I saw on ATL-ARTCC website (while planning a KORD-KATL flight) that DC-ARTCC was sponsoring a "Capital Cities Fly-in". They were inviting pilots to fly on VATSIM from the capital of their state to the DC Area. I signed up to fly from the Green Mountain State to promote Green Mountain Airlines. I was to fly from Montpelier VT who's longest runway was 4900 ft in a CRJ-200. I was assigned to land at DCA.

First, check ATC Directory. Good, BOS_CTR online, check winds and taxi to end of runway. Since it was BOS_V_CTR better get my headphones out ... what happend? The screen is flashing, Squawkbox has shutdown and FS is constantly beeping and refreshing. --- Reboot.

Try again. This time BOS_CTR has logged off. Check winds and taxi out to end of runway. Go to announce on Unicom my intentions, forget to give SB the focus and end up keying the message on the panel's buttons. After I give SB focus and retransmit I realize my instrument panel is dark. I hunt around and find I had turned off the power switch. Turn them back on and set the A/P heading. NOW that I have full flaps, hold brakes and let the engines run up. Remember this is a twin engine jet taking off a 4900 foot runway. I clear the surrounding hills, flaps and gear up, turn on autopilot..... Turn on Autopilot. TURN ON AUTOPILOT!!!! Please don't make me fly this 1.5 hour flight by hand!!!! I must of messed stuff up on that mis-transmission. Well, real pilots do it, I guess I can.

Listen to BOS_APR as I wait to enter active NY_V_CTR. Tuned Comm radio using SB. Sounds like they are having fun. Finally say hello to NY_CTR and he vectors me to a better approach to DCA and gives me a transponder code. Hey, my transponder isn't lit up either. At least using the pop-up help I can figure out what the dark dials are supposedly showing. Descend down through the cloud deck. Don't tell me my IAS is going dead too!!! Oh yes, need to turn on that Pitot heat.

Hand off to DC_APR get the runway to expect. Once again the dials are dark but I can figure out what they are tuned to. DC_APR says the winds are "variable". Do I want a different runway? No thanks, I have the radios already tuned. Besides (didn't tell ATC) it is hard enough keeping altitude and tuning the dark radios at the same time.

I get vectored down to 3000 and told to intercept the ILS, cleared for approach. Uh, don't I usually have some sort of glideslope by now? Wait a little longer, in the clouds, have no idea where I am. Seems like 5 minutes go by and no glideslope yet. Darn ILS must be dark also. Drop to 2000 hoping to see runway but I am still in the clouds. Tell ATC my instruments aren't working, can he give me a visual approach?

ATC tells me to turn left and maintain 2000. Since I am still in the clouds I let it slip down to 1900. AHA!!! I see the ground, I see the Airport!!! Ok, I see a faded area with some A/C handle flags on it. ATC tells me to turn on final and I am perfectly lined up with the runway. ATC warns me that someone is holding short but they haven't contacted him so he doesn't know their intentions. I reply I see them and will keep them in sight. I make a perfect landing.

THANK YOU VATSIM ATC. I would of never been able to do this with FS2002's ATC. They would of told me they were dropping me the second time I dropped out of altitude due to distraction at the stick.