King County International Airport held a public event in the guise of a FOD walk. You could sign up for free for the opportunity to take a stroll along their main 10,000’ runway one Saturday morning. Since I wasn’t planning on anything else, this seemed like a good chance to be somewhere that I normally wouldn’t get to be. I showed up just before 8am on the Saturday to see how it was. Weather was overcast but it was not raining which was a relief.
We had a briefing from the airport team and the fire chief prior to heading out. They made it clear that they do take care of the runway so we were hopefully not expecting to find much but we would see. They last did a runway walk ten years ago and that was for staff so this was a new thing to try with anyone from the community taking part. We could take cameras with us but they limited what we could have. Also, photographing the Boeing military ramp was not allowed.
They split the group into two with two buses taking us out. The buses went to opposite thresholds with the intent that we walk to the middle where we would meet up and take some photos. Fortunately, I was in the bus going to the north end which is the one I wanted. Driving past the Boeing civil ramp with its 737s, KC-46s and 777Xs was pretty interesting. They set up the illuminated X at the threshold prior to us starting (which was a relief). We then spread out across the runway and walked down. The smaller runway remained in use while we were walking but there had been a bit of a mad dash of planes getting out before we started.
The runway was clean as you’d expect. For those that were walking along the edge and in to the grass a bit, there was more to find including some quite large items. I guess the session did have a practical benefit. We made it to the mid point of the runway where everyone gathered in front of the fire trucks and we had some group photos. Then it was back on the bus and a close out with some prize drawings. It’s not often you get to stand in the middle of a runway that serves everything up to wide body jets so I am glad I took the time to go out. I hope that they do it again.