Collecting Runways


How many runways can you collect?


There are so many reasons to go flying any given day! Yet sometimes pilots lose sight of all the possible fun flight ideas and end up with a feeling of low motivation when there is no clear cut “mission”… These missions could include sightseeing with a friend or loved one, photo flights or a unique subject from the amazing vantage point of the air, giving someone their first airplane ride, eating at a new restaurant, etc… The number of reasons to go flying is endless, yet sometimes pilots lose sight of some of the obvious and end up looking for different reasons to go flying.

Photo Jul 04, 2 00 24 PM

My old “Fly the Bay State Challenge” Passport!


One program I wrote about here on ReviewBeforeFlight a while back was the passport program in Massachusetts. As a part of the program, airports received stamps with their identifier. Pilots could then visit an airport on either end of the state and pick up their own personal flying passport, which they would then keep in their flight bag. At each different Massachusetts airport the pilot visited, he or she could stamp their passport to show their exploration of the state’s airports. Upon reaching various milestones along the way to visiting all 39 of the state’s public use airports, pilots would receive prizes. Programs like this can be found across the country in various forms from time to time.

The number of “games” that a pilot can “play” are endless and one that you may not have heard of is the collecting runways game. This is another “get up and go flying” program with a more personal twist. The idea is to land on each runway number. Meaning a landing on a Runway 1, Runway 2, all the way to Runway 36.


The landing that followed this picture only counted for Runway 2, the other end, Runway 20 requires a separate landing on the other end, in the other direction, weather permitting!


Airport runways are labeled based on magnetic direction, meaning the runways start at 1 and count upward to number 36. Over the years that us pilots fly we land on a variety of numbered runways, out most common are the runway numbers at our home airport of course.

The idea of the runway number counting game is to try and land on each type of runway between 1 and 36. Chances are you can knock out a handful at your home airport, especially if there are multiple runways. Commonly, airports located in similar areas share runway directions. For example, in Massachusetts (south eastern, anyways) most airports have a Northwest-Southeast runway, of course many have crosswind runways too, based on the prevailing winds of the region. This means pilots in that area might have to travel a little further to find Northeast-Southwest runways.

Runway number counting requires a little more than just visiting different airports, you actually have to do some hunting around to find some runway numbers that aren’t as common in your local area.

Do you think you’re up for the challenge? Create a checklist for yourself and start collecting runway numbers. So get up and go flying, from 1 to 36, just keep track of the runway number, airport and date of visit and see how quickly you can accumulate a landing on each possible runway orientation out there!

-Fly Safe, @MTElia1B9


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