50 STATE SURVEY of respective recreational use statutes (2015)

Following is a list of definitions of “recreational use” by the 50 states in alphabetical order with highlighted words that may be of interest to airstrip owners.

A Typical Recreational Use Statute (RUS)

Below is a “composite” Recreational Use Statute that is typical of many states. Generally speaking, a landowner’s liability is limited if others use their land for recreational purposes if there is no fee (consideration) charged to the user, and there is no malicious intent on the part of the landowner to injure anyone. Your state RUS may vary somewhat and should be reviewed. We have provided internet links to the various state statutes for your review of these statutes. Some liability protections for airstrip owners are in statutes other than the state recreational use statutes, and in such cases we have attempted to provide links pertaining to the protections for landowners with airstrips. Links were active as of the last review of these statutes on 9/28/2015.

Here is an example of typical RUS language. This is only a sample and does not pertain to any specific state.

The purpose of this sub chapter is to encourage owners of land to make land and water areas available to the public for recreational purposes by limiting their liability toward persons entering thereon for such purposes.

An owner of any estate or any other interest in real property, owes no duty of care to keep the premises safe for entry or use by others for any recreational purpose or to give any warning of hazardous conditions, uses of, structures, or activities on those premises to persons entering for a recreational purpose, except as provided in this section.

A “recreational purpose,” as used in this section, includes, but is not limited to, such activities as fishing, hunting, camping, water sports, hiking, spelunking, sport parachuting, riding, including animal riding, snowmobiling, and all other types of vehicular riding, rock collecting, sightseeing, picnicking, nature study, nature contacting, recreational gardening, gleaning, hang gliding, private noncommercial aviation activities, winter sports, and viewing or enjoying historical, archaeological, scenic, natural, or scientific sites.

An owner of any estate or any other interest in real property who gives permission to another for entry or use for the above purpose upon the premises does not thereby (a) extend any assurance that the premises are safe for that purpose, or (b) constitute the person to whom permission has been granted the legal status of an invitee or licensee to whom a duty of care is owed, or (c) assume responsibility for or incur liability for any injury to person or property caused by any act of the person to whom permission has been granted except as provided in this section.

This section does not limit the liability which otherwise exists (a) for willful or malicious failure to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, use, structure or activity; or (b) for injury suffered in any case where permission to enter for the above purpose was granted for a consideration.

Nothing in this section creates a duty of care or ground of liability for injury to person or property.




At the time of this posting, October, 2015, just more than half of the states specifically enumerate aviation activity language in their respective recreational use statutes or in a separate statute regarding aeronautics or property classifications. More detailed information can be found by using the links provided or searching the various state dot gov websites as we did. There is variation among the fifty states as to the efficacy of each recreational use statute in its ability to deter law suits. In whatever state you are interested, you should research the cases that have been filed that involved the recreational use statute and the resulting outcome.