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About the RAF
The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) was founded by a group of Montana pilots who realized the threat of recreational airstrip closure was of national concern. They also recognized that there was the need for a unified effort by pilots everywhere to protect public recreational opportunities. The RAF is dedicated to preserving existing airstrips and actually creating new public-use recreational airstrips throughout the United States. Recognized by the IRS as a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the RAF is using tax-deductible donations to:
- Acquire private land for the development of new airstrips,
- Assist in funding the building of new airstrips on public land,
- Develop educational materials to assist pilots in being knowledgeable advocates,
- Fund efforts to gain national recognition of backcountry recreational aviation and airstrips as a legitimate use of public lands.
- Provide educational information regarding recreational airstrips to members of Congress and their staff.
The RAF strives to build strong working relationships with other aviation groups, both on the state and national level. Many of the issues that involve the RAF transcend state boundaries. The RAF encourages various state pilots’ organizations to form active committees that work on recreational airstrip issues. To facilitate this, the RAF is forming a cadre of state liaisons to assist the states in becoming effective leaders in the efforts to protect recreational airstrips.
The RAF facilitates the enactment of state recreational-use statutes amendments to specifically include aviation. These laws considerably reduce a private airstrip landowner’s liability when allowing public, non-commercial use of the airstrip.
In order to provide a connection between the backcountry and surrounding communities, the RAF is attracting donors who wish to specifically target their charitable donations locally. These funds have recently been directed toward a campaign to construct pilot shelters at larger, paved airports that serve as gateways to the backcountry. Similar in concept to the rest stops along our interstate highway system, the first of these shelters was constructed at Gallatin Field (BZN) in Bozeman, Montana. It offers pilots a place to pitch a tent on the grass near their airplane, relax in front of a fire and even take a hot shower – all at no charge.
The center piece of RAF airstrip acquisitions is Ryan Field. This donation by Ben and Butche Ryan includes 152 acres of land, surrounded by US Forest Service lands and only two miles from Glacier National Park. There is a 2,500-foot airstrip and the RAF recently completed a pilot’s campground.
The RAF is depending on other pilots to help them in identifying potential real estate for the development of new airstrips. Oftentimes we have friends or acquaintances who built their own airstrip and want to see their dream continue long after they are gone. These situations lend themselves perfectly to the tax-deductions that are available to the donor.
Without the enabling work of the RAF, your recreational opportunities—whether cross-country or backcountry—will continue to diminish as airfields are closed or their use restricted. Earning your pilot certificate wasn’t easy. Creating new airstrips isn’t easy either. Nothing worthwhile ever is.
The foundation invites donations of any kind, including land suitable for airstrip development. Cash donations are always welcome and fully tax-deductible. The RAF offers tax and legal assistance for donors and the Board members receive no compensation. They love flying as much as the rest of us and they’re here for us, the pilots… not profits.