Preserving backcountry flying


Some things are just worth holding onto and that is all there is to it.

That simple statement is really how the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) was formed — six folks sitting around a campfire with the idea that if they did not get busy protecting the special places that we know as backcountry and recreational airstrips, these cherished destinations would most likely just go away.

The forces pressuring them to go away seemed greater than the organization to keep them available. That simply wasn’t an acceptable outcome to those early founders of the RAF, so they threw in their money, their time, and — most of all — their passion. When those factors are blended together and the folks implementing them have a desire to make a difference, then little can get in the way, or so we thought.

To suggest that the road to RAF success has been easy would be incorrect. As an organization we have encountered many hurdles on our journey, but somehow found a way to get over them, around them, or, frankly in some cases, we just had to knock them down to move on. Whatever it took was whatever those folks did. They slowly built the organization to its present size of just under 5,000 members who also share the vision that this is just the right thing to do. It is an organization driven by desire and fueled with passion — a combination that is hard to beat.

With members in all 50 states, the RAF is now beginning to build the momentum that we dreamed about 10 years ago around that campfire in northwest Montana.

We knew it could be done, but little did we know how much effort it would take or the number of people who would give so much to make it all happen.

The RAF is just getting started. With some success under its organizational belt, we now know we need more people who believe, just as those early founders did. If you believe as we did that preserving, protecting, and creating recreational airstrips is a worthy vision, then don’t let fear and good judgement get in the way, just come join us at the RAF.

Together we can make that difference.


John J. McKenna Jr. is president of the Recreational Aviation Foundation. For more information:


  1. Doug Haughton says

    We owe the RAF our support and gratitude. Thank you for all the work you’ve done to build and protect our back country airports.

  2. Don Wilfong says

    Thanks to all of you in the RAF……..I was born and raised in Idaho and got my private license long enough ago that the FAA did not exist yet and it was issued by the CAA.
    I live in Oregon now and still have a Skylane. I still fly into the greatest state for back country airstrips “Idaho”. I appreciate all of your work to help preserve this great resource for all of us….Keep Up The Good Work.

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