Letter: Landowner liabilities?

By Dave Sclair

A reader says he is a new pilot living in Wisconsin on a farm with a private 3,000 foot grass strip. The strip isn’t listed on any charts and he wonders about liability as it relates to accidents, etc. on the private strip. Are there any publications that spell out landowner responsibilities and liabilities?

I don’t think you will find any publication that is going to spell out what you are specifically looking for. I suspect you can probably find some court cases that effectively make law regarding such situations, but probably you’ll need an attorney to sort them out for you.

Listing the airstrip as private use only, prior permission required for landing might be more useful than not listing it all.

The cost of checking with an attorney and an insurance firm, preferably ones with knowledge of real estate and aviation, would be extra helpful and the relative low cost of such a consultation would give you a lot of piece of mind.

But remember, anyone can sue anyone over anything! There are no guarantees.

2 replies on “Letter: Landowner liabilities?”

The Airstrip is what we call an “Attractive Nuisance” If it attracts a landing or someone trips and falls on it the landowner is or could be liable. Signs should be posted in full view at all times. It should be listed on the charts as “Private” take all precaution. Don’t take liability for granted, cheaper to insure the airstrip than to have them take it from you. “If it was built, they will land.” All parties will be liable…..big mess.
Hope this helps.


Be sure the property is insured and, if possible, buy the “excess” (used to be called “umbrella”) coverage. That excess coverage covers a lot of things the primary coverage will not. Have the insurance broker list the fact that there is a “private use only” airstrip on the property. That will, at least, buy the landowner an attorney and a fund from which to settle any case filed.

Thanks for all your great work for we who live with our planes. See you at OSH.


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