Low flying jeopardizes rights

Montana’s Sieben Ranch has informed the aviation community of problems they are experiencing with people accessing their property to gather shed antlers in the spring. Traditionally the Baucus family, which owns the ranch, has generously shared their land with many users. However, they decided to postpone access, because some types of users are abusing this privilege, including flying very low to spot antlers. A few pilots are even landing off-field without permission to gather horns, which constitutes trespass. These low level flights cause significant stress for their sheep and other livestock, who are especially sensitive at this time of year.

Though legal to fly low over private land, this practice is not in keeping with the Montana Pilots’ Association Code of Ethics. Item 2 reads: “Pilots should always remember that the example they set through their actions could greatly contribute or detract from the non-flying public’s perceptions of aviation.” Additionally, Item 3 states: “Pilots will be sensitive at all times to the concerns of the non-flying public in regard to public safety, noise and other environmental issues.”

If this kind of conspicuous flying continues, we all are in jeopardy of losing more privileges. Please fly considerately, out of respect for all landowners like the Baucus family. Call first for permission to land on private property. Let’s keep our flying ethical so it remains “a legitimate and respected component of the nation’s transportation system” also from the Code of Ethics.

Submitted on April 15, 2007.

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