[Tagging] airstrip vs runway

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny+osm at gmail.com
Mon Oct 9 17:13:20 UTC 2017

On Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 12:09 PM, Max <abonnements at revolwear.com> wrote:
> https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=13/42.4014/-76.5581
> in this area there are 7 runways. Two are called "field" three "Airport" and
> one even is called "International Airport" none of them is paved.

Once again, it's a set of categories that doesn't quite fit the US.

To the FAA, an 'airport' is pretty much defined as the
place where you plan to land. Whether landing there is
lawful is a matter of state law, and some states, such as Alaska,
place very few restrictions on where a pilot may land (with the
permission of the landowner, of course).

FAA does require notification (not permission) if a landowner
constructs improvements to make an airport and conducts
more than ten operations in a day or operates more than
three days a week. That's in order to publish the locations
of runways in the Airports and Facilities Directory.

A bush strip, 2000 x 60 feet, in Alaska, with 4-foot-tall grass
and 8-foot-tall willow in the 'runway', which is also used as
a road by mining equipment, still gets a listing as an

We don't have a well-defined category of 'airstrip'. From
the field where some farmer operates his crop duster,
up to the busiest of hubs, they're all 'airports'.

They may or may not be illuminated,
may or may not be marked,
may or may not offer air traffic control services, which may or may
not be radar-equpped,
may or may not have instrument approach procedures,
may or may not have navigational aids,
may or may not have hard-surface runways,
may or may not sell fuel, offer airframe&powerplant services, service avionics
may or may not offer customs service (sometimes by advance request only)
may be public or private
... and so on ...
but all of those are attributes that may determine whether a
given aircraft or pilot can operate. There's no formal
minimal level of service that designates an 'airport'.

An "international airport" is a place where you can get
customs service on request. In Upstate New York,
a lot of relatively tiny flying fields are "international
airports" because private planes do cross the
Canadian border, and it really messes up the system
to have to try to slot them in to operate among the
"big boys" at the places with scheduled international

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