• Make safety your highest priority, acting with responsibility and courtesy.
  • Use an aircraft that is capable and maintained for the intended mission.
  • Be sure to abide by all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements and guidelines.
  • Establish and adhere to personal minimums based on objective evaluation of ability.
  • Anticipate, recognize, share with passengers, and manage risks using sound principles of risk management and aeronautical decision making.
  • Carry redundant transceivers and navigational equipment.
  • Equip yourself with proper water, food, clothing, shelter, first aid, and tools. Prepare for an extended time on the ground if necessary.
  • Secure your aircraft.
  • Be sure to respect and protect natural and cultural resources.


  • Respect other recreation enthusiasts both when on the ground and in the air. Maintain reasonable distance and altitude and reduce your noise signature to a safe minimum.
  • Maintain a comprehensive awareness of and consideration for all in the flying environment, avoiding all operations that may alarm, disturb, or endanger passengers, people, or wildlife on the surface.
  • Go beyond applicable agreements, laws, and regulations in being considerate stewards of the environment and others who may be sharing it.


  • Develop the skills necessary for safe backcountry aviation. Use instructors and knowledgeable pilots to seek excellence in airmanship through training and practice.
  • Research and practice prudent operating practices for the area and airfield you wish to explore. i.e., reporting points and altitudes.
  • Be competent in the use of appropriate technologies for navigation, communication, and emergency rescue.
  • Know wildlife refuge boundaries and seasonal areas of wildlife congregation to avoid low level overflights.
  • Contact land managers for area restrictions and closures.


  • Stay away from prescribed burns and wildfire activity.
  • Avoid interaction with wildlife.
  • Keep your aircraft/seaplane clean of weed traces and seed to prevent the spread of invasive vegetation.
  • Remember, motorized vehicles of any type are not allowed in federally designated wilderness areas.


  • Use “Pack it in / Pack it out” and follow the “Tread Lightly!” ethic of “Leave it better than you found it”.
  • Minimize discharge of fuel and oil during refueling, preflight preparations, servicing, and flight operations.
  • Avoid very early morning departures unless safety of flight requires a deviation.
  • Do not use sensitive backcountry airstrips for training. Stay long enough to enjoy their special recreational benefits.

Who is the The Recreational Aviation Foundation?

“The Recreational Aviation Foundation preserves, improves, and creates airstrips for recreational access.”

The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) offers recommendations to advance flight safety, airmanship, professionalism, consideration, and courtesy toward the people and wildlife who share the recreational environment. The RAF was founded by a group of pilots who were concerned about the loss of backcountry strips. Since their inception in 2003, RAF has prevented the closure of existing airstrips and even built new ones across the country. Tread Lightly! is honored to partner with The RAF to protect access to this motorized recreation opportunity.