How to Fly Into a Big Airshow With Confidence

It takes planning and practice to land on the green dot.

Overhead at Oshkosh

AirVenture proudly boasts of being the busiest airspace in the world each year during the gathering. That means you need to plan your trip well. [Courtesy: EAA]

Question: I'm a private pilot with about 300 hours and I've always wanted to fly my own airplane into EAA AirVenture. What's the best way to practice for this?


Practice reading notice to air missions (NOTAMs) because for  EAA AirVenture, there is a huge one. The NOTAM is released a month or so in advance. It comes in PDF form, and it’s often more than 30 pages long. The NOTAM contains all the information a pilot flying into and out of AirVenture needs. There are arrival and departure procedures, radio frequencies, details about Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH), notes on parking, and so on. The NOTAM is updated yearly. Study it and print it out in a hard copy and have it in the cockpit just in case your tablet—if you are an e-document pilot—fails.

Pay special attention to communications procedures. Because there are so many pilots and aircraft in the area during the event you need to keep your radio calls brief and to the point—the NOTAM has pointers on that too—and expect to rock your wings.

As far as flying techniques go, practice that wing rock—and staying coordinated—because it's easy to get squirrely doing that. Also, practice your spot landings, because at AirVenture it's all about landing on the green dot, the red dot, etc. You don't want to be the pilot who messes it up for everyone else.

As an added layer of protection, you may want to find another pilot to fly in with, perhaps even a CFI who is experienced with going into these big airshows. Have them come along as a second set of eyes during the great adventure.

Do you have a question about aviation that’s been bugging you? Ask us anything you’ve ever wanted to know about aviation. Our experts in general aviation, flight training, aircraft, avionics, and more may attempt to answer your question in a future article.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

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