Colson Johnson loves math and science.
Also bicycling, hiking and airplanes.
So the 15-year-old Acalanes High School sophomore has combined those interests into an unusual hobby -- aviation archaeology or, as he likes to call it, wreckage chasing.
Since April, Johnson has visited the sites of a half-dozen old plane crashes in Northern California to satisfy his curiosity and his thirst for knowledge.
It started in April when the teen heard about wreckage from a 1946 military plane crash that still sits near the top of Mount Diablo.
Johnson has biked and hiked on the mountain, so he had a natural interest.
He researched aviation websites and pinpointed the crash site, then hiked down and found the pieces of the plane. He's been to the site two times since.
Johnson also convinced his father to drive him to Mount Tamalpais in Marin County last spring. There he and a few friends found the wreckage of a midair collision between two Navy jets.
The Lafayette teen has also been to a plane crash site on Mount St. Helena on the Napa-Sonoma county border, as well as the accident scene of a Navy bomber on Mount Tam.
He also discovered the remnants of a Navy fighter jet in the foothills of Mount Diablo as well as a Marine helicopter crash in the Stanislaus National Forest. He convinced some fellow Boy Scouts to go on that trek.
For Johnson, part of the thrill of wreckage chasing is reading up on the background and pinpointing the sites.
"The research is fascinating," he said.
The actual trip to the scene mixes hiking, biking and the aerospace industry.
"It's a combination of all my favorite things in the world," said Johnson.
Finally, the hunt and discovery of the wreckage is the final piece of the puzzle. It beats sitting at home and playing a video game.
"It's infinitely better to be out in the world doing something real than to be in a dark room doing something fake," he said.
Most sites are places where pilots and military personnel have died. Johnson said he treats these scenes with the somberness and reflection they deserve.
"I have the utmost reverence and respect for the military and the people who serve," said Johnson. "I consider it an honor to be standing on the same ground."
Johnson plans to investigate and travel to other plane wreckage sites. He said there are thousands in California.
Some still have large pieces of airplanes. Others have been cleaned up with only a few fragments remaining.
"You can always find something there," said Johnson.
This hobby, however, has not cut into Johnson's studies. He carries a 4.0 grade point average along with a lot of math and science classes.
"I like the definiteness of those subjects," he said. "There's no discrepancy. There's only one answer."
Johnson plans to attend Brigham Young University after high school where he hopes to study nuclear physics. He's also learning Mandarin Chinese because it could useful in the future.
"It might open some doors," he said.