As its 2014 legislative session came to a close, Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal signed an amendment adding aviation activities to its Recreational Use Statute (RUS).
HB494 includes liability protection for airstrip owners — the 22nd state in the nation to adopt this change.
The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) has made it a goal to add landowner liability protection to each state’s RUS.
“We’re very pleased to add Georgia to the growing list of states that recognize the value of recreational aviation,” said Eric Davis, RAF Georgia State Liaison.
“One of our primary missions is to add aviation-friendly civil protection laws to result in greater access for recreational pilots,” said RAF president John McKenna.
Myron Ramsdell, a Georgia pilot and airstrip owner, heard McKenna speak of the RAF mission.
“I called my cousin, Senator Rick Jeffares, who serves as administrative Floor Leader to see if he could propose the amendment,” he told Davis.
Republican Senator Jeffares was joined by Senators Bill Heath (also a pilot), Barry Loudermilk, and Tyler Harper as co-sponsors of the bill.
Opposition to the proposed amendment came from the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. Davis — assisted by Bob Minter, AOPA’s Southeast Regional Director — approached Senator Heath.
“We worked a strategy to overcome their objections while at the same time getting the word out to over 200 Georgia airstrip owners,” Davis said, adding, “having AOPA’s support was extremely helpful but at the end of the day it was Senator Heath who made it happen.”
Instrumental to the effort was Amy Hudnall, Deputy Director of the Aerospace Division of Georgia’s Department of Economic Development. She actively worked to bring the group together during the 2014 legislative session.
As the bill made its way through the process unopposed, Senator Heath added the RUS amendment language to a House bill related to the installation of safety markers on utility lines in the proximity of private airstrips.
“The RAF is grateful to airstrip owners throughout our state who worked at the grassroots level to make this outcome possible. We’re indebted to our friends at AOPA and Georgia’s Department of Economic Development for their support and especially to Senator Bill Heath for his perseverance,” Davis concluded.
For more information: TheRAF.org