Flying on the VATSIM Network

Now that you have joined VATSIM, it's time to get on line and fly!

Your first flight might see you nervous because you don't want to to make mistakes. Don't fear, every single VATSIM user was new once and we've all made mistakes. VATSIM is a learning environment and encourages flight simulation enthusiasts to learn from one another.


Pilot Clients

To fly on line in the VATSIM network, every virtual pilot needs software known as a "pilot client" to connect their simulator to the VATSIM network. These programs enable communication with the network and transfer important data (e.g. the flight plan, aircraft type and your position and speed) to the network. On the server's side, this data is collated and transmitted to the various pilots and ATC stations in your area.

For MSFS(2020), FSX, and P3D (v4.5 or later) use:

Download - vPilot - Pilot Client for VATSIM (

For FS9(2004), FS2002, and P3D (earlier than v4.5) use:

swift project (

For X-Plane use:

xPilot for VATSIM (


Click on the links above to be taken to the VATSIM website instructions on how to download and install the clients.


Connecting to a VATSIM Server

Simply click on AUTOMATIC to enable a server connection. In vPilot, AUTOMATIC is selected for you.

Tips and tricks

In order to get the most from your network experience, here are some simple tips to help you on your way:


  • Connect only when parked at a gate or parking stand, not at the end of a runway (you don't know if there's another aircraft on final approach, and you might force them to go around) - VATSIM Code of Conduct Clause B(1)
  • Turn 'crash detect' off in your simulator settings (someone else might already be parked at the gate as you join the online session, and your simulator will register this as a crash and terminate your flight)
  • File a flight plan for each flight you make
  • Tune your COM1 radio either to the local controller or, if no controller online, select 122.800 (the worldwide UNICOM frequency) - VATSIM Code of Conduct Clause B(1)
  • Announce your presence to the controller, or if none, via text in the text box in your pilot client - this allows "text only" pilots nearby to "hear" you
  • Squawk TA ONLY (or equivalent Mode C) when manoeuvring on the ground and TA/RA (or equivalent) when lining up on the departure runway 
  • Once you have finished your flight(s), remember to disconnect from the network
  • Be courteous and respectful to other VATSIM members - VATSIM Code of Conduct Clause A(1)


  • Connect while at the end of a runway, whether it is the active runway or not
  • Connect to the network with both a pilot client and controller client at the same time - VATSIM Code of Conduct Clause A(8)(a)
  • Leave your connection unattended for longer than 30 minutes - VATSIM Code of Conduct Clause A(9) - or at all when you are in controlled airspace or expecting to be in controlled airspace (i.e. a VATSIM Controller on line) unless you have clearance to do so - VATSIM Code of Conduct Clause B(3)
  • Declare a hi-jacking or squawk 7500 (the international code for a hijack) - VATSIM Code of Conduct Clause B(8)