Flying Into OSH by Michael Kosta
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"Michael Kosta" <mikel@dimensional.com>

OK: some last minute advice for those heading for OSH. I should have
done this long ago, but got busy. Read the archives for the article
about staying at OSH posted earlier. This is pretty much for those
flying in. It is still a be-prepared-and-expect-anything note. PLAN YOUR
FLIGHT, FLY THE PLAN. Go with enough gas in your aircraft you don't have
to land somewhere you hadn't planned. Have your maps and printed NOTAM
sheets handy. 

Speaking of gas, it is a GAS flying into OSH. If you have an airplane,
you must fly it there at some time or another. Might as well be this
year. 

Go to the EAA web site www.eaa.org and READ THE NOTAM. Let me say that
again. READ THE NOTAM. OK. You do not need to read the whole thing, just
those parts that apply to you. Not going IFR? Forget the IFR parts. Have
a radio? Forget the no radio procedures. It isn't for you if you lose
your radio on the way. That's when you take you your handheld. You do
carry a spare, don't you? How are you going to listen to the Air Boss
during the airshow without your handheld.

You also do not need to print the whole NOTAM unless you just like to
have it lying around. Go to the section listing and print just those
sections that apply to you. You will need to know the NOTAM to get there
AND to depart, so print out a copy of what you need and take it with
you. I have mine trimmed down to almost fit my knee board. 

OK: so here you come towards OSH, already WATCHING FOR OTHER AIRPLANES.
Actually you are not going towards, OSH, you are going towards the town
of Ripon (pronounced RIPon), because that is where everyone starts.
Program the lat/long of Ripon into your GPS: N43deg 50.29 W88deg 50.68.
It also is in the upper right hand corner of the NOTAM map. About 50
miles out (!) turn on your landing lights. Tune your radio to 125.9 and
start trying to pick up ATIS, which you won't get clearly until 20-25
miles out but you won't need it until you start to get close. They will
tell you the usual: wind, altimeter, etc., and WHAT FLOW PATTERN COLOR
they are currently using: RED, BLUE, PURPLE or YELLOW. These are
different approach patterns they are using this year but are colored for
the first time to make the maps easier to use. Pull out that map of
Whitman field that corresponds to that color and look (again; you did
review it before you left didn't you) to see where you will need to be
going. 

WATCH FOR OTHER AIRPLANES. But you are 30 miles from Ripon. 13,000
airplanes will be arriving during the course of the convention. They
will at one time or another be converging on Ripon. You are only one of
them and no one else is going to see them or tell you where they are but
you. And your passengers.

As you approach, and have ATIS info, retune to 120.7 to monitor the Fisk
controllers. These are first contact controllers at the town of Fisk
between Ripon and OSH.  The town of Ripon begins to appear; it has a
large crme colored water tower somewhere in town. As you approach, you
want to be about 2000msl as you will be at 1800msl when you get to
Ripon. If traffic is heavy, Fisk controllers will tell you and advise
you to enter a holding pattern. If you are not at Ripon yet, just start
circling somewhere using LEFT turns, again WATCHING FOR TRAFFIC. LOOK
BEFORE YOU ENTER THE TURN. You will be advised when you can again begin
to approach Ripon. Sometimes you have to hold over Ripon, again circling
with LEFT turns, or over Rush Lake, just north of Ripon. 

Fisk will then let you know when to proceed. There are a set of railroad
tracks that take off north east out of Ripon towards Fisk. Get in line
with whoever is in front of you, always looking left and right for other
airplanes doing the same. Be polite. Let other people in. You follow the
railroad tracks at 1800msl at 90 knots (or 2300msl at 135kts). As you
near Fisk, you will see a miniature "rabbit", a set of I believe three
strobes flashing. Keep following the rail road tracks which bear to the
right some at Fisk; DO NOT FLY OVER THE STROBES. The Fisk controllers
will be taking about a thousand miles an hour if it is busy and you JUST
LISTEN. They will identify you by your airplane type (low wing, high
wing), color, or who you are following. Unless asked, you DO NOT TALK TO
THEM. Sometimes they will ask you where you are going on the field or
other questions. BRIEF answers are best; don't use your call sign, just
answer them. It will be WAY too busy for you to chat with them. 

When they call your type ("OK, I see a white low wing following the blue
twin rock your wings so I can see you OK that's a great wing rock you
will be following that twin we are using the RED flow pattern today
everyone keep your speed up there is a high wing maybe a Maule following
the low wing rock your wings OK you will be following the low
wing............") It will floor you the way they smoothly handle
things. As an aside, this is a treasured assignment for the controllers
to work OSH during the convention and the waiting list is long. And they
are GOOD. It is the world's busiest airport at the time of the
convention.

And suddenly you're in line, heading for OSH and, yikes, there it is you
were so busy you didn't even see it and it is coming up there, by the
lake man the lake looks really close OK 90kts 1800. The Fisk controllers
will hand you off to tower, the frequency depends on what runway you are
being assigned to; 9/27: 118.5; 18/36: 126.6. It is on your COLORED
arrival card you printed from the NOTAM.

As you get there, there are actually 3 runways: 36L/18R is the main
north/south runway. 36R/18L, is actually a taxyway turned into a runway.
27/9 is the main (only) east/west runway. 36/18 is the closest to the
Vintage/Showplane parking and camping, 9/27 to the spam can
parking/camping but as long as you get on the field and have your
destination card handy, you will be directed as to where to go.
(Destination card?)

NOTE: There are two taxi ways paralleling 36/18. It is the EAST one (on
the lake side of the main runway, and also near a bunch of hangers) that
is the temporary runway. If you see a bunch of people standing around,
green machines and motor bikes driving and airplanes taxiing where you
are about to land, GO AROUND. You are about to land on the WEST most
taxiway which is a taxiway, not a runway. The taxiway/runway will also
be numbered, the taxiway will (may) have a big yellow X on it. Why am I
saying this? At least one airplane lands on the taxiway every year. No
one has been hurt yet due to the diligence of the parking crew to get
out of the way.

If you are asked to land on 9/27, the tower controllers will ask you to
land on one of several circles (white, orange or green) that are painted
on the runway. Get as close to the circle as you can as there are either
people landing at the same time behind or in front of you. DO WHAT THE
CONTROLLER TELLS YOU. You may be asked to expedite your presence off the
runway, even onto the grass along side the runway. Miss the runway
lights and get off the runway. DO WHAT THEY TELL YOU, if you can. There
is someone landing behind you and you may be in the way.

OK, that being said: this is your first time at OSH and things are
happening at a rapid rate and seem to be getting out of hand. This is
NOT your first flight in your airplane. Fly the airplane. Monitor your
airspeed, fuel, traffic and all the other things you monitor on any
other flight to any other airport. Thats all this is, after all:
another landing at another airport. If things do not look good (I'm
going to land on top of that other airplane if I do what he tells me) go
around. Be safe. You are the pilot in command and it is your job to
conduct a safe flight, even in the strange environment of OSH. Fly safe.
Like you always do. I can tell you stories of VERY experienced pilots
flying onto OSH and doing things they THOUGHT the controller was telling
them, even when they thought it wasn't right. PAY ATTENTION. It isn't
that hard. It is just like flying into any other busy airport. Almost. 

Destination card? Yes. PLEASE MAKE A DESTINATION CARD NOW and take it
with you. Otherwise, you may be taxiing longer than your flight to get
there to find a place to park. Go to the EAA web site, look up
Airventure 2002 and go to Aircraft Parking Status; there is a list of
what you put on your card there, depending on where you are headed. Make
the sign LARGE ( at least 8X10) and in bold black letters. The letters
"HBP" is homebuilt parking without camping, "HPC" is homebuilt parking
with camping. Others are listed on the web site. DO NOT put it on a 3X5
card in pencil. You will just jamb up the works. How do I know? I help
park the Vintage aircraft and every year dozens of pilots have no card,
or it was hurriedly made on final approach. That means someone has to
stop traffic, walk out to the pilot and ask where they are going. Don't
be stupid: make a card. 

On the ground, you will be directed by first flagmen then you will be
assigned a biker on a small motor scooter who will park you in your
spot. Thank them all for getting you to OSH and parked as they are
tireless volunteers and do it for the love of the job, seeing airplanes
like yours and meeting people like you. If things go bad, you aren't
parked where you want, you were directed all over the airport before you
got parked, DO NOT YELL AT A VOLUNTEER. This is a part time job and the
person you are yelling at had probably nothing to do with your problem.
Thank them, get out, sit down and realize you are at the worlds'
greatest flying event. Then fix your problem.

TAKE YOUR TIEDOWNS. Every year, someone doesnt bring theirs. If yours
happen to fall out of your airplane on the way over, there are a limited
number of sets available. BRING YOUR OWN. Nuff said.

Departure. Do not ask a volunteer what the departure frequency is.
First, they are not departing, you are. Second: this is just an
admission that you did not plan your flight with all the information
available to you and didn't read the NOTAM. Bad idea. READ THE NOTAM.
Including the part about departing. You will need to depart at some time
or another, after all. PRINT THE DEPARTURE INFORMTION also. A briefing
is available on the field if the information blew out of your airplane
as you were taxiing (I could tell you stories).

Bottom line: yes, it is the biggest collection of airplanes on the
planet. Yes, it does get busy. Yes, it is a little freaky to fly in for
the first time. But everyone that is there flew in for the first time
once. It's not that hard. You can do it. 13,000 or so other people will
also do it during the course of the convention. It is a system that has
been polished for years and works well. It will work for you. Have fun.
FLY TO OSH. 

This is by no means everything you need to know about getting to OSH,
but should help some. You are responsible to make sure you get there
safely. This is just a little more information than you had before. 

See you there. 

Michael
RV-4 N232 Suzie Q