Flying into Oshkosh

I doubt you’ll find anything particularly thrilling here, but a few people have asked to see another video of what it looks like flying into Oshkosh, Wis., during the AirVenture show, when it becomes the busiest airport in the world.

The answer, at least when we flew in after avoiding some storms on Thursday evening, was “it doesn’t look like much.” While there’s usually a fair amount of nonsense caused by wayward pilots, everyone seemed to be on their best behavior.

The show ended this afternoon.

  • John

    You made it look easy.

    • It’s organized chaos, but it’s doable if people just follow directions.

      You hear that kid in the Cessna talking to controllers? That’s a pilot who couldn’t be bothered reading the instructions (which you can find here:

      Nobody is supposed to talk to the controllers. So why he’s making position reports is beyond me.

      Also, note the controller is making a big mistake, too. You’re supposed to ID people by type and description. So when the guys just says “RV turn left”, well, there are hundreds of RVs. He’s supposed to say something like “Yellow RV” (you’ll note I turn left when he says “RV turn left”, but he’s not talking to me).

      It’s not a good time for uncertainty, but sometimes you get to fly in with crackerjack controllers who are on their “A” game, and sometimes you’re just trying to stay away from Bubba the Pilot.

      I can’t image flying this route without having someone in the right seat to call out traffic.

      • John

        “It’s organized chaos, but it’s doable if people just follow directions.”

        You just described my entire existence lately.

        I get a page not found from the link you posted.

        Don’t you all have numbers attached to your planes? Doesn’t it make more sense to call you by that rather than by some sort of weak description of your plane? I couldn’t remember the model of your plane this morning, but it actually popped back into my head when I first watched the video and was trying to figure out from your actions when the controller gave the command to turn left.

        I remember from last year that you blogged/commented about how great the ATC people were to work with, because of their professionalism under pressure. Sounds like this year you might have gotten one with a bit less experience.

        • Try the link now.

          The FAA people are sitting in a field with binoculars down at Fisk. And then they hand you off to the tower. They can’t see your numbers.

          The ATC people are great. It’s a little different now because there’s a little more seniority involved, I’m told. They work in teams of four with one rookie. Sometimes you get the rookie and he can get a little excited.

          Check my video from last year and note the difference in the controller. THAT guy was a super pro vet at Oshkosh.

          • John

            That’s the video I was remembering.

            Why do they ask you guys to land on the different dots? Is it to make taxiing more efficient?

          • They land several planes at once on the runways, whereas usually you land a plane on the runway and then wait until it’s off the runway before landing the next one. That won’t work at Oshkosh.

          • jon

            “They land several planes at once on the runways”

            Is this as crazy as it sounds? Because that sounds pretty crazy. Particularly after seeing photos on newscut of a big planes prop turning a little plane into little airplane cutlets…

          • That was about 10 year ago, an Avenger sliced up an RV-6. but that wasn’t on a runway; that was on a taxiway.

            Is it safe to land multiple lanes on a runway. It has been and people who fly into Oshkosh tend to be very good pilots. The controllers are excellent and the systems in place to get people off the runway quickly makes the place look like an aircraft carrier.

            But, yeah, you have to be on your “A” game.

          • John

            Now that the link works, I read most of the booklet while I was eating lunch. (not all of it, because I lost interest somewhere around the instructions on how to leave). I didn’t understand a good chunk of it either – lots of acronyms and language that a non-pilot such as myself only has a passing acquaintence with.

            Well organized chaos to be sure.

            How much of the work is done by volunteers? It seems like getting that many temporary employees (or permanent employees from other airports?) in to do things like direct planes around the taxiways would be prohibitive. But then again, finding a large enough group of volunteers who have the skill set necessary to pull this off would prevent some unique challenges of its own.

          • Oshkosh is mostly all volunteer.

          • A little later on, I’ll post a long video here in comments showing the whole approach from Green Lake. Basically, everyone arrives at Ripon, WI at the same time, they all sort themselves out and then follow railroad tracks into Fisk, where FAA controllers are on the ground and then send planes to one of two runways . The video above is AFTER that point.

            While flying up the railroad tracks, everyone has to be 1800 feet, single file, doing 90 knots. Unfortunately, that rarely seems to happen and hilarity ensues.

          • John

            I look forward to the longer video.

            If you ever need a traffic assistant to ride shotgun, just let me know. I think it’d be an amazing thing to see. (Or heck, just someone to ride to a fly in pancake breakfast with you)