I used to do quite a bit of virtual airline flight simming, exclusively on VATSIM for several years, so I was pretty comfortable with it. Then I got burned out around 10 years ago, and moved on to other hobbies. Now I've gotten back into flight simming, flying offline for a little over a year now, but I have been wanting to get back onto VATSIM since I started. However, on the path back to the big jetliners, I discovered I'm actually pretty satisfied just doing GA flying, and for the past few months I've also gotten into doing flights with FS Economy, so that tends to keep you flying between small airports, un-towered or class D at most, with the occasional class C thrown in there.
Currently doing flights around the LAX area in a Piper Arrow. VFR whenever I can, IFR if I really want to fly and that's the only way to get into or out of places. LA looks to be a really challenging area for VFR, what with all the airports, not to mention the terrain. Hills and low ceilings are an interesting combination if they're between you and your destination!
Anyway, I've started reading through the various featured articles on the ARTCC website, which are very helpful. I have just a couple general questions regarding VFR operations around your airspace:
- When no ATC is online, I would be squawking 1200 and announcing intentions on UNICOM. I try to keep out of Class B airspace, but I would be OK passing through the class D and C airspaces (and maybe cutting through a corner of class B), as long as I'm communicating on UNICOM and not doing stupid things like flying over these airports at pattern altitude?
- If only Center is on, then I'd contact them and request flight following, so I think I'd still be OK flying through class C and D airspaces, since we've established contact and they'd know where I'm heading, and give landing clearance if I'm heading to a towered field.
- If LAX Approach is online, I should only be talking to them if I'm within their space around LAX (30nm?). So for instance, if only APP is online, and I'm at Chino and heading away from their airspace, I do not need to contact them.