February 4th, 2023
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ZLA’s training progression requires strong commitment from controllers. But how can students exercise such commitment? This article details several ways that student controllers can effectively prepare for training sessions.
1. Finding Your Method
The most important tip of all is to find what works for you. Draw from other life experiences to figure out how you can make the most out of this hobby. This also means, while others can provide as many tips as possible, the final responsibility is on you to know how best you learn and to have the proper mindset when working through the world of virtual ATC.
2. Making Materials
A great way to internalize information is to use creative study tools such as flash cards, cheat sheets, or games designed to help you learn the information. However, the full potential of these materials is unlocked by making the material yourself. This way, you are able to cater to your method of learning (as discussed in tip 1), while also gaining additional information retention by being the one to record the information.
3. Active Observing
One way to learn how to effectively control a position is to watch experienced controllers control. The most important questions to ask is, “Why is this person doing that?” With this question, you are able to internalize SOP or controlling technique. See if you can find an SOP reason, or 7110.65 regulation, that would explain the controller’s actions, or connect later events as a consequence to the controller’s actions. If you can’t figure out why a controller did something -- ask! Either use private chat within VRC or reach out to them in Discord. Just don’t be offended if they’re busy and have to circle back to you later.
4. Asking Questions
Asking questions is an important part of effective learning to either reinforce your own understanding or to get multiple opinions on something you may not be sure about. Be sure, however, to incorporate your own research to have concrete references for your knowledge. Your knowledge should not be entirely composed of “x told me this, y told me that”; rather, it should be a culmination of various resources.
5. Continued Practice
Preparing to work a new position does not mean to dedicate your entire time on the VATSIM network to it. Not only will it likely get boring quickly, resulting in burnout, but it is also damaging to your performance because your foundational skills begin to atrophy. As you prepare and wait for your next training session, continue to practice the skills of the previous rating as to not lose them. If possible (especially when transitioning from a minor position to a major position), practice the concepts of the next rating so that you are better prepared. And above all, keep it fun! Remember that in the end, flight simulation is a hobby; you should enjoy it.
We hope this article has been helpful in your journey at vZLA!