Live up America – FNO VATSIM Event

Last night a bit of history was made and I was fortunate enough to have been a part of it.  As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’ve been flying on the VATSIM network from its inception, and even briefly before when it was known as SATCO.  I’ve participated in many events around the world and just about each and every one of those events left a lasting impression on me.  I remember my first CTP or Cross the Pond and the 9/11 remembrance events are always very special.  But Friday night I experienced something which out of my 18 year history with VATSIM was an absolute first and honestly I almost missed out on it.


Earlier in the week I had been researching some of the scheduled events taking place at FSExpo18.  I recently blogged about this event which is taking place this weekend.  I somewhat stumbled onto the VATSIM FNO event (Friday Night Operations) and when I read about it, I knew I had to make every effort to participate.  However, the timing couldn’t have been worse.  I’ve been extremely busy at work the past few weeks, I’m leaving today (writing this on the plane) for SFO for work, my parents arrive on Thursday and I’m once again traveling the week of the 25th.  So much going on, but I so wanted to participate.  While I don’t need to ask permission from my wife to really do anything, I explained to her about the event and said I’ll get everything done I needed to do, work right up to the time I need to leave for the airport on Sunday.  She agreed that this event would be special.  WOW…I have a fantastic wife.

The Event

VATSIM has held, what they’ve historically called “Light up America” events in the past.  The goal is to attempt to staff as many air traffic control positions as possible.  Keep in mind this is all volunteer effort.  While most everyone enjoys the online flying part, we need folks who equally enjoy serving as ATC or Air Traffic Controllers to make it “As Real As It Gets”.  This event had the exact same goals and VATSIM was taking it up a notch by hosting it Live from the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas during FSExpo18.

Again, I’ve been flying off and on on the VATSIM network since it was born over 18 years ago.  I recall participating in other “Light up America” events, but I don’t recall it being as successful as Friday nights event actually was.  This is not to say it never has been, I just don’t recall it and never had the opportunity to participate in any such event.

Return to Twitch

OK…I need to just say one thing.  In a few days you’re going to see a blog posting which is a response to an email I received a few days ago from a long-time (somewhat long lost) flight sim friend.  He wrote me after seeing newly published content on my blog site about flight sim.  In a nutshell, he’s asking me if I had any plans to livestream my flights on Twitch as I once did before I started up my YouTube channel.  I replied to me privately, and asked him if he would mind me turning his email, my response and other thoughts into a blog posting for future release.  He thought that was a great idea and I had been working on writing that up for release in a few weeks.  However, as I began to plan my flight for the VATSIM event, I thought to myself it might be a good event for me to stream on Twitch.  So I did and here we are…

Rusty, Rusty, Rusty

It’s been over three years since I had broadcast my flying on Twitch.  Back then, I would make every effort to fly to/from airports with ATC coverage…but what I really enjoy most about livestreaming is interacting with my viewers.  Unfortunately in an event of this scale, there is so much ATC chatter that it really makes it hard….plus I’m a bit rusty with some of my VATSIM procedures (especially when flying in a controlled airspace) that juggling a three ring circus (ring one my aircraft, ring two VATSIM ATC and ring three my Twitch viewers) could easily become overwhelming.  But surprisingly I think I did OK and really only got my wrist slapped by ATC one time and that was my failure to STOP my taxi at SFO after I had vacated 28R, was given permission to cross 28L by SFO Tower, but I was handed off to SFO Ground a bit late (i think) and I unfortunately was changing frequencies and still moving.  But all is OK…and I’ve learned a lesson which I won’t forget.

Thank you VATSIM

As you can see from the screenshot I captured from VAT-Spy during the event, America was certainly lit up with ATC.  It’s not every day a pilot can depart on the east coast of the US and fly all the way across the country and be within ATC control the entire time.   For my flight, I opted to recreate the flight I’m currently on (Denver to San Francisco) with Southwest Airlines.

I must also say, that while I enjoy VATSIM events.  Most are situated around a single airport or a single ARTCC region.  This places a lot of traffic all attempting to land/takeoff within a small airspace.  I would love to see VATSIM organize more events similar to Light up the USA.  But I’m also aware it’s all volunteer effort and I really have no idea the amount of work it took to pull off this type of an event.  A possible solution might be to divide the US half (along the Mississippi River) and have eastern and western focused events alternate in similar fashion to the Light up the USA event.


Thank you Viewers

As PBS says, “It’s Viewers Like You” and it really is.  I appreciate those who turned out to watch my flight.  I realize most of my YouTube subscribers are mainly Farm Sim fans, but I do have a mix of fans who enjoy all things simulation and hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves.  I know I certainly did and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to experience this event, glad I had the opportunity to share it with others and very much look forward to more, more, more.

I need to close for now and I’m going to see if I can upload this via my onboard wi-fi connection.  Look for another installment of the GBS WorldFlight Tour later this week and perhaps another edition on Saturday.  Sometime I’ll also schedule and release the letter I mentioned earlier which again I wrote not really knowing I would be streaming the flight.

Until next time….

Happy Simming!


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