May 14, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a law May 13 that provides tort liability protection for private owners of aviation landing facilities. The existing law was amended by adding “aviation at non-public use airports” to the existing recreational use statute (RUS).
Oklahoma is now the twentieth state to amend the recreational use statute to include aviation activities. In the Central Southwest Region, Kansas, New Mexico, Arkansas, and now Oklahoma have amended their recreational use statute to include aviation. Texas is currently in the process of making a change.
“We hope this will encourage private backcountry strip owners to open them up for recreational enjoyment, including fly-ins and camp-outs,” said Yasmina Platt, AOPA’s Central Southwest Regional Manager. “In fact, we know the February 2013 amendment of the Arkansas RUS to include aviation activities has done just that.”
Platt credited state Rep. Mike Brown and Sen. Sean Burrage and their respective legislative aides for believing in this bill and supporting it through the legislative process. She spoke with a few legislators during an April visit to push the bill through the Senate Judiciary Committee and offered materials to both sponsors to help explain the bill to relevant committees and other legislators. Finally, she worked with Dave Myrick, Arkansas liaison for the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF), to get the bill signed.
“The bill failed to pass in the legislature last year, but AOPA got involved this year and worked with our allies to make sure the bill became law,” said Platt.
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
Recreational Aviation Foundation,
Pilots in Washington State have another voice advocating for them on airport, economic, legislative, and public perception issues: the Washington State Aviation Alliance.
Under a current Washington law, only 10 percent of the aircraft excise taxes that aircraft owners pay go to the Washington State Division of Aeronautics, while the other 90 percent go into the general fund. AOPA is advocating for legislation that would direct 100 percent of the tax to aviation use.
AOPA and the National Business Aviation Association have jointly filed an amicus, or friend of the court, brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as part of the ongoing legal battle over the future of Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
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