Wisconsin air circus begins

The big aviation fly-in in Oshkosh opened this morning over in Oshkosh, Wis.

For one week each year, the airport becomes the busiest airport in the world.

Getting tens of thousands of airplanes in safely isn’t easy and it’s more than a bit harrowing.

Take a look at the scene at 7:13 this morning (NSFW). FlightAware isn’t even showing all of the aircraft in the vicinity as the pilots are supposed to shut off transponders and data. (Listen to the action here)

Good grief!

Posted by Robert Brian Collins on Monday, July 23, 2018

Here’s what’s happening: All the planes coming from around the country meet at Ripon (just southeast of Green Lake) and sort themselves out. I’ve flown it; it’s like aerial combat out there.

They then follow railroad tracks, self-separating by less than a half mile to keep from hitting each other.

Air traffic controllers sit in a field. Using binoculars, they identify the type of aircraft and radio them to either turn left (toward one runway) or go straight (toward another runway).

Traffic is so thick, the pilots aren’t supposed to radio back. Instead, they rock their wings to acknowledge they received their instruction.

On this opening morning, it was chaos, with controllers sending everyone back to Ripon to start over.

“Never in our 6 years flying in here has it been this bad,” a friend who flew in on Sunday told me.

Amazingly, I can’t recall a single midair accident in this area in the 10 years I’ve been visiting Oshkosh, although there may well have been one.

Once they get to the airport, the planes land two or three at a time on the runways (colored dots are painted on the runway and each plane is assigned a color to land on), aided by the hand-picked best air traffic controllers in the business.