I really dislike it when people make use of hyperbole in describing flying. I dislike most top 10 lists, and I really dislike it when people use the word "Most" in describing things. I even have a border-line hatred of the term "white knuckle". I was listening to the podcast and heard you discuss a listener named (I think) Rachael who sent in a list of the World's Most Thrilling Airports. Why do I dislike the hyperbole of such lists? Because flying is not black and white. Runways do not always fall into the category of either "piece of cake" OR "World's Most Thrilling." There are many airports that fall in the middle. And many of those airports that are in that middle category of "not the easiest, but not the worst", can suddenly fall into that "most thrilling of airports" category when things go South, as they so often do in aviation. Laguardia is one of those airports.
As an Air Line pilot for over 22 years and with probably hundreds of landings in LGA, I would agree that LGA can be a fun (at times), and only somewhat demanding approach (at times). But let one thing happen- the weather comes in, or crosswinds pick up, or gusty winds start gusting, or even good weather after the bad weather has come through the New York area, and everybody and their uncle is trying to get into LGA, with the controllers running approaches with minimal VFR separation- and you are looking at one demanding approach. Now go in there with a new FO with little time in model, and it can get real exciting, real quick. The Expressway Visual Approach to Runway 31 (that is the approach to which you were referring when you said (and I quote), "it's like turning downwind, base, and final. Ooh, those 180 degree turns," unquote), is very similar to the pattern that we taught when I was an instructor in Navy flight school many years ago. It is not some long drawn-out box pattern. It is not a long 3-5 mile final like a lot of airports. It is a tight downwind, and a close in base leg to the runway. While you are descending, you are also trying to slow down. All of that causes you to be in what is a steeper than normal descent while also configuring for landing in that same 180 degree turn. In fact it is probably one of the closest base legs and turns to final that you will find in commercial airports. Add the fact that the runways are only about 7000 feet long and your goal is to try and turn off the runway before the intersection of Runways 13-31 and 4-22 so as to not screw the airplane that is on short, short final right behind you, and it can be a demanding approach. In my mind, the concern when flying into LGA is to not the landing. Worry about the stopping. I don't really try to land for style points in LGA. Jack, I am not trying to give you a hard time (okay, maybe a little), but I did want you to see that although LGA should not necessarily be on a "Most Thrilling Airport In The World list", it should indeed be on a list of ones that can get your attention if you are not careful.
Now if you want a demanding airport, try St. Thomas before they lengthened the runway back in the 1990's. That was a 5200 foot runway with a gas station at the far end, and a mountain to clear if you had to go around. The runway was so short that we could fly down there nonstop from Atlanta, but then on the departure would have to make a planned stop in San Juan to get gas. You could not take a 767 off of the runway in St. Thomas with full load of people and cargo, and carry enough gas to get home. The first time I went in there, it looked like we were coming aboard ship. Now that's thrilling!
As always, I greatly enjoy the podcast. Keep up the great work you guys do. You guys keep doin' it, and I'll keep listening.
P.S. Tell Dave I was in the Marine Corps with Jake Leinenkugel, current Leinenkugel Brewing Company President. Love those Leinies!