What exactly is the deal with virtual airlines? The instruction book says there are lots around the web. Are there any here? If not where should I go?
There are loads of VA's around. Try here https://forum.flyawaysimulation.com/forum/topic/38/list-of-vas/
Yes, take a look at the huge list of VA's in that thread Jon pointed you to and check out some of their pages. You'll soon see that there is a VA for almost every age and taste. When you fly with a VA you tend to stay motivated to learn more so that you can ace tests and receive promotions, etc. You'll need to consider where you enjoy flying, and what type of equipment you favor, then check out some VA's to find one that suits you.
Question About VA's: How much time is involved in running in a VA and is it global? are there schedules that you have to meet? what about long flights? Are there beginner level ones (i consider myself an advanced beginner) and what happens if you crash and burn? do they take away your cool looking plastic wings?
Question About VA's: How much time is involved in running in a VA and is it global?
The time requirements are generally low--you pick up the flights you want to, file a PIREP, and after so many hours you take a test to graduate to the next CAT level so that you can have a wider choice of equipment to fly, etc. The minimum hours to remain active may be as low as a couple hours every 60-90 days...depends on the VA. And yes, it is global.
are there schedules that you have to meet? what about long flights?
You can take short hops or long flights, but you're generally encouraged to fly in "real time." VA's are usually flexible about what you do--some more so than others. Almost every VA schedules time for VATSIM (or equal) flights so that members can experience multiplayer flying, but these are optional.
Are there beginner level ones (i consider myself an advanced beginner)
There may be, I'm not sure about that, but most VA's make new hires start at a beginner level, which may be flying cargo routes, or very short personnel hops in small piston aircraft.
and what happens if you crash and burn?
It's the honor system, so you're expected to be honest on your PIREP, if you're still alive to fill it out, that is.
do they take away your cool looking plastic wings?
Not my cool plastic wings! They'll have to pry those out of my cold, dead hands, lol!
ROFLMAO! thanks SoCal... I saw the post for the United States Virtual Air Forces. I think ima gonna check it out. As I understand it they have mods for in-flight refueling... that would rock! Off i go into the wild blue yonder.