January 15, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
Recreational access to privately owned landing sites in Oklahoma could be greatly expanded under new legislation supported by AOPA and other aviation advocates.
State Rep. Mike Brown (D-District 4) has sponsored House Bill 1009, which would add aviation activities to the uses of private land for which owners are provided protection from legal liability.
Oklahoma has 139 public-use airports, of which 26 are privately owned. The bill’s passage, which is supported by AOPA and the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF), could give pilots access to more than 250 additional landing sites in Oklahoma, said Yasmina Platt, AOPA central/southwest regional manager.
The airfields covered by the new language would continue under private ownership, and pilots seeking to use them should continue to request owners’ permission.
“With this language added to the law, general aviation’s reach across the backcountry areas of the state would be greatly expanded,” Platt said.
The addition of Oklahoma to the list of states that have included recreational aviation among liability-protected land uses could spur general aviation activity and increase related economic activity in Oklahoma by promoting more visits by out-of-state pilots, she said.
AOPA will work for passage of the bill, which was resubmitted following the 2012 legislative session, and urges members to seek their legislators’ support of the measure.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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