Virtual United States Air Force

NOTAM Name19th Annual vUSAF Birthday Bash
NOTAM Creation Date2018-11-22
NOTAM Publish Date2018-11-22



Hello, my name is Robert I am the original founder of the Virtual United states Air Force or the VUSAF as you see it today. Many of my friends in the virtual community and in the VUSAF as many know it today, beckoned me to write down the history of the VUSAF. On December First of 2018, the VUSAF will have been in operational existence for nineteen years, a milestone in the virtual flight simulation community for any virtual flight organization, especially one of a military nature.

The VUSAF concept was first founded in September of 1998 when I purchased my first copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator 98©. Shortly there after, I opened my first Internet account and began to explore the virtual flight simulation world. The concept of flying in real time with others was an astonishing accomplishment of the time and to top it off the fabulous and overwhelming amounts of material for Flight Simulator 98 in the way of add on aircraft, panels, sound scenery and other items was and still is, endless. 

I as well as many others thought life could not get much better for a computer hobby, until I found SATCO which is an acronym for Simulated Air Traffic Control Organization. SATCO back in those days was a thriving virtual reality network of virtual Air Traffic Control simulation enthusiasts and Flight simulation enthusiasts who found a way to connect Flight Simulator 98 and other home made software together to recreate real life, real time, virtual reality air traffic network. At the period I joined SATCO there was over 30,000 registered users world wide, many individuals as well as countless virtual flight organizations used SATCO as their primary environment for flight operations. When I joined, I thought life couldn’t get any better than this. My family background is one of a military family, I was raised around the real United States Air Force, living on base in provided housing, seeing the world as my Father served his tour of duty as a career USAF noncommissioned officer. My first virtual organization that I joined was a prominent virtual airline, and I flew with them religiously. Soon my interests began to wonder towards the military aspect of flight and flight simulation and to my dismay, I found that there were limited organizations in existence that covered Military aviation to the level of my interest.

My search for a military orientated environment took me to the SATCO SPECIAL OPERATIONS GROUP (SATSOG) and where I met a gentleman named Mr. Hunter. Mr. Hunter was attempting to open up a SATCO sanctioned military group that was planned to be the mother of all virtual military groups and planned to use SATCO as its primary flight environment. I worked with Mr. Hunter and others of his group on various projects however, after a short time I said my goodbye’s and began research on the VUSAF as you know it today.

Research began in January of 1999 and continued till August of 1999. Along the way I spoke with several people of the virtual community such as Harvey Stein, Randy Whistler, Fraser Turner, Todd Cox, Marc Von De Sompel, Marc Maschoff, Irving “Jorgy” Jorgenson and many others whom I don’t recall full names. Initially I spoke with Harvey Stein in those days to find out and address the concerns of then SATCO in respect to military activity on the network, and in a nutshell, SATCO was concerned about potential military groups that believed that by merely self declaring themselves as a military flight, did not have to follow rules, especially those of SATCO. I took those concerns and with the help of my friend’s Todd and Fraser, performed research on how military activity is integrated into the peacetime civilian environment it operates in, how did they perform their training, missions, and so on without interfering with civilian operations. Our research led us to countless avenues of information and led the modern day pilot training requirement of VUSAF personnel and VATSIM Special Operations Affiliate Pilots. We found through research, that merely being able to get a aircraft off of the ground and back again is not enough, knowledge of in the intricacies of airspace, air traffic control, airframe performance and capabilities, and skill to maintain precise control of a aircraft in all phases of flight were crucial in keeping the impact of “realistic” military operations on SATCO to a minimum. During our research we also worked closely with George “Pook” Barney who at the time was the director of Special operations SATCO and then later the first VP of SPEC OPS, VATSIM.

During this time the research and work provided by the team had been complete enough to begin work on the organizational structure and website material and was completed by November of 1999. During the work on the VUSAF, Todd began work on the Virtual United States Navy (VUSN) and later on we joined forces with Ryan Stumpp who founded the Virtual United States Coast Guard (VUSCG). All of these groups had a commonality of recreating their real life counterparts in the highest amount of detail possible and then apply that information on a daily basis while using SATCO as the primary flight environment. With the newfound “coalition” of hyper realistic virtual special interest groups, Todd, Ryan and Myself collaborated and designed and later opened the administrative group called United Nations Air Forces (UNAF). The UNAF was a administrative body made up of the top leader and their executive assistant that set standards and policy for all of the affiliates in special operations using SATCO and answered directly to Mr. Barney. I was appointed as the director of UNAF and worked as a chairman of the UNAF organization working closely with Mr. Barney and the leadership of the affiliated special groups on a daily basis. By March of 2000, the VUSAF, VUSN, VUSCG and UNAF as a whole were in existence and in operation.

The UNAF and its subsequent affiliate groups like any other virtual organization struggled to maintain its existence and expand. In the fall of 2000, the VUSCG changed its leadership with the resignation of Mr. Stumpp and the appointment of Benjamin Schwartz as the top executive of the VUSCG. The UNAF was briefly graced by the existence of two different Canadian Air Force groups, a VUSMC and two Royal Air force groups, all of which have come and gone for various reasons, as with any virtual group, it is also the period whereby our friends down under, the Australian virtual Defense Forces (AvDF) joined the UNAF also the Virtual Latin American Air Forces (VLAF) as well. Both of which are still members in good standing of Special Operations to this day. 

In July of 2001 we watched the fall of SATCO and the eventual opening of VATSIM (Virtual Air Traffic SIMulation network). The work of the UNAF and of Mr. Barney continued from SATCO to VATSIM whereby the Ideology of realism and training of UNAF were carried over with plans to eventually make UNAF ideals policy for all “special Interest” groups, to honor the “As real as it gets” motto of VATSIM. Prior to the closing of SATCO, the UNAF held the first multi affiliate online event in Special Operations history. The event was called OPERATION JOSHUA (OPJ). OPJ was unique for many reasons, OPJ with the graciousness of the ARTCC staff, combined the airspace FORTH WORTH, HOUSTON, MEMPHIS, JACKSONVILLE and MIAMI into one large surface to infinity Military Operations Area (MOA) for seven, twelve-hour days. Whereby the VUSAF, VUSN, VRAF, and AvDF verses a volunteer group of personnel from all of those affiliates to form an aggressor force to pit against their fellow hobbyists. The event was held and combat ensued for the duration, from Florida to Texas and everything south. Many flights, hours, ordinance and troops were simulated in hypothetical instances where in reality pilots wagered turning battles for screen shots (PRNSCRN) guns and VIDEO recording of bomb passes on targets. The fun came from not only flying the missions, but also in out strategizing your opponent and planning intricate operations of execution, all for pictures for points. At the end of the seven day operation, we found that OPJ was held in the same general area and time as four major Civilian Airline fly in events along the south and east coast of the U.S. and “zero” incident report rate for airspace or collision infractions. All a testimony of the ability of training can do for a group of pilots in the virtual community.  

In the years of 2000-2003 many of the senior personnel of the modern day VUSAF joined and excelled through the ranks. The VUSAF was opened with the concept that construction would continue as needed and not wait till it was totally complete before opening. Several key members joined as line pilots and worked there way up through the ranks, earning rank and position through their efforts and dedication. vCol. Taylor is the chief designer of the modern VUSAF Graphical / color presentation of the website as you see it today. His ability to combine design with vive rant colors that catch the eye and convey the spirit of the VUSAF is unique to say the least.

I remember those who have come and gone that have invested countless hours of work and dedication to this organization without waiver. Such as Joseph Blas, an ROTC instructor in a High School who helped with the initial designs of Military Air Traffic Control, lets not forget that Todd Cox a USN Air Traffic Controller for a Aircraft Carrier of the modern Navy still to this day, assists in this field. Peter Adcock, an actual USAF ATC controller, who picked up the torch where Joe Blas left off and went on to open the modern day VUSAF air Traffic Controller training as an addition to what VATSIM offers. Marc Von De Sompel, who selflessly purchased web space for the VUSAF and donated it for the opening years of the VUSAF.  Many of the founders and the initial members of the VUSAF I refer to as “first generation” members are no longer around, they have moved on to bigger and better things for one reason or another. All of them leaving a piece of themselves with the VUSAF and their mark in its fabulous history, I too have in a certain perspective moved on, in October of 2002 I resigned as the chief of staff of the UNAF and was preceded by Todd Cox by majority vote of the UNAF JCS. I then by my own choosing reduced my rank to vColonel and joined the ranks of the AETC of the VUSAF. Other current and past members that I wish to give honorable mention for their efforts that has brought the VUSAF to the level of quality, realism and even convenience as you see it today. Scott Lookabill and Ben Oakley for their gracious efforts and contributions in script writing that has automated the current VUSAF website home. Past HQVUSAF/AO's that were instrumental in the development of the VUSAF: Daniel Alameda, Marc Von De Sompel,  Joseph Blas, and Fraser Turner, all of them dedicated 100% effort to the cause and ideals this group was founded upon. 

In October of 2002 the UNAF held the last large multi agency event called OPERATION NORTHERN FURY. OPNF was based on the concept of OPJ with exception that the event was held over the State of Alaska with the help and selflessness of the Alaskan ARTCC. OPNF was larger and more in depth than OPJ and yet held its record of zero discrepancies, again a testament to the ideology of the VUSAF and UNAF as a whole.

In November of 2002, the UNAF under the leadership of Todd Cox was realigned and modernized into the INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MILITARY PARAMILITARY AND SPACE ORGANIZATIONS (IAMPSO). IAMPSO came into being from the ashes of the UNAF with new goals and leadership, The IAMPSO worked with VATSIM on continuing the ideology that the UNAF was founded on and works towards the goal of having the ideology carried on as VATSIM policy for all SPECIAL OPERATIONS organizations so that the motto of “As real as it gets’ is honored and lived up to for all who use VATSIM. In January of 2003, I was elected to the position of Vice President of Special Operations VATSIM after the resignation of Mr. Barney. To this day, I still work towards the goals and ideology founded back in 1998 in the hopes that it will be realized. In my virtual career, I have witnessed great feats in the hobby, since 1998 I have watched this dream start with six individuals and three groups and see it grow to a membership exceeding 800 virtual pilots and controllers in over 10 different specialized groups (affiliates), so I can attest to the fact that if you want it bad enough and work towards it you can accomplish anything. Seems like another small little success story of SATCO that has become the modern day VATSIM. Also in that time, I have watched SATCO transform into VATSIM, and observed it membership go from 30,000+ to over 65,000+ members world wide, and throughout the period the VUSAF was there.

The VUSAF itself still continues to evolve, with the hard work of each member and the staff living up to the goals set forth by my constituents and me four years ago. I will close the history of the VUSAF with the words a previous Chief of Staff eloquently wrote:

Enjoyment, Education and Excellence. Three simple words are in essence the meaning behind our organization. These are our values, and objectively our mission.

The foundation of our organization is based on enjoyment. This foundation is built upon a commitment to provide an education to its members, and fueled by our constant drive for excellence in all that we do.

Enjoyment is the essential element in our organization, and is the foundation on which all other values are built. We provide a challenge to our members that brings them back looking for more. Military service is an uncommon profession. It calls to people how have enduring commitment and dedication. Our emulation of that service is a tribute to those who do it in the real world, and allow for the exciting factors of their jobs be exemplified in our environment. Well will always continue to strive to produce the most enjoyable program for our members at every level.

It is our goal as an organization to serve as a catalyst to our members, and the general public, for the proper education of the military service and its missions. We strive to provide hands on training to the general person, regardless of position or skill level. This conveys the proper image before the public as to “what we do” and “how we do it”. Internally, it is our responsibility to train our members to accomplish these missions. Education for enjoyment is a process that will challenge this organization for years to come. We will continually strive to meet our education value with the foundation of enjoyment.

We have been entrusted by the governing body of our network to perform tasks that could potentially be hazardous to the public image of the network. This encompasses many things, among which is the responsibility of safely operating high performance aircraft in hazardous situations throughout the world. These makes it paramount that we are competent in our mission, and strive for excellence in the execution of that mission and these core values. Doing your very best is not only an obligation that comes from your professional membership with this organization; it is a moral one as well. 

Enjoyment, Education, and Excellence in all things we do will serve as the road map as we continue to progress through the future, and set the standard for our behavior. They are there to remind us of the importance of the trust place in your section of this environment, and the demands placed upon us as members of such. Learn these lessons well. They will serve you well in your professional career and your personal life.

If you are looking for a organization that will provide you with a challenge, that will be there with you and for you as long as you wish and a organization that offers you boundless opportunities, then I believe that may have found what your looking for. The opportunities within the VUSAF are limitless, the commitment and professionalism is here and instilled with each member, if you want to be apart of a long standing team of dedicated professionals, then enlist today.

Robert Phillips

Robert Phillips

Founder – VUSAF

Neither the Department of the Air Force, nor any other component of the Department of Defense or Federal Government has approved, endorsed, or authorized this promotion, activity, or organization. Virtual United States Air Force organization is in no way affiliated with the Department of Defense, Department of the Air Force, or any other federal or government entity. Virtual United States Air Force is a group of flight simulation enthusiasts with the common interest of promoting enjoyment and cameraderie through the simulation of military operations and procedures utilizing several flight simulation platforms.

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