DTW was definitely swamped on Sunday. I left KMCO about 1:30 in a 737-400 just before SWA907 left in a 737-900. There wasn't any controllers in Jacksonville ARTCC so I got flight clearance and takeoff from Jacksonville Center. As I line up to take off I hear SWA907 requesting clearance. I make my turn towards my first waypoint and continue my climb to my assigned flight level. Next thing I know SWA907 is almost 100nm ahead of me. He headed to AMG and then up past Atlanta to some waypoint like DQN to the SW of DTW. My FSBUILD had my first waypoint 300+nm as IRQ about 75nm East of ATL. I took the MFB transition on the CETUS2 arrival.
As we neared ATL a visiting controller popped up to take the slack and boy was he busy. He was good with the RW channel but comfortably busy. We picked up 3-5 more aircraft heading to DTW from ATL. Most had filed via DQN. At one point as I approached MFB I saw on my servinfo that another aircraft was heading into Atlanta from the east and MFB was one of his waypoints also. A quick calculation showed it was going to be close. Believe it or not our local controller caught on and had me turning away from my flight plan 10nm before MFB to miss the other aircraft. You don't get many turns due to traffic on VATSIM.
INDY_CTR was online and was chiding several aircraft on the DQN line (including my SWA907 buddy) for not being on course. They left me alone for the most part but never told me to descend even though I was past MFB by the time they handed me over to CLE_CTR.
CLE_CTR told me to descend to 12,000 and contact one of the several DTW_APR channels. The one I went to was VERY busy. Several times I told him I was there and he would give 2 or 3 more commands to other pilots then ask me who it was calling. By that point I was past CETUS just getting to 12,000. He gave a non-directed "hold at published CETUS". The RW transmissions were constantly getting stepped on and the controller was about to lose it. By the time I neared my last waypoint another pilot was asking "how much longer do I need to hold as CETUS?". The answer was "a little longer till I get this all straightened out". Somewhere in there I was told what runway to expect but it went by so fast with so much other information (like altimeter) I didn't catch it. The channel was way to busy for me to have the heart to ask again.
I was told to contact E_APR who promptly told me to turn on the downwind for the 21/22 approach and told to descend to 5,000 with a speed restriction. A SPEED RESTRICTION! That is the first one I have been given in a long time. That is also the first time I have turned on the AutoThrottle in a long time. Things started getting more hectic for me. I was getting into a landing configuration. Getting dirty to give the Auto Throttle something to work with on my descent. The Auto Throttle can only cut the engines to an idle. If you are gaining speed because of a steep descent the Auto Throttle can't do anything more. Some aircraft with a real FMC would be modifying the descent to keep the assigned speed. Suddenly everything went dim. It figures that now is the time for the clouds to kick in for the first time in the flight. Suddenly what looked like it might be an easy visual landing turns into an instrument landing. I keep a close eye on the SquawkBox FMC to know where I am in relation to the airport. I asked APR what runway to expect, he apologized and gave me 21L. Thankfully that is one of the runways that hasn't changed since FS2002 came out. Detroit was in the process of adding another runway when FS2002 was released. They also renamed the runways once the new one was complete so it would be easier to tell them apart. FS2002 only has a very wide taxiway without markings where the new runway is.
I was relieved when I got the ILS on the first pass (no chasing the needle this time). As I broke through the clouds at 2000ft I was handed over to E_TWR. I could see FDX100 was on final. E_TWR (no voice) seemed suprised to hear from me but soon had me in his plans and asked me to be sure and tell him when I was clear of the runway. I started chasing the glideslope. It seemed the Auto Throttle was playing havoc with APR part of the auto pilot. Now I remembered why I didn't like the Auto Throttle.
I was down to 500ft frantically watching speed and glide slope. By this point I had killed the autothrottle. That was when V_TWR said "Please contact me". WHAT?!?! OK I'm with you let me try and get this thing on the pavement with no more than a VS of 500. As I have the reverse thrusters roaring he explains "I'm sorry, were you with someone else? I just came back online after getting knocked off." I say yes it was E_TWR but I am now clear of Active. "Very well , sorry for the mixup, contact Ground".
Later I found that this new controller was essentially a rogue controller. He apparently signed up to control but never got the go ahead or orders for the day. He decided to control anyway. After messing a couple pilots up they kicked him off. I was landing as he came back on wondering what was happening. I am not sure he realized that they had split the airport up into two towers while he was trying to control the whole field.
At this point I am sitting just off the runway and contact Ground. I made absolutely sure I was clear of the runway because I was sure there were more coming in behind me. "With you" I say/type to Ground. "Fedex turn right at Pappa-Pappa and taxi to the gate. Green Mountain Taxi to the gate via Whiskey Foxtrot. Fedex that wasn't Pappa-Pappa, turn back at the next taxiway and we will get you to the gate." I quickly double check my AP diagram I had recently printed off and turn onto taxiway W and head down to F. Another quick look at the top-down view I see F crosses 21R. As I turn onto F I ask if it is ok to cross 21R and am given the go-ahead. Mind you, I am using the new designations. My FS2002 still calls that 21C. By the time I am shutting down the engines at the gate I hear Fedex asking if it is OK to cross 21R on Foxtrot.
What a Flight! I love it. At one point Harv announced that there were more than 700 connections and duplicates would be dropped without notice. I always wondered if my WHAZZUP running on a separate system was considered a 2nd connection. It only showed 500 pilots online. Maybe those other 200 connections were WHAZZUP or ServInfo clients. The only thing that would of made my experience complete would of been MCO_APR and JAX_CTR coming online 20-30 minutes sooner to give me a proper sendoff.