Return to VATSIM….Sort of

Before my long multi-year hiatus from the hobby I was a regular on the VATSIM network.  In the short period of time from first joining VATSIM to my break from the hobby I had accumulated over 420 hours.  Keep in mind this was over a period of time from 2002 through 2004 and another brief stint around 2006.  Not bad for just a little over 2 years.  Of course I know other pilots could accumulate more hours, but during much of this time (2002 – 2004) I served in the capacity of either hub manager or VP of Operations at American Virtual Airlines (AvA). 

In those early days nothing was automated like it is today.  Pilots expected to see their flight hours updated on the roster every couple of days or even daily.  I managed the DFW hub and it was one of the most active hubs in the VA and I found it easier to take 15-20 minutes daily to tally up the hours, then spend an hour or more once or twice a week.  My philosophy back then was I would do all the admin duties BEFORE flying. 

When I started clawing my way back into the hobby a few months ago, the world of VATSIM and Virtual Airlines was NOT at the top of my list.  Due to PC issues in the past, I did find it sometimes to be a struggle to complete an online flight.  Either I would find no ATC online or the hit to the frame rates would cause the sim to run so sluggish or crash….it sort of took the fun out of flying online.

While I was on my Around the World – 2010 Journey, I began thinking about how cool it might be to do an around the world flight and do it online.  While I hope to do another around the world flight in 2011, I’m not sure it will be online.  But I will admit that just the thought of it did peak my interest in VATSIM again.

I did kick around the idea of returning to VATSIM online flying as an independent.  I would fly for whatever carrier I wanted to fly for and the rules would be my rules.  But I didn’t think that would be much fun.  Part of what I find so awesome about this hobby is the people you meet along the way.  By the way, two friends of mine that I’ve met since returning to the hobby both have Flight Sim Blogs.  Please check out Al’s Clear Left, and Onur’s Clear Right Flight Sim Blogs. 

Now what I’m going to say next is NOT a paid message.  But the very best virtual airline in existence really is American Virtual Airlines.   Perhaps I feel what I feel about AvA because I put so much effort into it.  Perhaps it was the way things ended when I left (yes there is a bit of a story here).  In a nutshell I had spent much of my free time helping to keep AvA going strong.  Both my life as well as the life of the CEO became very busy.  We agreed we had nothing else to give and would close the doors.  Thankfully….Thankfully……the other hub members gained control of AvA and kept the doors open and it is still going strong today. 

If I could go back in time I would not have walked away like I did.  My problem was I didn’t know how to ask for help.  I felt the CEO slipping away and he had founded the VA a few years prior to me joining.  The right thing to do would have been for me to ask for help from the rest of the management team and not walked away like I did.  But… can’t undo something that has already been done.  Like I said, the VA was taken over very quickly and has been in great hands ever since.

Anyway….when I realized I wanted to fly on-line again on the VATSIM network with my super fast and super reliable new PC, I knew I wanted to fly mostly with my real-world favorite airline (American Airlines) and didn’t bother looking if other VA’s were out there.  I knew I needed to return home to AvA…and I did. 

I joined AvA and am currently a Sr. Captain with a CAT IV rating and assigned to the best hub in their system, KDFW.  I am as happy as can be.  My first online VATSIM flight was held early this morning (couldn’t sleep) from KDEN to KDFW.  I feel I have a few tweaks to make with theSquawkbox client as it crashed my very fast and very reliable system once I landed in Dallas.  All had worked fine and once I switched it to squawk standby, it all crashed.  I think I’m going to fly a few more trips and see if I can reproduce the issue.  If it happens again, I’ll move SB over to another machine and run it in network mode.

Until next time,



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