Reviewing the NOTAM


If you’ve been flying in to AirVenture since it was still just called “Oshkosh,” you probably have the arrival and departure procedures down cold. There are minor changes or additions to the NOTAM each year of course – but I can’t really recall a major change to the procedures themselves in years. Every year we hear suggestions for improvement, but overall, they tend to work pretty well, and I think the powers that be figure more people would mess up if they were changed than if they leave them as they are and just deal with the occasional deviation. Thats’ just a guess of course – I have no inside knowledge of how the procedures or book are created.

But even if you’ve done this year after year, it pays to review the NOTAM, and in doing so, you might find out all sorts of things that have retreated into the dusty corners of your mind – if you knew them at all. They may or may not be important to your particular operation, but in looking for interesting tidbits, you’ll be imprinting the important stuff too. I did my review on my electronic tablet a few days ago, and found a few things that, if I ever knew, I’d let slip. Did you know that:

  1. Student pilot operations of any kind are not permitted during the show. I suppose you can ride in with an instructor, but the student isn’t legal to be flying!
  2. The ultralight/rotary pattern goes on underneath the arrivals using FISK avenue to go from Fisk to Runway 36. Keep an eye out below for someone going high!
  3. You might not ever use the Warbird Arrival, but knowing where they are and how they operate could keep you safe. Overhead approaches are authorized, and they start out at 2300′ – so if you’re on the standard 1800′ altitude that mere mortals use, you could have company dropping in from above!
  4. IFR arrivals and departures have a reservation system (you probably knew that), and local controllers fit the IFR arrivals in to the VFR arrivals as they appear. You might be asked to tighten it up or extend to allow a gap for such an arrival.
  5. You are encouraged, but not required, to receive a departure briefing. All of the generic information you need is in written form in the NOTAM itself, but you never know when something unusual might happen that affects departures – and knowing about it before rolling your airplane out of parking might be useful.

Do your own review of the NOTAM – all of it – and look for the trivia to be found there, as well as for the important “gotta know” information that pertains directly to you. Knowing what everyone else is going to be doing will improve your situational awareness, and maybe even make you a little more sympathetic for the guy in the turboprop burning a lot of dead dinosaurs circling warbird island.

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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