Boston Virtual ARTCC is home to a diverse group of almost 4,000 members who live all around the world. We are proud to have many commercial, private, and student pilots, flight simulation enthusiasts, and FAA and other real-world air traffic controllers as active members of our community. If your interest in simulation has led you to seek out the most realistic and professional pilots and air traffic controllers that can be found online, you'll find a home here.

We've enlisted the help of some of our members to help share the perspective of what it's like to be part of BVA. Scroll down to view:

  1. How BVA can help with post-PPL training – Jeremy ('jrvalent'), Private Pilot (ASEL), IFR
  2. BVA for Aviation Enthusiasts and Flight Simulator Users – Domenic ('leadbottom1'), Aviation Enthusiast
  3. The value of BVA as a training aid – Jay ('JKLovelace'), CFII
  4. What it means to be in a community of aviation experts – Tim ('jumpstartation'), Canadian Private Pilot (ASEL)
  5. An FAA controller's perspective on BVA – Luke ('ShyFlyGuy'), FAA Controller (KTUL)
  6. What BVA can do for pilots who aren't even old enough to drive! – Jon ('Chickiee88') and Josh ('Sidewinderr54'), Pre-Solo
The Benefits of BVA for Student Pilots
David B. - Commercial Pilot (ASEL), IFR, 180 Total Hours
I’ve been a member of BVA since 2009, a little under a year after I’d started getting into FSX. BVA was the first online ATC community that I joined, and from where I stand today, seven years later, the benefits of my involvement with BVA over the years still persist. I am now a commercial pilot (ASEL w/Instrument Rating) with close to 200 flight hours working towards my multi-engine rating.

I had very little virtual flying experience (and no real-world flying time) when I joined BVA, but it was the perfect platform for me to expand my knowledge of aviation and to simulate a realistic flying experience, which is exactly what I wanted to do. Soon after joining, I began learning the basics of flying including ATC terminology, flight planning, airspace dynamics, and much more. I improved as a pilot and furthered my interest in aviation with BVA to the point that I finally felt ready to begin flying for real.

I began private pilot training in June of 2012, just after my 17th birthday. Thanks to my experience with BVA, I had already learned about half of what the private pilot course curriculum covered, making many of the ground lessons merely a review for me. I already knew about ILS approaches, pattern entries, VOR navigation, and ATC terminology before I even started training! Because of this, I was able to earn my private pilot certificate in less than two months, and my instrument rating the following year in about the same amount of time. I attribute most of this success towards my time spent flying in FSX on the BVA network.

My experience with BVA has saved me lots of time AND money during my flight training and has instilled in me a confidence as a pilot that I would say still exists today. I’ve always been impressed by the efforts of the BVA administration over the years and will forever be grateful for the benefits of my involvement with this community.
How BVA can help with post-PPL training
Jeremy V. - Private Pilot (ASEL), IFR, 200 Total Hours

I joined BVA in December, 2011. At the time, I’d had my PPL for just over a year and was about halfway through my Instrument rating. Today, I have almost 200 total hours, including 15 multi hours, 50 simulated IFR hours, and 10 actual IFR hours. I’ve flown both single and multi-engine DA40, PA28, BE76, and C172 aircraft into the smallest of the small uncontrolled airports and into large, commercial fields including KIAD and KMDW. BVA has been incredibly helpful in preparing me for those experiences.

When I was looking at communities to join, the materials on BVA’s website convinced me this community would be an excellent additional training tool to aid me in my IFR training. Since then, I’ve found BVA provides a safe and realistic environment to introduce pilots to new and difficult scenarios.  From IFR approaches at minimums to radio communications that range from basic VFR requests to complex IFR clearances spoken at a mile a minute, BVA is an exceptional forum to feel comfortable shooting that NDB approach that looks just a 'bit too intimidating' to do in real life.

One great example of how BVA has helped me with my own training occurred at 80D (Harrison, MI). Remembering what I’ve learned from my BVA Pilot Ratings Program flights and my IFR training, I felt confident in filing my first solo IFR departure from an uncontrolled field. The IFR clearance through the FSS was unclear and I ended up confusing Minneapolis Center when I finally got airborne. A few days later, I was talking to an FAA controller and a CFII through BVA. We agreed that the clearance made no sense, and that in future, I need to be pushier to get a clearance that makes sense. BVA gave me the confidence to try that departure for the first time, and the information I needed to figure out what I need to improve the next time I try it.

Eventually I plan to make a few bucks back from my investment in training.  Ideally I plan to get my CFII and do some freelance instruction, and hopefully use that as a nice source of income during retirement.  I believe BVA will continue to be an integral part in reaching that goal, both with providing a forum to practice commercial flight maneuvers and also gaining teaching and instruction experience as an ATC mentor for our controller staff.

The best thing about BVA for me is the social aspect of the tight-knit community BVA promotes. The process of joining BVA is simple. The community is accepting of all users (young, old, new, and experienced—it doesn’t matter). These are things you can't get from any other multiplayer gaming experience.

Read the full interview.
BVA for Aviation Enthusiasts and Flight Simulator Users
Domenic R. - Aviation Enthusiast
Domenic is a long-time BVA member with no real-world aviation experience. While a big part of BVA’s membership includes student and rated pilots, aviation enthusiasts—some of whom have never spent any time in an aircraft—still find a home with us. In his interview, Domenic talks about BVA for people who would love to learn more about flying without the cost of operating a real plane, or who just want to escape day-to-day life and see for themselves what what flying is all about.

How long have I been a member of BVA? I’ve been a member since before BVA even existed! 7 years ago I was just another pilot/controller logging in to various GameSpy sessions. I eventually ended up being invited to control Boston Ground in a server that seemed more professional and realistic than the others. Shortly thereafter, that server became the original Boston Virtual ARTCC.

Today, I guess my favorite part about the community is being part of something that has really flourished and become more than I could have ever expected. I still enjoy the adrenaline rush controlling larger traffic flows across the New England area and having my frequency flooded with calls.

I’m a bit of a loner but BVA and its members are so friendly and forgiving that over the years of training and learning new things I’ve really developed some confidence on frequency and in real-world interactions that otherwise may have not occurred. I usually don’t feel like I fit in anywhere. But at BVA I feel that I almost do. I believe if you are willing to spend the time you can teach yourself anything. BVA is the perfect place to learn virtually everything you need to know about aviation to have an intelligent conversation with a real world pilot or even a controller.

I absolutely do not believe you have to be a real-world anything to be part of BVA’s membership. All you need be is someone who is interested in flying or providing ATC services and is willing to spend the time to learn new things on a continuous basis. To me, BVA is a place where I can go and experience flying and ATC in a physically and mentally non-threatening environment. It’s a place where I can go to enjoy a challenging hobby, to learn and make mistakes, and to be part of a community that accepts me and tolerates me. BVA is not about real-world but about escaping that, or enjoying something from the real world that could not be enjoyed otherwise in any measure.
 
Read the full interview.
The value of BVA as a training aid
Jay L. - Flight Instructor - Instrument (ASEL), 1000 Total Hours

I have been a member of Boston Virtual ARTCC since nearly the beginning of the community (back when it was still known as Boston Virtual ATC). To me, BVA is the most realistic online flight-environment provided by a community filled with fun, passionate members who continuously explore aviation and better their knowledge. I love the passion for aviation everyone possesses. The eagerness to learn about explore aviation is fantastic. Whether it is pilots learning new procedures or flight techniques or controllers being exposed to various scenarios and learning how to maintain proper positive control of aircraft at all times, BVA is filled with enthusiastic members who love to have fun while also learning and becoming better at what they do.

Today, I’m flight instructing at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). BVA has helped with almost all my flight certificates. I'm a commercial pilot with airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument ratings. I am also a Flight Instructor with airplane single-engine and instrument ratings. Outside of real flight, BVA has provided the most intense, realistic environment to practice real-world flight procedures. I use BVA to keep my skills honed while also being able to practice procedures that I'm not the most familiar with without placing myself at any risk. My various flight instructors have always commented on how advanced my knowledge of aviation and flight procedures has been compared to most others, and I owe a lot of that to the time spent flying and controlling on BVA.

Keeping in mind the technological and personnel limitations of a virtual community like BVA, I would give the ATC staff here a 9. Virtually everything is done based on real-world procedures using real rules from FAA Order 7110.65. Our controllers do a fantastic job following these rules and using the proper procedures to accurately and safely control aircraft. Of course there are controllers who are training and are a bit slower or may not know all the procedures, but it is just like that in the real-world. The phraseology is by far the most realistic online (given some limitations), and real-world procedures are mimicked accurately online. Our center controllers are elite and follow procedures to even the minutest details. These controllers prove why BVA has the most professional, realistic staff out of all online Flight Simulator communities.

Read the full interview.
What it means to be in a community of aviation experts…even when you’re from a different country!
Tim B. - Canadian Private Pilot (ASEL), 73 Total Hours
People often wonder why BVA has such a large group of members from places outside the United States. I’ve seen members from around the world, including Australia, Canada, across Europe, China, New Zealand, and South Korea.

I’m a private pilot out of Oshawa Airport (CYOO) in Ontario, Canada. In my case, I’ve found Boston Virtual ARTCC to be a vital help to me in achieving my private pilot’s licence. While one might assume that the differences that come with crossing the 49th parallel are somewhat major with regards to aviation, it's found that the similarities are in fact much more substantial, with many of the differences being quite trivial.

As is seen with aviation across the planet, the fundamentals of navigation and the raw skill in piloting remain consistent. Whether you’re flying in Europe, Canada, or the United States, you need to know how a VOR works. You need to have confidence talking to ATC. You need to understand how regulations impact what you can and can’t do in an airplane. These principles are shared across borders. Where differences do exist (a prime example being that of radio phraseology), I take them as an opportunity to compare how things are done in the United States with what I’d do at home, and as a chance to prepare for any flying I may do across the border at some point.

Upon joining BVA, also I found that the presence of other Canadians was more pronounced than anticipated. While I’m flying with Boston Approach, I can talk to the controller (who lives about 20 minutes away from me) about his experiences flying in Canada. We compare notes about our flights, training, and cross-country planning on a regular basis.

Now that I have my PPL, I spend most of my time controlling on BVA. I enjoy experiencing busy environments that you can't find in other communities as consistently: sequencing 3 or 4 arrivals onto an ILS, getting everyone a speed restriction, or waiting in line for departure. The busy and congested airspaces are unique; you simply don't find aircraft waiting in line for takeoff or being told that they're number four for landing on other servers as often as you do here.

Read the full interview.
Ask the expert: An FAA controller and BVA member shares his perspective on the community
Luke K. - FAA Air Traffic Controller, Student Pilot, 37 Total Hours
“Flight simulator was a vital training tool in my ongoing journey to becoming a private pilot. I was given several recommendations by simulator friends when joining my first community but found mixed levels of pilot and controller proficiency. Eventually, I did find a multiplayer community where I fit in, they overall were very friendly, accommodating of different skill levels, and had a true interest in helping each other with difficulties and problems. Boston Virtual ARTCC, or BVA, became my multiplayer home and learning environment.”

The above excerpt is from a paper entitled 'Flying a Desk' written by Luke, known by his BVA handle of 'ShyFlyGuy', about the use of FSX as a trainer to be used in hand with real-world training.


Luke joined BVA as a controller-in-training at KTUL (Tulsa, Oklahoma). Today, Luke is a fully-certified FAA controller, student pilot, and prominent member of our community.

I've found the virtual controllers on BVA to be very helpful and welcoming. They use the same documents and rules as those for real controllers. The government 7110.65, which establishes rules for controlling traffic, is written in a formal legal language, extremely extensive, dry, and too much to ask a virtual controller to know. The BVA SOP takes the important and useful rules from the 7110.65 and combines them with technique, and plain language to establish a quick reference document to start teaching controllers. What takes 2-3 weeks of government training is covered in basic simpler form within BVA’s ATC training materials.

Over my years with BVA, I’ve become much better at flying the simulator and many of the virtual controllers have grown to know my virtual call sign as someone who could have fun, or be serious trying to learn something new. Often I’ll seek out controllers in training and bombard them with complicated, unusual, and odd requests both for my own practice, as well as to increase their opportunity to learn.

I would rate BVA’s ATC instructor staff, administrative team, and center-level controllers a solid 9/10, putting forth lots of hard work and extra time to keep the server going as well as moderating the community and training new controllers.

Read the full interview.
What BVA can do for pilots who aren't even old enough to drive!
Jon A. and Josh W. - Pre-Solo Student Pilots
Both Jon and Josh are pre-solo. Not yet old enough to drive, both BVA members have flown airplanes since they were 13. They were interviewed together to share their perspective on how BVA can help even the youngest of members. While the majority of our members are adults, we receive applications from those as young as 13.


When I joined BVA I already had an idea that I wanted to pursue my PPL, but once I started flying on the server, it pushed me to pursue my PPL a lot harder! BVA keeps me flying on a daily basis. My instructor has acknowledged the fact that I have saved multiple lessons by knowing phraseology and proper communications. The community has helped me get over my "mic fright" and allowed me to become very comfortable with radio communications—whether online or in the plane.


We were both part of other communities (FSX communities and other parts of VATSIM) but once we joined BVA there was no comparison. This place is simply amazing.


Even though I’m only 16 now, I found other servers tended to be full of people who just weren’t interested in simulating to the level of realism I was. It doesn’t matter if you’re 13 or 30, if you want to fly an F18 at 800 knots by the Tower and scream about “Ghostrider”, you would stand out like a sore thumb in a place like this. One of the things I liked best about BVA was that I was in an environment of professionals interested in one thing above all others: realism.


As long as you are a mature person, have a desire to learn, and don’t mind getting occasionally confused for a girl if you have a “soprano voice”, you’ll find a home here. People my age and those in their 80s sound just as realistic and professional. Occasionally you’ll get a really young kid—a 13-year-old who clearly doesn’t have the same motivations as we do—and the server administrators are very good about making sure that those people either find the right motivation and shape up, or find a new community.


BVA is a community with the most realistic ATC and helpful people you can find. It’s a great big family: you’re not a number here.


I am so grateful for BVA and wouldn't be where I am, or who I am without it. I have had so many wonderful experiences on here, and I wouldn't trade them for the world. There are many people who really put their heart and souls into this community and really make it what it is. They continue to inspire me every day, and my experiences here have shown me that you can do anything you put your mind to.


Read the full interview.

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