FAA exponentially beefs up its control tower staff to prepare for the annual Experimental Aircraft Association Airventure in Oshkosh, Wis., bringing in 60 controllers – out of 150 applicants – 18 supervisors and three operations managers. The additional staff represents 43 FAA air traffic facilities the agency says.
FAA calls its tower -- which is 121-ft. tall at controller “eye level,” according to Wanda Adelman, FAA air traffic district manager based in Milwaukee – “the Busiest Air Traffic control Tower in the World.” That slogan hangs on the tower, just below the controller cab.
The reason is, during Oshksosh, the tower has handled as many as 3,400 flights in one day. Rather, 3,400 in 10 hours. While Chicago’s O’Hare tower or Atlanta’s Hartsfield tower may come close, or even exceed Oshkosh numbers, the traffic is spread out over 24 hours.
FAA signs letters of agreement with EAA and participants to support mass arrivals. On Saturday (July 21), for instance, 127 Beechcraft Bonanzas landed within 14 minutes. That involved one clearance, but much advance coordination amongst the Bonanza pilots. They landed on three runways simultaneously, including the newly opened grass strip.
FAA controllers also have approval for reduced clearances, down to as little as 1,500-ft. separation in some cases, to also help accommodate the traffic.
Long after EAA’s annual event, a typical day at Oshkosh: between 100-400 operations.