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Lee airport

A tight squeeze

Don’t let the “Annapolis” descriptor fool you. The airport is technically located in another jurisdiction, which will help you win a bar bet for which state capital does not have its own airport. Lee Airport in Annapolis, Maryland (ANP), is actually in Edgewater, separated from the city by the South River. Maryland is the only state with no airport within the capital city proper.

Chart Talk


  1. A letter suffix to the approach name—in this case, the “-A”—indicates that this is a circling approach.
  2. There are no published holds at GRACO for this approach, so no way to reverse course when coming from the northwest and southwest on V93 or V379. GRACO can be a busy place for operations in and out of BWI.
  3. The 6,000-foot upper limit keeps you from encroaching on Washington’s Tri-Area SFRA airspace.
  4. The 2,600-foot MSA (minimum safe altitude) is centered on the approach’s missed approach point.
  5. A mighty short runway—and with some pretty big displaced thresholds (321 feet for Runway 30; 476 feet for Runway 12). Chart supplement says to use lighted visual glide slope indicators (for Runway 12, reliable on centerline only), and that there are minor cracks for the full length. Strip mall on approach to Runway 30. Trees off both ends.
  6. A 280-foot (height unverified) obstacle is just north of the MAP.
  7. The highest obstacle on the approach chart.
  8. With low-intensity runway lights, displaced thresholds and what can be “black hole” conditions, no wonder the approach is NA at night. Besides, lighting is inop between 0300Z and 1200Z.
  9. Use BWI’s altimeter setting, available from approach or BWI’s ASOS.

Chart Talk notes, notams, and other depicted information are based on the latest available sources at press time, but are not intended for navigation purposes.

Lee Airport is the definition of “shoehorned in.” The runway is 2,500 feet long by 48 feet wide. Considering that the wingspan of a Cessna 172 is only 36 feet, it’s more like using a sidewalk than a runway. To make things more interesting, the west end of the field has trees on one side that cause the wind to burble. Also, the runway has displaced thresholds at either end, so the landing distance available is even less. Because of its location, small size, and surrounding structures, the airport is hard to find from any kind of distance.

Prior to the advent of GPS, there was no real way to build a reliable instrument approach. There were no navaids that could be used for a straight-in procedure, the airport doesn’t warrant an ILS, and it meets none of the terminal instrument procedures criteria for having one. But with GPS, there is a single approach that you can use now, which is the RNAV GPS-A that comes in to Runway 30, the primary runway.

The approach starts across the Chesapeake Bay, over Kent Island. In VFR conditions, this is noteworthy because there are two airports on Kent Island, one of which is the Kentmoor Airpark (3W3), which is almost right under the approach course. North of that is Stevensville/Bay Bridge (W29), which is a busy training airport. If the weather is good you can expect quite a bit of traffic, so you may need to monitor two different radio frequencies.

The approach itself is pretty straightforward, as you will cross AMRTN no lower than 2,000 feet. You’ll notice that the maximum crossing altitude is 6,000 feet, which is an unusual notation, but it is there not only to make sure you can safely descend, but also because you will be passing under the Washington, D.C., Tri-area Class B, as Baltimore-Washington International/Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) is less than 20 miles north.

After crossing AMRTN, the final approach fix is DENII, which is 4.5 miles from the runway. You’ll notice that the descent angle is 3.06 degrees, a bit higher than a standard/preferred 3 degrees. The higher descent angle calls for a slightly higher minimum descent altitude. Because there is no unicom, you will have to use BWI’s altimeter, which also forces higher minimums. In this case, the approach is considered a circling approach, so the minimum descent altitude is 660 feet. The airport doesn’t have much in the way of lighting, so at night the procedure is not authorized. Coming in over the bay can also present the problem of dense fog. If it’s foggy over the bay, it may well be foggy over the airport, as it sits so close to the South River.

If you need to get into Lee, and the weather is marginal or better, that’s one thing. At the very least, file an alternate. If you really need to get into Annapolis, use BWI or W29.

Chip Wright

Chip Wright is an airline pilot and frequent contributor to AOPA publications.

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