October 10, 2013 - EAA staff traveled to the Wisconsin state capitol in Madison Wednesday to offer testimony in support of Senate Bill 321, which would add noncommercial aviation to Wisconsin's Recreational Use Statute (RUS).
Jonathan Harger and Tom Charpentier, EAA government advocacy specialists, provided EAA's perspective on the proposed law and answered questions from the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor.
The RUS is intended to limit the liability of private landowners who allow the public to participate in a specified activity, such as hunting or hiking, on their property. While Wisconsin's RUS already specifies hang gliding and ballooning as included recreational activities, the addition of noncommercial aviation is intended to include recreational operators of all aircraft.
The effort to include aviation into the RUS section of every state's laws is spearheaded by the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF), which was created in 2003 to protect back-country landing strips. The RAF's Wisconsin liaison, Chuck Aldrian, was in Madison to offer testimony supporting the bill, along with Don Kiel, who worked with Aldrian and Wisconsin Sen. Joseph Leibham to introduce the legislation. The bill has 18 co-sponsors in the Senate and Assembly.
This proposed legislation seeks to formally transfer potential liability away from those landowners who are kind enough to allow public use of their landing areas, and EAA enthusiastically supports that. Because pilots and other participants in recreational aviation are already accustomed to assuming their own risk, noncommercial aviation is a natural addition to Wisconsin's RUS.