On July 7, 2011 Pennsylvania became the ninth state to include aviation in its Recreational Use Statute (RUS).   House Bill 870 was sponsored by Representative Garth Everett and strongly supported by Representative Tina Pickett along with twenty two other co-sponsors, and was approved last week by Governor Tom Corbett.   HB 870 added the words “recreational noncommercial aircraft operations or recreational noncommercial ultra-light operations on private airstrips” to the list of other activities in the law that define “recreational purpose. ”

Recreational Use Statutes provide landowners a degree of liability protection when others are using their land for recreational purposes.  Due to the regulatory nature of aviation, private airstrip owners have not been certain that they are provided with the same protections afforded by this statute for aviation activities as they are for such activities as hunting, pleasure driving, etc.  Passage of HB 870 clarifies the statute to include noncommercial aviation.

Pilots will still need to request permission of the airstrip owner before operating aircraft on private airstrips.  But with this new language in the state RUS Pennsylvania’s private airstrip owners are more likely to allow public access for noncommercial aircraft operations.

Credit for getting this accomplished for Pennsylvania airstrip owners and pilots goes to George Jenkins and his local Representative, Tina Pickett.   Mr. Jenkins had worked for several years to get legislation introduced.  After learning of the RAF effort to pass RUS legislation in New York, Mr. Jenkins contacted the RAF and requested information from other states that have included aviation in their RUS.  That information was forwarded to the PA legislators.

Learn more about Recreational Use Statutes.

Submitted on July 12, 2011.

Leave a Comment