EAA AirVenture Oshkosh (formerly The EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In) is America's largest annual gathering of aviation enthusiasts held each summer at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, United States.
The event is presented by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), a national/international organization based in Oshkosh. The airshow is seven days long and typically begins on the last Monday in July. The airport's control tower is the busiest control tower in the world during the gathering.
EAA was founded in 1953 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as an organization for people who were building or restoring their own recreational aircraft. Homebuilding is still a large part of EAA but the organization has grown over the years to include almost every aspect of recreational aviation and aeronautics.
The first EAA fly-in was held in 1953 in Hales Corners, Wisconsin (near Milwaukee). In 1959, EAA fly-in moved to Rockford, Illinois. When it outgrew its facilities at the Rockford airport, the EAA fly-in moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 1970.
For many years the official name of the event was The EAA Annual Convention and Fly-In. In 1998 the name was changed to AirVenture Oshkosh. But many regular attendees still refer to it as The Oshkosh Airshow or just Oshkosh.
For many years, the access to the flight line (the area directly adjacent to the Wittman Field runway) was restricted to EAA members only; this restriction was lifted in the late 1990s, when visitors to the airshow paid for membership up front. Some old fencing bordering the flight line still exists on the air show grounds, with the turnstiles removed.
Today, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is an international gathering place for aviation enthusiasts. An AirVenture participant can study the latest aircraft and innovations; discover new ideas and techniques from the nearly 1,000 forums and workshops; see aviation's top personalities; or just talk airplanes with people from around the world. EAA AIRVENTURE OSHKOSH has become important and influential but retains its friendly and personal feel - part of the reason the world comes to Oshkosh every year.
The British Aerospace / McDonnell Douglas Harrier AV-8B, a Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (VTOL/STOVL) military fighter aircraft made appearances in 1986, 1999, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2011.
Concorde made regular appearances during its scheduled operations, beginning in 1985 and also appearing in 1988, 1990, 1994 and 1998. The crews of the Concorde returned in 2009.
During their 1986 North-American tour, the Italian aerobatic display team Frecce Tricolori performed in Oshkosh. In 1987 Burt Rutan's Rutan Voyager, the first aircraft to fly around the world without refueling, made its final appearance before its record setting flight.
The F-117 Nighthawk "stealth fighter" appeared at the airshow in 1991, shortly after the Gulf War. The plane was roped off and the cockpit was concealed to hide sensitive equipment in its interior.
Among other unique airplanes that have recently appeared at Oshkosh were the Airbus "Beluga" in 2003, the F-22 Raptor in 2006, 2007, and 2008, the V-22 Osprey in 2008 and 2010, NASA's Super Guppy in 2000, the B-2 Spirit in 2007, the C-5 Galaxy in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012. Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter in 2008, Airbus A380 in 2009, and the Erickson Air-Crane in 2009 and 2010. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner also made an appearance in 2011
In 1994, a unique gathering at the event featured 15 of the 25 then-surviving Apollo astronauts, including the complete crews of Apollo 11 (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins) and Apollo 8 (Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders).
In 1997 (celebrating the 50th anniversary of an independent US Air Force), the SR-71 Blackbird performed a fly-over. This was supposed to be supersonic but due to a fuel leak, the aircraft made an emergency landing in Milwaukee. The first pass featured a simulated in-flight refuelling with a KC-135T from 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base.
Also featured in 1997, 2007, and 2008 was a Lockheed U-2 spy plane.
In 2003, the Wright Flyer was a highlight, and a replica designed to fly on the 100th Anniversary of the first flight was granted its flying certification by the Federal Aviation Administration during the show. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 2 were unveiled there, and a physical Wright Flyer mock-up combined with Microsoft's software on a display in front of the pilot (a member of the attending public) was a popular attraction.
In 2005, SpaceShipOne made its only public appearance before being taken to the Smithsonian. Also flying at the show was GlobalFlyer, which had made its record around the world flight in the same year.
The Boeing 747 "Dreamlifter", designed to airlift Boeing main assemblies, made its first visit to the event. It was open for tours, and performed flight demonstrations during the airshow. Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and the Goodyear Blimp made appearances. Glenn Martin demonstrated a personal jetpack, during a test flight called the Martin Jetpack. There were few jetpack manufacturers at the time of the test flight. Rocket Racing League debuted a racing league that plans to use rocket-powered aircraft to race a closed-circuit air racetrack. 2008 also marked the unveiling of the Icon Aircraft, the Icon A5, which is a high-wing amphibious light sport aircraft. Cessna for the first time brought its newest model the Cessna 162 Skycatcher, a side-by-side two-seat, high-wing, strut-braced, tricycle gear light sport aircraft. Cirrus' newest prototype, Cirrus Vision SF50, a single-engine, low-wing, seven-seat, very light jet made its public debut. The Electric Aircraft Corporation ElectraFlyer-C made its first trip. It is an American experimental electric aircraft that is designed by Randall Fishman and produced by his company Electric Aircraft Corporation. The aircraft features a cantilever low-wing, single-seat enclosed cockpit with a bubble canopy, fixed conventional landing gear and a converted Monnett Moni motor glider. Remos unveiled its latest model, Remos GX, a high wing, two seat, single engine light sport aircraft, built in Germany. Austro Engine an Austrian company debuted an all new engine. The Austro Engine 300 is a liquid-cooled, inline four-cylinder, four-stroke, diesel piston aircraft engine that is primarily used for Diamond Aircraft. Lycoming Engines announced the launch of the Lycoming IO-233-LSA which is a certified four-cylinder, direct drive, aircraft piston engine that produces between 100–116 hp. Rolls-Royce announced the launch of the RR500TP, turboprop variant that is intended for use in small aircraft with 450 shp.
In 2009, the Airbus A380 visited the event and made its inaugural showing at a North American airshow. It was open for tours, and performed flight demonstrations during the airshow. Upon arrival, it made a hard landing, causing the wings to flex significantly. It is the largest aircraft to ever visit the event. WhiteKnightTwo Virgin Mothership Eve made its first public appearance by flying four times at the event. Predator B MQ-9 Reaper U.S. Customs and Border Protection unmanned aerial vehicle made its first trip. Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and Jeff Skiles talked about their experiences of US Airways Flight 1549, who successfully completed an emergency landing in the Hudson River. German World War II fighter ace Gunther Rall who shot down 275 planes talked about his incredible life. Flightstar e-Spyder and Erickson Air-Crane S-64F "Elvis" made its first appearance. 2009 also marked the unveiling of a new jet manufactured by Sonex called the SubSonex JSX-1. Mark Erickson, designer and builder of the Dakota Cub Super 18 received type certificate from the FAA. Garmin received supplemental type certificate for the G500 PFD/MFD models. RotorWay International unveiled the new Eagle 300T turbine helicopter. Yuneec International debuted its newest aircraft the Yuneec International E430, a two-seat electric light sport aircraft. Tecnam introduced its newest aircraft the Tecnam P2006T to the U.S. market. It is a high-wing, all-metal four-seat light twin aircraft. Electric Aircraft Corporation ElectraFlyer-X made its first appearance. It is an American kit and light-sport electric aircraft, designed by Randall Fishman and produced by his company Electric Aircraft Corporation. The aircraft features a cantilever low-wing, two-seats, enclosed cockpit under a bubble canopy, fixed tricycle landing gear and a single electric engine in tractor configuration. The Brown Arch, which is the traditional entryway to the flighline received a makeover with a tribute area that includes paving bricks available for purchase. The new main gate features two Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress engine-and-propeller sculptures. AirVenture's Aviation Learning Center debuted which you can learn about affordable flying, fuel education, and electric power for aircraft. Young Eagles unveiled a new program called "International Young Eagles Day," a day set aside to encourage all EAA members and Chapters to participate that is held on the second Saturday of June annually.
2010 was known as "Sploshkosh." Rain from the weeks leading up to the airshow proved too much for the camping grounds to handle. Throughout the campsites and parking areas, massive puddles and muddy grounds caused vehicles of all sizes to get stuck. Large motor homes were not allowed into the camping area because they would simply get stuck; instead, they were sent to parking lots around the Oshkosh area. During the airshow, no airplanes were parked on North 40 because of these wet conditions. EAA celebrated the 75th Anniversaries of the Douglas DC-3 and Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Erickson Air-Crane returned and brought its S-64F "Goliath." The Goodyear Blimp and the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey also returned. Jack Roush crashed his Hawker BeechcraftPremier IA while maneuvering to land on runway 18R. Roush suffered severe facial injuries that resulted in the loss of an eye. His passenger was only slightly hurt. Art Nalls, who flies the only privately owned British Aerospace Sea Harrier, registered N94422 came to the event. Jonathan R. Trappe flew his cluster balloon at the event. Sonex unveiled the Onex, a single-seat, low-wing aircraft with foldable wings. Indigenous People’s Technology and Education Center brought the I-Fly Maverick for the first time. Kestrel debuted its newest aircraft the Kestrel JP10, a high-performance single turboprop-engined all-composite six-seater. OMA SUD debuted its newest line to the market, the OMA SUD Skycar, a five-seat twin piston-engine pusher configuration monoplane. Cobalt unveiled the Cobalt Co50, a five-place, all-composite aircraft that incorporates a canard and split vertical stabilizers in the design, and a pusher engine configuration with retractable landing gear. Sikorsky Aircraft brought its newest model the Sikorsky Firefly, an all-electric helicopter. The Firefly is a modified Sikorsky S-300C helicopter with its engine replaced by an electric motor and two lithium-ion battery packs. The helicopter can hold only the pilot, operate for 12–15 minutes and has a top speed of 80 knots. Plane Driven PD-1 made its public debut. Plane Driven PD-1 is a modification to the Glasair Sportsman GS-2 to convert it into a practical roadable aircraft. It is designed by Trey Johnson and manufactured by Plane Driven and Stoddard-Hamilton Aircraft. GippsAero received FAA type certificate for the Airvan GA8 TC-320. Scotts Miracle-Gro improved the Warbirds area which now includes a new pad expansion, landscaping, and a Veterans Memorial. EAA AirVenture Oshkosh held their first ever night airshow.
All week long during the 2011 convention, they celebrated the 100th year of Naval Aviation and Airmail. They also gave tributes to retired test pilot and airshow great, Bob Hoover and recently retired aerospace engineer, Burt Rutan during the week. It marked the largest and most diverse gathering of Burt Rutan-designed aircraft. It included Rutan's popular Boomerang, Catbird, V-Jet II and Starship. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner visited the event and made its inaugural showing at a North American airshow and it was open for tours. The last flyable Boeing B-29 Superfortress named "Fifi" owned by the Commemorative Air Force made its return to the event since 1995. The world's largest flying Farmers Airship, a Zeppelin NT owned and operated by Airship Ventures made its first appearance by giving rides.
A General Dynamics F-16C Block 30H Fighting Falcon, 87-296, c/n 5C-557, of the 187th Fighter Wing, Alabama Air National Guard, flying out of Montgomery Air National Guard Base, overruns the runway. The nose gear collapsed, the nose radome broke and the air-frame skidded to a stop. The pilot was uninjured. An amateur-built Gottschalk John 1 “Dominator” gyroplane sustained substantial damage when it landed hard after losing lift during takeoff from runway 33 at the grass Ultralight Airstrip. The pilot was uninjured.
Sikorsky X2, the fastest helicopter manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft made its visit to the event. Tecnam's Tecnam P2010 a four seat, high wing, single engine light aircraft of mixed metal and carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer construction made its U.S. debut. Pipistrel brought the Pipistrel Taurus G4. Ultraflight Lazair designer Dale Kramer introduced an experimental electric-powered Lazair on an amphibious mono-float, with outrigger floats. Flight Design brought its full-sized exterior mock-up for the first time to the event the Flight Design C4, a four seat, high-wing, single engine light aircraft. Dallair Aeronautica in Italy debuted its newest line of aircraft to the American market, the Dallair Aeronautica FR-100 Snap!, a LSA aerobatic airplane. Germany's Autogyro Cavalon makes its U.S. debut. Kolb brought its newest model to show, Kolb Firestar 2 SS. The original prototype of the all-metal UltraCruiser ultralight designed, built, and flown by Morry Hummel made its first cross-country flight to the event. UltraCruiser Ultralight First Cross-Country Flight to AirVenture Evektor debuted its newest aircraft the Evektor EV-55 Outback, a high-wing, twin-engine, turboprop airplane used for transportation. Piper PA-61P Aerostar visited the event and made its public debut. A nearly completed replica of the Bugatti Model 100P was on display at the Welcome Center.
Avidyne unveiled its new model the IFD540. French propeller manufacturer, Duc Helice propeller made its first visit to the event. ConocoPhillips reached a multi-year agreement to be the sponsor of AirVenture’s West Ramp, formerly known as AeroShell Square. Helicopter Association International's new Heli Center debuted. It features helicopter-related exhibitors highlighting their products and services to attendees, aiming to re-introduce many fixed-wing fans to the helicopter. The night airshow was once again a major hit after debuting in 2010.
2012 marked the 60th anniversary of The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration in which they gave tributes to the Greatest Generation in the Air honoring the Tuskegee Airmen and the Doolittle Raiders. In attendance were Col. Richard "Dick" Cole, Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, Col. Charles McGee, Maj. George Boyd, Lt. Col. Robert "Bob" Ashby, Lt. Col. Harry Stewart, Lt. Col. Alexander Jefferson, Lt. Col. Washington Ross, Lt. Col. Harold Brown, Lt. Col. William Thompson and Thomas J. Hudner, Jr., the only Naval aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor in the Korean War. They also celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Piper J-3 Cub & Wittman Buttercup, 50th anniversary of the Bowers Fly Baby & Dyke JD-2 Delta, 40th anniversary of Van's Aircraft, 30th anniversary of Part 103, 20th anniversary of the recovery of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning named "Glacier Girl". Richard VanGrunsven donated the original Van's RV-1 to the EAA AirVenture Museum. Van's Aircraft debuted its newest aircraft, Van's RV-14, an American aerobatic kit aircraft similar to the Van's RV-10. The last flyable Boeing B-29 Superfortress named "Fifi" owned by the Commemorative Air Force returned. It was open for tours and for the first time ever at AirVenture gave rides. McDonnell Douglas DC-10 "ORBIS Flying Eye Hospital" owned by ORBIS International made its return to the event since 2003. Junkers Ju 52, a German trimotor transport aircraft made its first visit to the event and the Goodyear Blimp returned. Warbird Warriors Foundation brought the Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon named "Attu Warrior" and Collings Foundation brought a rare flyable North American A-36A Apache to the event for the first time. EAA unveiled a new program called "Eagle Flights," which will offer free rides for adults. The Aircraft Kit Industry Association (AKIA) is an American aviation advocacy association that was formed in July 2012 and formally constituted at the event. The AKIA's first officers include: President Dick VanGrunsven, Vice President John Monnett and Secretary Dave Gustafson.
Chip Yates, designer and builder of the all-electric, record-breaking 202.6 mph, brought the Long-ESA to the event for the first time. German company E-volo made its world debut of its E-volo VC2, a single place experimental electric multirotor helicopter. Just Aircraft debuted its newest aircraft, the Highlander, which has an STOL Wing, Oleo Strut Landing Gear reminiscent of a Classic Fairchild 24 equipped with Tundra Tires. LISA Airplanes debuted the LISA Akoya to the American market. It is a French single engine light aircraft, seating side-by-side configuration amphibian capable of alighting on land, water or snow without adaptation. SAM Aircraft unveiled the SAM LS, classic-looking tandem, low-wing standard or tricycle gear monoplane. ArrowCopter USA announced the ArrowCopter AC10 autogyro kit to the American market. American Champion unveiled the American Champion Xtreme, powered by a 210 hp Lycoming AEIO-390-A1B6 engine. Magnaghi Aeronautica in Italy introduced the Sky Arrow LSA and Sky Arrow AWP-ONE to the market. Pipistrel introduced the Pipistrel Alpha Trainer, a Slovenian light-sport aircraft intended specifically for flight training. OMA SUD debuted its newest line to the market, the OMA SUD Redbird, two seat, carbon-fiber, low-wing LSA. DAHER-SOCATA announced that SOCATA TBM 850 Elite earned certification.
Cessna unveiled the diesel-powered Turbo Skylane JT-ATM, which replaces the avgas-powered Turbo 182 for the Cessna 182 Skylane. Cessna also unveiled the Cessna Grand Caravan EX which is powered by the new Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-140. Wipaire rolled out its newest product, Wipline 1450 LSA amphibious floats. Eclipse Aerospace donated a custom-painted Eclipse 500 to the Veteran’s Airlift Command. Flabob Airport Preparatory Academy donated Aeronca Super Chief 65CA to the EAA AirVenture Museum.
Garmin introduced a series of new products GDL 88, GDL 39 and GWX70. Appareo Systems brought the Stratus, a portable in-flight weather receiver for ForeFlight. Avidyne introduced the AXP340 Mode S Transponder with Extended Squitter, IFD540 & IFD440 Touch Screen FMS/GPS/NAV/COMs. Dynon introduced the D1 Pocket Panel Portable EFIS. Aspen Avionics Connected Panel received TSO approval. PAT Avionics debuted its G-HULP HUD technology. Bendix/King reveled myWingMan application and KMA 30 aircraft audio control system. Sennheiser introduced the S1 Passive headset. Rotax brought its newest engine the Rotax 912 iS. It received ASTM certification . GE Aviation launched two derivative engines H75 and H85 turboprop engines. Raikhlin Aircraft Engine Developments made its AirVenture debut, with its 12-cylinder, 500-hp, diesel-engine, A03. Chinese aviation officials opened the Chinese AirVenture Pavilion. ConocoPhillips shortened their name as the sponsor of AirVenture’s West Ramp to Phillips 66 Plaza.
Highlights of the airshow include the following:
The Seaplane Base is located just a few miles from AirVenture on Lake Winnebago Coordinates: N43° 56.624' W088° 29.679' that is on private property that is opened to the public just for AirVenture. Each year up to approximately 150 planes invade this small bay on the west side. Planes are towed to and from the runway so that they can be docked to safety by the volunteers. There is even a watermelon social held at the base on Saturday.
The Buses make regular runs between the AirVenture grounds and the Seaplane Base, departing from the Bus Park Tower just outside the Main Gate and the Amphib Parking area at the south end of the airport. Or you can simply drive there yourself.
For many attendees, an equally important aspect of the fly-in is the opportunity to socialize with other aviation enthusiasts. Lots of people meet up each year with "Oshkosh friends" who they only see at the fly-in. Year after year many people tend to get the same camping spot. For many years these Oshkosh friends had no contact during the rest of the year, but recently many of them have begun to stay in touch throughout the year via e-mail. Many attendees arrive three to four days before the official start of the event or stay a few days after the end for the opportunity to relax in an aviation environment and to socialize with other aviation enthusiasts from around the globe. Also, a very large contingent of volunteer workers arrive as early as a month before the event, and stay long after the end, to help with presenting the event. Among these volunteers are cadets from the Civil Air Patrol, referred to as "Blue Berets," working the flightlines and looking for ELTs. The cadets spend the first seven days before the airshow training for the event and then work the entire week of the show.
Those aviation enthusiasts who drive to Oshkosh for AirVenture are able to camp at EAA’s Camp Scholler. The campground is located right next to the convention grounds, which makes them a very popular lodging choice. Shuttles are provided to take campers from Camp Scholler to the convention ground. Each campsite is 20x30 feet and are available for vehicle or tent camping. Shower facilities, convenience stores, and dump stations are also available. The current rate is $25/night, and there is a 3 night minimum charge. While reservations are not necessary, because camping space has never run out, 2010 is the first year EAA is offering advance-purchase camping. At least one camper at each campsite needs to be a member of the EAA. Generators may be used for electricity, but will be NOT be operated between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m.
For those who fly to AirVenture, the North 40 is the general aviation campground where you can pitch a tent and camp under the wing of your aircraft. These campsites are available on a first-come-first-serve basis and sometimes do become full. Reservations are not taken. The price for fly-in camping is the same as the Camp Scholler prices.
Who fly-in and would like to camp in the Showplane Camping area (Vintage, Homebuilt, Ultralight, Rotorcraft and Seaplane categories), you must be an active EAA member, and your airplane must be eligible for that category. All showplanes must be tied down.
Approximately 250 campsites have water and electrical hook-ups that are available on a first come, first served basis. Due to the limited number of improved sites, they will only be offered based on a stay through the end of the event with no refunds for unused days. The cost to rent these spots are $55/night.
There is a RV/Handicap camping area for those requiring 24-hour operation of auxiliary generators. Handicap accessible restrooms are available at three campground shower facilities. There is a handicap accessible bus that circulates throughout the campground.
Pet camping must be in the designated pet area. Bringing pets is generally discouraged. However, no more than three pets per campsite. Pets are NOT allowed on the convention site unless they are a service dog and must be leashed at all times.
There is a 24-hour generator designated camping area, where you have to supply your own water, generator and electrical hookup. But, can run them at any time.
Campground buses circulate through Camp Scholler from 6:15 a.m to midnight from day 1 to day 6, and day 7 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Handicap/Stroller buses circulate through Camp Scholler and is provided from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. from day 1 to day 6, and day 7 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m
It is estimated that 10,000–15,000 aircraft visit Wittman Field each year during the fly-in. Attendance is estimated between 800,000 to 1,000,000, which is computed by multiplying the number of tickets sold times the number of estimated daily visits by each ticket holder. This technique allows for one person who buys a weeklong pass to count as a separate person each day, which does properly account for each person's actual use of the grounds and facilities, but adds complexity to making a final attendance estimate. The EAA estimates and Oshkosh Northwestern reports the actual number of attendees is most likely between 300,000-500,000 separate people, which would still leave AirVenture as the biggest civilian airshow in the United States.
People arrive by both air and ground transport. Nearby two-way roads are repatterned to resemble a one-way circuit, with traffic either turning off to park in adjacent lots, or keeping on the road to leave (or re-enter the area again.) The large number of aircraft arrivals and departures during the fly-in week officially makes the Wittman Field FAA Control Tower the "busiest in the world" for that week. To accommodate the huge flow of aircraft around the airport and the nearby airspace, a special NOTAM is published each year, choreographing the normal and emergency (if need be) procedures to follow.
In 2002, an Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 747 brought an almost full load of Icelanders. The occupants of this single airplane represented about one of every 500 Icelanders or 0.2% of the population of Iceland.
Hotels, dormitories, and many private guest rooms in the region are almost always filled to capacity during the fly-in. There is also a Hilton Hotel located directly on the airport grounds. However, the large majority of visitors camp, either under the wing of their airplane, in a recreational vehicle, or next to their car.
More than 4,000 volunteers contribute approximately 250,000 hours before, during and after the event. These volunteers are primarily EAA members, but also include a significant number of local volunteers as well as attendees who can volunteer on the spot. Civil Air Patrol cadets and senior officers who attend National Blue Beret are found on base July 18-August 2, and work many aspects of the airshow; including, but not limited to: flight line marshalling, war bird security, and Emergency Services. During the airshow, cadets and senior officers contribute more than 2,000 hours marshalling aircraft for runway 9/27. Police Explorers from southern Wisconsin operate traffic control at the airshow's busiest parking lots. Aviation Explorers have a campsite next to the Civil Air Patrol compound. They volunteer in several areas during the week including flightline security, crowd control, custom (homebuilt) aircraft parking, and marshalling aircraft on two of the airport's busiest taxiways during the week, "Papa" and "The Ditch", both of which run parallel to runway 18/36.
Approximately 1,100 portable toilets are supplied for the event, and EAA estimates that more than 2 million sheets of toilet paper are used.][
FAA air traffic controllers say working the EAA AirVenture is the “Super Bowl” of air traffic control. The work is challenging and unique. In 1961, The Rockford EAA airshow had 10,000 aircraft movements. In 1971 the EAA airshow at Oshkosh brought in 600 planes and 31,653 movements. Presently AirVenture brings in more than 10,000 airplanes of all kinds. Special air traffic procedures, not seen or used anywhere else, will be used to ensure safe, coordinated operations. For their work, these controllers will not earn a Super Bowl ring, but instead will wear a coveted fluorescent pink polo shirt – the high-visibility mark (necessary on the runways) of an FAA AirVenture air traffic controller.
Several days prior to the event, members of the FAA's Technical Operation team from around the Central Service Area arrive in Oshkosh to set up the temporary communication facilities (MoOCoW's, FISK VFR Approach Control and Fond du Lac (FLD) tower). These technicians will maintain the facilities during the event and tear down and store the equipment after AirVenture ends.
The original tower at Wittman Field was designed and built in the 1960s, and was barely bigger than some of the buildings around it at AirVenture. 2007 marked the last year that the old tower was staffed by controllers during AirVenture. The new tower is over twice the height of the old building and can be seen from throughout the AirVenture grounds.
The original tower was demolished in April 2009.
The FAA has staffed a tower at the EAA convention since the 1960s. FAA air traffic staffers (including controllers, supervisors, and managers) compete from throughout the FAA's new 17-state Central Terminal Service Area to work this event. In 2007, 145 air traffic professionals representing 45 facilities volunteered to staff the facilities at Oshkosh (OSH), Fond du Lac (FLD), and Fisk. Sixty-four controllers and 11 supervisors were ultimately selected. Controllers normally can only volunteer for a maximum of seven years at the EAA convention, to allow others a chance to work this temporary duty assignment. However, recent staffing shortages at some facilities have caused the FAA to use a few veteran controllers beyond the seven-year limit.
The controllers are divided into teams of four persons each:
These teams stay together throughout the convention as they rotate through the control towers at OSH or FLD, FISK VFR Approach Control and the two mobile departure platforms known as MOOCOWs (Mobile Operating and Communications Workstations).
It's important to note that even a "rookie" will have the years necessary to become certified as a Certified Professional Controller (CPC). All controllers, operations supervisors, and the air traffic operations managers are certified for operations at their home facilities.
EAA AirVenture relies heavily on volunteers. Volunteers have been the heart of EAA accomplishments since its creation. Volunteers arrive in the weeks leading up to the air show. They perform many tasks ranging from parking cars and airplanes, to painting buildings, to helping set up and tear down concerts and shows presented by the EAA. Though many of these volunteers volunteer purely for the fun of it, long-time volunteers also receive benefits such as free meals, t-shirts, and embroidered patches, and free admission into the actual EAA AirVenture event.