“World’s busiest control tower”

I looked up at the Air Traffic control tower this weekend in Oshkosh, WI. It had a large banner that said, “World’s busiest control tower.”  I stood by a preschool boy as I read the banner out loud. He looked at me and said, “I have the world’s busiest mom, and she doesn’t even need a tower or banner to do it!”

World's Busiest Control Tower, Oshkosh, WI

World’s Busiest Control Tower, Oshkosh, WI

When you fly into Oshkosh during the week of the big Airshow, it is a crazy, busy time. You get special flight rules for landing, and you wag your wings so the controller can quickly see you and proceed to the next aircraft. We have landed with multiple planes on the same runway all trying to listen and follow the directions of that world’s busiest control tower.

As busy as that control tower can be, a mother can put on her own show if need be. She can maneuver making breakfast, packing a backpack, tying a shoe, talking on the phone and letting the dog outside all in one sweeping motion.  She can do this also without the help of a child repeating the directives back at her. Rarely does a preschooler helpfully say, “Roger, copy that.”

Planes operate in IFR conditions at times. This means pilots cannot see clearly enough and need instruments to help them. Mothers too often cannot see too clearly, but they don’t get the luxury of instruments. They use their intuition and their experience to find that hidden shoe that if not found will produce tears. They also find toys that have been hidden yet contain no GPS tracker. Mothers are left to navigate their children’s flight plan with not much preflight notice.  A young child can change its trajectory and air speed in a split second. He can amend a plan quicker than a pilot can reach for his altimeter.

A pilot can have the luxury of using an autopilot.  A mother may think she can exist in an autopilot mode, but children will quickly disprove this. There are too many variables that an autopilot is just not feasible. There is too much turbulence.  There are too many upgrades that need to be met. The need for sick bags just further complicates a mother’s busyness. There are too many things going on to carefully talk to a control tower.

A mother’s job can be busier than the Oshkosh control tower or cockpit. She does it without a beacon. She does it without a harness seatbelt or helmet. She does it without the advantage of ForeFlight making a flight plan for you. She also does this all without the FAA regulated duty and rest rules. There is no mandatory off duty time for a mother. There also is no special type rating that must be shown in order to operate a family.

She also does this all without a big banner or tower saying she is busy. Besides, there really is no banner needed for stating the obvious.

  • If you could talk to the world’s busiest control tower and they could help you with anything, what would you ask?
  • What types of things occupy the days of the typical busy mother?
  • If you had to get a type rating as a mother, what would you want yours to say?
  • What could you do this week to help some mother that is too busy?

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.”
- Maya Angelou

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