Have you ever dreamed of being an Air Traffic Controller?
Well with VATSIM it is not only possible but can be quite easily achieved.
The VATSIM network is a realistic simulation of procedures followed by pilots and air traffic controllers everyday around the world. Each day there are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of aircraft flying on the VATSIM network with each pilot following real world procedures for their flight.
Pilots need Air Traffic Controllers to help them to conduct their flights as they takeoff off from A, fly hundreds of miles to B and land safely. All of this must be done while other aircraft are doing the same. The job of the Air Traffic Controller is to keep them moving but, more importantly, to keep them separated.
Can you imagine how it will be controlling at Los Angeles, London, Frankfurt, Hong Kong or Rio? (just have a look on this real life monitor of New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport).
There could be many aircraft in your airspace each needing precise instructions and clearance from you. Of course you will need a little training but that’s not a problem since VATSIM will provide the training and is there help you as you progress as a controller, see Controller Training.
Providing ATC is quite different to being a pilot
A pilot is responsible for only ONE aircraft but a controller must look after many aircraft at the same time. Without a doubt, ATC is a completely different role than that of a pilot and introduces new challenges.
An Air Traffic Controller begins by working with aircraft on the ground, then as a Tower controller, clearing aircraft to takeoff and land. Before long you will move up to the busy approach and departure duties culminating your ATC career as an Enroute Controller; handling aircraft crisscrossing the country as they make their way between departure and destination airports.
The real test of your ATC skill will be when you take part in one of the regular special events. Pilots from all around the world are invited to participate so during a special event there may be several hundred aircraft movements in the course of a single day.
If you want to hear real controllers at work you can listen to them through different Internet resources. Some airports and areas publish the radio broadcasts of their ATC channels. For our example click here and type into the "find feeds"-field JFK.
Where can I get ATC Training?
For more details refer to the Controller Training section.