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Evan Reiter

Your Thoughts: The European Tour

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Those who flew during this afternoon's European Tour (featuring Manchester and London-Heathrow) knew that we had another day of weird charts, new procedures, and funny/sad attempts at British accents, fortunately (for everyone) not by me this time. For once, I didn't have to correct people who readback "climb to FL110" and I got to use phraseology that's a little closer to home to what we use in Canada.

 

I've thoroughly enjoyed controlling the first two European Tour events. I hope those who have participated enjoyed the change of scenery and procedures as much as I have. Given my enjoyment of the challenging airspaces and different procedures, I was surprised to see that most people flying in these events tend to be the same people who fly our regular events. I was expecting, given the number of requests we've had on these forums for ATC and events outside of our regular airspaces and times, a little more traffic, and some new voices. For example, I often see the "Tango squadron" getting together on Tuesday afternoons to fly our Regional Circuit routes. I thought the event would be great for this group and have been surprised not to see them online. Many of our members from time zones for which our 8-11pm ET events don't work haven't made it to a Tour event yet.

 

That, along with a lower-than-normal attendance during today's event, got me thinking that I should "take it to the streets" to see what you guys think of the event. I'm well aware that it takes time for people to accept and become committed to new things. It will, of course, take even longer for an event that we hold once a month to consistently draw in new members from different time zones. That's understandable, and I'm not about to cancel the European Tour event after just two attempts. A lot of people have and continue to put a lot of effort into making the events work. But that being said, I want to make sure that the events we're putting on are aligned with the wants of our members.

 

In a recent Poll Question of the Week (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1147&start=20#p11574), 83% of members said they would be interested in participating in the Tour again. I was expecting today's event to be a little busier than it was, so I'm here asking you: what are your thoughts on the Tour? Have you been flying in the events? If so, why? If not, why not, and what can we change?

 

We have a large compliment of members from around the world and in different time zones. Today, we've had ATC consistently since 3pm ET, but we've seen the biggest traffic during our peak hours (the highest-rated controller online now is BOS_A). All of that's making me wonder: why?

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Evan Reiter

Community Manager
Administration Team

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I was unable to join in on the first ET, but I had a blast today flying from Manchester to Heathrow. The new procedures and vastly different phraseology definitely are the biggest draws for me. I am always looking to challenge myself and my aircraft, and Europe is allowing me to do so with the added bonus of different scenery. I can't wait for the next one, even if I must admit I'd likely be a controller then :)

Dan P.

Private Pilot - ASEL

KHVN - Tweed-New Haven/KOXC - Waterbury-Oxford

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Guest Yun Chase

On the other side of this coin is a guy like me... where the change of procs/phrases/charts were the very reasons I didn't join in on the fun...

 

Personally speaking... I use BVATC to complement my real world flying and learning European procs would have done nothing for me... and while it might have been a cool experience for the rest... if I had the time to learn European charts/phrases... I would have preferred to spend that time studying towards my IFR rating...

 

But...I do have to applaud to those of you who spent the time and effort to create this tour... and I'm sure countless others like Dan have enjoyed them... and it is likely that my view is in the minority. So please continue to have the Eur. Tour events for their enjoyment but personally, I'll wait until you guys return inside the US ADIZ... ;)

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On the other side of this coin is a guy like me... where the change of procs/phrases/charts were the very reasons I didn't join in on the fun...

That's very good feedback, actually -- thanks for providing it. I'm curious to know whether you are in the minority or not. Everyone may not be training for a real-world IFR rating, but if that change of charts/phrases/procedures is what's keeping people away, then there are things we can do to change that.

 

Other thoughts?

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Evan Reiter

Community Manager
Administration Team

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That's understandable, and I'm not about to cancel the European Tour event after just two attempts. A lot of people have and continue to put a lot of effort into making the events work. But that being said, I want to make sure that the events we're putting on are aligned with the wants of our members.

 

Didn't we cancel the HTC after two attempts? The latter of which was plagued by the problems with the e-mail and website which, had they not been problems during the lead up to the HTC, probably could have drawn even bigger crowds.

 

(I didn't go to either ET b/c of Baseball practices/games and other personal things although I would love to join in)

 

Also, what it seems like to me sometimes is that people do not join in on flying because no one else is flying. If there are 20+ people in session on a non-event night, pilots get excited and even more join the game. If we have <5 people in session and a Boston Centre online, not many people will join in to fly, even with the controller. It seems like this is a big part of the simulation experience; it's A LOT more fun to fly when Centre is talking a mile-a-minute to >10 aircraft then when it's you and one other VFR guy who is just flying around in circles. What might make sense to do is wait until this event become more established and more people join in, rather than expect everyone to jump on with the idea on the first try.

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Tim Brett (BE)

ZBW S3

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That's understandable, and I'm not about to cancel the European Tour event after just two attempts. A lot of people have and continue to put a lot of effort into making the events work. But that being said, I want to make sure that the events we're putting on are aligned with the wants of our members.

 

Didn't we cancel the HTC after two attempts? The latter of which was plagued by the problems with the e-mail and website which, had they not been problems during the lead up to the HTC, probably could have drawn even bigger crowds.

We had at least 2 HTC events in New York, one in Washington, and one in Chicago. I also consider the multiple (at least 5) Dance in New York events that we've had as part of those. I'd say the Dance in New York / HTC events took place for a period of 3+ years before being supplanted with the Et. The HTC wasn't canned because of traffic, either; the fact that members signed up for the event and didn't fly showed that the concept wasn't working. Since the HTC had effectively become a twice-a-year event anyway, it made more sense to replace it with other major events like the Flight for the Fight, 60 Hours of ATC (different concepts), anniversary celebration, etc., which have been more popular.

 

What might make sense to do is wait until this event become more established and more people join in, rather than expect everyone to jump on with the idea on the first try.

Right, that's why I said:

 

I'm well aware that it takes time for people to accept and become committed to new things. [...] That's understandable, and I'm not about to cancel the European Tour event after just two attempts. A lot of people have and continue to put a lot of effort into making the events work.

This isn't a "let's jump ship and give up" post. It's an honest attempt to garner additional feedback to see whether there is something obvious and easy that people would prefer to be changed or whether it's just a matter of giving people more time to join in.

 

Since I plan to discuss this topic with controllers during our next meeting, I'd love to hear from some more members outside of our community of controllers.

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Evan Reiter

Community Manager
Administration Team

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I personally wanted to fly the second Et on my own, having missed the first one. I had prepared for it having two options. I planned to fly EGCC-EGLL in a C414 ... or ... have a break from the high-end procedures and fly VFR east and around Biggin Hill (EGKB) in the same Cape Air C414 .

 

So, I had looked at the info page(s) for the Event, during the preceding days... and had to dig hard and understand what I (ONLY) needed for the flight. I can say that some of my students in STC (and those guys in the "Tango Squadron" I would like to get interested in the European Tour) expressed that they find it difficult to "select" the appropriate charts and plates. By the way, 3 of our european Tango members were on vacation...

 

I know that finding the right chart can be done but it takes some understanding of the "Taxi - Take/Off - SID - Route - STAR - Taxi" sequence... and as it was said in the earlier thoughts I read... I really think that we must find a way to guide "ordinary non-pilot members" into getting their "Flight Bag" properly stuffed; for any kind of event, for that matter.

 

So, after an hour in a conference with the A-Team, at one o'clock, it was now past 2 and I responded to a request from a member to help him understand manual flying, ATTITUDE - POWER - TRIM ... it lasted an hour... Then, taking a break... and peeking into FlightDesk... bing!!! An alert message popped up... this member was in EGCC, in a C414, at a commercial gate... - wanting to fly, and coming hastily home from work, wanting so much to fly the Et (yes, he flies with the Tango Squandron, but is an American)... He was not prepared for the flight, only had the .PLN right for EGCC-EGLL, but could not understand the exact charts or plates to get for SID and STAR...

 

Well, I took a decision... no flight on my own today. Plan "B" could work... so I joined his displaced plane back to EGKB... and flew a VFR happy flight east of Biggin Hill as a Mentor, sharing the cockpit, doing the Comms, avoiding Gatwick and London City and Heathrow, airspace... but we flew the Et... and had fun... it was time for the 6pm supper preparations for me... soon after no more controllers were online.

 

In conclusion: we definetlly must keep the Et because there are europeans (and americans) out there that will come up to fly them... we need some time to get people ready for the ATC changes and strange route names... We could provide a sample route to be flown for "unsure members" stating exact links to the files they need to have have and print ... so their Flight Bag is complete. I was thinking of giving out those links under the preferred routes text inside the info pages for the event. It could be a sample preparation hand out.

 

I also think that the next European Tour Fly-In will be a good and "easier" incentive to discover Europe Again... Sunday, September 11, 3-6pm ET ... Location: London Pack the Pattern: EGLL, EGLC, and EGKK ... could we add Biggin Hill (EGBK)?

 

Thanks for the hard work our BVATC staff puts in those Events. I know now, because working to set up events made me understand all that is asked from the members that only see the surface of "their needed preparation" ... it is up to them to get to work and understand what their part of the deal is, if they want to fly the Events.

 

"Prepare like it was a real flight, prepare like you are the PILOT in COMMAND ... get all necessary information for your flight ... and if in need ... please ask ... BVATC is there to help you! ;)

Gilles | CYUL | Founder of the "TANGO SQUADRON" - BVA member since July 31st 2008

 

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Guest george bruton

I think it might just be because it is a NEW event and a NEW style of flying.... I will admit the first ET did not present anything to exciting to me and I felt there was a lot of new maps and phrases to adapt to. Which really turned out to be not that hard to adjust to I think is just a mental thing for most. Also, at leat for me Sundays are hard days to fly just because I usually have things planned. I do not think it is a dead event I think BVA just needs to get creative on making the event somewhat more unique to get membes WANTING to fly that day.

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Guest Robert Martin

I've been around for a few years and have noticed no matter what you do in the summer the attendance falls off. Myself, I have been busy with work and if I had the time, I wouldn't want to study my tail off for a week to fly for a couple of hours. In my case it's that time of year for work and outdoor fun. I think you keep it moving like it is, and as the weather changes so will the attendance.

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