by Hal Davis
WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics
Hosting an air show or fly-in can provide a tremendous benefit to the airport and its users. These types of events give local pilots and aviation enthusiasts the opportunity to socialize and display both their aircraft and, in some cases, their flying skills. Air shows and fly-ins can also be a source of entertainment for the community, generating goodwill and perhaps even compelling some people to pursue aviation as a hobby or career. From a financial standpoint, air shows and fly-ins provide an opportunity for the airport to earn some needed revenue for its operating budget and move one step closer toward financial self-sustainability.
However, be aware that airport events often require coordination with the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics (BOA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
For example, events with an aerial demonstration component will likely require a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (FAA Form 7711-1) issued by the appropriate FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). Specifically, a waiver is required whenever proposed activities will violate any Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR). Common examples include:
FAR § 91.117 Aircraft Speed
FAR § 91.119 Minimum Safe Altitude
FAR § 91.126-131 Airports/Airspace Operations
FAR § 91.155 VFR Weather Minimums
FAR § 91.303 Aerobatic Flight
FAR Part 77, which addresses airspace safety, requires a separate FAA Form (7460-1) to be filed for any on-airport alterations. This requirement includes the temporary placement of supporting event facilities and equipment such as bleachers, portable toilets and trailers.
It’s also highly recommended that any airport hosting air shows or fly-ins should develop a ground operations plan which describes safety and security measures, parking, traffic management, trash collection, etc. Airport events should be coordinated with local law enforcement, fire department, and emergency medical services. Similarly, it’s always a good idea to communicate with airport users and airport neighbors so neither group is surprised by an event.
Airports may also be approached by groups interested in hosting a non-aeronautical event at the airport. Examples of non-aeronautical events might include car shows and races, trade shows, concerts, and community picnics. These types of events require approval from BOA whenever airport property is to be used for a non-aeronautical purpose. This requirement applies to all types of non-aeronautical activities, regardless of the duration or location on the airport. Even if the event will not result in the full or partial closure of the airport, BOA approval is still required.
If you are thinking of hosting an airport event, contact me at (608) 267-2142 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to answer your questions and make sure the appropriate notifications and approvals are received.