Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, is the host airport for the 61st annual Wisconsin Aviation Conference to be held May 2-4, 2016 at the Best Western Premier Waterfront Hotel & Convention Center.
The airport was established in 1927, making it the second oldest public-use airport in Wisconsin. Named after Sylvester J. “Steve” Wittman, an air racer, aviation pioneer and Wisconsin native, the airport has been an integral part of the City of Oshkosh and Winnebago County landscape.
Encompassing 1,450 acres, Wittman Regional Airport has four runways, the second tallest control tower in Wisconsin and 163 based aircraft. The airport also plays home to several influential aviation businesses including Basler Turbo Conversions, Sonex, and the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Airport Projects Underway
Wittman Regional Airport is in the midst of reconstructing Taxiway B, which parallels Runway 9/27. Originally constructed in 1962, with a “twist” in the taxiway to accommodate a future glideslope antenna and ILS system, the taxiway has been rehabilitated several times since then. However, time and the challenges of Wisconsin weather have taken their toll on the pavement, requiring a full reconstruction. Transverse and longitudinal cracking has made smooth taxiing difficult, especially for aircraft with smaller tires or high-pressure tires.
Rather than reconstruct the taxiway to its original layout, this project gave the airport an ideal opportunity to evaluate the need for additional separation from the runway to accommodate dual grass taxilanes for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh traffic, and the need for additional storm water drainage measures to alleviate ponding issues on and around the airport property. Consequently, Taxiway B will now become a true parallel taxiway, and the centerline-to-centerline distance between runway and taxiway will increase to 460 feet.
Additionally, the new pavement will be concrete, rather than asphalt, which will improve the weight-bearing capacity, as well as add to the longevity of the surface.
In an effort to increase operational efficiencies, all current incandescent taxiway edge lights, most of which are stake-mounted, will be replaced with base-mounted LED lighting, as will the guidance signage. Finally, all edge lights and wiring on Runway 9/27 will be replaced with newer base-mounted quartz fixtures.
Due to FAA AIP funding constraints and the scheduling of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, this current project is broken into two phases. As one would expect, projects at Wittman Airport often center on that once-a-year event, so no surfaces can be torn up or worked on for approximately a six-week period before AirVenture. Phase I, currently underway, commenced in late 2015 and essentially laid out the base course for new pavement on the west end of the taxiway up to Taxiway B2. Work will resume this spring with paving of the taxiway sections in the fall, along with landscaping. Phase I work will conclude in early June. Phase II will start immediately after EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016, with work on the remaining eastern portion of the taxiway, and edge light replacement on Runway 9/27, with all remaining work to be completed by late fall 2016.
Once completed, there will also be changes and additions to taxiway designations to conform to current FAA design and marking standards.
Another project in the works is the design of a new aviation business center to replace the current terminal and FBO facility. The terminal at Wittman Regional Airport was designed and built in the early 1970s as an airline terminal; space was apportioned to fit the needs of up to four commercial airlines, up to four car rental companies, a small food counter, and the airport administration offices. With the departure of United Express in 2003, much of the space has gone unused while utility costs and repair costs have risen.
In 2014, work began to evaluate renovating the existing terminal and FBO (the original airport terminal built in the 1950s) or constructing a new, more energy and space efficient facility. Consensus of the county board has been to design and construct a new combined facility to house airport administration offices, the FBO, car rental, and rentable community space. This combined facility will further open up developable space for new businesses on the north side of the airport adjacent to the new aviation business center.
In addition, a joint project between Winnebago County and the City of Oshkosh has provided an 80-acre aviation business park available for development on the southeast side of the airport. County-owned land, adjacent to the airport, has roughly 50 acres of land available for lease. A new street will be the dividing line between the county property and city property. The remaining acreages on the city’s side of the business park will be available for purchase for commercial development. Several aviation businesses have already expressed interest in taking advantage of this new opportunity in Oshkosh.
Peter Moll, Airport Director
Since 2007, Peter Moll has served as Airport Director at Wittman Regional Airport. A graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, Peter received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Management with an Area of Concentration in Airport Management.
Under his leadership, the airport has seen numerous improvements, including the construction of a new air traffic control tower, the reconstruction of runways 9/27 and 18/36, the completion of a full perimeter road around the airport and updated security fencing, along with the acquisition of updated snow removal equipment…a necessity in Wisconsin winters.
Peter’s career has been entirely within the aviation industry, spanning various disciplines, which gave him a varied background into different facets of aviation. He initially started with Republic Airlines (the marriage of North Central Airlines, Southern Airways, and Hughes Airwest) in Oshkosh before the station closed. He then moved to United Technologies International Support Systems (UTC-ISS) in Farmington, Connecticut, where he served as a marketing representative. UTC-ISS, a subsidiary of Pratt & Whitney (a division of United Technologies), designed and constructed turbine engine test cells and maintenance facilities for developing nations.
Following his stint at International Support Systems, Peter moved to Milwaukee to work in Airport Operations at General Mitchell International Airport. Acting on an opportunity to work for the world’s greatest aviation organization, his next move took him back to Oshkosh to become the Executive Director and Editor for EAA Warbirds of America.
Wanting to expand his horizons, Peter then worked with Cannon Aviation Insurance of Scottsdale, Arizona, opening its first branch office in Oshkosh. Peter was the Branch Manager and brokered aviation insurance policies for the company. It was during this period that the itch to work in the airport environment returned, and it was fortunate that the Superintendent of Maintenance and Operations position at Wittman Regional Airport became available. From there it was onward and upward to the director’s position.
Peter remarked that it is truly an honor and privilege to serve as the airport director of the world’s busiest airport—albeit for only a week—and Wisconsin’s third busiest airport. The goal of the airport team is to grow Wittman into a recognized general aviation airport that will serve as a destination outside of the one-week of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Working with each of the commercial tenants, and now having an aviation business park ripe for development, that dream is definitely achievable. As Peter so aptly put it, “There’s never a dull moment at Wittman Regional Airport.”
Further information on Wittman Regional Airport can be found by visiting the airport’s website at www.wittmanairport.com and by following the airport on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/wittmanairport.