While many of our pilots have quickly excelled through our P1 program, sometimes in as little as an hour, the development of the program took almost 2 years to complete. There were a number of little snags along the way delaying the program. We’re thrilled that we endured and kept the completion of the VATSIM P1 program as our number 1 priority within the training department. As of writing this, 10 pilots (including some staff) successfully completed the program.
Some of you may be asking what caused the delays and what were some of the obstacles we ran into while developing the program; fair question. To really get into that though, I should start off with some history of the goal of becoming an official VATSIM ATO and being able to certify our pilots with a VATSIM P1 rating. The initial goal started in the Winter of 2010. Shortly after the training department made a return to MetroAir’s organizational chart, in addition to providing mentorship to our pilots, the executive staff wanted to encourage our pilots to be better pilots and make the most use of VATSIM. Around the same time, VATSIM was in the initial stages of launching their P1 program and some various virtual airlines began offering the course to their pilots.
Initially, we bit off a little more than we could chew. One of the most important parts of the P1 program is all of the educational materials that are required. If you have taken the course, you (hopefully) have seen all of the guides that cover some of the basics ranging from VATSIM basics to navigation to decoding METARS. We started to model the course on the program offered by another virtual airline that had a well established training department complete with a ground school. Some of their P1 documentation included the basics of flight and all of the information you would be quizzed on if you were truly seeking to get your private pilot license from the FAA. Plain and simple, writing documentation can be challenging. While our training department know the basics, some had even already got their PPL in the real world, transposing those ideas to paper is hard. Trying to write it for an individual who is starting from scratch makes it even more difficult. For more than a year we were going down this path of endlessly writing documentation that ultimately wasn’t helping anyone. While our training staff felt that there was forward moving progress, the executives were starting to get impatient with no progress to really show for all of the time the training department staff had spent trying to get this program done.
Back in August of this year, the executive team decided to figure out what was happening and see if there was a better way to go about the P1 program at MetroAir. All 4 of us, Lindle, William, Matt Dissinger and myself, started to do research. We found the actual requirements to become an ATO and the additional listing of requirements of what the P1 program should cover. The execs, as we call ourselves, took on the challenge to work through the program, continue to do research to see how other VA’s were presenting their course and started to split out some of the documentation writing.