February 9, 2012
Recreational aviation and backcountry strips in US Forest Service lands recently received a much-needed lift. Forest Service planners must now consider aviation in their plans, whether it be preserving or maintaining backcountry strips.
The agency released its preferred alternative to the US Forest Service Planning Rule, giving recreational aviation the same opportunities as activities that use on land and water. Forest planners must consider recreational opportunities in their plans. The new definition of recreation opportunities includes “non-motorized, motorized, developed, and dispersed recreation on land, water, and in the air.” The rule provides guidance for every national forest plan and planner in the United States.
“Aviation wasn’t even acknowledged in previous planning rules,” said John Collins, AOPA manager of airports. “We worked with the Recreational Aviation Foundation and Idaho Aviation Association to educate Forest Service officials on the value of aviation and the legitimacy of it as a recreational use of national forest land. Now, it must be considered just as all-terrain vehicles, boats, and other recreational motorized and nonmotorized vehicles.”
Backcountry strips provide access to remote areas of national forest land and serve as emergency landing areas in what otherwise would be unforgiving terrain. They also allow quicker aerial lifts for park users who have been injured.
Recreational Aviation Foundation,
With a closing speed of about 900 knots, Air Force pilots on a training mission have seconds to aim and shoot heat-seeking and radar guided missiles at a drone target. Their success came from repeated rehearsals. But as author Larry Brown writes, “there is nothing like the real thing to gain experience.”
Pilots from Maine and New England turned out in numbers for the annual Maine Aviation Forum hosted by EAA Chapter 1434.
Nine aviation organizations have asked senators to support legislation compelling the FAA to go through the rulemaking process for new policies on sleep disorders.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.