"If not now, when; and if not us, who?" Those two questions were the basis for this organization we call the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF). Like certain words in other documents that we all refer back to, they are as appropriate today as they were on that starlit evening when those two questions were asked of the group of pilots a number of years ago while sitting around a campfire on a backcountry airstrip.
This group had experienced the rare opportunity to enjoy the combination of flying and stopping off in places that have little in the way of conventional aviation facilities. There was no FBO sign at this spot, no nearby motel, not even the old Buick courtesy car. But there was the smell of pine trees, cowboy coffee, wood smoke, the distant howl of a coyote and the flicker of fire light. They knew these places were special and that someone needed to step up to the plate and defend them.
Thus, this group of a little more than a half dozen started on a journey that they knew very little about. They were committed, they were hard working and had little, if any, room for the words "You can't do it" in their vocabulary.
The above paragraphs are the heart of what started the RAF. The RAF was first organized by this group of Montana pilots who had been working on airstrip issues in that state for several years. They realized the threat of recreational airstrip closure was of national concern. They also recognized that there was the need for a unified effort by pilots everywhere to protect public, aviation related, recreational opportunities. These same few people were also aware that the recreational pilots' community did not have the tools and knowledge to effectively participate in issues that affected airstrips on private land. Thus the RAF was formed, by-laws established, incorporated in Montana and received its non- profit public charity, 501 (c) 3, determination by the IRS in December, 2003.
Since 2003 the RAF has grown to over 5000 donor members in 11 years with donors from all fifty states and additional donors from over eleven foreign countries. We have made inroads in the aviation community and are looked at as the "go to" guys for aviation related issues pertaining to both public and private recreational airstrips and backcountry airstrips.
The RAF continues to work towards it mission of: