April 29, 2014
By Benét J. Wilson
With the introduction of Senate Bill 1072, California becomes the latest state to consider legislation to add aviation to the activities protected under the state’s recreational-use statute. This bill would include general aviation under a current code that limits a landowner’s liability for recreational use of the property by others.
The bill was introduced on Feb. 19 by Sen. Jean Fuller on behalf of the Recreational Aviation Foundation. AOPA Western Pacific Regional Manager John Pfeifer worked with Fuller’s office and the Recreational Aviation Foundation to facilitate introduction of the bill.
Specific recreational uses covered under the statute include hang gliding and sport parachuting. “However, it is not clear if general aviation activities are covered, thus causing some airstrip owners to deny access to general aviation aircraft out of fear of liability,” said Pfeifer. “Senate Bill 1072 would clearly define 'other aviation activities' as a covered recreational use.”
Pfeifer visited the offices of all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 15 in support of the bill in advance of an April 22 hearing. He sent a letter of support to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chair on March 12. Pfeifer also recruited the support of the California Pilots Association and the Association of California Airports, who also wrote in support of the bill.
Pfeifer testified at the hearing, where he was joined by John Kounis of the Recreational Aviation Foundation and representatives from the California Pilots Association and Association of California Airports. The bill passed out of committee on a 7-0 vote, and now moves to the Senate floor.
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
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