It has been a few years since my last flight into Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, KFXE. I usually file to Boca Raton or Palm Beach, as it is more convenient to my Dad’s house.
My first trip to FXE was many years ago while on a night IFR, round-robin, cross-country training flight. That evening, my flight instructor and I departed Orlando for Key West, then on to Ft. Lauderdale Exec, and then back to Orlando in a rented Cessna 172. It was a moonless night and we had a 4-man raft and life vests on board as our only survival gear in case of a ditch in the Gulf of Mexico.
The reason for this week’s flight was a business lunch in Ft. Lauderdale. Rather than drive 4 hours each way, a flight in the A36 seemed appealing, with a just hour and fifteen minutes en-route.
On top of a scattered layer, the flight down itself was unremarkable, but the view over Lake Okeechobee from 6,000 feet was beautiful. The entire lake surface was glassy, reflecting the building cumulus clouds on the horizon. I was making good time, with a TAS of 175 knots, using full throttle and 2500 RPM.
You can file /G all you want, but in the real world, if you are flying anywhere into south Florida on an IFR flight plan, you can expect a clearance to the Pahokee VOR (PHK) first, for sequencing. As expected, I was cleared to PHK, Victor 437, BRIKL intersection, KFXE direct.
Approaching FXE from over the ‘glades, I descended to 2000 feet. There was a good deal of traffic on frequency, but ATC did a fine job of separating planes, consisting of a mix of King Airs and Cessnas, providing for an efficient traffic flow. Five miles west of Exec, I was number three for RWY 8, and cleared to land in a light rain.
Since my last trip to Exec, Banyan FBO has built a new world-class GA facility on the west side of RWY 13/31. Even with a ramp full of kerosene burners, the service given to my little single was attentive. Once shut down on the ramp, a lineman greeted me with cold, bottled water and made sure the aircraft was secure. The new facility is stunning and has all the latest accoutrements for the flying businessman.
Fuel was not unreasonable, considering the So Flo location and the facility. They also honor AirBoss fuel discounts and waived the facility fee with a minimal fuel purchase.
The IFR flight home in the afternoon was a bit more challenging. But with some deviations approved by ATC, I was able to avoid some rain cells, depicted as green and yellow on the weather display. At 7,000 feet, I disengaged the auto pilot and hand-flew through the narrow canyons between the towering cumuli, receiving only light precip. Sometimes the canyons were so narrow each wingtip was in a different cloud. But for the most part, I managed to keep the fuselage itself in the clear. There was no convection indicated on the Stormscope, so though bumpy at times, there was no concern about any significant weather.
Approaching Orlando International airspace from the south, the weather ahead was clear and it was smooth sailing up and over the Kissimmee Airport/Disney TFR area. Ten miles from home, with the airport in sight, Orlando ATC cleared me for the visual approach to RWY 31 at Leesburg.
Another great day of flying, and certainly another reason to be thankful for the privilege to do so.