The 89th General Assembly of Arkansas recently passed House Bill 1020, which protects private airstrip owners throughout Arkansas from litigation from non-commercial aviation activity on their land.
The bill added “aviation” to the other recreational activities listed in the state’s existing Recreational Use Statute.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Joe Jett (D) of Clay County and included 17 cosponsors. HB1020 passed both state houses with overwhelming support for what many of the legislators called a “common sense statute,” according to officials with the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF). Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe signed the bill Monday, Feb. 11.
Spearheading the bill through the process were Yasmina Platt of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and David Myrick, Arkansas liaison for the non-profit Recreational Aviation Foundation, headquartered in Bozeman, Mont.
The actual text of the amendment reads, “to extend the limitation of liability for permitting the recreational use of land to a landowner who permits the free use of the landowner’s property for flying and landing aircraft.”
“This amendment will encourage the 200 owners of Arkansas’ private airstrips to more readily allow aviation activity on their airstrips, encouraging more people to enjoy all the recreational and tourism activities that Arkansas has to offer,” Myrick said.
With the passage of this bill, Arkansas joins 16 other states that have added aviation to their laws covering liability for certain recreational use.
John McKenna, president of the RAF added, “we’re pleased with the success of this amendment. It protects landowners and preserves low-impact access by air — ideally near camping and scenic and recreational destinations.”