Checklist: Flying To Oshkosh For EAA AirVenture

Oshkosh vintage airplanes.
Credit: Molly McMillin

It’s extremely important to do your homework before flying into Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) for the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA)’s AirVenture July 26-Aug. 1. Expect a high density of traffic, unique procedures and reduced separations. EAA says the week-long AirVenture Oshkosh event “has the highest concentration of aircraft in the world” each year.

Oshkosh 2021 NOTAM

To help you prepare, the EAA offers a free 32-page booklet available for download that it says is a “must” for flying to the Oshkosh event.

Take note of the following five changes for 2021:

*Transitions added to Fisk arrival

*The FAH VOR was decommissioned

*The IKK VOR was decommissioned

*Runway 18L/36R is now 60-ft. wide

Preflight Planning

The NOTAM lists detailed instructions, but a few things to consider:

*Be prepared to be diverted to any of the following alternative airports: Fond du Lac (FLD), Appleton (ATW) or Green Bay (GRB). 

*Starting July 22, 2021, OSH is closed to incoming traffic from 8:00pm to 7:00 am daily

*The airshow demonstration area and Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) are within 5 nm around OSH—from the surface to 16,000-ft MSL. TFR times vary daily.

Flight Plans 

EAA urges pilots to file flight plans as far in advance as possible. IFR plans can be filed up to 22 hours in advance but VFR ones can be done at any time. Also note that the NOTAM discourages air filing flight plans between 0600-2100 CDT due to frequency congestion.

Arrivals and Departures

Before the trip to Oshkosh, pilots should check out EAA’s five-part arrival and departure video series to see the updated procedures from previous years. 

*One of the tips is tuning into AirVenture Arrival ATIS 125.9 100 miles within Oshkosh to make sure the airport is open and accepting your type of aircraft.

*Understand the color dot references before you land.

Accidents Happen

Crashes do happen when flying into this event, so understand the risks.

For instance, in 2015, a Piper PA-46-310P was flying the Fisk arrival and impacted runway 27 at OSH while trying to land for the EAA AirVenture. The pilot and four passengers all were injured. According to an NTSB report, “The airplane entered the right downwind leg at 1,800 ft and started to descend while maintaining 90 knots. The controller instructed the pilot to turn onto the base leg and land on the “green dot” (about 2,500 ft from the displaced threshold). After starting the base turn, the pilot saw a departing airplane taxi onto runway 27 and begin its takeoff roll. The controller then told the pilot to continue the approach and land on the “orange dot” (about 1,000 ft from the displaced threshold). While turning from base leg to final, about 130 ft above ground level, the pilot reduced power and the airplane entered a steep bank angle, which resulted in a stall.” The pilot added power trying to recover but it was too late and the aircraft crashed.

Lee Ann Shay

As executive editor of MRO and business aviation, Lee Ann Shay directs Aviation Week's coverage of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), including Inside MRO, and business aviation, including BCA.