Going to Oshkosh? Read this!

July 22, 2009 by Bruce Landsberg

090716aopaeaa2Oshkosh is a pilgrimage for many pilots. Percentage wise, the number of accidents relative to the number of aircraft participating is pretty good but when one happens, it detracts from one of aviation’s’ showcases.

A few observations that seem to be perennial:

1. Read the blooming NOTAM about how to get into and out of the busiest aviation environment in the world. Ya gotta know the territory BEFORE arriving within 100 miles of OSH. ASF has some guidance for you and a link to the official notam.

I am always amazed at the casualness of some pilots in not knowing the arrival routes, radio procedures, etc. There’s a time to talk and a time to just listen – very intently.

2. Be proficient in slow flight and landing. Anticipate that some of your fellow drivers will be unable to comply with routine speed restrictions – 90 knots at 1,800′ and 135 knots at 2,300′ for OSH arrivals. For some of us that’s faster than we used to flying and for others it’s slower.

If the guy or gal in front of you is unable to do 90 knots and your aircraft is starting to get wobbly at 80 knots don’t push a marginal or impossible situation. Break off – advise ATC and reenter the flow. Every so often someone tries a hover in a fixed wing – hasn’t worked yet and the results are usually discouraging

3. Fuel reserve is not optional. ASF normally recommends a one hour reserve and that means to be on the ground – not starting to think about where to go. Going into this maelstrom of aircraft anticipate delays of at least 30 -45 minutes. On airshow arrivals I always plan a fuel stop that allows :45 of loiter time, before my diversion fuel allowance and before getting to the “golden hour” of reserve. If you get into a bind declare ” minimum fuel” early and, if needed, an emergency before things get too far.

Almost every year someone comes up short. Neither you, your insurance agent nor the FAA inspector will be looking forward to the subsequent discussion.

OSH is a great show to enjoy and I’ll be up there to support the AOPA and ASF effort Monday afternoon and Tuesday – stop by the AOPA tent – we’ll have some surprises.

If you’ve flown into OSH in prior years share your observations here.

Bruce Landsberg
Senior Safety Advisor, Air Safety Institute

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  • Mark E. Dupont

    I have flown into Oshkosh 6 times before and have seen a few potential problems. I have seen folks flying much slower than the recommended 90 knots in airplanes capable of faster, creating headaches for the folks following. I have also seen pilots mistake an FAA call to another airplane for their own and peel off towards the landing pattern well before reaching Fiske. Fortunately, the procedure is straight-forward and most pilots are trying their best to behave. So, if you follow the NOTAM and keep your mind in gear and your head on a swivel, you should have a safe adventure to tell your friends.

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  • Ross Wear

    I’ve flown to OSH every year for 19 years – my recommendation – know the NOTAM by heart – have the frequencies at hand, and take an extra pair of eyes or two…especially the first few times.