Here’s another reader question/comment that was submitted a few days ago. I think this will be helpful to those who are thinking about taking their simulation experience to the next level. While my comments to the general question will reference American Truck Simulator/Euro Truck Simulator 2, most of my key points will be directed towards Flight Simulator. So let’s get started with the question and then my general comments.
Hello. I found your blog site after a few Google searches regarding a recent issue I experienced after connecting to the VATSIM network for the first time. In all honesty, I’m fairly new to Microsoft Flight Simulator. But many years ago I did use FSX but never tried VATSIM. I’ve been watching YouTube videos and Twitch streams and VATSIM seems really cool. But my first experience wasn’t an easy one and I’m really confused. Basically I connected to VATSIM and wanted to experience seeing other aircraft in real world liveries and just fly. The first issue I discovered was that I didn’t see other aircraft in their respective real world liveries and I also angered the controllers and other pilots when I attempted to take off without permission. I was hoping my VATSIM experience would be similar to ATS where I could just do whatever I wanted to do until such time as I could get my head around all the procedures. Needless to say, I don’t think VATSIM is for me but wanted to see if you had any pointers for me.
First things first. The VATSIM online network is NOT like the online networks for ATS or ETS2. Yes, you’re right….for the most part with ATS/ETS2 you can connect and just do your thing pending it doesn’t violate the terms of service of TruckersMP. In other words, as long as you don’t crash into other players or block roads/intersections then most likely you’ll be fine. Of course, you’ll see plenty of idiots doing the very things I encouraged you to avoid, but when they are caught they are generally served with a ban.
But like I said, other than TruckersMP and VATSIM both being online multiplayer networks…that’s really where the similarities end. The online networks for flight simulation including VATSIM, IVAO, PilotEdge and POSCON are all serious, by the book online multiplayer networks. Before connecting to any of these networks you really need to have an understanding of a few important things.
First, you really need to have a solid understanding of the aircraft you are flying. In other words, you should be able to taxi, take-off, fly and navigate based on a pre-determined filed route including SIDS/STARS and finally land, taxi and shut down the aircraft. While I’ve been flying on the VATSIM network for more than two decades, I rarely fly using a new aircraft until such time that I’ve put in the time required to learn it properly.
Second, you really need at the very least a basic understanding of the procedures required for filing a flight plan, requesting ATC clearance and just a general understanding of all the radio communications needed during a flight. While there may be times you’ll find no controllers logged in, this doesn’t mean you can just do what you want to do. Regardless of ATC availability…one should always operate his/her aircraft in such a manner that doesn’t impact other online pilots.
It may all sound like a lot of stuff to learn, but if I can do it…then anyone can learn the ins and outs of VATSIM or any of the other online networks for flight simulator. My advice is to search YouTube for VATSIM tutorials. You’ll find hundreds of hours of content to get you started. Second, I would encourage you to connect to the VATSIM network, make sure your plane is parked at a gate or some other remote parking area and tune into the various frequencies and just LISTEN! You’ll hear how other pilots are requesting clearance and communicating with ATC. Don’t give up….keep learning and keep trying. But bottom line, please understand that the online networks are for serious users who want to simulate the real world operations.
Now, you mentioned when you did login all the other aircraft did not appear in the real world liveries as you had hoped they would. There is an easy solution for this and allow me to direct you to the FSLTL (Flight Sim Live Traffic Liveries) website. You’ll also find YouTube videos on how to setup FSLTL so that when you connect to VATSIM you’ll see other aircraft as you would expect.
Finally, I also have several “how to” articles I’ve written over the years which can be found here. Alternatively you can navigate there by clicking the Flight Menu and clicking Flight Sim Tutorials. A few that might help you initially will be The Basics of VATSIM, IFR versus VFR and Your First Flight.
Also, understand this final important thing. Everyone….including myself and everyone else you’ll find on the VATSIM network have been exactly where you are today. We’ve all been brand new and we’ve all made mistakes. From time to time we may even still make a mistake. But bottom line is we’ve all been brand new at this. The vast majority of individuals you’ll encounter will go out of their way to help someone new. Especially when that new person has a desire to learn and improve.
I hope this helps you and I hope it helps anyone else that may read this article at some time in the future. The flight simulation community for the most part is comprised of likeminded individuals who all have a passion for aviation and we’re all extremely helpful to those who are new.
I hope to see you flying the friendly VATSIM skies very soon.
Until next time….