The Places We Fly Over


Coming to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is, for most of us, a matter of following GPS guidance over the NOTAMed waypoints, with nary a thought about who might be living down there under the horde of buzzing invaders. Our individual passing is but a momentary Doppler shift, but collectively it might register as a dawn-to-dusk drumming of wings.

To facilitate an orderly procession, the vaunted World’s Busiest Control Tower has to keep us lined up in byte-size spacing emanating from a distant entry point. Way back in the earliest days of Oshkosh, the arrival gate was at Omro, a town of 3500 people located about seven miles northwest of Wittman field. Soon overwhelmed, the Omro Arrival gave way to the Ripon Procedure, starting 15.5 miles southwest of Oshkosh.

Ripon, Wisconsin.

The City of Ripon is a kindly collection of 7863 souls, thoroughly acclimated by decades of these overflights in late July. Its place in history was secured by the founding of the Republican Party in 1854 at a certain Little White Schoolhouse located there. It also holds Ripon College, a private 800-student Liberal Arts college, among whose alumni is fellow EAAer Harrison Ford. In May, the City’s lawn-care height ordinance is waived in deference to pollinators working among plants that exceed statutory limits.

From Ripon, we are directed to follow railroad tracks northeast, past intermittent Rush Lake to the tiny hamlet of Fisk, where Fisk Approach is set up to regulate an orderly flow toward the Oshkosh runways. For those whose attention is actually directed outside, rather than on a display screen, we may also see the village of Pickett, overflown four miles prior to Fisk. Both these unincorporated places are actually in the Town of Utica, which holds about 1300 individuals. Fisk is alternatively referred to as Fisk Corners. The camper trailer and awning sheltering the approach controllers is actually north of Fisk itself, for a better view.

If you need a holding pattern prior to reaching Ripon, circle in a left-turn racetrack pattern around Green Lake, southwest of Ripon. At 237 feet, the town of Green Lake (population approx. 1000) says it’s the deepest lake in Wisconsin, a bequest from melting glaciers 12,000 years ago. Just west of Green Lake, Puckaway Lake’s southwest corner is another holding entry point; Puckaway’s only about five feet deep, but covers 5000 acres.

Endeavor, Wisconsin.

If things are really saturated, the Fisk Arrival will start at the Endeavor Bridge, on D highway spanning Buffalo Lake, 11 miles west of Puckaway Lake, bypassed on the west by U.S. 39. There is a village of Endeavor, just south of the lake, population around 500, but Packwaukee, on the north side, is five times larger.

So, the next time you are flying the Fisk Arrival into AirVenture, give a thought as to who and what you’re skimming over. Just keep your attention on the aircraft one-half mile ahead, as well as for bogies trying to break into your in-trail formation.


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