The annual convention brings in thousands of airplanes of all types in a fast environment that makes Oshkosh one of the busiest air traffic control towers in the world — at least for that week. This year, the fly-in is slated for July 23-29.
For their work, these controllers will not earn a Super Bowl ring. Instead, they wear a coveted fluorescent pink polo shirt — which is necessary on the runways and is the high-visibility mark of an FAA AirVenture air traffic controller.
The FAA has staffed a tower at the EAA convention since the 1960s. FAA Air Traffic staff, including controllers, supervisors and managers, annually apply to work this event from the FAA’s 17-state Central Terminal Service Area and from its Eastern Service Area.
This year, 65 controllers, 18 supervisors, and three operations managers have been selected, representing multiple FAA air traffic facilities, according to FAA officials.
The controllers are divided into 16 teams of four persons each:
- One veteran controller serves as the team leader and a second veteran may also be part of the team. Each of these controllers will have three or more years of previous EAA AirVenture experience.
- At least one member of the team will have one to two years of EAA AirVenture experience. This group is identified as the limited category.
- The final member of each team will be new to AirVenture duty and is identified as a rookie.
It is important to note that even an “Oshkosh rookie” has many years of training and experience and is a Certified Professional Controller (CPC) in his or her home facility, FAA officials say.
These teams stay together throughout the convention as they rotate through the Oshkosh control tower, the Fond du Lac tower, at FISK VFR Approach Control, and at the mobile departure platforms known as MOOCOWs (Mobile Operating and Communications Workstations).
Busiest Airport in the Country
How does the Oshkosh tower stack up against the “big boys” during EAA AirVenture?
Traditionally, the EAA AirVenture air traffic control tower holds its own against the busiest airports in the world, according to FAA officials.
To prove it, they just released these figures from 2017.
On July 23, 2017:
Airport Total Flights
- Chicago O’Hare 2,522
- Atlanta Hartsfield 2,492
- Oshkosh 2,275
- Los Angeles 2,000
- Dallas/Ft. Worth 1,820
And on Thursday, July 27, 2017:
Airport Total Flights
- Chicago O’Hare 2,738
- Atlanta Hartsfield 2,699
- Oshkosh 2,381
- Los Angeles 2,125
- Dallas/Ft. Worth 1,967
The Oshkosh flight totals are even more impressive because its traffic count covers only 10 hours of daily activity, while the major airports are open 24 hours, FAA officials noted.
The Oshkosh airport closes after dark and the tower is closed for four hours in the afternoon for the daily air show.
“Once again this year, we expect the Oshkosh tower to be one of the busiest in the world and for the FAA to excel at the Super Bowl of air traffic control,” FAA officials said.