ATW Handles Fair Share Of AirVenture Traffic
by ANN Correspondent Matthew Russell
Everyone knows the EAA's annual AirVenture fly-in is large
enough to temporarily convert Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) into a
medium-sized city, and its effects are noticeable throughout the
Oshkosh area. As with local retail businesses such as hotels,
restaurants, and department stores, neighboring airports seem to
benefit from AirVenture as well.
Of these, one of the most active is the Outagamie County
Regional Airport (ATW) in nearby Appleton.
Maxair Inc., Outagamie Airport's FBO, has quietly been serving
AirVenture-bound pilots since the mid-1980s. The operation at
Appleton is located some 20 miles north of Wittman Field, and has
grown in sync with the EAA convention. ANN discussed the details
with Maxair's Director of Line Services, Pat Roovers.
"We have designated EAA parking areas, and have housed up to 750
small planes [for AirVenture] in the past. Normally, we fill to
around 85 percent of capacity."
Though perhaps it pales in comparison to the 10,000 aircraft
nesting in the meadows at Wittman Field... the parking, fueling,
and securing of up to 750 aircraft are still not small tasks.
Roovers explains how the effort at Maxair is largely
volunteer-driven. The local EAA chapter provides most of the
volunteers, which can number up to 20 per day. Coordination is
strong between the volunteer directors, the Civil Air Patrol, and
the FAA; including meetings to carefully plan the procedures which
will help arriving EAA pilgrims find the tie-down area with
Roovers also describes considerable support from the surrounding
community. The Fox Cities Tourism Bureau sets up a temporary
information and assistance desk to answer questions about the area.
Motor coach charter Nationwide Travelers provides a bus and shuttle
service to AirVenture on an hourly basis each day. Nonprofit
vendors set up concession stands in the airport parking lot. A
local construction company provides a trailer for the CAP to use
when closing flight plans, and a car dealer provides four vans to
shuttle pilots and luggage on the airport grounds.
EAA itself provides scooters and golf karts to increase the
mobility of the staff and volunteers.
Roovers describes the workload on airport employees as strenuous
but fun. She says, "...everyone at the airport gets in on the
action. Each employee seems to find a second role to play during
EAA, to help the volunteers and pilots. We have radios and
equipment to maintain, and we provide water, sunscreen and
refreshments to keep the volunteers happy."
Why Appleton? Even though camping is prohibited on the airport,
Roovers says many pilots are drawn to the peaceful tempo at
Appleton, both in the air and on the ground. "The whole of
AirVenture is a half-hour down the road and we've never had to turn
anyone away when they land here," she says.