Looking to fly the pattern or get clearance through the bravo for some sightseeing? Have found VATSIM to be overwhelmingly IFR but would love to interact with more student pilots and simulation aviators using dead reckoning and sectional charts across the skies. Auto-pilot strictly discouraged.

Open to ideas on how to best connect…


I’m right with you on that one. I like the idea of VATSIM et al … but typically fly VFR and really have little interest flying IFR procedures. It would be nice to have something for smaller airfields based on VFR practice. You could have no end of fun … I actually ended up in the circuit with an E3 Sentry once upon a time. I was flying a Piper Tomahawk … that was an interesting afternoon (not talking about flightsim here either :laughing:)

I’d also enjoy doing tower sessions for VFR control … if only we had a good tower view for MSFS!

So can’t help with ideas, but I’ll be watching this thread!

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Glad it’s not just me then :-). Would love to find an alternative to VATSIM etc that’s more focused on VFR. I don’t do a great deal of IFR, but something that would allow me to practice some of the real-world VRF procedures and interactions would be brilliant.

I know VATSIM isn’t limited to IFR only, but it is definitely the natural focus of the platform and the controllers, on the few times I’ve flown on VATSIM (only a very few times) I always felt like I was intruding slightly, not that the controllers or others on the network made me feel unwelcome, just felt like I was taking a football onto the cricket pitch.

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I was actually discussing this with a friend who is currently getting his ppl. I would be keen to act as a controller for VFR flights (I fly irl) to help people out with radiotelephony and give a more authentic experience. Never used Vatsim but I can imagine how your feeling @FaintFuzzy when you use it. I’ll have to research Vatsim and see if there is a way to have a VFR only server.


Well that is a bit like in real life. When in a GA plane and on VFR and you want to fly into ATC controlled airspace you have to play by their rules, which are based on safety and getting traffic in and out of their control area. I am PPL even formally IFR rated and yes it is challenging to “play” with the pros in real life and one can get the feeling sometime to be in the way but I have always encountered very accommodating ATCs so the feeling was a bit on my side and sometimes unfounded.

Try Vatsim some more and see if it grows on you. Also I can only recommend the Vatsim academy and the PPL program they run. You learn a lot short of doing your real PPL and there are sessions were you can practice VFR traffic circuits with a l ocal Vatsim ATC away from the international airports.

I’d really love to have some scheduled times to fly in the pattern with multiple GA airplanes at an untowered airport. Very hard to practice this in Vatsim.

To be honest, for VFR ATC absolutely nothing comes close to PilotEdge.

Yes it has some limitations. It’s not free for one, and the base subscription only supports the SOCAL / Vegas area. But even considering these, the ATC experience is spot on. Real life procedures, in probably the most interesting, complex & challenging VFR airspace anywhere.

I highly recommend it.

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Thanks for the recommendation!

I’ve been keeping an eye on VATSIM (a friend flies IFR on it a lot and I sometimes tag along) but there’s almost never a controller online in the areas I typically fly in (Oregon/Washington/Northern California) at the times I typically fly (morning and early evening Pacific time).

The nature of this hobby is that there are only few controllers and few pilots spread out over a simulates world. Which usually results in major hubs being staffed with controllers, which are usually served by airlines, or in the case of our hobby, by virtual airlines. Which of course is all IFR ops.

In real life, smaller airports and less busy airports tend to be VFR only, and controllers are assigned according to their abilities. Again, in VATSIM, IVAO etc. smaller airports are rarely staffed because few virtual pilots would use them and airliners would not fly there (because many fly for virtual airlines on designated routes).

That all said, it is perfectly fine to fly light aircraft at major hubs in VATSIM, even though that would not be possible in real life.

True, most VATSIM controllers are not used to VFR GA traffic, but in the end I found it’s all a matter of communication.

That said, VATSIM controllers usually instruct “proceed as planned”, so the experience is usually not as dense / intense as in real life, especially in high density airspaces such as Europe.

If we all assume that VATSIM simulates traffic right after the first covid lockdowns, it’s probably quite realistic :wink:

VFR only server: I don’t think that’s how VATSIM works. It’s an inclusive network, not an exclusive one.

One approach could be to regularly staff the same VFR airfield with controllers and to promote it in the forums as a VFR training airfield for traffic pattern work etc.

In time, people would know if they want to practice VFR to go to this specific airport.

This is done already. See either Vatstar academy or the individual local Vatsim communities. It is done for VFR, PPL Practice, new Controller practice or just for fun.

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Yep, exactly. :slight_smile:

I fly often around the Manchester area EGCC, mainly from Barton aerodrome EGCB. Good proximity to two busy vatsim airports, EGGP and EGCC so there’s always traffic around. Plus, you’re not far away from Birmingham or Leeds, both airports I see online quite a lot.

There’s loads to learn about the area. You can even learn how to fly the low level route which puts you right underneath the departing / landing traffic at EGCC, EGGP.

Manchester is a busy airport but they do accommodate VFR traffic. There’s a bunch of published information about how to enter and exit the Manchester airspace whilst VFR and the visual reporting points. The controllers on vatsim are clued up too.

I also do a lot of flying around the LA area, VFR. I was flying over the runway numbers the other day at LAX whilst traffic departed below me on vatsim, using their published mini route. You have to learn what you’re doing though or you’ll get in trouble pretty quickly. :slight_smile:

New York also has a low level route you can take up the Hudson. I’ve done that online, too!

Loads of fun!

I usually fly on vatsim as G-TASH in my Cessna, say hello sometime


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The LA mini route over LAX is one of my absolute favorite VFR flights to take with online ATC. You’re right though, you’ve got to be switched on and have your frequencies ready to go as you switch from Hawthorne TWR to LAX TWR to Santa Monica TWR.

That’s a good idea. Thanks for the info. Appreciated. Have a great weekend.