VATSIM Conference: Connexion 2017
29 & 30 July, London

1. Introduction

Learning any new skills, and pilot/ATC interaction is no different, takes time and study in order to be proficient. VATSIM has many resources to help you along your path to proficiency and will be with you all along the way. You can help yourself by doing some reading and research in order to possess the knowledge and understanding of the processes and procedures that are simulated on VATSIM every day.

2. MSFS Pilot Training Features

Microsoft™ Flight Simulators 2000, 2002, 2004, and FSX have built-in flight training programs that also teach interaction with ATC. The lessons are designed and taught by Rod Machado, an internationally recognized real world flight instructor and author. Start with the Private Pilot lessons and practice them until you can pass the built-in check ride. Then progress from the Private to Instrument, Commercial, and lastly try the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) material and check ride. These will not only build and test your skills; they will also prepare you for the online world of online flying and ATC.

3. VATSIM Website

The home page contains information and contacts for you to solve a problem while using VATSIM services.

NOTAMs, or timely information all pilots and ATC need to know of a VATSIM-wide nature. Pilots should check NOTAMs before any VATSIM flight to prevent problems.

Links to the Region and Division web sites are available to check for Pilot information like charts, DP/SIDs, STARs in use, preferred routes, or other airport information and weather for your departure and destination airports.

The main navigation bar contains links for the worldwide services of the VATSIM network. These links are best explored by the pilot so you will be familiar with where things can be found.  Here you can find communities to fly with such as Virtual Airlines and VATSIM Authorized Training Organizations, who deliver VATSIM pilot ratings to all members at no charge.

4. VATSIM Supervisors

While flying on-line, one of the available resources for help are VATSIM Supervisors. These individuals were carefully selected by the Board of Governors to act as tactical supervisors of the day-to-day VATSIM activity. There is usually at least one supervisor on the system at any given time. They can be identified by their call sign, xxx_SUP.

Supervisors have demonstrated a mastery of VATSIM skills. Pilots are encouraged to contact supervisors if they are having a problem. Please remember to be patient while waiting for a response. The Supervisor’s area of responsibility covers the whole world and they are often very busy solving other problems or resolving conflicts.

You can call a supervisor while connected online using the text message feature in your pilot client and the dot command .wallop your message here.  The .wallop command attaches your callsign automatically.

5. Other VATSIM Staff

While not their primary duty, you can occasionally ask for help from the local ATC staff. It is best to wait for times when their workload is light and not when they are handling multiple aircraft. Signing on at an airport within airspace that is light on aircraft but is staffed by ATC can be beneficial in that they will have extra time to give you more personal attention and help you solve problems to get airborne.

6. VA and ATO Training Departments

Authorized Training Organizations

Authorized Training Organizations (ATO) are third party pilot training organizations who have been certified by VATSIM to award VATSIM Pilot Ratings.  

Virtual Airline Partners

One great resource is the Virtual Airline community. Many of them have very good training programs on how to use the VATSIM system as well as lessons on how to fly the IFR system. VATSIM has a web page full of VAs who are Partners, which means they have VATSIM pilots flying for them. You will need to look at their individual training programs and their flight operations to find the VA that suits your needs and flying styles.

VATSIM Special Operation's Administration

The purpose of the VATSIM Spec Ops Admin is to educate the general VATSIM membership on the proper format to conduct Military and other special governmental activities and events. This is accomplished by working directly with VATSIM leadership through mutual agreements, and through required training and continued educational requirements for all members of each VATSIM Spec Ops affiliate.

The organization of the VATSIM Spec Ops is unique and is established as the central point for regulatory and operational policies for governmental-operations conducted within the VATSIM environment.

7. Other VATSIM Support for Pilots