First Flight on PilotEdge
If you’re looking for some suggestions to get started, here is a short, simple flight you can try from a non-towered airport (Sunnyside, 1S5) to a towered airport (Yakima McAllister, KYKM) in a single engine training aircraft (a Cessna 172 or Piper Warrior, for example).
We specifically have you start from a non-towered airport so that you can connect to the network and get in the air without speaking with ATC first. Your first actual ATC interaction will be in mid-air as you begin your arrival at Yakima a few minutes after take off.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Optional: conduct a radio check by setting COM1 and COM2 radios to 123.45, with both radios enabled for receiving. Make a quick radio transmission. You should hear yourself (via the COM2 radio). Alternatively, you can park on the ramp at a towered airport (such as KSBP) and call ground for a radio check. Note: as of Sep 2020, most aircraft in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 are unable to do this due to inoperative audio panels which don’t allow you to toggle both radios for receiving. Instead, consider conducting at radio check with YKM ground while parked at the airport if needed, then relocate to Sunnyside to begin the flight.
- Open the Seattle Sectional chart and locate Sunnyside, 1S5, or use this shortcut to Skyvector.com.
- position your aircraft at 1S5 on the ramp (NOT a runway or taxiway, remember, other people might be flying, too)
- listen to the Sunnyside AWOS (frequency 123.67, assuming your simulator supports it) and note the weather conditions and altimeter setting
- set your altimeter to the correct setting
- tune to COM1 radio to published frequency for 1S5 (122.90)
- set the Yakima tower in the standby frequency: 133.25
- taxi to the runway of your choice. Once holding short, make the call on 122.90: “Sunnyside traffic, Cessna 123AB taking off runway [runway number], departing northwest, Sunnyside.”
- once clear of the pattern at Sunnyside, you can swap COM1 to Yakima tower frequency (133.25)
- once estabished on your route to Yakima, tune the Yakima ATIS frequency (125.25) in COM2 and enable listening. Alternatively, if your sim does not model a working COM2, you can use COM1 for ATIS after leaving the pattern at Sunnyside.
- make a note of the weather, altimeter setting, runway(s) in use, NOTAMs and ATIS code (broadcast at the beginning and end of the ATIS)
- approximately 10nm from Yakima, make the call, “Yakima tower, Cessna 123AB 10 miles southeast, landing with [atis code]”
- you’ll probably hear, “Cessna 3AB, Yakima tower, report left base runway 27.” Do not enter the YKM Class Delta (4nm radius of the airport up to 3600ft MSL) without first established 2-way communications with the tower.
- respond: “report left base for runway 27, Cessna 3AB”
- line up for a left base for runway 27 (one 90 degree turn left before being on final), then make the call, “tower, Cessna 3AB, left base 27.”
- you’ll probably hear, “Cessna 3AB, wind [winds], runway 27 cleared to land.”
- respond: “cleared to land runway 27, Cessna 3AB”
- land the plane, and exit wherever it’s convenient for you unless tower instructs you to exit at a specific place as you slow down on the roll out
This is a dynamic environment. Tower may give you a straight in approach to runway 27, or a different runway due to wind. The controller may also ask where you will be parking after you land. Be ready for some slight variations from the above script and if you get caught off guard, don’t be afraid to ask the tower to “say again.”
Feel free to repeat this flight, and other similarly simple flights as an ice-breaker to become comfortable flying online with ATC.
If you’ve completed the First Flight and are looking for a structured program to work thorough, check out the very popular VFR CAT Ratings and IFR I-Ratings programs. Both of those programs step you through a logical series of flights that help you learn the ropes of VFR and IFR flying.
Here’s a video of a flight conducted by Matt Williams, a PilotEdge user, showing the flight described above.
(Editorial Note: CTAF = Common Traffic Advisory Frequency)