EAA air show in Oshkosh -- deadliest destination in America?

A co-worker told me there was a plane crash in town today, and once I learned it was a private plane I thought – Oh, is it air show time again? And, yes, it was – the plane was outbound from Oshkosh.

Some of these pilots seem to take the word “experimental” too much to heart, and “aircraft” too little. Every year there’s 3-6 (a WAG) crashes of planes going to or coming from the show in my state alone. As the smaller. shorter ranged planes field hop their way back and forth, I have no doubt that more crashes further away aren’t making it into my local media.

Try a Google News search ‘plane crash oshkosh’ – this seems a pretty light year – only about ten dead if the search picked up all the crashes, which I’m sure it didn’t.

I’m not really sure what to make of all this, except to be glad not to be in the glide paths of small airfields. As an aircraft buff, I really loved going to the show and wouldn’t want to see it shut down. As someone living on the ground underneath these things, I wonder about the quality of their constrtuction and piloting skills.

Could it be, just maybe, possibly due to the fact that there are 11000 planes flying in? and out (22,000 flights) For the week of Airventure, OSH is the busiest airport in the world. Statistically you are going to have a few crashes. Lots of factory built planes fly in and see the show. (for 2003, there were 825 homebuilts that submited for judgement, doesn’t say how many fly in)


Of course that’s why… but the schmuck under the crashing plane doesn’t care why… Fortunately, most of the things are so small they don’t do much serious damage.

I’m thinking it may be statistically more dangerous to travel to the EAA show than to Irag, or maybe Chechnya.

There’s no doubt, however, that Oshkosh is a challenging destination, and probably does cause more than its share of accidents. Flying in to Oshkosh is just insane. They pack the airplanes in like sardines, and land them two at a time. The pilots flying in are at all skill levels from 100 hour rookies to airline pilots. The planes are everything from Ultralights that can’t go seventy miles per hour all the way to warbirds of all types including high performance jets.

A large percentage of the accidents seem to be fuel starvation - the holds can get long, and a lot of the small airplanes don’t have much in the way of endurance. Sometimes a pilot tries to push it, and gets it wrong.

When you think about it, the fact that there are as few accidents as there are is pretty astounding, and a tribute to the job the controllers at Oshkosh do, standing in the back of a pickup truck with a microphone and a set of binoculars.