The world’s biggest general aviation airshow is underway and aviators and enthusiasts alike are flocking into Wittman Regional Airport. However it has not been just fun and roses, with some chaotic events happening in between.
The EAA AirVenture Oshkosh grounds and property sustained damage after severe storms rolled through on Saturday afternoon. Trees and debris caused damage to vehicles and the campgrounds.
One aircraft was flipped onto its nose, despite being tied down, with the biplane coming to rest against a tree.
Other aircraft received minor damage, but it was at the exhibit tents that you could see the effect of the storm. This is nothing new, as in recent years Oshkosh has had similar occurrences, sometimes with more results like flooding. Fortunately no injuries were reported.
The director of communications, Dick Knapinski, said several people sought shelter inside the EAA Aviation museum during the storm, while others stayed put on the campgrounds. He added that there were some reports of aircraft damage on Boeing Plaza, but several of the aircraft parked on the field weathered the storm. He credits aircraft owners for securing their aircraft upon arrival.
With roughly 10 000 aircraft flying into Oshkosh, the airport proudly boost themselves as ‘The world’s busiest airport’ with over 64 air traffic control specialists, and 17 managers to make it all work over the seven days of the show. A feature unique to Oshkosh, is that all ATC and monitors wear pink shirts during the event.
Aircraft line up line astern for kilometres en route to Oshkosh. Pilots are not allowed to speak over the radio as it would jam up the frequency. Spotters with radios are placed on the ground along the corridors that identify aircraft and place them into the que. If pilots are not complying, then they are told to get out, and try again or go to an alternate airport.
Landing also presents some challenges of their own. Big coloured fluorescent dots are repainted every year on the runways to help aid aircraft separation during landing. Controllers request aircraft to land on these dots, enabling multiple aircraft landings at the same time.
These designated markings first started to appear in 1998, with two touchdown points painted on Runway 27. In 1999, they became an orange and a green dot. Runway 9 received a white dot.
A blue dot appeared in 2004 for Runway 18 Right, and in 2005, a pink dot was added. Total dots five.
In 2008, the purple dot and a yellow dot were added to Runway 36 Left, with comments of this becoming “The Wisconsin polka-dot airport’. The dots were originally 35 feet wide, but have now increased to 50 feet in diameter.
Various incidents with aircraft have happened since aircraft have started arriving from last week, but we will cover these later.
This is an airshow that grabs all with passion and a love for aviation, and you must get there to experience the thrill and the vibe.
When Paul Poberezny launched the Experimental Aircraft Association back in 1953 from his suburban home in Milwaukee, he could never have known how this organization would have grown into what it is today.
Thank you Paul.