RAF member Jim Newton of West Virginia has made several flights in his Super Cub to enjoy camping and fly-in gatherings in Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. He became interested in the benefits of adding aviation to the RUS, and got involved in passing it in his state.

“West Virginia has wonderful scenery and many private airstrips, some noted on the aeronautical charts and many that are not,” he told pilots. And getting permission is not always easy. Landowners would say things like,  “I’m not giving you permission to land here, but I won’t kick you out if you do.”  Obviously, liability was a big concern for landowners.

Gathering language from the RAF website, Jim contacted West Virginia Delegate Mike Folk, a flight instructor and commercial pilot. “He was the logical choice. He grew up on a farm with a private strip. His dad was a crop duster, and he immediately realized the benefit of amending the West Virginia RUS to include aviation activities,” Jim said.

Jim launched a letter-writing effort to the Judiciary Committee members. The RAF and  AOPA provided experience and he contacted all the airstrip owners and local pilots he knew to write. Delegate Mike Folk submitted the bill and the Committee approved it 21 to 3. The House of Delegates approved it 96 to 2 and the Senate approved it 34 to 0. 

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin signed the bill and the law will go into effect May 12. 

“Now the work begins to notify all private strip landowners of their good fortune, and hopefully, to the benefit of recreational aviation in West Virginia,” Jim said.

Submitted on February 24, 2015.

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