Tampa is a town with a rich history. From the cigar factories of Ybor City, to the street walkers of Nebraska Ave, this place has it all. Tampa approach, known as “TPAT” (just a F Hey Hey abbreviation to denote it’s an up/down facility) runs about 1,500 operations a day. The tower runs about 500 and the approach runs the remaining thousand. Tampa is nice becuase you have a mix of everything. The satellite traffic is the real bread and butter here. There are so many flight schools in the state of Florida, that you are always working some bonehead with low hours. Embry Riddle uses it regularly for cross countries.
The airspace extends up to a point about 15ish miles north of Brooksville, to the east towards Bartow. Hooking to the south, it ends just past Venice airport, and to the west it extends about twenty five miles out into the gulf. The approach control serves a variety of towers to include: KTPA, KPIE, KMCF, KSPG, KLAL, and KSRQ. Let’s talk about these towers.
KTPA (Tampa International) is the “Up” part of the “Up/Down” I was talking about earlier. The same people that work the approach control function, also work in the tower. The airport has two parallel runways more than 4,300 feet apart. This is important, because that means they can run simultaneous visual approaches. Southwest airlines is the primary user here, accounting for approxamately 36% of their operations. Multiple FBOs ensure that any corporate aircraft that visit, are givin the VIP treatment.
KPIE (St. Pete Airport) sits about 8ish miles to the west of KTPA. It’s historically been known to be a feeder to the bigger facility over at TPAT. They use a charted visual approach procedure for air carriers landing from the north. There is a “Satellite sector” at Tampa Approach that works aircraft in and out of KPIE. VFR traffic up and down along the coast can be problematic. One of the best Coast Guard search and rescue units is stationed at KPIE.
KMCF (Macdill Air Force Base) sits about 7 1/2ish miles to the south of KTPA. Anyone that has ever received a Visual approach clearance to 1L or 1R at KTPA knows how frustrating the placement of KMCF is. The phraseology “Maintain two thousand six hundred until northwest of runway 4 at Macdill, cleared visual approach runway one left” is both annoying for the controller to say, and for the pilot to acknowledge.
KSPG (Albert Whitted Airport). Nestled about 8ish miles south east of St. Pete is this little gem. Annoyingly near/in/not in/under the bravo airspace, running approaches into this airport can be problematic if you have approaches landing north at KPIE and approaches into runway 4 at Macdill. The Dali museum is down near there, and worth checking out if you’re in town.
KLAL (Lakeland Airport) is about 25ish miles east of KTPA. This is where things get interesting. The satellite sector directly overhead known as “East Satellite” can and will kick your head in. This sector is busy all day, and deals with a ton of VFR traffic. Approaches into Tampa executive, Peter Ohhhh Knight, and Macdill will distract you from all the stupid Riddle Rats working approaches at Lakeland. Just when you think you have it well in hand, Jax approach or the Disney sector over at F11 calls for a point out. This is a fairly difficult airpace to work.
KSRQ (Sarasota tower). This is a busy little airport. The “South Satellite” sector works the approach into this airport, along with departures off of runway 22 at MCF and let me tell you, things get hairy here pretty quick. The language barrier here is very pronounced. It’s common to hear “Remain outside the Charlie Airspace and standby” (If you are a weak controller that is). The mixture of regional jets with Skyhawks can be a challenge. If you can certify on the South Departure and South Satellite sectors, you’ll have no problem with the rest of the room.
That’s the ATC side of Tampa. As for the town itself, there is a lot to do. From the cospopolitin atmosphere of Hyde park, to the hipster lifestyle of downtown St. Pete, you won’t lack for activities. The Bucs play in South Tampa, and after the game, you can head over to the world famous 2001 Odyssey Strip Club.
For me, the real action is always at the Casino. The Seminole Hard Rock Casino off of Orient road, does alright in a pinch. My first love is Vegas, but if you can’t be with the one you love, then love the one you’re with. It has a pretty sprawling gambling floor. Steer clear of the continuous auto shufflers at the black jack tables. The only craps they have are on machines.
There you have it, Tampa in a nutshell. If you have aspirations of working Level 10 traffic and want a great city to raise a family in, look no further. Stay tuned for more, and if you liked this post, please share it.
Dilly Dilly Y’all.