Could someone tell me how to use VATSIM? I'm registered, but I don't know how to connect to the server.
Sure thing chris. You'll need 2 things downloaded to be able to work well with VATSIM.
First, http://squawkbox.ca/news/ SquawkBox3 is a MUST have to talk to ATC. There is another program out there that does the same thing (and a lot of people like better) but as far as the standard and most basic / well supported program, this is it. By the way, you need FSUIPC (free or registered) to get this program to run. I'll assume you have it.
When you download / install it, load up a normal flight as you would on any normal day (make sure you're loading up at the gate). Go to the menu and open up the "modules" menu, selecting "squawkbox3." It'll load up and set the multiplayer parameters for you! Just connect to a server, file your flight plan, and you're off!
Note, most of the procedures on how you file a flight plan, who you're going to be filing it with, what you'll be asking for, etc. can be found int he Pilot Resource Center (PRC) on VATSIM's website. It's a lot of reading, but ESSENTIAL to using the services to its full potential!
ATC isn't always on line in the areas you want to fly in (sadly, most people have jobs/schools that they're a part of so they can't devote all their time to virtual air traffic control ) so when you're flying in a lot of areas you need to be talking on UNICOM 122.80. But to get a better visual of where ATC is on line, which one corresponds to the area you're in, etc., download http://hangar.avsim.net/utils/servinfo/home.htm (ServInfo). It gives you a graphic display (or just a list) of all pilots and ATC that are logged onto their servers all around the world! (It's up to you to interpret their regional accents though ).
It can be quite tough going through all this your first few times though. After you read through the PRC, PM me and we'll do some flying with ATC to get you aquainted with the flow of things.
Thanks for your help!
I will let you know how I do, and I will PM after I get the hang of things on VATSIM.