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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.


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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Volume 9, Number 8 August 3, 2008     

The bare truth: Don’t fly naked
By Kristy Hemp

Useful Frequencies and
Points of

Volk Tower: 127.5/239.25

Volk Approach: 135.25/290.8

Airspace Information/ATIS: 120.0/120.475

Hardwood Range (R-6904): 132.025

Ft. McCoy (R-6901): 123.45

Volk Field 1-800 Number: 1-800-972-8673

Hours: M-F 0800–1600, other times by NOTAM

"There I was in a pop attack in the F-16 on a low altitude military training route (MTR) in South Carolina. As I rolled in on the target, I encountered a light aircraft directly in my flight path and within a few seconds of collision. I immediately knocked off the attack and aggressively maneuvered the jet to prevent a collision. We were both legal," tells U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ned Linch, an F-16 and RV-4 pilot and safety officer for the 12th Air Force in Tucson, Arizona.

Linch flew his RV-4 to the Oshkosh 2007 air show to promote www.SeeAndAvoid.org. He distributed bumper stickers that said "Don’t Fly Naked." "It’s an attention-getter as well as making a statement that you should always consider military airspace when planning your flights," says Linch. "If not, then you’re flying without adequate preparation, basically naked."

While both aircraft in Finch’s story were legal, it may not have been the safest thing to do. However, Finch explains that there are ways to navigate special use airspace (SUA) safely and even fly through the airspace as we share the skies safely with the military.

The military operating airspace (MOA) that some pilots leaving AirVenture to the west may encounter is Volk Field. Volk Field is directly west of Oshkosh in central Wisconsin (see picture). Civilian aircraft frequently fly east/west along Interstate 90/94 to the south of Volk Field, and east/west along highway 21 north of Volk. Military aircraft conduct high speed, high performance maneuvers in the SUA surrounding Volk Field. Both military and civilian pilots must remain vigilant and ensure they "see and avoid" at all times.

F-16 aircraft also frequently conduct "simulated flameout approaches" at Volk Field. These simulated engine-out approaches normally begin from 9,500 feet mean seal level (MSL) or below. The aircraft execute a spiraling turn within 5 nautical miles of Volk Field at a high angle of attack. When conducting successive approaches, the aircraft execute near-vertical climb back to 9,500 MSL.

Military Operations Areas (MOAs in blue) and low-level training routes (red)
are depicted, along with other flight planning data, at www.seeandavoid.org.

Military pilots are not thinking about looking for traffic in an MOA. "In a fighter, the ‘fangs’ are out as the pilot goes in for the kill, in a military trainer the pilot is concentrating on flying a perfect maneuver, and a bomber crew is striving to hit the target on time," Finch explains. "Many times these pilots’ vision is focused on one thing, especially at high Gs, and clearing the flight path for traffic is secondary to the mission."

Some general aviation pilots may assume most military aircraft have radar or are in contact with air traffic control (ATC). Once aircraft are in the confines of the MOA, they may not be monitoring a reliable ATC frequency or they might be operating too low and/or out of range of the ATC transmitter.

There are several reasons you might fly through SUAs such as emergency, fuel, and weather. Convenience is not a good reason. If you must transit through, try to cheat toward the edges and clear/scan toward the center. If you see a military aircraft, look for more, they fly in formation. Air-to-air engagement is typically 5,000 feet above ground level, so go low. Make sure to squawk, turn your lights and strobes on, and communicate.

GPS moving map displays are great navigation tools, but they have increased the number of incursions in SUAs because more and more pilots are flying direct to their destination without properly flight-planning the route. Many times pilots fly right through MOAs without situational awareness.

Flight planning is the foundation for avoiding a mid-air collision. It’s common to plan the shortest or most fuel-efficient route, but you should consider a third option, the safest route for passage through MOAs or SUAs. Here are some flight-planning tips to increase your awareness of military SUA.

Use www.AeroPlanner.com, a free flight-planning website.

Visit the www.SeeAndAvoid.org website for detailed information on all MOAs and SUAs throughout the United States.

Check military websites for info on its mid-air collision avoidance (MACA) programs.

We’ve reached the end of another memorable AirVenture, and it’s time to fly home. As important as weather, knowing where military operational flying areas are and how to avoid that airspace is crucial to a safe flight. So DON’T FLY NAKED!

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