What is VATSIM and what means to be a virtual pilot?
VATSIM is a global non profitable network (registration and connection to the network are free) where virtual pilots, connect via their Flight Simulatorin order to fly around the virtual airspace. There are also virtual Air Traffic Controller connecting on the network to provide air traffic control (ATC) to the virtual pilots.
VATSIM allows each connected pilot to view others connected on the same geographical area (and consiquently they are able see you), while it is possible to simulate real weather conditions of the area you fly.
If the area you fly is covered by an Air Traffic Controller then the comunication is performed over voice on the (virtual) radio frequency of each controller (or alternatively over text where voice is not applicable), while real radiotelephony and flight rules are being used. The scope is for each virtual pilot to perform a virtual flight as a real aircraft whould do it!
Flying rules, based on real flight rules, also apply, in case the area you fly is not covered by a controller (uncontrolled airspace), where it is obligatory to announce your itentions over predifined commonly used radio frequency, called Unicom (freq.: 122.800).
In VATSIM there are numerous virtual airlines (known as VAs) and communities such as aeroclubs, that either simulate flights of their real counterparts or even the internal procedures of an airline, such as promotions, virtual payments, and buy/sell of aircrafts! More about virtual airlines may be found here.
How to become a virtual pilot?
First of all you have to read, understand and comply with the rules that apply to the VATSIM network. Do not forget that on this network many people coming from different habitats, from all over the world, with a common scope; to have a very nice simulation expirience. No one oblies you to connect to VATSIM, and it is not "your right", but your choice!
Before your first connection, you have to learn the basics of flying rules, navigation and radiotelephony. If you have no previous experience you must read at least the bsics from Tutorial I. Almost everyone starts with very low knowledge and many.... misunderstandings regarding procedures! If you are one of the aviation lovers this will be your first step towards the fantastic world of aviation.
Last but not least, you should have a minimal ability to control the aircraft you choose for your flights. That means, be able to properly navigate, maintain a constant speed and altitude and of course be able to takeoff and land.
For the aforementioned knowledge, there is no absolute limit regarding what is required for flying, at least while being a beginner. Mood for learning and personal ability to see when you are ready to perform your first flight, is more than enought. Being a virtual pilot requires a certain ammount of studying, with the difference being that you are the only one to set the standards regarding the way you fly, as long as you will not spoil the fun of others, pilots and controllers.
What do I need as a virtual pilot?
A PC with Flight Simulator (2004, X, Prepar 3D, XPlane) installed. This applications come with equivalent clients for connecting to the VATSIM network. Most virtual pilots though use the Microsoft Flight Simulator (2004 / X).
A headset or a microphone and speakers installed on your PC
The proper client for connecting to the network
Active email account for registrations and further communication
What do I have to do in order to use the network as a virtual pilot?
First of all you must register to VATSIM, to gain connection privilege. Pay attention to the documents you will be asked to read. Do not forget to choose preferred region: Europe, preferred division: Europe (except UK),UK or Russia and as vACC your desired from the list. Use real world personal data, otherwise your account may be locked down!
After registration, while having your VATSIM ID, you may continue with your desireable vACC register.
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. Explore more than 20.000 airports all around the globe together with more then 250,000 members in nearly every country. Share the adventure of online flying together with lots of other Flightsimulation enthusiasts.
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.
We are always at your disposal and you may reach us at www.vatsim.eu/helpdesk . You may contact us at any time for any issue that you might be experiencing with the network, we will try to support you the most. We will do our best to be with you the soonest. Our aim is to ensure that you have the best experience on VATSIM network. For urgent matters you may send us an email at director [at] vatsim.eu