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Topics - Spencer Wallace

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The Flight Deck / Back into VATSIM After a Long Break ... A Few Q's
« on: November 07, 2020, 08:47:45 am »
Hi everyone,

I just started getting back into flying on VATSIM after a rather long (10 year) break. I think I still remember most things, but there were a few point that came up as I've been doing IFR flights and interacting with controllers recently that I've been wondering about.

1. Squawking Mode C vs Standby:
I always thought that you were only supposed to keep your transponder in mode C between the takeoff and landing phase, in order to minimize clutter on the approach or center controller's radar. It seems like most of the ground and tower controllers I've interacted recently with ask you to switch to mode C as soon as you're on an active taxiway. Is switching to mode C as soon as I'm moving the standard, expected thing to do?

2. Altitude Check-in After Takeoff
Shortly after takeoff, the tower will hand you over to departure. After switching frequencies, you would check in with the departure controller and tell them your current altitude, and they would confirm 'radar contact'. In the case where the departure controller is also handing tower (and possibly ground ops) at the airport, there is no frequency change after takeoff. In that case, am I supposed to give the controller (unprompted) an altitude reading once I'm airbone, or do I wait for them to ask for it?

3. Ramp Control and Gate Assignments
This doesn't usually come up, but I was flying during the FNO event last night into a fully staffed airfield and realized I don't really understand how this works. On final approach, the tower asked me what gate I was going to, and I had no idea. How does one decide which gate to choose, and then how are you supposed to find it (given the fact that the airport diagram doesn't really show any kind of info about gate locations)? Also, is there a link somewhere that explains what a usual interaction with the ramp controller is supposed to look like? In particular, I was a little confused about when to switch between the ground and the ramp frequency.

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