Air traffic controllers at Wittman Regional Airport are on duty from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. 365 days a year, 366 in leap years. Above is its entire staff, six people, all former military, who embody 132 years of air traffic control experience.
Working one of three daily shifts during their 40-hour weeks, they don’t remember the last time the entire crew was in the same room at the same time, because someone is always on duty. But the Willie F. Card Contract Service Award, which recognizes their exemplary dedication to safety and customer service, called for it.
Pilots who fly to and from Wittman Regional Airport are familiar with the voices of the tower controllers, and many of the pilots who call Oshkosh home know the name that goes with the voice. And here are the faces, from the left (with years of ATC experience): John Penn (10), Tower Manager Steve Wendt (27), Brian Van Lankveldt (22), Dena Dyni (25), Chip Dyni (26), and Martin Sweeney (22).
Rather than rotating through the shifts—morning, day, and night—each controller has a set and predictable schedule, says Dena, adding, “I work days Wednesday through Sunday.” Everyone readjusts for the rare sick day and vacations. Actually, said Steve, vacations are easier because most of the staff takes them during EAA AirVenture, when pink-shirted FAA controllers take their places in the tower’s cab. The Wittman crew, employed by Midwest ATC, resumes their air traffic control duties after all the EAA visitors have taken off for home.