Grand Finale, Landing at Oshkosh
“Red…. Blue.. Uhh.. Orange Cessna 195, follow the high wing ahead monitor tower 118.5, wait… everyone wants to know where you are from” This is an excerpt from the radio call that I received while over Fiske intersection just 6 miles from Oshkosh Airport. What a truly unique experience. When flying in controlled airspace there is always two way communication between the pilot and controller, when you fly into Oshkosh during their big airshow the pilots don’t respond. Not verbally at least, the pilot acknowledges understanding by rocking their wings. Airplanes are in very confined airspace and we all play follow the leader. The way it works is you fly to Ripon which is a town about 16 miles from Oshkosh, from there you follow the railroad tracks at 1800 feet keeping 1/2 mile spacing from the airplane in front of you (which you just found and followed from near Ripon). About 10 miles after Ripon you come to to an intersection called Fiske. On the ground there are volunteer air traffic controllers that sit with binoculars and shepherd all of the airplanes to the landing runways at Oshkosh. Over Fiske you are identified by the color of your airplane and type if they can identify it. I heard calls like “white low wing with LED light in left wing, rock your wings”. Once you are positively identified you are told which runway you will use and a different frequency to monitor for landing. Landing controllers then clear you to land on a section of the runway. During this show they divide the runway into thirds by placing large colored dots at certain points along the runway. So when we came into runway 27 we were told to land at the “green dot”. There was another airplane on the runway just ahead of me and one hot on my trail. After landing you immediately taxi off the runway onto the grass where there are more volunteers ushering you to your designated parking. We actually had to park off to the side and shutdown for 30 minutes while we waited for 50 Mooneys to land that arrived as one group.
Estelle is parked in Row 83 in Vintage Aircraft Camping. She is sitting with over 20 other 195’s, we don’t know how many will show up but we are already over 20% of the remaining US flying fleet.
We are going to be here all week, there will be approximately 10,000 airplanes that arrive of which at least half that many are already here. If you love airplanes this show is a must attend, there is no where else in the world to see anything similar.
If you make it to Oshkosh look us up, we brought a box of Wingster T-shirts and would be happy to give you one.