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pilot100ll
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So I've finished my entire hardware setup and I'm ready to install 3rd party add-ons. My first choice on the list is an ATC add on. I have both P3D v3 & v4 and FSX Gold with the acceleration pack. I have been reading about the many different ATC add ons out there such as VATSIM, RADAR CONTACT, PF3, PILOT EDGE etc..... What I want to know is a two fold question. #1) Which ATC add on is the most realistic in regards to true G/A aviation? #2) Is or does the ATC preference provide coverage in my neck of the woods which is the eastern USA (Cleveland Center)?

 

I tried Vatsim a long time ago and what I recall was that it was very (IFR) only supported. Of course the controllers would help VFR but not with pleasure. Maybe now things have changed. Anyone's thoughts? I also looked into PILOT EDGE and see that this program is mainly on the US West Coast.

 

If there are any recommendations out there I am all ears. I am a real G/A pilot looking to make my sim as realistic from the ground up on a real life budget. I don't mind spending the $$$$ to get the best experience however I am not going to waste my time on stuff that does not work. My sim is to keep me current when I can't fly. Being VFR only in the Cleveland area is frustrating because of the lake and all the weather concerns we have here. That's why I need it as realistic as I can. I also need the ATC practice. My instructor was not very helpful in ATC communication. He bred a fear in students that "ATC" is out to get you. Stay away from their airspace. Since I received my pilot license in 2005, I have been struggling with the instructors advice. To get over my phobia I actually visited one of my local ATC towers and spent a few hours bending their ears and gaining the comfort level I needed to communicate with them. Now I want to do the same, in the privacy of my own home and learn what I've been missing out on all these years.

 

So help me with your suggestions as to the most realistic ATS add on out there. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.

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Hi, in my opinion Radar Contact is still one of the most stable ATC addons but it focus mainly on IFR (I think you can use it reasonably or VFR flights but you'd have to check their manual online). I've flown also with PFE (now superseeded by a more recent version) and it was nice for VFR too, but again, I used it mainly for IFR. It wasn't as stable as RC. In fact sometimes it just refused to work (i.e. compile the flight), so I went back to RC for those flights. I also enjoy using the default ATC for VFR, incidentally. Not much help here, I know. 

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I've been using VoxATC 6 for a couple of years now, and find it good for both VFR and IFR.  It has its limitations, but is intended for training in radio procedures for real world.  A new version, VoxATC 7 is in Beta now.  I know some swear by Multi Crew Experience which apparently can apply voice recognition to the default ATC, but I've not tried it.  I have used Pilot Edge when flying on the west coast, and it's quite good.  The other online ATC services are not operational during the time I have free to use my sim.

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If you're going to fly into or out of controlled airports (such as my "home base, KFRG), you need ATC to talk to approach, tower and ground.  Doing without is just not realistic and quickly gets boring.

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PF3, Pilot2ATC and ProATC/X are all P3Dv4 compatible. The first two have demos and support VFR as well as IFR. The latter has no demo and is focused on IFR.

 

VOXATC also does both VFR and IFR but it's latest beta (demo is available) is still only P3Dv3 compatible (at the moment)

 

RadarContact is a long dead product but does both VFR and IFR and manages to still work with P3Dv4

 

Multi Crew Experience provides voice interaction/recognition for several ATC products including default ATC, PF3 and RadarContact 

Edited by paj
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Doug Sawatsky!  ATC is very important for VFR is you fly around a lot of urban areas.  So many control zone requirements that you must be in contact with ATC. This would also apply to individuals who fly around Military basis as well. Visual Flight Rules does not mean you disregard ATC requirements.  But!  One for your sake is if you live in an area say Montana were there is a whole lot of nothing as far as cities, towns and multiple militry basis, you really don't talk to ATC. Nothing to talk about........  LOL

 

Before I went to flight school in the US Army, I was under the same impression as you mentioned.

 

:)

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VFR refers only to navigation, in that you navigate the aircraft by visual reference to the ground or water......

 

ATC or communication requirements are specific to the airspace classification and / or altitude.... for example, I fly from an aerodrome in a class D control zone, so 2-way communication with ATC is a pre-requisite of operating in this area, and yes we are encouraged to fly VFR and advise ATC when necessary.......I believe this is the same rules with the FAA in US.

Edited by tmarshall
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I'm just using default ATC, but it does an OK job.  It passes you along to the next controller and calls out traffic, which is a large part of real life VFR communications.  It does an OK job with airport comms too.

 

Don't be afraid of real life ATC, they are not "out to get you".  VFR flight following is great!  You have someone looking out for you, not to the extent of IFR, but they will still call out traffic, warn you of airspace or terrain, keep your altimeter setting current, and provide assistance quicker if you have an emergency.

 

ATC is much more likely to keep you out of trouble than to get you into trouble.

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On 7/24/2017 at 10:22 AM, pilot100ll said:

I tried Vatsim a long time ago and what I recall was that it was very (IFR) only supported. Of course the controllers would help VFR but not with pleasure. Maybe now things have changed. Anyone's thoughts? I also looked into PILOT EDGE and see that this program is mainly on the US West Coast.

 

Give it another look.  It certainly is the most interactive, and with the right people on the other end, the most realistic.  I know the NY area is frequently covered.  Pilotedge is the crown jewel of interactive realism, but yes it is geographically limited.  Although they are doing the quite the expansion as of late.  Keith Smith, the founder, is an east coast guy, so I can imagine it is on his radar.

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I've tried VATSIM again, after many many years away from it, and damn, it can be utterly realistic. I've made a flight during an ATC event, from Lisbon to De Gaulle with control all the way, it sounded like I was in the jumpseat. ATC controllers online are top these days.

 

The BEST online experience I've ever experienced was a flight from Lisboa to the Azores islands during another ATC event which included oceanic procedures: you needed to contact santa maria oceanic on the HF radio to request their clearance, giving an ETA to the first oceanic route waypoint, then go back to lisboa control on VHF. Then when your radar service was terminated and you entered oceanic control, you needed to send a message on each route waypoint to the controller following a standardized form: present position, flight level, mach nr, ETA at next waypoint, and waypoint after that. The controller couldn't see me, like in real life, only used those reports to estimate locations - and call on aircraft that forgot to report back at the time announced. It was a whole different kind of flying. Then when we appeared on the radar, closer to the destination, we were assigned a squawk and were finally identified. Awesome experience. 

 

But unfortunately you have to take advantage of those special events / fly-ins to have controllers with you all the way through the flight.

 

By the way, PF3 simulates oceanic communications, including selcal tones (another great bonus for highfliers besides having lots of different accents assigned to different regions), and its all automatic. I've been doing a lot of long haul monthly for my VA and PF3 should be one of the best for variety.

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By the way, have you tried getting a hand held airband radio? It helps you to train your ear. Also can listen online to some of the major us towers/atc, of course. The radio lets you listen to the nearest ATC from home, though, if your location allows it. And a trick to get over the phobia is to know before hand what you need to say (remember, you're talking standardized phrases and so is the controller, you won't be discussing poetry or philosophy with ATC anytime soo. As soon as you teach your brain what you expect to hear at each phase of flight, it becomes much easier. Even a seasoned pilot can be caught off guard if someone says something non standard and unexpected. If ATC speaks too fast you just ask "say again, slower - student pilot" :). If you're unfamiliar with a waypoint just ask him to spell it.

Edited by ruilaureano
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9 hours ago, ruilaureano said:

By the way, have you tried getting a hand held airband radio? It helps you to train your ear.

You can also listen to ATC from around the world streamed over the internet.

After you're comfortable understanding controllers in various parts of your country, try countries that natively speak english with different accents, (Australia, Barbados, Ireland,)  Next try non-english speaking countries like Mexico, France, Poland, Greece, UAE.  When you are feeling brave, try Tokyo!

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Many thanks to all the replies. You certainly have had a positive impact on my choice of software and downloads. I checked into the VoxATC and i do not see the download for prepar3d (any version) nor the FSX download. anyone know where the download for windows 10 is?

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On the homepage, under the "Download" tab, is the link for downloading the FSX and Prepar3d version2 versions of VoxATC 6, but it does not say anything about running on  running on windows 10. I still run Windows 7, and it works very well.  It's a free 7 day trial, so I suppose you could try it. (http://voxatc.com/Home.aspx/Download) Though I'm sticking with this version for now, if I were new to the program and/or had Windows 10, I'd just go and install the Beta VoxATC 7.3.  This has been around for quite a while now, and is compatible with P3D 3;  my guess (but only a guess) is that the full release has been held up to work out compatibility with Prepar3d 4, and hopefully the release will be before the 60 day effective period of the Beta runs out. If you'd like to do this go the tab "News" on their homepage and follow the instructions. (http://voxatc.com/Home.aspx/News).  You need to install the  "VoxPop" voices too.

 

I haven't heard any feedback on how VoxATC 7 is working; I'm anxious to hear, and looking forward to some of the features that they have announced for the new version.

 

Ken

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If you’re a real world pilot looking to get comfortable with real ATC, I would STRONGLY recommend Pilotedge.  Honestly the coverage area is irrelevant, what’s important is that it supports VFR and IFR communications exactly like the real world, and will get you comfortable talking to real controllers. Plus there’s a bunch of nice ORBX airports to visit within the coverage area.  None of the offline programs will give you the same result.  I’m saying this as a current RW pilot of 20+ years, and a Pilotedge user.

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Try PilotEdge, they offer a free trial. Top notch controllers, and with you being a pilot you know there is nothing quite like pushing your ptt and having a live person answer! They handle VFR/IFR equally well. I know it's not Cleveland but with PilotEdge being out in the West Coast you get to brush up on VFR flying skills transiting the LA Class B and such. They also include VFR/IFR flying challenges where you can achieve ratings.

One last thing is PilotEdge is continually expanding its service area...and no I am not affiliated with PilotEdge in any way. I wish you the best in your atc endeavor.

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39 minutes ago, olderndirt said:

Whether AOPA and other GA groups like it or not, eventually all flying in controlled airspace will require an IFR rating and a suitably equipped aircraft.   

That is a ridiculous statement.  What plausible basis to that do you have?  

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1 hour ago, olderndirt said:

Whether AOPA and other GA groups like it or not, eventually all flying in controlled airspace will require an IFR rating and a suitably equipped aircraft.   

Thats why I am upgrading my hot air balloon to IFR this week. 

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I am a hermit,

This is my world and if I choose to allow other pilots to fly in it I will, otherwise stay away from me.:P

Big Airliners and ATC are the main reasons I became a Bush Pilot.

 

"In the Bush, you can remember your name

Cause there ain't no ATC to cause you no pain":

 

I fly to escape, not to toe the line.

 

Dale  :wacko:Get Out Of My Way:wacko: Evans

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17 hours ago, Kilstorm said:

Thats why I am upgrading my hot air balloon to IFR this week. 

During my ATC years, I never talked to a hot air balloon (couldn't suggest a vector or altitude change).  They became a little problem off the east departure in Anchorage.  Four or five enthusiasts would hang right at SID altitude watching departures.  Technically they were outside our airspace and had the right of way over fixed wing, but floating in the flight path of a 747 loaded for the Orient wasn't too cool.

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