If you are planning to fly yourself to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) AirVenture this year, you better start reading. The notice to air missions (NOTAM) that provides guidance for arrivals and departures to Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has been released.
During the annual convention, the control tower at KOSH becomes the busiest in the world. Pilots are instructed to land their aircraft on particular colored dots, and radio traffic is kept to a minimum because there are so many aircraft on approach. On average, an airplane lands every 17 seconds on the north-south runways. The east-west runway, which serves the warbird ramp, is also busy, as is the smaller ultralight and vintage area on the south end of the airport.
The FAA oversees the event and the publication of the NOTAM.
The 32-page document can be downloaded here.
The NOTAM begins with notes on preflight planning. The first thing you read is that “pilots should be prepared for the possibility of diverting to an alternate airport such as Fond du Lac (KFLD), Appleton (KATW), or Green Bay (KGRB).”
It is noted that Fond du Lac will have a temporary control tower in operation during AirVenture. The frequency can be found in the NOTAM.
Once you land, you will be directed to parking—there is information on the printed sign you should have in your aircraft and displayed so the ground crew knows where to put you. For example, GAC means General Aviation Camping.
Since so many pilots come from outside the area, the NOTAM has detailed VFR traffic transition diagrams warning the visiting aviators about military operations area, special traffic advisories, and terminal areas to avoid. Another page walks you through transitioning through the airspace managed by Chicago Approach.
Arrivals are explained in both a textual and pictorial fashion. For example, all variations of the Fisk arrival are spelled out, and there are accompanying drawings and photographs with annotations.
Notes for Fond du Lac arrivals and departures can be found as well.
The plans for large formation arrivals are also explained. The NOTAM reads: “To increase efficiency and safety of traffic arriving at Wittman Regional Airport, several large groups of similar-performance aircraft have been approved to make formation arrivals. Participation in these arrivals is limited to aircraft registered in each group and requires an FAA letter of authorization.
“These formation arrivals are scheduled for late morning through midafternoon on Saturday, July 22, and for early morning on Sunday, July 23. Weather and other factors may change the schedule. Traffic using the Fisk VFR arrival to Oshkosh can expect delays during these large formation arrivals.”
Type of Aircraft Matters
Warbirds, ultralights, helicopters, and seaplanes—pay attention because there are special procedures just for you.
Pilots should be prepared to enter a holding pattern when arriving at Oshkosh. The NOTAM provides detailed instructions on when and how to enter the hold along with airspeeds, altitudes, and what geographic point you will be holding over. Pilots who have never flown a holding pattern before would be wise to get some experience with this before they head for the show. You will also want to carry extra fuel for this contingency.
Among the changes in this year’s NOTAM, the ultralight area has been shifted slightly, and pilots are cautioned not to overfly the area.
Be sure to read the details on the distance between colored dots on both Runways 36L and 36R along with when to exit the runway. Don’t confuse the runways—36L is the wider of the two. Don’t overshoot.
Canadian pilots receive special mention in the NOTAM, and there are procedures for pilots without radios as well.
VFR departures and IFR departures are also spelled out, along with notes on picking up an IFR clearance after departure.
There is some irony in the presentation of the 2023 NOTAM—it features a B-17 on the cover. The image was selected by the FAA—the creators of the NOTAM—months ago, perhaps because AirVenture is known as one of the few places where the average person can get up close to an airworthy B-17.
There are less than 25 of the iconic aircraft still flying. At this time, it is unknown if any B-17s will be making it to AirVenture. Several of the aircraft, including the EAA’s Aluminium Overcast, have been self-grounded out of an abundance of caution because of a potential wing spar issue. The aircraft are undergoing meticulous inspections. As this story was going to print, the FAA had not released an airworthiness directive for the B-17 wing spars.
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on flyingmag.com.