Wheres the Airport?! Square what??

Tom and I ventured out to the training airspace north of Caldwell (KCDW) Airport on a gorgeous sunny day.

After performing some fun flight training maneuvers, we began heading back to base/KCDW. We we were approximately 10 miles N/NE of KCDW airport and just entering below the Bravo airspace. We informed the ATC that we were inbound to KCDW. They advised us of landing on runway 22 using a right landing pattern. As we proceeded, I found myself concerned with finding the airport. I was looking for key points of ground reference which would lead me to the airport. Although Tom knows the route like the back of his hand, I felt it was my responsibility to get us there and enter the pattern safely (considering the fact that “Mr. Quiet” (Tom) is watching how I perform as “Pilot in command”). The concern was not in flying, but in finding the airport! I know we were heading in the right direction and at the correct altitude. I figured out where the airport was and could see it but we were instructed to fly over Square Lake (a reference point) and enter the pattern from that direction.  Guess what? I never piloted over Square Lake before! So, I looked at Tom and said, “I give up, where is Square lake?!” He points to a square patch, from my view it looked like a small swamp with long tall grass. I was expecting a large square body of water.


I had an epiphany…I realized that I must familiarize myself with the terrain or ground referencing. I have learned that it is essential to know as much as possible about the airport you are heading to. One good reference to understanding the geographic position of airports is the FAA Airport Facility Directory (AFD).