Boston Virtual ARTCC's Wings Over New England (WINGS) is BVA's pilot training program. The program helps teach members skills that can be used for online flying in VFR and IFR environments, making the most of what an at-home flight simulator can teach you. It includes structured, self-guided training lessons that do not rely directly on an instructor or mentor, allowing pilots to learn at their own pace and in a comfortable environment.
The program is comprised of 30 flights, each of which contain a series of tasks. Every flight is flown under the watchful eyes of BVA's air traffic controllers, who monitor your progress to ensure each of the tasks for that flight is completed correctly. If the controller determines you successfully meet the criteria for a flight, you achieve that rating.
Starting out with VFR closed traffic at Nantucket, the series of challenge flights builds to complex IFR procedures like holds, diversions, missed approaches, “descend via” arrivals, and more. The first six flights are flown under VFR conditions, while the remaining flights focus on IFR techniques. Along the way, pilots visit some of BVA's larger 'featured airports', as well as several smaller, uncontrolled fields that rarely see traffic. We’ve specifically selected airports that offer unique approaches, great add-on scenery, and cool challenges. After criss-crossing our airspace, the program concludes back where it started, with pilots flying a Charted Visual Flight Rules approach into Nantucket.
The program assumes you are already capable of physically flying your aircraft. As such, you will not learn procedures specific to a particular airplane, such as how to tune radios, when to turn on landing lights, use of flaps, or what airspeeds to fly for certain phases of flight. If you are seeking help in any of these areas, connect with our members on Discord and TeamSpeak; many of us have completed WINGS flights and will be happy to offer our suggestions. Alternatively, one-on-one virtual flight training is available from VATSTAR, a BVA partner for pilot training. If you are looking for resources for getting started with online flying, visit our Orientation page.
Wings Over New England is geared towards any BVA member interested in gaining a more thorough knowledge of VFR and IFR procedures in a structured yet fun environment. Novice pilots, or those who are new to BVA, can strongly benefit from the step-by-step, 'ground up' approach that the program provides. Intermediate pilots may choose to use the program to refresh their VFR knowledge and then learn to fly a broader range of IFR procedures instead of simply receiving vectors for an ILS approach on every flight. The program can even benefit advanced pilots, as it covers a few rare techniques, especially in the later IFR ratings and provides an opportunity to further hone IFR skills and remain proficient.
To participate, pilots must be members of Boston Virtual ARTCC. To fly WINGS, complete a free application to join the community.
As WINGS is not affiliated with VATSIM's Pilot Training Department, members cannot receive VATSIM P-ratings through this program. Those looking for VATSIM ratings may wish to explore VATSTAR's flight training options.
If you're ready to start your engine and get going, please visit the Getting Started page to see how to begin.
What Members are Saying
Here's what our BVA member pilots, students, and enthusiasts have to say about WINGS:
"The WINGS program provides the VATSIM community high quality pilot training and education, and raises the water level with respect to both quality and quantity every day. Our community, and our network as a whole, benefits from and very-much appreciates Boston Virtual ARTCC's dedication to excellence and educating our pilot community."
- Don Desfosse, Flight Instructor, ATP, and Vice President of Operations, VATSIM Network.
"The WINGS program provided a variety of scenarios that helped greatly during my real-world IFR training! I was much more prepared going into instrument training than I would have been by just studying the books. Of the home-based flight simulation training I did prior to becoming an airline pilot, the WINGS program had the most substantial impact."
- Josh N., Airline Pilot and BVA Training Administrator.
"BVA's WINGS program is the best flight sim training you could get without paying for a CFI. Each lesson builds gradually and reinforces previous lessons, from a VFR trip around an airport pattern to complex IFR procedures. The program gave me all the training I needed to feel confident talking to VATSIM controllers"
- David B., Flight Simmer
"The WINGS program gave me the confidence to learn about airspace, communications, and flying procedures. Thanks to an easy-to-follow curriculum and helpful controllers, I was able to easily transition into real-world private pilot training. Now, I’m only a few weeks away from my checkride, and I can honestly say I got this far thanks to Wings Over New England!"
- Aaron L., Student Pilot
"If the WINGS program was any more fun, it would be illegal! This is such an awesome experience: it's given me a better understanding of the things I already knew, and a new understanding of those I didn't. The learning will never stop.
- Andrew B., Flight Simmer
"Speaking as both a VATSIM pilot and controller based in Europe, the WINGS program offers the perfect and amazing opportunity to dive into and learn more about procedures and phraseology that may be specific to the US but also complex and rare procedures that exist all around the world! The WINGS program has a lot to teach in the most interactive way possible and no one will complete it without learning something new! It is also a great way of getting to know the VATSIM and BVA community!"
- David S., BVA Air Traffic Controller
"Working on my IFR rating, CRAFT made sense. Putting it to practice on the WINGS IFR flights brought it home and made the flow seamless for me. The cadence and rhythms of not only the IFR communications, but the procedure flow all came together after completing these scenarios. I’m now ahead of the process in the real cockpit rather that trying to catch up."
- Fred O., Private, Instrument Pilot
"The WINGS program is a fantastic introduction to aviation. It starts you off slow with VFR flying and by the end of it you’re comfortable and confident flying difficult procedures into both towered and untowered facilities. Highly recommend giving the WINGS program a try."
- Patrick C., BVA Air Traffic Controller
"The WINGS program was an excellent opportunity for me to test my existing knowledge while learning and practicing new concepts with ATC on the network. As someone who has been flight simming for nearly 20 years, the program was still full of learning opportunities not commonly seen on VATSIM such as: ODPs, helicopter routes, various instrument approach procedures, holds, TAAs and more. I give credit to the WINGS program and BVA team for helping advance my knowledge and become a more competent and flexible virtual pilot, which has only enhanced the flight sim hobby for me! "
- Matt H., Flight Simmer
"The Wings Over New England program gave me the push I needed to get started on VATSIM. This program provides a wealth of information for those looking to expand their knowledge, as well as excellent feedback from community members, which has been extremely beneficial coming from someone with little VATSIM / aviation experience!"
- Brennan L., Flight Simmer
"The WINGS program has opened my horizons in the realms of IFR and VFR flight, has taught me how to execute important maneuvers and ATC procedures, and has overall made me a better pilot on the network. Both the practice of flight and communication with ATC are some of the best you can get, with the highly professional Boston controllers providing you with top of the line service as you progress through the challenging, but rewarding flights. I recommend this program to all members of the VATSIM network regardless of experience!"
- George T., BVA Air Traffic Controller
"The challenges of the WINGS program took me from being an 'I can get up in the air and follow the FMC' simmer to a far more knowledgeable virtual pilot capable of safely and accurately executing realistic procedures. I did not pass every WINGS flight the first time...but I eventually completed them all. The experiences, and anxieties, that I went through to complete this great program enabled me to enjoy the VATSIM world so much more, and made me a far more capable pilot."
- Mark M., Flight Simmer
"As a student pilot, flying with BVA's controllers has had the single biggest impact on my flight training so far. I've learned a ton about VFR procedures, am confident in my ATC communications, and have been way ahead of the game on my real life flight lessons. The Wings program has given me the push that I needed to finally explore the world of IFR, and I now feel confident in my abilities to understand and execute these procedures. I can't recommend this program highly enough!
- Corey F, Student Pilot
We are a free, immersive, and realistic air traffic control community for pilots and aviation enthusiasts. We provide air traffic control within the Boston ARTCC on VATSIM. We are not affiliated with the FAA, or the real-world Boston Center facility.