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First VATSIM Flight

Introduction

    This will be a detailed walkthrough of how to conduct an IFR flight on VATSIM from Fresno (KFAT) to San Francisco (KSFO).

Route & Chart

    Route: FRES5.CZQ.MOD2.

    These charts can easily be obtained through AirNav.com.

  • Fresno airport chart
  • FRES5 departure.
  • MOD2 arrival.
  • Quiet Bridge 28L/R.
  • San Francisco airport.

Ready to Roll

  • Position your aicraft on the ramp at Fresno THEN connect to VATSIM.
  • Send your IFR flight plan, using the route FRES5.CZQ.MOD, cruising at FL240
  • Obtain your IFR clearance from ATC, take note of the runway to expect, most likely 29R. Prepare your navigation systems to minimize your workload once airborne. Initial flight will be on runway hdg, ATC will vector you to CZQ. Departing CZQ, you'll be joining the 305 radial outbound to join the MOD R-093 inbound.
  • Set the autopilot HDG to 290. Set the autopilot altitude to 5000, your intial altitude from your IFR clearance. Set NAV1 to CZQ (112.90). Set NAV2 to MOD (114.60), set the NAV2 OBS to 273.

Flying the Departure

  • Taxi to the active and obtain your takeoff clearance. On the climbout, engage the autopilot HDG mode and ALT mode. Take care not to exceed 250kts in the climb until you are above 10,000ft.
  • Check in with departure, remembering to give your current altitude. You will most likely be given a right turn, direct to CZQ, climbing to 12,000ft.
  • Use the HDG mode on the autopilot to execute the turn towards CZQ, reset the ALT mode to read 12,000ft.
  • Set the NAV1 OBS such that the needle is centered with a TO flag showing. Engage LNAV mode of autopilot to track towards the CZQ VOR.

Flying the Arrival

  • Departing CZQ, set the OBS to 305. The autopilot should track the 305 radial for you. Approaching 12,000ft, Fresno Departure will hand you off to Oakland Center, who will send you up to your final altitude. Reset your ALT mode to the assigned altitude.
  • Around 45 miles past CZQ, set the autopilot hdg to 280 and switch to HDG mode. Switch to NAV2. Engage the LNAV mode. As you approach 47 DME, the needle should begin to center, and the aircraft will turn to join the radial.
  • You are now tracking the MOD R-095 inbound. Expect Center to issue an instruction to cross CEDES at 11,000ft at 250kts. Set the autopilot ALT to 11,000ft and engage it when you're ready to start your descent. As you begin your descent, inform Center that you're doing so by saying "leaving FL240 for 11,000".
  • Passing over MOD, set autopilot HDG to 245 and engage the HDG mode. Set the NAV2 OBS to 245 and engage the LNAV autopilot mode to track the MOD R-245 outbound.
  • Sometime before CEDES, Center will hand you off to Norcal Approach. Approach will give you the runway and approach to expect. For this example, let's assume it's the Quiet Bridge Visual 28R approach (see the charts above).
  • Departing CEDES, Approach will say "fly heading 240, descend and maintain 6,000ft, join the Quiet Bridge visual approach course, report the bridge in sight".
  • Set the autopilot to HDG to 240, engage the HDG mode. Set the ALT to 6,000" and engage the ALT mode. Adjust your speed as required by ATC.
  • Reviewing the Quiet Bridge chart, the goal is to join the SFO R-095 inbound. Set the NAV1 to SFO (115.80) and set the OBS to 275. Engage the LNAV mode on the autopilot. LNAV will be ARMED. As the NAV1 needle begins to center, the autopilot will swap from HDG mode to LNAV mode. You will be tracking the SFO R-095 inbound.
  • When the field or bridge is in sight, let ATC know immediately. You will hear "cleared quiet bridge visual 28R approach, contact tower 120.50".
  • Check in with the tower, you'll be cleared to land. As you come to a stop on the runway, ATC will tell you which direction to exit and send you to SFO ground frequency.
  • Contact ground, and follow their instrucitons, which are likely to simply be "taxi to the gate". Make sure you squawk standby as you clear the runway.