About to hit grade 3! What now?

Grade 3 and expert server is not a place to be scared of. Some of the things you may read make it sound to be this place you should fear, but it is not. Here are a few of my points I like to make.

  • It does take a little to get used to the fact that the planes around you (generally) know what they are doing and respect the rules.
  • Plan ahead. Don’t just head straight to the airport, look around first and see if there is a line of traffic and where you should probably enter the line at.
  • Follow the flow. Green/Red runways are not the rule, they are a guideline. The wind itself is the rule on which way you should land. A 5kt tailwind is nothing for most planes.
  • When listening to ATC, look at the radar and see what other planes are doing. If you see approach is guiding planes to a certain spot and then turning, get ready for that turn.
  • When the frequency is busy, be sure to look for the command from ATC at the top instead of waiting for the audio to come through. Sometimes there can be a 30-60 second delay which could cause you to miss a turn.
  • Don’t feel rushed to push back and taxi. Take your time, plan your flight, and ask when you are ready. ATC is there for you and understands it takes time to plan.
  • Pay attention when on the ground. Don’t go down a taxiway that already has a plane coming the opposite direction.
  • Learn what “remaining in the pattern” and “go around” is and when to use it. I still see grade 5 pilots using “going around” at FL340 trying to tell me they are just passing through. Really?
  • Listen to ATC even if you think it may be wrong. They have a plan for their planes. It may seem like you are being vectored away from an airport but have trust in them.
  • If you have a problem with a controller or questions, feel free to DM them directly and ask. They are here to help and will let you know why they did something the way they did. I get asked questions a lot after flying “Why did you send me way over there” etc. When I point out that there was a mountain range or the flow of traffic they usually respond with “I didnt think of that, thanks”
  • If you did get ghosted by a controller, make a note of their name and DM them. If needed a moderator will get involved to sort everything out.
  • Have fun. For me flying on expert gives more satisfaction of a clean flight at the end of the day.



Great advice… as usual… but considering it comes from a cookie monster…l might be slightly hesitant to implement it at times…just saying !!!

Roger. All I am saying is IFATC isn’t perfect. I once got vectored to mountain because I relied to heavily. If you have no idea of ATC commands you can crash.

But yes very fair point.

I hope that includes being vectored to skim over the mountains in a 747-800 or A380 to rwy 08 at PHTO from now on…not for the faint hearted at Grade 1-3 without sufficient practice !!!

^ By far the biggest pet peeve for me. ^

Rule Numero Uno-Be respectful of those flying around you. Meaning dont try to get to the RWY on the ground or in the air first you are behind someone. It’s rude, unprofessional, and definitely not a sign of you knowing your stuff well enough to be on Expert (fuel emergencies might be an exception but those should be few and far between)

Rule Numero Dos-plan accordingly. Meaning actually put in the fuel you need rather than shortchanging yourself to cut to the front of an approach because you can declare fuel emergency. If you honestly had terrible winds aloft that ut you in a low fuel situation fine but putting an hour less of fuel on purpose is not alright.

Rule Numero Tres-Situational Awareness. This is by far the most important. Be aware of your surroundings and expected anything and everything from other pilots. The greatest prevention you can do is using that map to see where someone is heading, what the expected approach is, being aware of someone possibly not following guidelines and how to prevent any mix up on your end, and just being conscious of what you can expect from others.

Rule Numero Cuatro- Dont be in a rush, enjoy your time. This goes back to Numero Uno. You will have your turn and you will have the most success when you plan out your flight to fit your schedule but at the same time not trying to rush your flight to fit your schedule. It’s a paradox but should be easy to understand.

Rule Numero Cinco- Enjoy and relax. It may seem daunting but being anxious will probably lead to more problems rather than prevent them. Just go with the flow and you should be fine. Relax and enjoy the flight. The more tense you are the more you will lose your situational awareness from tunnel vision.


You will have a great time! Trust me, when I was grade 2 about to become grade 3, I was like you. I was nervous that ATC would be all big, mean, and tough, and if if even my planes nose cone was 0.01 feet past the hold short line I would be ghosted.

But, as long as you follow the rules which are very easy to follow, the Expert server is great. ATC has amazing services, and as long as you respect them they will respect you. Most of the time they are pretty lenient, let’s say you request a specific runway to land on, as long as that runway is either green or yellow, and there’s not that many traffic around, there’s a good chance you’ll get that runway.

The only time you should not follow ATC instructions is if they are about to mistakenly vector you into a mountain on approach to Queenstown. Well, you know what I mean.
Happy flying!

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Thanks for all the replies! I like it, people actually follow the rules and listen to ATC.

Wise words here! Listen to them, they’re IFATC for a reason. :)


In rule 2 you state that a fuel emergency can be declared. Is this an actual request that’ll be granted by expert ATC?

Only if it was an actual one and where you didnt try to shortchange your fuel on purpose to get in the front of line

By what means would a pilot be able to transmit their dilemma if there isn’t a specific request/command? Or has comm been added since the update? Just curious, I haven’t ran into this situation.

The option was added but only if you are on low fuel

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It’s only visible when you’re low on fuel. Never seen it.

Hold yourself to higher standards. That’s what I did when I got to be grade three, and my skills greatly improved. Also, try flying with people that you might know that are skilled, they could show you a thing or two. On top of all of that, check out some of the #tutorials for some additional help. Have fun on Expert, and remember, although people on Expert have more flying knowledge, they make mistakes too from time to time, so try not to get pressured too much 😉

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Thanks for the help! I noticed some things: if you see someone who’s not following the rules, it’s a grade 3. Grade 4s don’t fly with vc-25s (yay!) and grade 5s taxi slowly.

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Sort of. I’m a grade three and my max taxi speed is 20 knots, while some grade fives taxi up to thirty, but for the most part you are correct. Grade threes could also be grade five people with a violation or ones that have not flown in a while.

Correct ! I’m grade 5 and currently 3 because I was doing 260kts while decending thru 10,000ft and wasn’t paying attention. It happens… You’ll notice a noob because when they spawn, they instantly start pushing back… no flight plan or nothing.

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Yeah I was grade 3 and unfortunately lost my licence decending aswell, I was quite upset I couldn’t attend the airfrance and klm event.

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