What we are all about

Pilots Taking Action

The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) was founded by a group of Montana pilots who 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 recreational opportunities. The RAF is dedicated to preserving existing airstrips and actually creating new public-use recreational airstrips throughout the United States. Recognized by the IRS as a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the RAF is using tax-deductible donations to:

  • Identify private and public land for the development of new airstrips,
  • Assist in funding the building of new airstrips on public land,
  • Develop educational materials to assist pilots in being knowledgeable advocates,
  • Fund efforts to gain national recognition of backcountry recreational aviation and airstrips as a legitimate use of public lands,
  • Provide educational information regarding recreational airstrips to members of Congress and their staff.

The RAF strives to build strong working relationships with other aviation groups, both on the state and national level. Many of the issues that involve the RAF transcend state boundaries. The RAF encourages various state pilots' organizations to form active committees that work on recreational airstrip issues. To facilitate this, the RAF is forming a cadre of state liaisons to assist the states in becoming effective leaders in the efforts to protect recreational airstrips.

The RAF facilitates the enactment of state recreational-use statutes amendments to specifically include aviation. These laws considerably reduce a private airstrip landowner's liability when allowing public, non-commercial use of the airstrip.

In order to provide a connection between the backcountry and surrounding communities, the RAF is attracting donors who wish to specifically target their charitable donations locally. These funds have recently been directed toward a campaign to construct pilot shelters at larger, paved airports that serve as gateways to the backcountry. Similar in concept to the rest stops along our interstate highway system, the first of these shelters was constructed at Gallatin Field (BZN) in Bozeman, Montana. It offers pilots a place to pitch a tent on the grass near their airplane, relax in front of a fire and even take a hot shower - all at no charge.

The center piece of RAF airstrip acquisitions is Ryan Field. This donation by Ben and Butche Ryan includes 152 acres of land surrounded by US Forest Service lands and only two miles from Glacier National Park. There is a 2,500-foot airstrip and the RAF recently completed a pilot's campground.

The RAF is depending on other pilots to help them in identifying potential real estate for the development of new airstrips. Oftentimes we have friends or acquaintances who built their own airstrip and want to see their dream continue long after they are gone. These situations lend themselves perfectly to the tax-deductions that are available to the donor.

Future

Without the enabling work of the RAF, your recreational opportunities - whether cross-country or backcountry - will continue to diminish as airfields are closed or their use is restricted. Earning your pilot certificate wasn't easy. Creating new airstrips isn't easy either. Nothing worthwhile ever is.

The foundation invites donations of any kind, including land suitable for airstrip development. Cash donations are always welcome and fully tax-deductible. The RAF offers tax and legal assistance for donors and the Board members receive no compensation. They love flying as much as the rest of us and they're here for us, the pilots… not profits.

RAF History

"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 they 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 9,000 members with donors from all fifty states and additional donors from over thirteen 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.

Mission Statement

“The Recreational Aviation Foundation preserves, maintains, and creates airstrips for recreational access.”

The RAF implements its mission through these Guiding Principles:

  • We believe that aviation is a valid form of accessing recreational resources on public and private lands.
  • We believe in collaboration with both public and private entities to arrive at solutions that provide benefit to all parties.
  • We value the relationships of all stakeholders – both public and private – and commit to fostering relationships based upon integrity and transparency.
  • We believe that creation of new recreational airstrips will encourage the general aviation community to get out and recreate as well as provide more dispersed recreational opportunities.

RAF Projects by State

Alaska

Grand Gulch

Jake’s Bar (AK0) was developed in support of mining operations in the mineral-rich Wrangell mountains south of the famous Kennicott copper mine which produced millions of dollars of copper from 1910 through 1938. RAF conducted a work party at Jake's Bar.

Colorado

La Garita Creek Ranch

La Garita Creek Ranch Airport places you at the Ranch with rental cabins, and a main lodge with kitchen. Set up camp and fish in La Garita Creek; BLM access from the Ranch allows for hiking, biking and rock climbing. Paleo American artifacts and artwork are located on the Ranch which is 4 miles southwest of La Garita, CO. The RAF donated $1,000 to help fund a conservation easement on the ranch in 2016. In 2017 the RAF granted $750 for airstrip maintenance. Note: La Garita is not currently open to operations until further notice.

Indiana

Lee Bottom

Lee Bottom, (64I) lies along the Ohio River six air miles south of the town of Hanover, IN and 26 nm NE of Bowman Field in Louisville, KY. The RAF sponsored a campout and “Sinful Sundae” social as part of the 2017 RAF Trail, and donated profits to Lee Bottom Aviation Refuge, the nonprofit that helps maintain the airfield.

Minnesota

Bowstring Airfield

Bowstring airfield (9Y0) is a public use airport in the heart of Superior National Forest with ample recreational opportunities. Bowstring Lake is just off the west end of the runway and offers resort amenities. RAF volunteers completed two campsites, one with four tent pads and one with five tent pads. Each site now has an RAF fire ring, a picnic table and is just a short walk to a newly constructed outhouse. They installed a mailbox to hold a sign-in book and RAF information. All of the projects were funded by an RAF grant. 

New York

Boonville Airfield

The RAF has supported Boonville Airfield since 2013, co-sponsoring it's annual Boonville Fly-in and Pig Roast.

Utah

Mexican Mountain

Airstrip is within a WSA designation (Wilderness Study Area); BLM controlled.

Escalante Airport

Escalante Airport (1L7) has a 5,000 ft paved runway. The RAF with the Utah Backcountry Pilot's Association constructed a pilot shelter on the field. It provides great camping. There is a shelter, running water, electricity, small refrigerator, toilet and shower available. Also, a fire pit and firewood on the site. This spot is well worth visiting.

Arizona

Red Creek Airstrip

Red Creek airstrip is located on the Verde River 28 miles north of Scottsdale can provide an incredible experience in the Sonoran Desert beauty. This airstrip is not to be attempted by the novice backcountry pilot. It is narrow, relatively short, rutted with one way in and one way out, no go around on landing. This being said, it remains a favorite of the hard core backcountry pilot community. This airstrip was actually considered for destruction after a 3rd aircraft incident in the same year back on 2012. Through negotiation with the District Ranger, and with help from Spotted Bear Dr, Deb Mucklow, and the AZ Pilot’s Association’s produced their first safety brief pamphlet offered on AZ backcountry airstrips. This dissemination of safety information has improved the record here and limited access continues today. As with any backcountry airstrip, a would be visitor here must be realistic in his or her evaluation of their proficiency and aircraft performance, and of course use at your own risk. Download the safety briefing at http://azpilots.org/more-resources/backcountry-airstrips

Grand Gulch

The airstrip at Grand Gulch, AZ, near the north rim of the Grand Canyon was the scene of a work party on Mar. 16, 2013 headed up by Recreational Aviation Foundation  Utah Liaison Wayne Loeber. Thanks to the efforts of RAF to commit to a maintenance agreement with the BLM and National Park Service, access to this historic airstrip has been assured for years to come.

Grapevine Airstrip

Grapevine airstrip is located on the Tonto Basin District of the Tonto National Forest, 43 miles east of Scottsdale and is just 1400’ from the south shore of Roosevelt Lake, the largest body of water in central AZ. First constructed in the 1950’s and asphalted in the 1980’s by the Bureau of Reclamation and ultimately closed in 1997 by the FS. In 2012, following our success at Pleasant Valley and with a positive recommendation by that District Ranger, the RAF and APA negotiated a volunteer work weekend with District Ranger Kelly Jardine in order to clear years of tree and shrub growth along the runway edges. With 80+ volunteers and three days, the airstrip was made usable again. 

Pleasant Valley

Pleasant Valley, (24AZ) is located on the Young District of the Tonto National Forest just outside the historic little town of Young Arizona and 21 miles east and south of Payson. Made famous by the Pleasant Valley war of the late 20th and early 21st century, the airstrip is nestled in ranch country, at 4,800’. This airstrip was the first on FS lands reopened to public use following the RAF and APA’s efforts in 2011 to amend AZ’s RUS to include aviation. 

Double Circle Ranch Z66

The Double Circle Ranch (Z66) is located on the Clifton District of the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest roughly 29 miles northeast of Safford Arizona. The ranch, homesteaded in 1878, was one of the largest ranches of the southwest. In the 1950’s the then ranch owners built a log cabin lodge, bunk house and airstrip in an attempt to convert the working ranch into a Dude ranch. The last of the private holdings were ultimately traded in a land swap with the USFS in 1989. In response to a request for help in preserving the old site, from the grazing permittees Doug Dressler and Wilma Jenkins, negotiations between the RAF, APA and the USFS District Ranger Carol Telles and her recreation team began. Roughly one year later, the airstrip was cleaned up and pilots arrived for the first time in roughly 20 years in an effort to help preserve the site, its structures and history. 

Florida

Blackwater Airstrip

Background: Blackwater River State Forest is one of the largest state forests in Florida and is named for the Blackwater River, which begins to the north in Alabama and meanders approximately 30 miles southwestward through the forest into Blackwater Bay near Milton, Florida. Blackwater Airfield (8FD3) is a Florida Forest Service airfield to which the FFS is willing to permit public access on a ‘request’ basis, should its condition be judged safe and not otherwise in use. The Blackwater staff and the RAF have developed a cooperative relationship to make this access possible and to further improve the airstrip. 

Lakeland, FL

Just as Sun ’n Fun Campus is available year ‘round for visits and aviation camping, so is the RAF’s Fire Hub available to any group who would like to enjoy gathering there. Located near the Sun ’n Fun Corn Roast - in the woods, lakeside and under live oaks draped with Spanish Moss - it is meant to both symbolize and also to serve in its own right as a gathering point for flyers arriving by plane. (To reserve the space for an event, contact the Sun ’n Fun Office).

Arcadia Municipal Airport

The small cow town of Arcadia, Florida had long neglected its airport. That began to change in 2012 when a group of volunteers formed “Friends of Arcadia Airport” or FOAA. They thought a new campground might attract fly-in visitors, but they weren’t sure where to begin since the City opposed the idea. FOAA turned to the RAF. Two RAF members flew in to visit with FOAA’s Board and a plan was hatched. The RAF would organize a fly-in hosted by FOAA during Arcadia’s annual Rodeo Weekend.  After the event, all the pilots would flood the local newspaper and City Council members with letters describing how much they enjoyed Arcadia and its shops and restaurants.

The newspaper editor printed every letter along with an article about the fly-in. The City Council noticed, and FOAA’s journey began. Over the next five years, FOAA raised funds and added much sweat equity to build a small pavilion, two campgrounds, and a beautiful fire hub area. Their most ambitious — and expensive — goal was to add a shower block. After a major fundraising effort, including a $5,000 RAF grant, the project was completed and dedicated.

Maine

Fort Kent, Maine

The RAF was proud to assist the Fish River Flying Club to re-open Fort Kent airstrip in Maine.

Montana

Ryan Field

Ryan Field (2MT1) is a private airstrip owned by the RAF via the generous donation of Ben and Butchie Ryan. The airstrip is located one mile southeast of West Glacier, MT, and is depicted on the Great Falls Sectional Chart.

Lincoln Airport

RAF Founding Director and now Director Emeritus Jerry Cain has worked with the Montana Aeronautics Division (MAD) since Lincoln Airport (S69) was rebuilt in 2005 to help improve and maintain recreational facilities at the airport. Jerry is also the AOPA Airport Volunteer and listed in the Montana Airport Directory as the local contact for Lincoln Airport.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport

Pilots taxi to the shelter at Gallatin Field in Bozeman, Mont., to have lunch or camp overnight.

Russian Flat Airstrip

Russian Flat is the newest public airstrip on Forest Service grounds in the Continental United States. The airstrip is the result of a partnership between The Recreational Aviation Foundation, The Montana Pilots Association, and the Lewis and Clark National Forest. The Montana Pilots Association provided all the volunteer labor for the airstrip construction and The Recreational Aviation Foundation provided the funding for the airstrip. Century Companies of Lewistown, MT provided donated labor and equipment for the airstrip construction.

Cow Creek

The RAF partnered with the Montana Pilot’s Association (MPA) and participated in the BLM planning process that secured the existence of 2 airstrips in the Missouri River Breaks. These airstrips are within the Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Cow Creek is one of these str

Left Coulee

Together with the Montana Pilot's Association (MPA) the RAF has participated in the BLM planning process that secured the existence of 6 airstrips in the Missouri Breaks. These airstrips are within the Missouri River Breaks National Monument. Left Coulee is one of those strips.

Bullwhacker

Together with the Montana Pilot's Association (MPA) the RAF has participated in the BLM planning process that secured the existence of 6 airstrips in the Missouri Breaks. These airstrips are within the Missouri River Breaks National Monument.

Woodhawk

Together with the Montana Pilot's Association (MPA) the RAF has participated in the BLM planning process that secured the existence of 6 airstrips in the Missouri Breaks. These airstrips are within the Missouri River Breaks National Monument.

Black Butte North

Together with the Montana Pilot's Association (MPA) the RAF has participated in the BLM planning process that secured the existence of 6 airstrips in the Missouri Breaks. These airstrips are within the Missouri River Breaks National Monument.

Knox Ridge

Together with the Montana Pilot's Association (MPA) the RAF has participated in the BLM planning process that secured the existence of 6 airstrips in the Missouri Breaks. These airstrips are within the Missouri River Breaks National Monument.

Ohio

Swank Field

Airport owner and RAF volunteer Freeman Swank is happy to add Swank Field to the RAF map beginning with a successful RAF Fly In August 13-21, 2016.

Vermont

Allenholm Airport

Allenholm Airport (VT26), located in South Hero, Vermont, is a privately owned, public use airport.

Arkansas

Trigger Gap

The RAF raised funds for this new 3,000 ft. grass airstrip in the beautiful Ozark Mountains through private donations.

Georgia

Creighton Island

RAF leaders and members have established a collaborative agreement with the Islands airstrip owner to provide airstrip maintenance and upkeep in exchange for the provisional use of the airstrip and access to the island and recreational amenities.

Massachusetts

Myricks

The RAF and State Liaison John Meade continue to maintain Myrick Field in the spirit of Murray Randall.

New Hampshire

Wentworth

Wentworth NH96​. The RAF has a collaborative agreement with the owner to provide airstrip maintenance and upkeep in exchange for provisional use of the airstrip and access to the recreational amenities. Please call airstrip owner, John Meade, to receive instructions (781-308-2451).

Parlin Field Airport

What began in 2015 as a cooperative efforts by the State, the FAA, the RAF and a small group of tenants and supporters, New Hampshire’s Newport/Parlin Field (2B3), is now an active “go-to” place for townspeople, regional and local.

Alton Bay Ice & Seaplane Base

When winter comes to New England, the seaplane base at Alton Bay, (B18) on Lake Winnepausakee, NH starts to freeze. An RAF grant has partially funded the ice base.

Oregon

McKenzie Bridge State Airport

McKenzie Bridge State Airport (00S) is a beautiful public use backcountry airfield in the Cascades Mountains. There is primitive camping available on the airfield with a pit toilet, but no potable water. Across the adjacent highway is a USFS campground with facilities. There is walking access to the McKenzie River for fishing, kayaking or rafting. From the USFS campground, you can access the 25 mile long McKenzie River trail for hiking or world class single-track mountain biking. Numerous river guides, outfitters, and accommodations nearby.

Sunrise Valley Ranch

Sunrise Valley Ranch, an 11,000 acre working cattle ranch east of Prineville, OR hosts a new backcountry airstrip, developed with RAF assistance. The 2,100 ft x 60 ft dirt airstrip sits in a small valley at 4,400 ft elevation, surrounded on three sides by 6,400 ft mountains. The airstrip can be challenging on hot, windy days. Review of the safety briefing, and due consideration of pilot and aircraft capabilities, is essential before use.

Mountain Views Airfield

Mountain Views Airfield is a private use/permission required airfield located in Condon, Oregon.

Review of the safety briefing, with due consideration of pilot and aircraft capabilities, and approval by the owner, are essential prior to use.

Minam Lodge

The Minam Lodge airlift came about when RAF contacted the new owner, Barnes Ellis, to request that the lodge and airstrip remain open to private pilots and at the same time asked if there was anything it could do to help," said John McKenna, RAF president.

Owyhee Reservoir State Airport (Pelican Point)

The RAF is working in collaboration with Oregon Pilots Association, Idaho Aviation Association, and Oregon Department of Aviation to restore Owyhee State Airport, (28U) at Pelican Point. This public-use 1,840 ft. dirt airstrip became extensively degraded. Volunteers are restoring the airstrip surface, planting new grass, and doing other maintenance.

Washington

Sullivan Lake

Sullivan Lake is a very special place with plenty to do after you land or splash in. It is a great place to bring the whole family. There is a USFS campground adjacent with seasonal camp hosts, water, vault toilets and bear-proof garbage receptacles. We suggest you pack hiking shoes, swim suits, fishing poles and s’mores fixins’!

California

Chicken Strip

The Chicken Strip is a 1,300-foot dirt strip in a remote corner of Death Valley National Park. The drive there is an arduous trek over rough dirt roads that take 3 or more hours to traverse, so visitation is limited. Natural hot springs are a short walk away. It is maintained by the RAF under an MOU with the National Park Service.

Cinder Cone Dry Lake Bed

Cinder Cone Dry Lake Bed is a public use airstrip located roughly 11 miles north of the census-designated place (CDP) Inyokern in California. With permission from the BLM Ridgecrest Field Office, RAF volunteer California State Liaison Rick Lach performs various maintenance duties at Cinder Cone. With the help of volunteers, Rick drags the strip when it gets eroded by vehicle use, and monitors the condition of the airstrip’s windsock, changing it out when needed. 

Kern Valley Airport

The RAF was instrumental in campground improvements at Kern Valley Airport (L05). Through a grant from the RAF and donors, the old black barrel solar shower was replaced with a new three-stall shower house with sinks, mirrors, and charging ports.

Goler Heights Airstrip

West of California’s Hwy 395 and south of China Lake this ”hidden" airstrip lies on a small dry lakebed in a bowl that obscures it from the surrounding area. Through coordination with local BLM field managers, RAF California Liaison Rick Lach obtained authorization for RAF volunteers to maintain several airstrips in their district including Goler Heights. On several occasions, RAF members have brought hand tools and a drag to smooth the strip and fill in damage from OHV users driving on it during wet conditions.

Johannesburg Airport

In 2013, RAF California Liaison Rick Lach initiated conversation with the BLM about reopening Johannesburg Airport in California, a two-runway dirt airport which appeared on charts until the 1970s. The airstrip served the nearby communities of Randsburg and Johannesburg, which are both functioning gold and quartz mining settlements that date back to the 1800s. Gold miners who had previously worked in South Africa named the outpost. Thanks to the cooperation of the BLM, on September 15, 2018, the RAF organized a group of volunteers to re-open Johannesburg Airport, after twenty years of abandonment by all but OHV enthusiasts

Idaho

Big Bar

The RAF works in conjunction with the Idaho Aviation Association to maintain this airstrip for public use.

Reed Ranch

When the Brundage Mountain land exchange in Idaho held their first public meeting, Jerry Cain, Director Emeritus for the RAF, flew down to McCall and submitted several pages of comments in support of opening Reed Ranch Airport to the public. The RAF partnered with the Idaho Aviation Association and followed up on the effort until it was finally opened. Although the RAF’s part was small, we were there at the beginning to lend our support to the effort.

Michigan

Two Hearted River Airstrip

Two Hearted River airstrip (6Y5) is a public use airstrip in Newberry, Michigan.

Two Hearted is a new recreational destination near where Ernest Hemingway’s “Big Two Hearted River” joins Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The Two Hearted River is considered a premier US trout stream, and there is a state campground near the airstrip.

Years ago, RAF Michigan Liaison Brad Frederick learned about an abandoned Civilian Conservation Corps airstrip in the Lake Superior State Forest from Michigan Dept. of Aeronautics. Brad and his wife made the six-hour drive from their home in central Michigan, and found what he calls “typical beautiful UP jack pine forest with some maple trees mixed in,” and he was convinced there was good reason to create a safe airstrip to more easily access this recreational gem where inland lakes teem with walleye and perch. The RAF approved a grant for half the project; challenging folks from across the country to donate the other half. The fundraiser was named “Have a Heart” and launched on Valentine’s Day, 2017. “In about thirty days we had the funds we needed,” Brad said. 

North Fox Island

6Y3 The RAF completed a formal agreement with the State of Michigan to open North Fox Island, located on an 820-acre island in Lake Michigan.

New Mexico

Reserve Airport

Reserve Airport (T16) is a public use airstrip located in Reserve, New Mexico.

New Mexico State Liaison Ron Keller represented RAF at an initial meeting in 2017 with the Catron County Manager to advocate for the airport as an important recreational access point. The airport master plan was reviewed and SS fuel and AWOS are on the plan for 2019 and 2020.

Negrito Airstrip

Negrito Airstrip, NM (0NM7) is located in the Gila National Forest approximately 20 miles southeast of Reserve NM. The airstrip is not only beautiful but also remote. The airstrip is at 8,143 feet in elevation, so watch the density altitude. The airstrip actually has a crosswind strip. The main runway is runway 17/35 and is 7,500 feet in length. The crosswind strip is 21/3 and is approximately 4,000.

Amigos del Cielo

Amigos del Cielo (NM90) is a private use airstrip that is accessible by permission only. The airstrip is in far southwest New Mexico, near the border with Arizona.

Star-gazing is very popular, with numerous private observatories in the area. Bird watching is also very popular. The Chiricahua Wilderness is just a few miles away in AZ.

Texas

San Marcos Municipal Airport

Need another good reason to fly to San Marcos, TX? The beautiful old city located between Austin and San Antonio is known for bountiful crystal clear water, and aviation innovator Redbird Skyport, right on the field (KHYI). And thanks to Redbird’s generous corporate sponsorship, you can now enjoy one of the RAF’s attractive Fire Hubs on the lawn near their full-service FBO.

Wyoming

Upton Municipal Airport

RAF Wyoming State Liaison Lori Olson is the Upton airport manager and chairs the Upton Airport Board. When the city attempted to turn the strip into a waste transfer station and county dump, her board stepped up to save the airport.

Miracle Mile

Miracle Mile is a public use airstrip in Wyoming, located on the Miracle Mile section of the Platte River -- a renowned fly fishing area. Engstrom Campground, a USFS campground, is 0.5 miles SW of the runway, with an outhouse facility.

FAQ

Where can I visit with you in person?

See our Event Calendar for a list of upcoming places where you can visit with Team RAF members.

How do I contact you?

Contact us at the address, phone number, or email below:

Recreational Aviation Foundation
1711 W College St
Bozeman, MT 59715
406-582-1723

What have you guys accomplished?

There are many accomplishments, including two new airstrips that are now publicly available as a direct result of RAF work, as well as our participation in the General Aviation Caucus in U.S. Congress. For more details, visit the RAF Timeline.

What are the benefits of joining the RAF?

Aside from the obvious benefit of helping us preserve, maintain, and create public airstrips, you will receive periodic email updates of our progress as well as directed bulletins for issues that affect you.

How will you spend my donation?

Our funds are used directly for preserving, creating, and maintaining airstrips. This includes construction costs of items such as pilot shelters, new runways, and airstrip facilities; travel to Washington D.C. to meet with congressmen; promoting the RAF at trade shows; and mailing to our members — all to serve you, the RAF members.

Are my donations tax deductible?

Since the RAF is a 501(c)(3) public charity, all donations are tax deductible.

How long have you been around?

The RAF was founded as a public charitable non-profit 501(c)(3) organization in December 2003.

There are so many advocacy organizations --- IAA, MPA, AOPA, IAF, UBCP --- What do you guys do that’s different?

While many of these organizations concentrate on a single state, we are a national organization concerned about airstrips nationwide. We work closely with many state organizations such as the IAA and the MPA to assist them with local issues.

What does the RAF do?

Our mission statement says it best: “The Recreational Aviation Foundation preserves, maintains, and creates airstrips for recreational access.”

The RAF was founded by a group of pilots who were concerned about the loss of backcountry strips. Since our inception in 2003, we have prevented the closure of airstrips and even built new ones.

RAF Timeline

2001

  • 6 guys sat around a campfire in the backcountry and said, “If not us who? - If not now when?”

2002

  • Recreational Use Statute New Hampshire
  • Backcountry Aviation Foundation begins to transition to the Recreational Aviation Foundation

2003

  • Bylaws for the organization written by Jerry Cain and Chuck Jarecki
  • Incorporated and successful filing of 501 (c) 3 by Jerry Cain and John McKenna
  • Idaho Airstrip Network was formed RAF Director, Rol Murrow was a key member
  • RAF was invited to participate in the Travel Planning process for the Lewis and Clark National Forest
  • RAF member Dan Lilja built first RAF website
  • 7 members

2004

  • First Edition of the “Land Manager's Guide”, written by Chuck Jarecki became available
  • First Edition of “Advocates Guide,” written by Chuck Jarecki became available
  • First State Liaison - Montana Ron Normandeau
  • Ben & Butch Ryan gifted Ryan Field to the RAF
  • 53 members

2005

  • First Newsletter created by Carmine Mowbray
  • 1000 members

2006

  • Re-opened Fort Kent, Maine airstrip
  • Began the process to specifically include the word “aviation” to Recreational Use Statutes

2007

  • Travel Plan for the Lewis & Clark National Forest was approved for Russian Flat Airstrip
  • First Strategic Plan in Missoula, MT with Gary Burnett
  • RAF website rebuilt
  • National Park Service Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) surrounding the maintenance of 3 Death Valley, CA airstrips
  • RUS Idaho and Montana

2008

  • Construction Russian Flat Airstrip began. First new airstrip on Forest Service land in over 45 years.
  • RAF pilot shelter completed at Ryan Field - built by Chuck Jarecki
  • RAF goes to Washington DC

2009

  • Attended Sun n’ Fun for the first time
  • Attended AOPA Summit Tampa, Florida
  • Abigail Kimbell, USFS sends letter to the USFS field that “recreational aircraft & backcountry airstrips can be an integral part of a balanced & effective transportation system”
  • Missouri River Breaks Monument management plan finalized, includes approval of six airstrips
  • RUS Maine

2010

  • Strategic Planning Meeting - Teton Summit in Driggs, Idaho
  • Russian Flat Airstrip opened to the public
  • Tornado event at Sun n’ Fun – Tornado Husky was born
  • Congressional Resolution honoring back country airstrips
  • RUS Tennessee

2011

  • Jerry Cain, Founding Director retired
  • Executive Assistant position created - Tricia McKenna
  • RUS Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico and Pennsylvania

2012

  • Glacier Summit - First full gathering of TEAM RAF in Kalispell, MT
  • Established caretakers for Ryan Field
  • RUS Vermont, Utah, South Dakota, Minnesota, Virginia and Washington
  • 4500 members

2013

  • RAF creates an Endowment
  • Chuck Jarecki and Dan Prill, Founding Directors retire
  • Began work with Walton Foundation and The Nature Conservancy
  • RUS Wyoming, Oklahoma and Alaska
  • 5000 members

2014

  • The Red Rock Roundup - TEAM RAF gathers in St. George, UT
  • AOPA and Montana Dept of Transportation grant obtained for the Wildlife and Aviation Study
  • RUS California, Georgia, South Carolina and Wisconsin
  • 6200 members

2015

  • Reopened North Fox Island Airstrip, Michigan
  • Volunteer Coordinator position created made possible in part with a grant - Sarah Chandler
  • Memorandums Of Understanding signed with US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management
  • RUS Oregon, Wyoming, and Missouri
  • 7000 members

2016

  • Ragmuff Airstrip in Maine reopened
  • 43 State Liaisons and 9 Directors in 35 States
  • First edition of “RAF Guide for Airstrip Owners” written by John Nadeau became available
  • Funding announced by U.S. Congress for Backcountry Airstrips on USFS land
  • U.S. Congress instructs USFS not to close backcountry airstrips
  • RUS Maryland
  • 8000 plus members
  • Razorback Rendezvous - TEAM RAF gathers in Bentonville, Arkansas
  • RAF Grant Committee created to assist State Liaisons in funding projects
  • Two new Recreational Airstrips opened in Arkansas, Trigger Gap and Sugar Creek
  • RAF hosted first work party N Fox Island. Overall, 150 pilots have landed on N Fox Island since the airstrip was reopened in 2015!

2017

  • Montana U.S. Senator Jon Tester holds press conference to discuss aviation issues in RAF hangar
  • RAF works with NPS for the first time in Alaska: Jake's Bar work party in Wrangell - St Elias National Park & Preserve
  • Work begins on Two Hearted airstrip in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
  • Sunrise Valley Airstrip in Oregon opens
  • Launch of RAF Ambassador program
  • First online auction is held
  • RAF partners with AOPA's Air Safety Institute to administer aviation safety survey

2018​

  • 9,000+ members, 42 State Liaisons, 37 Ambassadors, 9 Directors, 8 Vice Presidents of Appreciation
  • Launch of RAF Backcountry Boutique
  • Two Hearted River Airstrip opens
  • Keystone Connection - TEAM RAF gathers in State College, PA for educational conference
  • RAF, with the help of EAA, restores Miracle Mile airstrip in Wyoming
  • RAF volunteers reopen Johannesburg airstrip in California
  • RAF helps open Mountain Views Airfield in Oregon

2019

  • RAF teams with AOPA Air Safety Institute on its "Peaks to Pavement" Seminar Series
  • RAF improves camping facilities at Bowstring Airport in MN
  • Minietta Mine airfield restored in CA
  • Nine (and counting) grants awarded to State Liaisons for mission-related projects
  • Three regional mini educational conferences (RMECs) offered for volunteers
  • Launch of the new RAF brand

Planned Giving

W142 Plane Sunset

It’s Why You Started To Fly

Do you recall the first time that you touched down on a grass airstrip? Perhaps it was where you learned to fly or maybe it was somewhere later in your flight training. The wheels lightly touched on the dew covered grass, there was no screech, and very little, if any, bounce. It may just have been the best landing you recall making. We bet the smile that found its way to your face back then is still there today. In fact the experience was so good that you were excited to do it again, but before departure you unloaded your gear, put on your hiking shoes, and headed off to explore this special place. It is not your typical airport that you are used to. There is no control tower, no departing airlines to wait for, and the hold short line is the large bush at the entrance to the only active runway.

You’re ready to leave and for the first time and you now understand the laborious calculations your flight instructor had you making as you look at those real live 50’ trees at the end of the runway. No longer a line drawing in your training manual as they await your departure. "This will really be fun", you tell yourself. Planned giving means different things to different people, but what we hope it means to you, is the recognition that the core mission of the RAF is to protect these very special places. We appreciate that you might consider some level of a planned gift to the RAF. It will be these kinds of contributions to the RAF that will provide long term lasting value to future aviators. Your gift, whether it is a cash contribution thru your will, a life insurance policy, a piece of real estate, or an appreciated stock portfolio, will provide the kind of secure funds that the RAF needs to assure that those special experiences continue to be available to pilots of the future. As said by one of our founding benefactors, “It will probably take 1,000 of us to save it for one”. Please help us by being one of the 1,000.

The RAF is ready to assist you and your planning team wherever needed to match your desires to the RAF’s needs. We respect the fact that you have worked hard, saved your money, and may have some left over that could be directed to the RAF. It is this match of your dollars and our shared passion of recreational aviation, mixed in with a commitment by the RAF to do our best for you that will put a smile on our mutual faces.

Perhaps the question you now find yourself asking is “Will the RAF be here in the future?” Our answer is “Yes it will.” You and so many others have told us that this experience is worth saving. With your help the RAF knows there will be an airplane on a grass strip with laughter and a campfire in the background. Your contribution will allow someone a place to experience a part of aviation that we know you found unique. Because of your memory of that special experience as well as your passion for it, you have, through the RAF, the opportunity to create a legacy like none other.

Contact us at contact@TheRAF.org