IFATC’s Fastest Recruit Part 1: Pre-Application

April, 23, 2021 by Suhas J.

My IFATC Journey started spontaneously. I, like other Infinite Flight users I know, had no particular interest in the ATC aspect of Infinite Flight. Granted, I had only ever opened a frequency once or twice, both of which were for less than 5 minutes and done out of curiosity.

As a pilot with over 3000 flight hours, I had a proficient understanding of ATC usage from flying into featured airports and hubs. I had friends who were in IFATC, but the thought of applying myself never really sparked my interest.

As July rolled around, I continued to gain flight hours and experience. Summer break meant I had more free time on my hands, so one day, out of boredom, I decided to open a frequency to see what the commands looked like. I had flown with ATC before and figured it couldn’t be that hard.

I opened JFK Ground on the Training Server, and my session loaded in. I had maybe two aircraft on frequency, and I struggled. I opened for roughly 10 minutes and subsequently closed. After my session, I took away two things:

  1. I was not at all familiar with the ATC UI.
  2. I didn’t do so hot, but that was fun.

Later that afternoon, I practiced opening some more frequencies such as Los Angeles and London Heathrow Tower, but I only had a vague understanding of the ideal mannerism and conduct while controlling. I consulted the ATC Manual and spent roughly an hour reading through the guide and watching the videos made by Tyler, and I was amazed at how efficiently the ATC UI was made. I thought to myself that if I learned how to do this, it would be great fun.

Later that day, after more guide reading and session practicing, I opened my Tracking Thread on the Infinite Flight forum, and had roughly 3 pilots stop by at KAUS where I was controlling. My first Tracking Thread session was not pretty in the slightest. I missed sequencing, clearances, and struggled with locating commands. My pilots gave helpful feedback, however, and I took their words to heart and used this newly gained knowledge in my next, upcoming sessions.

As the weeks went by, I opened my Tracking Thread daily, and received excellent feedback and compliments. My skills had significantly improved after a few days of controlling and taking feedback from pilots. I had my good days and bad days; some sessions were immaculate while others were all over the place. As time went on, my service became more consistent, and I gained confidence.

I began sharing my Tracking Thread across Virtual Airlines and Virtual Organizations, group chats, and asking friends to come. Sometimes, I’d have an attendance of 8-10 pilots, some IFATC, some not. They all provided helpful feedback. I decided this was something I genuinely wanted to continue and seek improvement upon, and with the persuasion of some friends, I applied for IFATC. My journey had begun!

Suhas is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is a long time Infinite Flight user, IFATC Officer and Tester. In the real world, he’s a student pilot on both glider and powered aircraft. He's also an IFVARB Board Member.