Private Airport Owner Hosts Fly-In Without Fear of Liability

Published in Midwest Flyer – October/November 2017 issue

DE PERE, WIS. – Jay Baeten, owner of Antique Aerodrome in De Pere, Wisconsin (9WS2), was able to host a fly-in at his private airstrip, August 26, 2017, without fear of liability, thanks to an amendment to Wisconsin’s Recreational Use Statute. Baeten was among those pilots who successfully lobbied to include non-commercial aviation under Wisconsin’s Recreational Use Statute in 2014 (Senate Bill 321, RUS 895.52). Previous to this amendment, landowners were protected from liability for such other public uses as snowmobiling, all-terrain vehicle operations, hunting and cross-country skiing. The amendment now includes “aviation” as a recognized public use. Commercial aviation is not included in the amendment.

With the passage of this legislation, Wisconsin joined dozens of other states, which had already amended their state statutes to include aviation.

Other private airport owners who lobbied with Baeten were Chuck Aldrian of Birchwood, Wisconsin, and Don Kiel of Whitelaw, Wisconsin.

Senator Joe Leibham of Wisconsin’s 9th Senate District, and Representative Paul Tittl of Wisconsin’s 25th Assembly District, sponsored the bills, which Governor Scott Walker signed into law. The amendment, which came about as a result of an article written by Jim Hanson of Albert Lea, Minnesota, and published in Midwest Flyer Magazine, was supported by the Recreational Aviation Foundation, Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association, and Experimental Aircraft Association.

For additional information on how to introduce an amendment to the Recreational Use Statute in your state to include non-commercial aviation, contact the Recreational Aviation Foundation at 406-362-4743 (

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