Last January I flew to Bozeman, Montana, to hang out with a friend for a few days. After my travel plans were in place I emailed John McKenna, chairman of the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) board, who happens to live in Bozeman. I was hoping to meet up for lunch or dinner.
Before I could blink, John and his wife Tricia had put together an evening gathering at the McKenna home. All I needed to bring was my friend, an appetite, and a desire for discussion. A great time was had by nearly a dozen of us.
That, in a few sentences, is a huge part of what makes the Recreational Aviation Foundation special. Doors are opened wide.
The RAF is now 15 years old. And the founding mission remains succinct and intact to this day…
“The Recreational Aviation Foundation preserves, maintains, and creates airstrips for recreational access.”
Just take a look at the airstrips RAF efforts have impacted.
Today, the RAF boasts 9,000 members. The successes are far beyond member numbers and impacted airstrips.
From my perspective, the RAF’s most substantial success is in the area of relationships. To read the history of the RAF is to see the blossoming of mutually-beneficial relationships with the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the National Park Service — to say nothing of state legislative bodies.
And don’t forget about the Recreational Use Statute (RUS). Three-fifths of all states include aviation-specific language in their RUS or other civil code laws.
What’s the RUS all about? Well, if you happen to own a private airstrip and want to let kindred spirits (you know, fellow aviators) use that strip from time to time for recreational purposes (camping, hiking, mountain biking, etc.) — and if your state includes aviation in its RUS — you as the land owner enjoy a bit more legal protection from liability should an accident occur.
The RUS plays a big part in why there are so many pins on the map.
And if you aren’t into camping or hiking, take another look at the map. Many of us fly over those strips while traveling from points A to B. Should something happen that requires an immediate landing, those pins represent more options.
You don’t need to travel to Bozeman to get connected to the RAF. State liaisons cover all 50 states – I believe – so you can connect with someone local to you.
At its most basic, the tree of aviation has but two branches, personal and work. The RAF has firmly hung its flag from the personal aviation branch. I hope you’ll consider joining the RAF in 2019 and play a part in furthering the mission — for the benefit of us all.