Suggestions to beef up the Focus Fields Program

Suggestions to beef up the Focus Fields Program

Postby pdebaty » Thu Mar 25, 2021 12:27 pm

Hello,

I just finished the ZLA alphabet challenge, which was fun and great to discover the varied scenery of the area. However, many of the legs, especially the last few ones had very little opportunity for radio communication practice/challenges.
So now I'm wondering what to do next to give me some challenge and motivation to fly more in the ZLA area. I love the idea of the daily Focus Fields and I have flown a few of those. I have some suggestions to make it more fun, motivating, and encourage more pilots to fly the daily focus fields:
- Provide a simple way to sign up for the daily focus fields. Show on the homepage (or a dedicated Focus Fields page) who has signed up for that day and what time they plan to fly it, even if it is not at the recommended time. That would help pilots naturally try to fly together at the same time.
- Show on the homepage who is currently flying between the focus fields.
- Provide a historical page of past Focus Fields with some statistics, such as who flew them and at what time, with what airplane, their fly path... There could also be a ranking of pilots who completed the most focus fields. This would provide a basic hall of fame/bragging rights for pilots to feel a sense of accomplishment. Also, the pilot statistics page could show past completed Focus Fields in a similar way that it shows completed ratings.
- ATC could provide a simple rating system for Focus Fields flights (could be a simple as a pass or fail) to keep pilots on their toes and make sure they learn from mistakes. The cat ratings were great, but since completing all of them, I wonder if I make mistakes that ATC controllers do not correct, and I feel I am not learning as much.

I think that would make Focus Fields more popular, which would be great, because the more pilots fly them at the same time, the more interesting the radio communications will be.
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Re: Suggestions to beef up the Focus Fields Program

Postby jamesg31 » Thu Mar 25, 2021 2:59 pm

I have always felt that the focus fields idea is great, but not enough pilots actually participate to make it work. It is the coolest thing arriving at a field and having guys in the pattern, departing, ect. It makes Pilotedge feel so much more alive, but its infrequent outside of events due to the nature of the network.

Honestly I think all of the suggestions here are great. I would love to see the focus fields grow!
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Re: Suggestions to beef up the Focus Fields Program

Postby Keith Smith » Thu Mar 25, 2021 3:23 pm

They're all great suggestions, however, it requires substantial code changes to the site. More to the point, the Focus Field program was designed when it was helpful to concentrate traffic on an otherwise very quiet network. That is no longer the case and we are routinely very busy indeed. If this program were to suddenly become a huge success, we'd have to provide specific staffing for it, and that isn't on the cards as a daily task. As much as I hate to say it, it should probably be removed from the site and replaced with weekly non-towered fly-ins, such as the recurring Saturday morning event listed on the forum.

Having 4-5 aircraft start up at one field and fly to another field at pretty much the same time generates a higher density of radio traffic than the same 4-5 planes scattered across the airspace and over a slightly wider period of time. Fly-ins/outs are a bit of a special beast. That's why we host them monthly, committing 4-5 extra controllers each time.

The utility of the FF program at this point would be having a common frame of reference to discuss "here's what I learned" in the Discord or forum. The notion of having ATC needing to grade even more flights is not something we can sustain. It's already quite challenging managing the CAT/I/SKY programs.
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Re: Suggestions to beef up the Focus Fields Program

Postby pdebaty » Wed Apr 07, 2021 5:00 pm

Thank you for your response. Just wanted to follow up with 2 needs that I see as a customer:
- I wish there were more "gamification" programs beyond the cat/i ratings to get a feeling of progress and accomplishment. Cat/i ratings and the alphabet challenges are such programs and they are great, but once you are done, something is missing. That is why I saw Focus Fields statistics/"hall of fame" as an endless ongoing way to fulfill that need.
- Most of the challenges and fun or radio communication happens when there are other pilots in the pattern. When I fly in busy airspaces in real life, I still get tripped up and intimidated by traffic alerts, controllers telling me to perform such and such maneuver to enter the pattern, extend a leg, let them know when I have such and such traffic in sight... I really wish I could practice all that in the sim because I don't feel super comfortable with it in real life. Unfortunately in pilotedge, those situations almost never arise.

These are the 2 needs I was trying to address with my suggestions for Focus Fields. I think addressing those needs would bring/retain more customers to pilotedge. From your response, I see that the challenge is to address those needs in a way that is a win-win for all. The "gamification" need above seems like a lower hanging fruit. Perhaps something that could be added to myflightroute.com? Is that an independent 3rd party site?

The second need is more tricky as it could require a dedicated controller especially during busy times. I have not participated in the weekly Saturday morning fly-in events because they unfortunately don't fit my schedule. Perhaps that would somewhat address that need and if so, I'd love to see more of those events at different times. These events do seem like a lot of work to put together so perhaps something more automatic would work.
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Re: Suggestions to beef up the Focus Fields Program

Postby Kevin_atc » Wed Apr 07, 2021 7:47 pm

pdebaty wrote:Thank you for your response. Just wanted to follow up with 2 needs that I see as a customer:
- I wish there were more "gamification" programs beyond the cat/i ratings to get a feeling of progress and accomplishment. Cat/i ratings and the alphabet challenges are such programs and they are great, but once you are done, something is missing. That is why I saw Focus Fields statistics/"hall of fame" as an endless ongoing way to fulfill that need.
- Most of the challenges and fun or radio communication happens when there are other pilots in the pattern. When I fly in busy airspaces in real life, I still get tripped up and intimidated by traffic alerts, controllers telling me to perform such and such maneuver to enter the pattern, extend a leg, let them know when I have such and such traffic in sight... I really wish I could practice all that in the sim because I don't feel super comfortable with it in real life. Unfortunately in pilotedge, those situations almost never arise.

These are the 2 needs I was trying to address with my suggestions for Focus Fields. I think addressing those needs would bring/retain more customers to pilotedge. From your response, I see that the challenge is to address those needs in a way that is a win-win for all. The "gamification" need above seems like a lower hanging fruit. Perhaps something that could be added to myflightroute.com? Is that an independent 3rd party site?

The second need is more tricky as it could require a dedicated controller especially during busy times. I have not participated in the weekly Saturday morning fly-in events because they unfortunately don't fit my schedule. Perhaps that would somewhat address that need and if so, I'd love to see more of those events at different times. These events do seem like a lot of work to put together so perhaps something more automatic would work.


Have you tried coming by the PilotEdge Discord chat server and making some flying buddy friends? It’s the best way to interact with the community and you can “meet” some fellow users and coordinate to go fly the pattern or do whatever flight together that you’re looking for so you’ll get a bit more traffic in the area. www.pilotedge.net/discord
Kevin
PilotEdge Marketing
Want faster answers to your forum questions? Join our Discord community: www.pilotedge.net/discord
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