Online Community of Zenith Builders and Flyers
Has anyone created their own backyard airstrip (in the US)? What is required from a Federal, State, Local regulations perspective? How do you go about it?
Which Zenith model are you flying out of it and what dimensions would you consider to be a minimum for a safe Zenith runway?
Thanks in Advance.
Do you have close neighbors?
I haven't bought the piece of land yet. I'm trying to determine the requirements so that I can buy the correct piece.
I live in Maryland :-)
Here I have a couple of friends with airstrips. Both were told by the FAA to get surrounding neighbors to sign a petition stating their approval. Judging from the different post this is far from a "black & white" issue. But there are thousands of private strips. It seems local regs play the biggest part.
That may have been what the FAA told your friends, but I suspect that was some well-meaning advice from a bureaucrat at the FAA, not a requirement! Could it have been a local zoning requirement and not the FAA? Two useful resources are Form 7480 - this is the actual form you submit as notice of construction - you also have to attach a US Geological Survey map depicting your airstrip's location. There is no requirement for any attached petitions.
Of course, the "ultimate" authority is the FAA Part 157 Regulation. They have an excellent summary:
Federal Regulation 14 CFR Part 157 establishes standards and notification requirements for anyone proposing to construct, alter, or deactivate a civil or joint-use (civil/military) airport. This regulation also addresses proposal to alter the status or use of such an airport.
This notification serves as the basis for evaluating the effects of the proposed action on the safe and efficient use of airspace by aircraft and the safety of persons and property on the ground. These effects include but are not limited to:
Notification allows the FAA to identify potential aeronautical hazards in advance, thus preventing or minimizing the adverse impacts to the safe and efficient use of navigable airspace.
The FAA may be guilty of regulatory over-kill, but thankfully, they don't require the neighbor's input! That being said, I think one would be ill-advised to invest a lot in an airport without giving nearby neighbors a heads-up - I have a friend who was shut-down by lawsuit threats, but he was trying to develop an airpark, and usually that involves subdivision and zoning regulations, too. You are absolutely correct, the local regs will trump everything after the FAA.
I asked them that same question. Both said the FAA. Maybe as you say it was that "bureaucrat". I have not pursued this personally so my knowledge on the subject is limited. I see them as honest guys and have no reason to doubt them nor did it matter to me at the time. I suppose if I were interested in building a private strip I would educate myself on the subject. However, as I said in my previous post, judging from other post, it seems local regs have a huge influence. So rather FAA required or not they made understand that this signed petition was a HUGE deal.
It was the probably the same bureaucrat that took my call at the FAA when I called them about some paperwork questions when I acquired my partially-completed CH750 kit. Before I could finish the first sentence, he interrupted and asked "What are you building?" and I told him "a Zenith CH750." He then cut me off again and said, "You KNOW there's an AD on the wings, right?" "You KNOW you're going to have totally rebuild those wings, right?"
Of course, what I "knew" was that he was confusing the 750 with the 601. Taking the expeditious course, I simply replied," Oh Yeah, I know all about that and will fix the wings!"
The lesson for today - don't argue with the FAA, just say "Yes sir" and move on! LOL!
(slightly off topic) There are lots of FAA personnel, both good and bad. My personal favorite FAA bureaucrat was the one who took my experience letter for mechanic certification, many years ago. He insisted they were inadequate. Since I'd dotted every "i", and crossed every "t," I asked him to show me what information was lacking.
He whipped out the FARs, fumbled a while, then showed me the experience requirements for a master parachute rigger.
There are certainly hundreds if not thousands of private airstrips in the US. Just look at any sectional for all the (R) symbols. There must be a process to follow and requirements reguarding zoning, land size, distance to other airports, etc. I'm looking for someone who has done it successfully to direct me or if there is a particular office within the FAA, who do I talk to?
Sounds like your friend was building an airpark. That no doubt is looked at differently than someone mowing part of his farm to land his personal airplane.
I think the FAA is quite lenient on an unimproved private strip unless you are near military installations, contolled airports, etc, or if you ask to have your airport charted.
First ask if local zoning regulations prohibit your land being used for an airstrip. Depending on where you are this may be the biggest hurdle to overcome.
Then check with your state department of aviation for advice and assistance. Some states such as Texas allow a lot of freedom in this area. They even publish a manual on doing it:
At this years Airventure there was a forum on building your own private airstrip conducted by a rep from Scotts Lawn Care and a guy from The Illinois Dept of Aero . There may be a tape of it available from the EAA.
One thing they said that I found interesting was that you need to allow plenty of clearance from growing crops because of the transpiration from plants like corn which raises the density altitude dramatically.
I had to google "transpiration". Never heard of it before. You learn somthing new everyday!
I'm out in the middle of nothing much in far west Texas. I've lost count of the number of strips out here that don't appear on the charts.
I suspect that if you are far away from everywhere, and land your plane in your own property, don't care if it appears on a chart, etc etc no one is likely to say or do anything.