I have had this scenario unfold a few times and I’m wondering what (if anything) Vatsim might have in mind to improve it…
The situation is typically like this: It is a weekend evening, and a North American ARTCC is having an ‘event’. They are staffed up as much as they can get and there is a lot of traffic because everyone wants to fly in a region with more complete coverage.
BUT, the controllers are stressed, the center is divided into multiple control sectors which are not obvious to pilots (this is a real problem for pilots departing from Class D and using top-down… Which center freq to call?).
At a class D the pilot dials up what they hope is the right overhead controller and of course they are wrong and get handed a new freq. This isn’t a huge deal, but it is a waste of time for the controller and the pilot. Is there a way this could be better documented so Pilots could better initiate this discussion when multiple Center sectors are online?
Continuing on however, the stress levels of controllers during these events can get straight up unpleasant, again, especially if you’re not in their main flow for the event. To me this seems like it works against the intent of having an event.
How often have we heard a controller have to delay or refuse something an use the ‘we’re hosting an event’ as the reason why? What purpose does that serve? “Everyone come to this event, we can’t wait to be unable to assist you!” (just poking a little fun there, don’t take it too seriously - but, a nugget of truth…)
Is the intent to get people flying and talking and interacting and having fun? Or is the intent of the event to find out which controller is going to snap at someone because there are 50 pilots stomping on each other trying to check-in or get a specific clearance?
I don’t fly on network a lot, but when I do I of course (and everyone else) wants to have as much coverage as possible, but it seems like every time I find myself operating near one of these events it ends up being a negative experience. I’ve never personally been chewed out by a controller, but I’ve sure heard it happen plenty of times to other pilots, usually during an event. And usually for something that wouldn’t have been a big deal on a normal day.
So if you’ve kept reading this long (sorry, I’m old school, I believe in complete thoughts)… What could be done to make these things better? I know they are already running maximum staffing for these events, so its not like they can just pull in more guys and relieve the guy who is loosing his cool. And of course nobody can prevent pilots from swarming… But as is, I really don’t see what these events are intended to accomplish. Every time I’ve been near one I hear it getting ugly. And if I was on my first day in the network, I think I’d probably leave and not return, which I don’t think is anyone’s goal.