Rock Your Wings


“High wing, 1/2 mile SW from Fisk, rock your wings”
“Good rock, Sir.
“Reaching Fisk, turn right heading 090, enter  left base to Runway 36L.”
“High wing approaching Fisk be ready to turn now and monitor tower on 126.6, Good Morning. Welcome to the show”

The moment had arrived.

Did you notice the Sir? Ladies we need to change that!

The last few weeks I have been watching Airventure arrival videos, the EAA Webinar on arrivals  into Oshkosh during Airventure, and poring over the NOTAM.

Intimidating, it was!
Nerve-racking?  Absolutely!
Did I want to do it? You betcha!

The Airventure website has a wealth of information on planning an Oshkosh arrival. The Webinar provides excellent information on what to expect, what to review and how to prepare for your flight into Oshkosh during Airventure. There are even a set of videos to demonstrate the Fisk Arrival procedure from Ripon to each destination runway. The one thing that always brought a smile on my face was hearing the controller say “Rock your Wings”. There was almost a sexy lilt to it 🙂

The bible for this trip was the 32-page NOTAM published well in advance, that can be reviewed and memorized. The Fisk arrival is the most applicable if you are a single engine aircraft, can maintain 90 knots and fly at 1,800 ft.

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Linda and I had hoped to practice some slow flight, spot landings and holdings in preparation of the flight the weekend before, but unfortunately weather spoke otherwise. So here we were 30 miles from OSH, having flown GYY direct RIPON, north past the pristine Lake Michigan, Lake Shore Drive, Downtown Chicago and beyond:

Step 1: Listen to ATIS on 125.9, 15 miles from Ripon (fortunately no holding was in practice)
Step 2: Turn on all lights
Step 3: Set Transponder to Standby and go dark
Step 4: Breathe… and reduce speed to 90kts and plan to be at 1800 ft at Ripon
Step 5: Continue breathing… while maintaining 90 kts and 1,800 ft, following the railroad tracks directly overhead towards Fisk, in-trail 1/2 mile behind an aircraft you are following
Step 6: Continue what you are doing beautifully and monitor Fisk Approach at 120.7.
Step 7: Expect to hear from Fisk Approach only after crossing the town of Pickett, 6miles from Ripon. Don’t forget to breathe.
Step 8: Know how to rock your wings briskly and quickly  when asked.
Step 9: Most importantly, Aviate, Navigate and maintain silence.

Unsurprisingly, I felt calm, relaxed and excited to be achieving one of my bucklist items. Almost. Who knew I would do this just a year after I published my Airventure Bucket List. Who knew, that I would even be thinking about it so soon? Does it count that I did not own the aircraft I landed on?

“High wing on left base, cleared to land on runway 36L on the purple dot, traffic on short final”

Down below, on the taxiway were a slew of aircraft waiting to depart. As we descended, we spotted the straight in arrival. On the runway, lined up were two aircraft on the left and right of the center line waiting to depart. “Am I landing over these two aircraft, ” I asked Linda. “Yes,” she responded, “Over them on the purple dot”

A few minutes later… “I am going to have to go around,” I thought. As I saw the aircraft on the right start to roll. Meanwhile, the controller continued to talk to another aircraft. I waited for him to stop, so I could ask him if he wanted me to abort landing. When:

“Cessna, put it on the numbers.. aircraft departing… they are rolling now. Put in on the numbers”
One click, and I dipped the nose down right behind the rolling duo of aircraft in formation.
“Good job Cessna, nice job, turn left onto the grass. Follow flagmen. Welcome to Oshkosh. Appreciate the help”

Linda had already placed our printed tag: GAC on the windshield as we turned left and waited for the ground personnel to steer us to North 40.

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Half an hour later,  as we waited to register at the North 40 registration desk, a couple of volunteering ladies walked into the registration booth and seeing us said: ” We saw you land. Very well done.” Wow!

If you happen to see someone with a wide, silly grin on their face for no known reason, a little out of this world, floating on clouds, it just might be me 🙂

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Landing at Oshkosh during Airventure in any aircraft is to die for, if you are plane crazy. Still, there is time yet. I might keep that bucklist item on for a little while longer.

Resources for flying into OSH during Airventure:
Airventure Website
2013 Webinar
2013 NOTAM
2013 Videos

Continue reading the climax of the saga here… An Oshkosh Morning