New Pilot, trying to learn airspace/when to get clearance/check in

Hi all, been playing Flight Sim on and off for a good few years, starting with FS9. I’m decent with the phraseology and controlling the planes and that kind of thing, but I’ve only ever used the ATC in game and kind of mashed buttons when getting clearances for different airspace and such.

Before I get started with my first non-observer flight, I’m trying to get how to read the charts down so I can at least tell when I’m entering something and go from there. I plan on doing VFR in the smaller planes, airliners don’t interest me much.

Besides communicating that I’m new to Vatsim and might need some hand holding, I’m wondering when it’s appropriate to check in or get clearance for different airspaces. I’m assuming it’s better to check in when it might not be needed than to not check in at all?

I know clearance needs obtained prior to actually entering it, but should I start out by just always requesting clearance and letting ATC tell me if I actually need it or not depending on my altitude or how should I approach that while I’m getting airspaces down? I plan on starting in low population areas to make it easier on everyone while I’m figuring this all out.

It depends where you plan to be flying. It can vary a lot around the world.

Whoops, probably should’ve included that. Plan on starting around the Sioux Falls, SD area, staying close to there at first.

As an overall tip, check out the VATSIM Pilot Resource Center. They’ve put a lot of effort into compiling a staggering amount of information into reasonably-sized chunks.

This page of the PRC goes through all the various classes of airspace in the States and how they’re depicted on US sectional charts. Suffice to say that classes A-D require ATC clearance for IFR and VFR operations (except Class A, since there’s no VFR there). Class E and G airspace is found around non-towered airports where there is no requirement to get a clearance into or out of there except when basic VFR weather minima are not present.

Well, relating to what I said above, if you plan to land or depart from a towered airport, you’ll have to check in with the controller having jurisdiction over the field, usually it’s the tower controller at the airport, but due to VATSIM’s top-town policy, if there’s no tower controller online, but there’s an approach or center controller online that covers that airport, you’ll need to check in with them.

Best policy is to peruse the PRC. There’s a lot to unpack in your questions, and your quest for knowing this stuff before you log onto the network is admirable. Learn what you can at the PRC, then bring an airplane that you’re comfortable with online and go for it. Be prepared to sound new and to sound like you don’t know what you’re doing–we’ve all been there.

Additionally, Boston ARTCC runs a WINGS program which is geared toward someone who already knows their aircraft, but wants to figure out how to fit into the national airspace system. Sounds like you might be a good candidate for this. Click here for more info

submit your vfr flight plan and bark down radio to any centre/radar/tower/appr which could be relevant, you will soon be told what to do… :+1:

oh and forgot ground as well… :joy: