January 21, 2012: Punta Gorda Fur Ball

Arriving at Punta Gorda, I asked a few times for the GPS22 approach. They weren’t responding to me as I got closer to the approach IAF, until I sailed passed it.

I’m 13 nm from the airport at this time, and Fort Myers approach tells me I would be third for the same approach. I declined and cancelled IFR, opting for the visual. They wanted me to stay with them for flight following, but that made no sense. I needed to get on the CTAF and make this happen on my own.

Changing frequencies, the picture – the ugly picture – becomes more clear. Three people on two different approaches; traffic using RW15; five airplanes doing touch and goes; two leaving; and then there is me.

I would not be doing touch and goes with all this activity. But that is just me. Several light sports were buzzing away.

Slow it down. I decide to use an entry method I read about at AOPA, and it worked like a charm. They recommend coming in 1,000′ above the pattern altitude over the airport, see whats going on, and maneuver into the pattern with minimal disruption.

The Twin Comanche is a traveling machine, but doesn’t have the visibility you would enjoy in more modern machines. At least in my observation. The view in turns can be limited, and with the engines hanging out there, you have to compensate for what you cannot see. Oh – and we are going a bunch faster too.

I decided to come in 2,000′ higher due to the number of targets. I had some trouble finding many of them. What I managed to do is get my eyeballs on the last C172 coming off the runway, and called him. He had the others in sight, so I descended to fall in trail (wider pattern) and entered that way on the downwind to RW15. Thankfully I have mastered slowing this bird down.

On downwind, a large jet (707?) took RW4 for departure. No affect on me, but good luck not sucking up a few light sports on departure there fella.

So now I am number three for landing and scanning hard for traffic. I lose the C172 as he calls turning base, so I announce an extended downwind to the river. I picked him up again, and kept scanning for the approach traffic. Arrow does a touch and go while C172 is on short final and I’m on base slowing to 105mph.

Light sport enters downwind behind me; I turn final and watch the C172 touch and go. I’m off at the first turn off.

At first I was thinking I wasn’t going to like this place much with all this buzz, but thats just because I’m so used to quiet up north in winter. Activity is a good thing. I have to admit – its not just about me all the time.

Fly safe…