OSHKOSH - For one week every year during EAA AirVenture, Wittman RegionalAirport in Oshkosh is one of the most popular landing spots in theworld.
An all-star cast of air controllers from all over the UnitedStates is assembled to make sure everything goes smoothly.
“The controllers normally run this tower with fivecontrollers, and during AirVenture, we bring in an additional 68controllers,” said Wanda Adelman who is the air trafficmanager at EAA Airventure.
Controllers are stationed in the tower, on the runways and sevenmiles southwest of the EAA grounds in the town of Fisk.
The job of the controllers at Fisk is to organize the planes.They sequence the planes a half mile apart and line them up forlanding at the appropriate runway.
“We do that to give the tower some more time, slow thingsdown a little bit for them up there,” said Jim Hovick, an airtraffic controller from St. Louis who is working at EAA for theweek. “It's still pretty hectic up there, but it all startsout here at Fisk.”
From Fisk to the control tower at Wittman, the controllersdirect the planes for landing. A unique part of the landingoperation at EAA is the controllers ask the pilots to not respondto the controllers.
“There's so many aircraft that we don't want a responsefrom the pilot,” said Adelman. “If we need anacknowledgement, we'll ask them to rock their wings.”
During the week of AirVenture, more than 22,000 planes will landand take off. Last year at its peak, controllers dealt with moreplanes in a 10-hour period than Chicago's O'Hare InternationalAirport handled in a day.
“They did an excellent job,” said Larry Vitatoe, whoflew into Oshkosh from Ohio.
Vitatoe has been flying since 1976. He says the controllers dida great job helping him get to EAA safely.
“These people are the cream of the crop,” saidVitatoe. “You don't get to be at Oshkosh unless you're good.They do an excellent job.”
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