Wisconsin Governor Signs Bill That Expands Liability Protection For Private Airport Owners

(L/R) Tyler Hansen, Aaron Lillibridge, Chet Gerlach, Don Kiel, Noah Kiel, Chuck Aldrian, Jay Baeten, Rep. Paul Tittl, Senator Joe Leibham, Jonathan Harger (EAA), Dave Weiman, and Luke Petrovich. Standing immediately to the governor’s right is Jonathan Lillibridge, 7, son of Aaron Lillibridge of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. State of Wisconsin Capitol Photo

MADISON, WIS. – Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 321, April 16, 2014, to expand the existing Recreational Use Statute (RUS 895.52) to include liability protection for non-commercial aviation at private airports. 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 joins dozens of other states, which have already amended their state statutes to include aviation.

Chuck Aldrian, who owns “Will-B-Gone Airport” (6WI3) in Birchwood, Wisconsin, and represents the Recreational Aviation Foundation in the state, read an article published in the October/November 2012 issue of Midwest Flyer Magazine about Minnesota amending its Recreational Use Statute and wanted to do the same in Wisconsin. With the help of fellow airport owner, Don Kiel of Whitelaw, Wisconsin, and Jay Baeten, who owns “Antique Aerodrome” (9WS2) in De Pere, Wisconsin, the aviators rallied the support of Senator Joe Leibham of Wisconsin’s 9th Senate District, and Representative Paul Tittl of Wisconsin’s 25th Assembly District, to sponsor bills. AOPA Great Lakes Regional Manager Bryan Budds, and Jonathan Harger of EAA Governmental Affairs, testified earlier this year, along with Aldrian, Kiel, Baeten, and Dave Weiman of Midwest Flyer Magazine.

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 (www.theraf.org).

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