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Basic Training Information

and Joining the Online Community

You Are Not Alone

When you have mastered the basics of flying the simulator, you may, as the Club's founder members did all those years ago, find yourself wishing that you could see other aircraft in your simulated world; aircraft actually piloted by human beings, that is, not just those generated by the "artificial intelligence" (AI) inbuilt feature of the simulator. But you are all alone. However, when you join the Club, you join a world inhabited by around a hundred thousand flight simulation enthusiasts - real people. We no longer fly alone (which was one of the Club's early slogans, by the way.) Club members fly "on line" by joining one of two (or both) online communities; VATSIM and IVAO.

Online Air Traffic Communities

VATSIM is a contraction of Virtual Air Traffic Simulator. IVAO stands for International Virtual Aviation Organisation.  Members of these two organisations join as pilots or as virtual Air Traffic Controllers (or both). Pilots, including CIX VFR Club members, interact with other pilots and with Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) using special Pilot software. The virtual ATC members log in at an airport and, as in the real world, direct pilots on the ground to the correct runways; in the skies to avoid collisions and supervise landings and take-offs, using special ATC software.

Setting up your VATSIM System

Getting started with VATSIM requires installation of a special application to connect the pilot to the VATSIM servers via Flight Simulator´s inbuilt multiplayer function.  There are three "Pilot Client" programmes available - "Squawkbox", "FSInn" and a more recent one "vPilot". Which one to use boils down to personal preference. New members will probably prefer vPilot simply because it is an up-to-date application. Links to download the VATSIM Pilot Client software can be found on the Software Downloads page.

Installation and connecting to VATSIM is not difficult if the instructions are followed carefully. The links here lead to two documents which describe the set up procedures for flying with the Club and VATSIM:   Using Squawkbox   Using FSInn

It is well worth looking at, and bookmarking VATSIM's own Pilot Resource Centre, which contains all you ever need to know about VATSIM, and more.

Setting up your IVAO System

Getting started with IVAO, like VATSIM, requires installation of a special application to connect the pilot to the IVAO servers via Flight Simulator´s inbuilt multiplayer function. IVAO has only one Pilot Client - "IVAP". The link to download IVAP can be found on the Software Downloads page. IVAO´s website is organised differently to VATSIM´s, so it is best to start at the IVAO Home page and browse the menus. Of particular interest (and importance) initially would probably be "About IVAO/Rules and Regulations".

Pre-flight Planning

Much of the fun - perhaps even 50% of the fun - is in planning your flight. Even before you decide where to go, you need to plan things like:

  • What aircraft am going to fly?
  • Does it carry enough fuel to get there?
  • Can I land there, even if I can get there?

These questions and many others are covered in a number of links and downloads on our Preflight Planning page.

Flying Online

A useful exercise for those with previous experience of flight simulator but new to the Club and VATSIM is to work through our Flying Online training course. This is a series of ten tutorials prepared by the Cix VFR Club which takes the new pilot from a "sitting, watching and listening" exercise, to flying into a major regional airport, on line and with live Air Traffic Control. The course introduces members to online ATC and enables them to learn at their own pace how to use it. Each lesson consists of a Groundschool section on aviation law and theory, (not heavy, but essential for flying on line), a discussion on flight planning, and a practical exercise to fly using the information in the lesson. Don't worry that the lessons are tailored for VATSIM - they are equally valid for IVAO.

Talking to Air Traffic Control

The use of voice communications adds a great deal of realism to the Flightsim world. Pilots feel the same pressure to perform properly as do real world pilots. To help members, we have produced a comprehensive manual of Air Traffic Control information for VATSIM pilots. It is much more than just a list of what to say and when to say it (and the replies you can expect from Air Traffic Controllers). It is based on the latest real world practice, adapted for use on VATSIM and IVAO. Every Club pilot should have his own copy!