Gerald Wyneski is a man who sees humor where others might not.

"I have to tell you," he said recently, sitting in his Skylark and shaking his head and smiling: "I never thought this could happen here."

The this Wyneski referred to was a basic bottleneck, a traffic jam in an unlikely place: Dulles International Airport.

In the last few months, with the birth of Presidential Airways and a steady increase in the number of flights each day, Dulles has grown far more rapidly than at any time since it opened in 1962.

The airport will handle more than 4 million passengers in 1985, a jump of more than 30 percent over last year's figures. The growth has been greeted with joy by the Federal Aviation Administration, which runs the airport, and by Northern Virginia officials who have watched the airport struggle to succeed.

But new travelers mean new demands, and each day, about 5 p.m., the large lot outside the terminal becomes a holding cell for unsuspecting vehicles. Sometimes, it can take as long to get out of the main lot as it does to drive the 17 miles from Dulles to the District.

"Our growth out there has been phenomenal and we are just trying to keep up with it," said David Hess, an FAA spokesman. "We have more than tripled our public parking space in the past three years. Of course, there are growing pains. But we are watching the situation very closely."

Dulles' busiest hours are from about 3:30 in the afternoon to about 7:30 at night, according to airport manager Dexter Davis.

There are almost 10,000 spaces for cars now at Dulles, more than twice the parking capacity of National Airport. During the summer, the FAA added a third satellite lot for long-term parking, but officials say travelers are used to parking in the main lot in front of the terminal, even though it is more expensive than the other lots at the airport.

Part of the parking problem at Dulles is history. It was the first airport in the nation designed with jet service in mind, but today's wide-bodied planes are far larger than the jets that flew into the airport when it first opened.

"Ironically, as we get more successful and Dulles has more flights scheduled, the problem will ease," said Thomas Morr, president of the Washington Dulles Task Force, a group that is dedicated to helping the airport grow. "In the future, flights will be spread out more evenly every day and you won't see the big bunching at the peak hours."

The FAA says that if more people used the outer lots -- and the shuttle buses that run between them and the terminal -- there would be fewer tieups in the main lot.

To help passengers decide where to park, the FAA next month will start a radio broadcast for parking information. A similar service at National has helped steer drivers least congested lots.

FAA officials say they also are considering putting more exit gates in the parking lot to help ease the flow at peak traffic times.

But for some people, Dulles' popularity is difficult to handle.

"It's just going to be horrible," said Roselle Bierson of Arlington, who uses Dulles frequently. "This is a deal. It's the one place where you don't have crowds, where you are in and out in 15 minutes. I thought it was a secret."