Learning to become a pilot on the VATSIM network can be both fun and challenging. The most important thing to remember is that this is a hobby and your primary goal should be to have fun on the network.

Before you decide to log on to the network, it may be worth become familiar with the various aspects of VATSIM such as:

These resources will provide the basis for you regarding the expectations VATSIM has for you when you become a member. You will learn the basic rules of VATSIM and how you will be expected to conduct yourself, as well as the details of flying in an online environment.

Tips for new pilots:

  • Connect with your aircraft at a parking ramp or gate only. Do not connect on a runway or taxiway as this will likely cause a disruption for other members.
  • Spend some time sitting on an out of the way ramp observing as a pilot on the network to get a feel for your first flight. Start small and work your way up.
  • Know your aircraft and be able to manage it on the ground and in the air.  Never fly a new model for the first time while online.
  • File a valid flight plan that includes a correct altitude for your direction of flight and learn how to obtain and read aviation navigation charts.
  • You must always be in contact with ATC if they are present.  Be sure you understand how to see if ATC is online where you are flying.
  • Use proper radio etiquette such as listening before you speak on the frequency to ensure you don’t disrupt another member’s transmission.
  • If you need help while on line or have a dispute with another pilot or ATC, you can contact an online Supervisor using the dot command .wallop type your message.  The .wallop command automatically attaches your callsign so they know who is calling.  Add a few words, i.e., " .wallop can't connect with ATC channel", on why you are calling to help the supervisor get started sooner.
  • Accepting a clearance from a controller is an agreement that you will comply with their instructions and follow the flight plan you filed. If you aren’t sure what is being asked of you or how to file a filed route, feel free to ask the controller for clarification.  Some clearances are complex and the controller will expect you to be able to follow them so if you don't know what a departure, approach, or landing procedure means and how to fly it, don't file it.  Ask for help.
  • Do not pause your simulator or use time acceleration without ATC approval when in controlled airspace.
  • ATC instructions should be executed and read back as soon as possible.  Aviate, Navigate, then Communicate.
  • If the frequency is busy, please exercise patience and don’t private message the controller to get their attention.

Don’t be alarmed if you’re not familiar with some of the information provided in the tips above. The Pilot Resource Center (PRC) contains all of the information you will need to fly on the network.