February 7, 2014
By Benét J. Wilson
The West Virginia House of Delegates is mulling a bill that would extend limited liability protection under recreational-use statues by amending the definition of “recreational purpose” to include aircraft operations on private airstrips and farms. House Bill 4216 would provide limited liability protections to land owners who may otherwise prohibit use of their private airstrips to the public. AOPA is working for adoption of the legislation.
Providing land owners these protections will encourage them to open airstrips to the public, promoting general aviation and its associated positive economic activity.
“Extending liability protection to land owners for aircraft operations will cultivate the competitiveness of the state’s aviation industry, promoting the brilliant resource that is West Virginia’s wilderness—wild, wonderful—offering new destinations for local pilots and those out of state,” said AOPA Eastern Regional Manager Sean Collins. “With an increase in economic activity improving proceeds from fuel sales and aircraft maintenance, the state will enhance revenues from associated taxes and fees.”
West Virginia is the latest state to consider extending this protection to aviation. AOPA has worked with the Recreational Aviation Foundation in numerous other states to secure recreational-use statutes for aircraft operations.
The bill, introduced on Jan. 17, has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, but no hearing has been scheduled. AOPA members are encouraged to contact House members and urge them to support this pro-GA legislation.
Recreational Aviation Foundation,
AOPA’s Central Southwest regional manager recently put GA’s utility to the test with a whirlwind trip covering four states, seven airports, and nine meetings.
Wisconsin’s governor has signed a bill adding aviation to an existing recreational-use statute.
Smith Field in Fort Wayne, Ind., has withstood three separate attacks—in the 1970s, 1990s, and 2002—to close it and redevelop the land. Now, it's thriving.
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