View Full Version : Hunting guide on private strip

06-05-2005, 01:30 PM
Does any one have an opinion/knowledge on liability for a private airstrip owner allowing hunting guides to do commercial activities from their private airstrip?

I'm part owner of a private (FAA registered) airstrip. The other owner and I have a neighbor that is a hunting guide, and we let him park his planes on our strip. I've asked him to stop with the commercial activities because I think of the liability if he has an accident.

Also after letting the guy park on my land (and store his junk, tanks, and old floats) for years he charged me $150.00 for two 15 minute plane rides last year so that I could go sheep hunting. I was really mad because I've never asked for anything and he has done nothing to contribute to the maintenance of the strip.

All of my flying friends have advised me to tell the guy to move on. But the guide's friends keep putting pressure on me to let him stay. The other strip owner wants to stay out of this; he doesn't want to be unpopular.

Last week the guide gave some kayakers a lift up river. If they weren't customers and he did it for free, then why did he charge me so much for the half hour lift?

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated.

06-05-2005, 07:09 PM

Jeez, some freeloaders give the rest of us bums a bad rap. I have a friend that says "...the only thing better than having a supercub, is having a friend with a supercub..." Sorry to hear about your tenant issues.

Given what you say, I think you need to find a way to get him out of there. I think you have two options...

1)Talk to an attorney find out what you can do. Eviction, Impound his equipment, De-register your strip with the FAA. Force him out legally...

2) Run his ass off, right now! Walk over to him the minute you see him next and tell him to pound sand, show him the distance to the curb. Damn the consequences toss him out.

Assuming your partner backs you of course, if not you may have to buy your partner out, that would suck financially.

I don't think you solve this without ruffling some feathers, badly by the sound of it.

The other option is to sell him ownership in the strip, and force him to agree to a limited liability waiver for you, screw your silent partner if he ain't helping. Draw up a list of rules (covent) to operate off, that you all must abide by. The rules should be clear with agreed upon consequences if followed. Not really the options you want to hear I guess.

Sounds like running him off right now is the way to go though; at least he will have a chance to regroup before hunting season really hits.


P.S. would you let me know who the guide is. I am kind of broke and need to find a guide with low overhead, so as to save money on my fall hunt. :D :D :D

Bill Rusk
06-05-2005, 07:28 PM
Well I would say to try the adult way first. Talk to him. Tell him you were a bit offended that he charged you when he has been using your strip for free etc. He may have just gone brain dead and not really thought about it and after you explain the light may come on. If he apologizes and makes it right then everyone wins. If not, then you have some insight to his character. You might also simply state your liability concerns and ask that he take out insurance on your operation. If he is not willing to do so then step back and decide what you want to do.
Give him a chance first.


06-05-2005, 08:04 PM

06-05-2005, 10:20 PM
If he has an accident flying a client in or out of your strip (most wrecks take place during the take off and landing stage) you're going to loose everything!

Open up the Anchorage yellow pages and look under "attorney". The biggest ads in the Anchorage yellow pages are under "attorneys".
You've never had problems until you have legal problems. Shut him down now! You can't buy enough insurance these days to cover you on something like this. You're hanging out a country mile for legal exposure on this.

Forget the petty "he charged me for a ride", its good he did, that way you don't owe him anything.

You also need to get a "hold harmless" agreement from your runway partner that covers his self and any of his friends coming and going as well as you and yours.

I paid an attorney to draw up a legal "hold harmless" agreement that explains the risk and limits of my insurance and makes the passanger agree to "that is it, no matter what". I have everyone sign it that gets in my plane. It gets safetly left in the truck when we take off. This way my wife will not have to defend every thing we've worked for from some law suit brought on by relatives of the passenger. It's always the relatives you have to worry about, even if the guy is your best friend.

Remember B&J's??? Loaned his plane to an employee. Employee crashed and killed the passenger. Relatives sued, BJ had $3 million of insurance, the award was for $6 million. You got that much cash laying around?

Take care! Crash

06-06-2005, 12:58 AM
I would be concern about your situation also. You really are putting yourself at risk you have no idea who he is flying in and out of your strip. Just because the passenger signed a agreement not to sue dose not mean you will not be sued if a accident would happen. You just have a little more paperwork to present while your in court.

Your generosity in allowing this man to use your strip could cost you a great deal. The fact that he charged you for a drop off hunt after you have been letting him save hundereds of dollars a year with free tie downs would indicate to me that he would be more then happy to have you pay for his screwups.

I would recomend that you and your partner get together on this. He has to stop siting on the fence your both at risk and need to address your situation together. There has been some good advice given in earlier post I hope everything works out for you. I am sure you can work something out to protect yourself and not end up with hard feelings.


06-06-2005, 06:39 AM
You're looking at way too much exposure, even if he's your best friend, since as mentioned earlier, he won't be the one coming after you. I used to loan out equipment, trailers, etc. when "friends" wanted to borrow them. Then a friend was riding my 4 wheeler on my property, flipped it, and broke his collar bone. The emergency room bill was $1400....the first letter I recieved related to this had 22 attorny's names on the letter head, and they wanted $7500. And this wasn't even a lawsuit. I let some things slide, but am VERY careful now, and think before I let myself get exposed.
I wouldn't fool around with this. If someone is hurt while he's hauling his stuff off your lot, you're liable.

06-06-2005, 07:08 AM
"Also after letting the guy park on my land (and store his junk, tanks, and old floats) for years he charged me $150.00 for two 15 minute plane rides last year so that I could go sheep hunting. I was really mad because I've never asked for anything and he has done nothing to contribute to the maintenance of the strip. "

Unfortunatly some people don't know any better. He obviously has money issues,maybe lack of it. Him charging you with out thinking twice tells you where his head would be in the event regarding a mishap. $$$$$$

The writing is on the wall.

One tackful approach would be to have a premium umbrella policy estimate generated covering you with 5 million in general liabilitly and anything else your underwriter can think of. Then send him the invoice for the premium with a letter discussing the results of a risk management evaluation because of a private strip being used for a commercial operation. Might even look at the fine print for intended use of the airport permit and copy him on the subject.

You should as of right now get a letter from his insurance company listing you and your partner as the additionally insured. consult with your insurace company what proper coverage should be. This would be just good business if you decide to let him stay. If he does not carry commercial business insurance related to his operation then he needs to stop all operations today. Just good business.

06-06-2005, 02:01 PM
In this day and age it's best to be very aware of your liability/exposure.

06-07-2005, 02:44 AM
Thanks for all the replies. The advice is appreciated, especially the comment from Crash about my "he charged me for a ride" complaint. You?re right, now I don?t owe the guy a thing.

I went to the Anchorage airport FAA office today. They did their best to help. The bottom line was that the Troopers office was the place to start. So I visited the office in Palmer. The trooper I talked to seemed understanding and was ready to make a phone call today. Of course I chickened out and sent the guy a letter (regular and certified). I left a copy on his plane also. He has a week to stop using my land.

I did think of a new wrinkle today on the ride back from the city. My partner in the airstrip is a family trust, which I think will lead to more liability for me.

My father was the original owner of the strip (part of the homestead). He split up that land and gave it to my brother and me. My brother gets in trouble with the IRS, panics and sells his land to a flying family from Anchorage that are good friends of my parents, they put the land in a trust.

I don?t know this for sure but I believe that if there were ever a big judgment the partners in the family trust would loose their land and a small cabin. The rest of their assets would be untouchable. I would loose my land, retirement, and the shirt off my back.

Also, I own the majority of the strip (800? of the 1350? total), which won?t help in litigation. Am I starting to sound paranoid?

BTW I can?t bring myself to giving out the guy?s name. But there are only so many flying guides on the Matanuska River east of Palmer.

Anyway thanks for the help.

06-07-2005, 12:43 PM

Hope things work out for the best for everyone, you most of all.

Sounds like you really need to find an attorney, and construct some way to limit your liability. Unfortunately I do not think there is a way to absolve yourself of all exosure, be nice if you could buy out your neighbors, or simply shut down your airstrip. You then could conduct off airport operations on your lawn. That might just sound like sematics, but might be an option.

Best of luck


06-07-2005, 11:19 PM
Not to beat a dead horse, get rid of the guy, ASAP.

There are lots of issues BESIDES if he crashes. If he dumps a battery, a fuel tank leaks, or he drops some other form of hazardous material on your strip or land, YOU are liable for cleanup. And, trust me, cleanup of hazmat or chemicals (even a few gallons of gasoline) can get really spendy.

Point is, there are tons of reasons to get this guy off your strip, and absolutely none to suggest you should let him use it.

Read up on the lawsuit in New Mexico that said the Super Cub was an inherently unsafe contraption, etc, if you don't think lawsuits on joint ownership airstrips can get weird.


04-18-2006, 04:30 PM

I was reading through old post and came upon this one and was wondering how things turned out. I just put in a strip at my place in MN and have had a few people ask about using it so your post caught my attention. The way everyone is sue happy these days and always ready to blame someone else for their mistakes has gotten me to wonder about allowing anyone else to use it.