Sorry for my noobie question, but whats a VA? and what can you do with it?
With a va i mean Virtural Airline
A virtual airline is a free company set up on line by airline enthusiasts. Well established ones usually involve pilot ranking systems (based on category qualifications (i.e. which plane can you fly based on checkrides), hours, and experience), trainning centers, flight schedules where you can fly and file flights, and a bunch of other things.
So essentially, you're part of one simply to have direction in your flights. Now when I hop in the cockpit I usually know where i'm heading, kinda like having a "mission." Granted, I can still choose where I'm flying, and pretty much anywhere in the world with United, but it is still more specific.
It also encourages greater realism in your flying. Although you can fly offline with most airlines, they do encourage you to use www.VATSIM.net when flying, which provides realistic ATC (with real people directing you), and requires you to fly real world SID, STARs and Approaches that are published on sites like www.myairplane.com. I don't think I would know as much as I do about flying without recieiving the trainning from the VAs!
Two good ones to check out (that coincidentally I am part of) are www.united-virtual.com and www.ATAvirtual.com. Even simply between these two you can see a difference in the established virtual airlines vs. the newer ones. ATA virtual only requires you to fly based on hours, and permits you to fly larger aircraft as you move up in those. At United you start off flying smaller regional planes, and then move up in qualification as you complete hour requirements AND pass checkrides. It sounds harder and more restrictive, but it certainly is fun!
Sorry about the long post, but I hope this answers the questions you have!
If you need someone to get you started at one, I'll certainly help, as will most of the people here who are part of other VAs!