VATSIM Aviators Mark 10th Anniversary By Logging 20 Millionth 'Flying' Hour

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Online network offers real-time pilot & air traffic control flight simulation to 200,000 global members



When VATSIM controllers and pilots make radio contact, they aren't hearing a computer-generated voice, they're interfacing with a real person.

Preparing to celebrate its 10th Anniversary on July 27, Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network (, the world's largest online community of pilot and air traffic control simulation enthusiasts, today announced that its approximately 200,000 worldwide members recently completed more than 20 million aggregate hours of simulated flight operations.

In VATSIM simulations, pilots are guided by radar-equipped air traffic controllers (ATC) from the moment they get their clearances until they land at their destination airport. ATC enthusiasts can opt to work virtually anywhere from small market general aviation airfields to the world's busiest commercial airports. The WorldFlight Group comprising several fixed base simulators manned by VATSIM members and flown on the VATSIM network collectively raise approximately USD$25,000 each year and these funds are donated to various aviation related charities around the globe.

"In July 2001, if you had asked any of our founding members how long it would take the organization to log 20 million hours, they probably would have made some reference to "From Here To Eternity," VATSIM Vice President of Communications Steve Cullen said. "Yet here we are, ten years later and 200,000 members stronger, having soared past that milestone so smoothly that, to be frank, it almost went unnoticed."

According to Cullen, VATSIM's ongoing success is based on community building as much as it is on technological wizardry, a love of flying, and an obsession with computer simulation gaming. "Through luck more than design, we caught the social network wave early by implementing a worldwide community whose members share the idea, the fun, and the adventure of flight simulation," he notes. "When VATSIM controllers and pilots make radio contact, they aren't hearing a computer-generated voice, they're interfacing with a real person. “

"From the Wright Brothers, to Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, flying has always been more about people than machinery." Cullen added. "The same is true in our simulated universe. Our world is powered by computers, but populated and operated by humans. “

"When you fly on VATSIM, decisions are based on human intelligence, not artificial intelligence. That's what makes it such a challenge. It's also what makes it such fun and it's a major factor in our unbroken ten-year record of growth and success."

For more information or to join VATSIM, please visit

Attached Video Courtesy of Dan Everette and the Virtual Boston ARTCC.

Editor's Summary:

  •     Launched on July 27, 2001, the Virtual Air Traffic Simulation Network (VATSIM LLC) gives members the option of piloting or controlling aircraft in simulated conditions realistic enough to have been used as a training aid by thousands of licensed and student pilots and air traffic controllers.
  •     VATSIM software mimics real-world aviation operations in six distinct global regions, specific country divisions within each region, all operating their own virtual Air Route Traffic Control Centers, Terminal Approach Controls, and Airport Control Towers worldwide.
  •     VATSIM is the only virtual flight simulation network ever chosen to participate in Federal Aviation Administration-sponsored research projects.
  •     VATSIM averages over one million flight operations every year.

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Steven Cullen - Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Joel Lesser - Atlanta, GA USA
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