Why We Do This

Ira Robinson

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Why We Do This
« on: April 18, 2017, 08:45:48 pm »
Folks, we received a note today from one of our favorite VA's letting us know the results of one of their local events, and thanking us for doing what we do.  For those of you who question why we do this, read this, and try to remember that when a plan comes together, regardless of what it takes, there is nothing better than when everyone is having fun.   

This letter highlights the actions of a couple of ARTCC's, but we all know that all of use have, from time to time, scrambled to make things happen.  So I suggest you all take some joy in the actions of your brother controllers that are described here.  We all know someone who has been there, done that, and made someone's day by simply controlling somewhere, sometime, when least expected.   Enjoy....

------
Don,


My name is Terry Stilling, and I am the VP of events for joinava.org. On Monday April 17, AvA along with Delta Virtual planned a little combined group flight into KLAS from KDEN and KELP. We invited SWA virtual and United Virtual to join our little group flight into KLAS. We decided, with the help of ZLA, that we would split the flights into 2 streams. AvA and SWAv would depart KELP, and DVA and UALv would depart from KDEN. All ARTCC's were informed a month in advance and a Banner was created and provided to the ARTCC's to display, showcasing our little event.

Well as the time came to fly the event, I was shocked to see that about 120+ pilots had logged in and decided to join us and invade KLAS. This was unreal, not in a million years would I think our little event on Monday would attract so MANY pilots. S
o at this time I would like to send you a letter recognizing the abilities of several ARTCC's with in VATUSA.

First, I would like to thanks KZAB for providing outstanding ATC, especially since they were short staffed and only had 2 controllers show up. These 2 controllers did a fantastic job of Delivery all the way up to Center. They had over 40+ pilots depart from KELP, and several others from within their respective ARTCC. They maintained control and separation even though an army of pilots were throw at them.

Secondly, I would like to thank KZDV. They showed up with all the controllers needed to staff every position all the way up to center, and boy did they need it. I took a quick glance and saw that they had over 55+ pilots filed for departure from KDEN. Their ability and confidence was shining on this night as they got all those aircraft off the ground and separated. Just like KZAB, they had to contend with pilots departing other airports within their ARTCC, and they did it without missing a beat.

Lastly, I would like to recognize KZLA. I sent ZLA an email about a month before the "little" event, and instantly Nick Christopher contacted me and together we worked out proper flows into KLAS to provide little to no holds and simultaneous landing on intersection runways. Nick coordinated the event with the other ARTCC's and obtained some ATC for our arrival into KLAS.   When I say "obtained" I really meant that he brought out the big guns!! ZLA, provided 3 Center controllers, 3 approach controllers, 2 tower controllers, 2 ground controllers and a delivery controller. They all were needed for this "little" event. KZLA, just like all ARTCC's, were professional and patient with all the pilots that were thrown at them. They showed that they could handle all the traffic thrown at them and keep us separated, as though this was their real job!!

I would like to thank VATUSA, for keeping a high standard for the Air Traffic Controllers, it was that standard that really shined through last night. To all ATC's on VATSIM I say thank you for giving us pilots the realism and feeling of what it would be like to fly.
Thanks also to all the VA's that flew with us and to the independent pilots that joined in, I hop all had as much fun as I did.

Terry Stilling,
VP events joinava.org
------
Ira Robinson
VATUSA4

Sergio Lopez

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Re: Why We Do This
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2017, 09:34:06 am »
From reading this, I can see were point of views are different.

From my point of view (in the last 1/4 of flights out of Denver, it was a mess. Unnecessary holds, missing phraseology, high approach into Vegas (had to dive for the runway after given a visual 5 miles from the field at 6000 ft), taxi confusion in Vegas, long delay due to using only one runway at Denver (15 in line at one point, took 65 minutes to get off the ground). And the list goes on and on.

Some of the DVA pilots that were stuck with me on that conga line can attest to this. I almost went and finished my flight offline. Took 3.2 hours to get from Denver to Las Vegas: https://www.deltava.org/pirep.do?id=0x13aa86

If you click route on that flight report's map, you can see the unnecessary holds. I know events like this can cause delays, but I didn't see a reason for all the holds. At the end all it caused was a giant 100 NM gap between me and the plane in front.

Again, this was from my perspective and that of others stuck on the same line. Nothing against the controllers that night, it just wasn't great for us.
Sergio Lopez
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Rick Rump

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Re: Why We Do This
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2017, 09:44:49 am »
I thought the event went well (Minus the fact my FSDT KLAS did not load up the 19s, no more trying those I guess. Wasted a good flight   >:() -- Though I feel like an event like this should have been submitted for inclusion on here so it could have gotten more pilots (Though I would imagine there was more than enough traffic :)).
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Dhruv Kalra

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Re: Why We Do This
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2017, 11:47:21 am »
While this is a fantastic warm fuzzy story, the dissenting opinion serves to illustrate the unfortunate downside of events such as this: "conga line" style events place an inordinate burden on ATC.

I'm not trying to be a buzzkill here, but what the VAs really ought to consider doing rather than flying a 60-ship single-file line from point A to B, is to actively reach out to the ARTCCs which cover your defined hub/focus airports, and organize a recurring or rotating "Hub spotlight" event. Essentially, take an arrival and departure bank at the hub, and simulate flights coming and going from/to every which way, which is not only far more immersive for the controllers, but it prevents congestion at the origin airports and allows your pilots to feel like they're a cog in the machine.

ZAU (ORD), ZFW (DFW), ZNY (JFK/PHL), ZAB (PHX), ZTL (CLT) and ZLA (LAX) for AvA

ZTL (ATL), ZNY (JFK/LGA), ZMP (MSP), ZLC (SLC), and ZLA (LAX) for DVA

120 operations would be even more impressive if they weren't between the same two fields!
Dhruv Kalra
ZMP ATM | Instructor | VATSIM Network Supervisor

Daniel Everman

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Re: Why We Do This
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2017, 12:31:55 pm »
From my point of view (in the last 1/4 of flights out of Denver, it was a mess. Unnecessary holds, missing phraseology, high approach into Vegas (had to dive for the runway after given a visual 5 miles from the field at 6000 ft), taxi confusion in Vegas, long delay due to using only one runway at Denver (15 in line at one point, took 65 minutes to get off the ground). And the list goes on and on.

Some of the DVA pilots that were stuck with me on that conga line can attest to this. I almost went and finished my flight offline. Took 3.2 hours to get from Denver to Las Vegas: https://www.deltava.org/pirep.do?id=0x13aa86

To play devil's advocate, when you have 50+ planes shooting out of an airport for the same destination, delays like that should be expected and planned for.  There's no way that the departure rate could have been upped significantly without causing issues with ZDV/ZLC meeting the MIT requirement that was set.

I second Dhruv's point that VAs should focus on spreading out traffic instead of trying to set a record for longest high-tonnage conga line.  At least in my opinion it's a lot more fun merging arrival streams (especially in a final box) than it is to sequence a conga line.
Daniel Everman
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Ira Robinson

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Re: Why We Do This
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2017, 02:36:41 pm »
I am amazed at the buzz-kill going on here.  A VA plans a small Monday night event, goes to the trouble of preplanning flight routes in an attempt to control work flow, and then shows up to the even to find more than twice as many aircraft as expected.  So what happened?  A few calls were made, some controllers were rounded up, and what started out as a small VA sponsored fly-in turned into a significant event with over 100 pilots taking part.

The VA then write a letter thanking everyone for participating and for the time energy and efforts put into making their little fly-in more fun than they could have anticipated.

It’s what happens next that just kills me.  A complaint, an observation and a proposed solution. For what started out as a small fly-in.
We start by hearing from a pilot who was unhappy.  It doesn’t matter why they are unhappy, if it isn’t them for one reason it will be another pilot for another reason.

The next comment isn’t even about the event, but about the fact that it wasn’t publicized properly in order to attract more pilots.  Even though the intent all along was for this to be a VA sponsored small fly-in. It was never meant to attract FNO type traffic.

Let’s see, next we have an idea put forth on what would be a better idea for an event that wouldn’t put such pressure on ATC.  Actually Dhruv, I think this would be a great idea if we could guarantee that 100 plus aircraft will show up.  It’s a no brainer for an FNO in my mind but, quite frankly, all this “event” was about was a VA doing some flying on what is usually a quiet Monday night.  Now if you want to start this discussion in another thread it would certainly be worth discussing.

So let’s see if I have this right.  A VA hosts a fly-in that turns into a FNO like event on a Monday night when no one expects it.  Local ATC across three ARTCC’s respond as best they can with a limited Monday night crew of controllers.  The VA sends a thank you note. The Division responds by posting  that thank  you note for all to see.  Calls it service with a smile and pats everyone on the back for a job well done.  And then what usually happens, happens. 

Three senior staff members from three different ARTCC’s find ways to cut this down to size.  To use it to find fault or make a point regarding something entirely apart from all the good things that happened.  All from a simple “thank you”.   You know, I’ve worked with this VA before at the local ARTCC level , and they have a bad habit of attracting many more aircraft  than expected when they decide to fly somewhere. And when they say thank you they mean it.  Not because there may not have been any problems; there’s always a few for whatever the reason, but because they seriously mean just that; Thank You.  You came. You played with us. We all had fun. 

This pickety shiiit just piiises me off and I find it disrespectful to both those controllers who busted their butts during the event, and to the VA for putting it together and appreciating what it is you do. How’s that now. For appreciating what it is that YOU do.

I’m going to put my soapbox away now.  I’m sure many of your will be happy about that because I do get into lecture mode pretty easily lately. I’m also going to close this thread.  I probably should have made it read only in the first place. But before I do, and as someone who is sure that many of you will simply not understand what where and who this comes from, I can only make to me what is an obvious observation.
 
We have seen the enemy, and he is us.
Ira Robinson
VATUSA4