a specific airport, and if there is traffic, you can enlarge the window and see which runways the aircraft are using.

Also, SimBrief does a pretty good job at predicting the arrival and flight path if you're using RW weather.


Ernest Pergrem

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The  other thing I have learned is not to obfuscate on the FMS when ATC is changing runways or approaches. Usually you will receive vectors in that situation. Fly the airplane and do the minimum FMS to find the waypoints if given. And maintain situational awareness, but fly the airplane first.

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You are getting the real as it gets experience for free, in my opinion flight simming without Vatsim or Ivao isnt worth bothering with, thinking on your feet in real time with real people and coping with snags turns  flight simming into something real and enjoyable.

 New Vatsim audio  has been a real game changer in removing the biggest obstacle of bad audio problems that haunted Vatsim since the start of the whole shebang.

My flight history  has been riddled with bad flights due to my inexperience and simple mistakes, even after a decade of  now and again Vatsimming over  the years, i know how easy it is to be confused , lose situational awareness and it to all end in embarrassment .

Great fun though, great learning experience.

keep going with it Bob....if you give Vatsim up ...flight simming is going to be real dull.

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Don't know if it is in your "hangar" but I recommend a series of flights in smaller, slower general aviation aircraft with GTN GPS to gain VATSIM experience.  Perhaps a moderate speed single engine model like a Bonanza, transitioning to a moderate speed twin like a Baron or Cessna 310, then to a faster twin like a King Air.  You will build your ability to react to unanticipated changes, to increasing speeds, both forward and descending, and to managing changes in your guidance systems.   I would even recommend GTN GPS first, then suprisingly GNS GPS second as it takes more time in the GNS to modify a flight plan on the fly.  Sort of like weight training in the realm of exercising.

When you get back up to 737, FMS, and major airports with heavy traffic, and associated speeds, it will come together with more confidence.  You should also have two Com radios.  Learn to get the earliest ATIS reception. 


Edited by fppilot
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Frank Patton
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If you're thoroughly overcome by the workload you could always request vectors. Controllers will usually oblige.

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Tony K.

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If I might make a recommendation?

I've taught well over a hundred flight simmers how to fly in a realism based environment such as VATSIM using Shared Cockpit / Connected Flight Deck in airliners, and that includes work load management.  There simply is no better way of learning than this for anyone, regardless of the manner in which an individual learns best.

We won't formally announced it until late January, but I'm leading the Aerosoft Online Flight Sim Community Project and we already have about 30 people actively participating.  I'm going to share a LITTLE about the project, and towards the end you'll find something I'm sure will benefit you if  you're interested.

The community is for those who take flight simulation fairly seriously while not pushing fun out of the way.  Due to legal requirements, the minimum age is 16 (no exceptions, as our legal team advises we have to comply with laws from various countries around the world - this is the same requirement for POSCON).

Beyond almost always having someone to fly with (group flights, pick up flights, single cockpit, shared cockpit/connected flight deck flights, etc.) the community brings people together outside the flight sim.  Log into the voice server to make and catch up with friends, attend special community only events featuring very special guest speakers from around the flight sim world, and formal classes in our fully interactive virtual classroom where live classes are taught by real world airline pilots, very experienced flight simmers, and software developers.  Also amazing discounts for flight sim addons.

Learning isn't only in the classroom.  You can learn to apply everything  you learned during POSCON/VATSIM flights with an experienced pilot, until you become that experienced pilot and then you can share you're knowledge with others.

Needless to say we are always looking for experienced flight simmers to join our educational team and fly with people who are either new to a particular aircraft, new or inexperienced at flying online, or both!

This is NOT a Virtual Airline, but rather a true, interactive and moderated flight sim community.  No immature people, no trolls, no people who like to create problems, just a really fun place where like minded people come together to learn more about their hobby and have a LOT of fun!

Here is a brief overview of just some of the classes we teach:

Each course is designed to be 1 hour in length.


Introduction to Realism Based Networks (POSCON, VATSIM, IVAO).

Designed to give pilots an overview of how these networks work, which Pilot Client software to use, which AI Aircraft package to use; how to log on the network, file a flight plan and obtain clearance, how to find controller frequecies


Airliner Systems and Operations

Learn the how, when and why of operating commercial airliner systems, capabilities and operations. Designed for those new to flying airliners, this general course covers airliner systems and operations which will help you quickly adapt to new airliners.

Commercial Airport Operations

A shorter excerpt from our How To Fly Online course, this class teaches terminology, how to determine which airline uses which terminals/gates, which runways and taxiways / paths to use during inbound and outbound operations, proper pushback procedures, how and when to use Ramp Control when flying line, special procedures during online events, how to read airport taxi charts and what special indicators mean at airports.

Different levels of Air Traffic Control

Learn the different levels of Air Traffic Control, what sectors they cover, their responsibilities, what information to have ready for them, and communications procedures. This course is often combined with the Phases of Flight course.

Phases of Flight

Each phase of flight has specific requirements and checkpoints especially when flying in realism based environment. Learn how to be ready for each phase of flight well ahead of time so that your flight is smooth and easy rather than difficult and stressful. This course is often combined with the Different levels of Air Traffic Control course.

Clearances, ATIS and METARs.

Explore different types of clearances and break down and understanding ATIS and METARS.  Includes tools which can break down ATIS and METARs until you are able to read and use them on site.

Specified Differences Flying in Europe and North America

Learn the differences which apply to flight planning, SIDs and STARs, Air Traffic Control differences, and specific airport procedures as they apply to Europe and North America.

Navigational Aids

Learn how different NAVAIDs work and when and how to use them in your aircraft.

How to Read Charts

Just what the title says!  Learn how to read sections, enroute and airport specific charts. Also includes how to use freeware and payware tools for flight planning and tracking.

IFR Flight Planning and Dispatching for Commercial Airliners

Learn the ins and outs of developing flight plans, Weight distribution and aircraft loadout. Includes how to use many freeware flight planning tools and the use of GSXv2.

Shared Cockpit / Connected Flight Deck

There is a way to share an aircraft with someone, and there is a way to do it that will leave you amazed and wanting to do it again and again!  Unfortunately, the vast majority of flight simmers who have flown Shared Cockpit lack some very important information thus their experience if severely lacking even if they don’t know it.  Learn the special insider tools and tricks of sharing an airliner from someone with over 8000+ flight hours sharing airliners and turn your flights into an incredible, highly realistic and fun filled experience that allows you to build fond memories of flights just as real pilots do.  We’re NOT kidding or exaggerating!  Topics include how to avoid pitfalls which delay or prematurely end flights, use of Pilot in Command verse free for all, important but easy communications setups that will not complicate your online flight, and simplified Crew Resource Management (flight deck teamwork and responsibilities) that you can use in any aircraft, computer security, and more!  A must course for anyone thinking about or currently enjoys flying shared cockpit.

How to Fly Trans-Oceanic (Cross the Pond Events)

Learn the differences in flying across the Ocean in an online realism based environment. Includes understanding NAT Tracks, decoding and entering Oceanic Waypoints (Latitude/Longitude), position reporting, event flows, aircraft separation requirements, and more.

Repaints / Livery Creation

Learn from the best how to create excellent repaints of your favorite airliners as well as custom liveries. Pre-Requisite for this course is that you must have and be familiar with the basics of Adobe Photoshop.



Edited by DaveCT2003
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