An Introduction to Worldflight
Since 1999 a group of flight simulator enthusiasts have been gathering together online during the first full week of November to raise money for multiple worldwide charities. In 23 years well over $1,000,000 has been raised for the charities handpicked by each team for causes that hold a special meaning. The event is called “WorldFlight”, and encompasses a tour circumnavigating the globe starting and ending in Sydney, Australia.
With almost 50 flights conducted back to back over nearly 160 hours, and with full Air Traffic Control services provided by the VATSIM Network, WorldFlight is the culmination of extensive planning and organization by volunteers months in advance of the big event. What makes World Flight even more special is that all of the official teams who participate are flying virtually from flight decks they have built! Whether it is a full Boeing 737 flight deck located at a warehouse in California, or a Boeing 747 tucked away in a home garage in the south of England, World Flight teams hail from all walks of life. You don’t need to own a cockpit build to join in with the event however, as anyone is welcome to fly if you use the VATSIM Network! For the 24th year, seven official teams are now using Microsoft Flight Simulator to further enhance the realism of their home cockpit setups.
the teams are:
|QFA25||Boeing 747-400||Sydney, Australia|
|BAW 47C||Boeing 747-400||Hampshire, England|
|GTI 1471||Boeing 747-400||Perth, Australia|
|DAL 1004||Boeing 737-800||California, USA|
|COVEY 44N||Boeing 737-800, Boeing 747-400||New South Wales, Australia|
|ASY 121||Airbus A330-200||Sydney, Australia|
|DAL 8317||Boeing 737-800||California, USA|
So how does it work?
Starting from Kingsford Smith International Airport (YSSY) in Sydney Australia, the WorldFlight tour consists of over 45 flights, with the route and direction of travel changing each year. 2023 is a special year, as this is the first time the teams are venturing over the South Pole and Antarctica. Each team will create a roster of pilots to take it in turns to fly a leg of the tour. As soon as a flight is completed, the next set of pilots will turn around the aircraft to be back airborne for the next trip within with the hour.
During the COVID Pandemic of 2020, teams in the UK were limited to how many crew members could participate, resulting in as little as eight people sharing the flying hours over the span of the entire week. To maintain constant Air Traffic Control coverage from local regions, a tight and fully organized schedule is adhered to in order to arrive back in Sydney seven days later. The finish line…a flypast underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which has been a tradition since the very first World Flight in 1999. The full route for the 2023 event can be found below:
Since the worldwide release of Microsoft Flight Simulator in August 2020, more teams have been adapting their cockpit builds to utilize MSFS. Fabian Betancur of the Cali Crew now uses MSFS in their Boeing 737-800 build and says: “I’ve been using Microsoft Flight Simulator since the early ‘98 version. I was deep into building my first full size flight simulator using P3D, and it was quite the journey. However, when I got my hands on the MSFS 2020 beta, my jaw hit the floor, and I haven’t looked back since! The quality of the visuals in MSFS 2020 is nothing short of mind-blowing. The user interface is so simple, and the ability to take off and fly over any spot on earth without needing to fuss with specific satellite images is a game-changer! For me, immersion is a top priority in a full-size simulator, and MSFS’s visuals certainly elevate the experience, sometimes blurring the line between virtual and reality.”
Gary Oliver is the owner of the SimfestUK Boeing 747-400 simulator. Gary has been a part of the WorldFlight event from its inception, and has recently upgraded his simulator to utilize Microsoft Flight Simulator. Gary explains: “I started my love for Flight Simulator with version 5.1 in June 1995. Having used many different visual generators over the decades I feel I have now reached the pinnacle with Microsoft Flight Simulator. During WorldFlight 2022 we had MSFS running for seven days straight non-stop. It has transformed my 747 build, and is a real game changer!”. European Community Manager Matt “Chewwy94” Smith is part of the SimfestUK team, and recently visited their Boeing 747 simulator to give you a behind the scenes look:
WorldFlight would not be able to take place without the support of the VATSIM Network. Once the route for the year has been decided, the planning team will reach out to the local regions to coordinate Air Traffic Control coverage during the time period that the tour passes through each area. All of the Air Traffic Controllers are also volunteers, without whom pilots flying along would have a considerably more difficult time sticking to the schedule in a well-mannered and organized fashion. Tim Barber, President of VATSIM, said: “The VATSIM network and WorldFlight have shared a close and treasured relationship since 2001. In providing the online infrastructure and virtual ATC services for the WorldFlight participants, VATSIM controllers and pilots alike get the opportunity to participate in, and contribute to this event which does so much for global charities. This ongoing collaboration benefits both of us – our controllers and pilots get to engage with great traffic in many places of the world which normally don’t get many aircraft, and the WorldFlight charities gain amazing exposure through their use of the network, contributing to the overall success of their charitable initiatives. Overall, this is a great win-win for both of us, and something that we look forward to every year!” when asked what WorldFlight means to the network.
The 2023 edition of this charity fundraising event takes place between 4th -11th November. Should you wish to join in with this year’s event you can find further information via the WorldFlight website.
The entire Microsoft Flight Simulator team would like to wish all participants of WorldFlight 2023 the best of luck, and we look forward to tuning into the action over the course of the week.