What is VATSIM and what means to be a virtual pilot?
VATSIM is a global non profitable organisation (registration and connection to the network are free) where virtual pilots, connect via their Flight Simulator in 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 consequently 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 communication 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 would 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 intentions over predefined 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!
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 experience. No one obliges 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.
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 enough. Being a virtual pilot requires a certain amount 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 (MSFS 2020, Prepar 3D, XPlane) installed. This applications come with equivalent clients for connecting to the VATSIM network.
- A headset or a microphone and speakers installed on your PC
- Internet connection
- The proper client for connecting to the network
- Active email account for registrations and further communication
- Good mood
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) and as vACC the HvACC here. Use real world personal data, otherwise your account may be locked down!
After registration, while having your VATSIM ID, you may continue with the HvACC register. HvACC extends the VATSIM rules over the Hellenic virtual airspace, so you will have to agree to and accept proper regulations and rules.