• What It Is Like To Be A VA Owner, Manager Or Commander

    What It Is Like To Be A VA Owner, Manager Or Commander

    By David Zaleski (14 September 2009)

    Over the past twelve years having been involved in the flightsim hobby, I have had the privilege of experiencing just about every aspect of the hobby with the exception of flying on the VATSIM network. I keep telling myself that I don't have the right stuff. The truth is I'm scared of making a fool of myself. Like many old dogs learning new tricks take more than a meaty bone.

    I can remember every VA I ever flew for and my first being Noble Air. That was a wonderful experience back in the day. One of the most exciting was a program I joined in 1997 (vsac.bigpond.com) Virtual Strategic Air Command owned by a fellow from down under. We did a lot of missions on-line with then SATCO. You all remember FSFW95 and FS98, wow have we come along way.

    It wasn't until I formed my very first VA called Eastern Airways International which was listed here at FlightSim.Com and hosted by FSC when Nels had the virtual airline listing program. It was very successful for about a year before everyone was bailing to form their own VA's.

    My second VA was called (AAVA) American Airlines Virtual Airline it was this program that taught me a lesson about copyright infringements. For those of you who remember the late 90's will remember the problems with American Airlines. There was a gentlemen whose name escapes me who apparently was lobbying against or represented American Airlines interest who came after anyone using American Airlines logo, name images et cetera. My site was hosted by wings.ark.com and like many hosting sites in the day, were free but not free of pop-up's and advertisements. They were contacted by a representative of American Airlines and wings.ark.com notified me the site was being removed with an explanation as to why. So from that point I never again created a VA based on any real world entity.

    Being an owner, manager or a commander has it pro and cons. I have had and still have this wonderful experience of meeting virtual people from every corner of the planet. I say virtual people in that I have never met, seen or even talked to, not one single one of them but yet they are like people I have known my whole life. There are many VA's who structure or hierarch does not permit the one on one dialog with everyone of it's members, there is a chain of command that members must adhere to.

    What I have learned through the years is the a personal touch has many benefits (One on one communications) but it can put you in a compromising position with members you form to close a relationship with. What I'm saying is this. You can developed a good working relationship with a virtual friend forgetting it just takes the wrong combination of circumstances to create animosity between you and him and this has happen to me on a number of occasions over the course of years. Because one can not judge the demeanor of another through the written word (Email Exchanges) one does not really know where you stand in VA politics. I have concluded it is far more difficult to manage people in the virtual world than it is to manage in the real world. If you push the wrong buttons on a real world employee he is not likely to pack his toys and leave his job, he or she has to much at stake. But in the virtual world, you push the wrong button, its history, this person is going to find greener pastures. You also run the risk as I have experienced of having a former members use your bulk email list to make a personal forum of his grievance to members of a VA. There are ways of avoiding this and I have but never assume your members are always content. I have learned and I'm still learning the art of respect and fair play. We as owner operators often forget this is a hobby and a game. It doesn't matter what structural format you utilize, the bottom line it is still just a game.

    Being a good leader in a VA program requires a little background in psychology 101, the art of diplomacy and being a good listener. Because you own a VA just remember this, your program is only as good as those who choose to fly in your program. No one it's paid a single penny to fly and represent you so treating them with that consideration in mind will help you and your VA succeed in the hobby and this goes for member managers and commanders.

    Each day is a new experience in this hobby, I hope it always remains a friendly game.

    David Zaleski
    [email protected]

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