EAA AirVenture OSHKOSH '99

EAA AirVenture OSHKOSH '99

by H. Dean Chamberlain

The special FAA Air Traffic Management Plan Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) for the 47th annual Experimental Aircraft Association's (EAA) Fly-In Convention at Wittman Regional Airport, Oshkosh, WI, is available. The NOTAM provides detailed arrival and departure procedures for aircraft flying to, through, and from the Oshkosh area from July 25 to August 3. Note the special NOTAM procedures start three days before EAA AirVenture Oshkosh '99 officially opens this year's dates are July 28 to August 3. As noted in the NOTAM, "Pilots should expect last minute changes to previously issued or anticipated procedures and/or clearances."

Like our past FAA Aviation News articles on the fly-in, this article does not provide detailed operating procedures for flying to AirVenture Oshkosh '99. Rather, it provides a brief overview of some of the important safety information and flight services provided in the NOTAM, the video, and the special reference booklet prepared for the event. Pilots planning on flying to AirVenture Oshkosh '99 should obtain copies of the below referenced products designed to help them plan for a safe flight to and from Wittman Regional Airport at Oshkosh by noting the procedures, both old and new, outlined in the NOTAM. Like all flights, no flight is complete until the pilot and passengers are all home safely. Getting to Wisconsin is only half of the trip. Getting safely home after a great visit to AirVenture Oshkosh '99 is the pilot in command's ultimate responsibility.

All pilots should review their respective holding procedures in case holding is required.

Warbird pilots should review their special operating procedures for changes from last year's published procedures. Page 15 of the NOTAM details the new warbird operating procedures and changes for 1999. Important notice: There has been a change made in the "New In 1999" section on page 15. A tower frequency has been added in the first paragraph. Part of that first paragraph now states that Warbird pilots who cannot maintain a maximum forward speed of 150 knots are to proceed from over FLD for a straight in approach to Runway 36L. They are to report abeam the "Warbird Island" to OSH tower on frequency 118.9 MHz stating type of aircraft and position. To read all of the new information, Warbird pilots should review page 15 of the NOTAM for complete details.

In addition to the FAA's special EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 1999 NOTAM, the FAA Office of System Safety has produced a video and Fly-In Quick Reference Booklet highlighting the procedures outlined in the NOTAM. For a copy of the NOTAM, video, and Fly-In Quick Reference Booklet, pilots can call (800) 564-6322.

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh '99 information will also be published in the Special Airshow Section of the (July 17) FAA Notices to Airmen publication.

Even if you have flown to Oshkosh in the past, you will still need to review the NOTAM for changes.

If this is your first flight to Oshkosh, you need to get a copy of the NOTAM and study it in detail. You should also try to review a copy of the video. If you are a first time flight arrival, finding yourself number 10 in trail to enter the traffic pattern is not the time to wonder what is going to happen next.

 Although the arrival and departure procedures are not complicated, they do need to be understood very well. The procedures are designed to move hundreds of aircraft safely, quickly, and predictably in and out of the Oshkosh area and Wittman Regional Airport by having both pilots and controllers follow the same published procedures. Knowing and following the published procedures are especially important in the case of an emergency at Wittman Regional Airport or one of the nearby airports.

 Another important operational procedure is the limited use of radio communications to control aircraft landing or departing at Oshkosh. The NOTAM outlines when pilots should communicate and when they should just monitor their radios. Strict compliance with the published communication procedures will avoid any unnecessary frequency congestion while speeding up the landing or departure process. But every pilot should contact ATC immediately if there is any question of safety of flight or in case of an emergency. Pilots should also remember some of the aircraft flying to and from the Oshkosh area don't have radios.

 The NOTAM has special sections for both IFR and VFR pilots.

VFR pilots should pay particular attention to the airspace information given because of the number of aircraft involved.

All pilots need to pay attention to other traffic as they approach the Oshkosh area. Since there is such a performance mix among the different types of aircraft flying to, through, or in the Oshkosh area, there is an increased mid-air collision risk. One way to reduce that risk is to fly with your landing lights and beacon or strobe lights on within 30 miles or so of Oshkosh. If you are flying on an airway, you might want to extend that lights-on distance. Pilots need to be alert for traffic from any direction as they approach Oshkosh. You should also monitor the appropriate ATC frequencies listed in the NOTAM when flying within the area. Everyone should also use the appropriate altitude for your respective direction and type of flight, IFR or VFR.


The NOTAM outlines in detail two important safety services for pilots planning to fly across Lake Michigan. One is a chart showing the minimum reception altitudes and coverage areas for communications around and over the lake for the altitudes of 1,500, 2,500, 3,500, and 4,500 FT MSL. Note: Not all these altitudes provide continuous radio coverage around the lake. Radio coverage of the emergency frequency 121.5 MHz is available over most of the lake only at a minimum altitude of approximately 4,600 Ft. MSL. Higher is always better.

Appropriate flotation gear should be carried onboard aircraft that plan on crossing the lake at an altitude below the aircraft's minimum engine-out gliding distance to the nearest shore. Pilots should compute that distance based upon the prevailing winds aloft.

 The second safety service is the Lake Reporting Service (LRS) provided by the Green Bay and Lansing Automated Flight Service Stations (AFSS's) for aircraft crossing Lake Michigan. Although the Lake Reporting Service is outlined in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), briefly, a LRS flight plan is a separate flight plan filed when over flying the lake. It is like a typical flight plan, but it also requires the route and time over water. Pilots must list the departure and arrival shore crossing points. The diagram in the NOTAM shows a map of the lake with VOR frequencies, radio frequencies, minimum reception altitudes, land reporting points, and the responsible AFSS's for various locations around Lake Michigan. A chart is also provided which includes distances between crossing points.

Once a LRS flight plan is activated, radio contact must be made every 10 minutes. If no contact is made within 15 minutes, search and rescue will be alerted. Pilots are responsible for activating and canceling their respective Lake Reporting Service flight plans. Pilots who have a communication failure must land and notify a flight service station as soon as possible.

Please note: A Lake Reporting Service flight plan is separate and in addition to your normal flight plan. When activating and canceling your Lake Reporting Service flight plan, please be specific as to what flight plan you are activating and closing. When departing Oshkosh, please file your Lake Reporting Service flight plan in person or by telephone at the Oshkosh FSS before departure to avoid the radio congestion caused by air filing.


Pilots flying to and from the Oshkosh area should periodically monitor 121.5 MHz en route to check for any activated emergency locator transmitters (ELT) that might be reporting an aircraft accident. If you detect an ELT signal, contact the appropriate air traffic control (ATC) facility responsible for the area you are in with the following information. You should be able to report your time, location, and altitude of when you first received the alert and when you last heard the alert when you contact ATC.


Another potential problem for some aircraft is fuel exhaustion. Because of the potential delay with so many aircraft operating within the Oshkosh area, including the risk of an accident on the field closing the airport for a while, all pilots should make sure they have enough extra fuel on board for the flight plus any required IFR or VFR minimums plus enough fuel for an inflight hold of at least 30 minutes or more. This is a case where the more fuel, the better. Just stay within your approved weight and balance limitations.  In addition to allowing yourself extra fuel, VFR flights should extend their projected flight plans by 30 minutes to compensate for any unexpected delays because of traffic.  All pilots should review the flight plan filing and closing procedures in the NOTAM.


Because of the mix of traffic, all pilots might want to practice flying their aircraft at its minimum safe-the operative word is minimum SAFE airspeed-before arriving at Oshkosh. Whether you do it at home on a practice flight or en route to Oshkosh, you should be able to control your aircraft safely at its slowest recommended airspeed, its normally recommended airspeed, and at a faster than normal airspeed. The same is true for landing approach speeds. The reason is you may be mixed in with other aircraft that may be slower or faster than you. You may also need to be able to maintain your place in trail of other aircraft. But as the NOTAM states, if you cannot safely reduce airspeed to follow slower traffic, inform ATC and do not, we repeat do not, fly at any airspeed that jeopardizes your safety of flight.


The NOTAM explains in detail with charts and text the modified VFR arrival procedures in effect during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh '99. All pilots need to review these procedures before arriving in the Oshkosh general area because even IFR flights may be directed to follow the VFR procedures when the weather is VFR at the airport.

 Because of the various planned flight activities at Wittman Regional Airport during the EAA Fly-In Convention and the special operating restrictions including when the airport is closed because of the daily airshow, all pilots need to review the NOTAM for such items as airport operating hours, arrival altitudes, airspeeds, airport surface operating procedures, airport safety notes, parking notes, and other operating procedures listed in the NOTAM.


After landing and before securing your aircraft, all pilots in radio equipped aircraft are asked to do a final radio check on 121.5 MHz to check for an inadvertent emergency locator transmitter (ELT) activation. With the large number of aircraft attending EAA AirVenture Oshkosh '99, you can imagine the difficulty in finding the source of an inadvertent ELT signal or multiple ELT signals.


While at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh '99, visit the FAA's Safety Center for all your aviation needs. The FAA Safety Center has Flight Service Station specialists available for your weather and flight planning needs, Flight Standards aviation safety inspectors from the Milwaukee FSDO to provide support, various FAA displays and exhibits as well as an ongoing schedule of FAA and industry safety presentations. Many of the presentations are given by nationally known speakers. The Safety Center is located near the FAA control tower on the Wittman Regional Airport.


As in past years, there are special procedures for various types of aircraft and type of flight plans. Warbirds, aircraft without radios, ultralight vehicles, seaplanes, IFR procedures and reservations, VFR aircraft and procedures, the establishment of a temporary air traffic control tower at Fond Du Lac (FLD) airport, and the use of reduced arrival and departure separation standards in the Oshkosh area are all covered in the NOTAM. The NOTAM also shows the special flight procedures for flying around Chicago and Milwaukee airspace.

 Now if the weather folks could only put out a NOTAM guaranteeing perfect weather for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh '99. But regardless of the weather, if you are flying to Oshkosh, please plan carefully, file and activate your flight plan, take your time, remember to close your VFR flight plan upon arrival if you are going VFR, and last but not least, "Have a great time."
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