Airstrip Advocacy

Recreational Aviation Foundation

John McKenna, founder and president of the RAF, shares his vison and outlook for the accomplishments of the foundation, and the mission ahead.

Protect your right to take your kids fishing via airstrip Protect your right to take your kids fishing via airstrip Daniel Lilja @Montana Pilots Association

Maybe you know the story about the beginnings of the Recreational Aviation Foundation – A half dozen folks back in 2003 around a Montana campfire at their favorite backcountry strip, concerned that if they did not take care of these aviation treasures, they would be forever lost. That group set about to draft and carry out the mission that is now the heartbeat of the RAF.

They outlined their task and began to work on it.

They dug into the past and found what had already been done. There was little support early on, but when the pulaski-swinging work got underway, folks started to show up asking how to help, and suggesting future projects. These early faithful were put to work both on the ground, and in the halls of state capitols, Congress and in the offices of cabinet-level policymakers. They framed agreements with the BLM, the USFS, the NPS, state legislators and private landowners as well, establishing backcountry aviation’s legitimacy, rights, ethics and its value to society; now and forever.

>We recruited the most willing to inventory endangered and potential airstrips in their respective states, and organize reliable volunteer work parties. This work is already paying dividends. We are proud of our efforts adding aviation to Recreational Use Statutes in twenty-one states so far. This proven success throughout the country has established the right foundation to support strong future development.

RAF current board: Standing, left to right: Founder Chuck Jarecki, Founder and Vice President Dan Prill, Pete Bunce, Reade Genzlinger; Front: Rol Murrow, President and Founder John McKenna, Tim Clifford.Already some wonderful places have shown up or re-appeared on our nav charts that the RAF pioneered. Russian Flat, Missouri River Breaks, Ryan airfield, Arizona’s Double Circle Ranch strip, and we’ve only just begun. More are underway in places like Florida, Michigan, Maine -- there isn’t a state that we believe hasn’t potential for new recreational aviation destinations.

The RAF is proud of the vision that we now share with you. We have a hand in how all this will turn out and we believe we are holding good cards.

The fun is just getting underway and we need all backcounty flying enthusiasts to be a part of it.

Keep flying, be safe, and let’s make something that we can all be proud of and hand off to the future.


John McKenna

John McKenna is a founder and president of the Recreational Aviation Foundation, and calls Bozeman, MT his home with his wife Tricia. When he's not playing a pivotal role in the fight for preserving airstrips and aircraft access to public lands, he enjoys flying his Cessna 185 and living the dream of a backcountry pilot in the Lower 48 states.


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