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Say you have as private strip, but your neighbors get tired of hearing your plane. Can the local authorities pass, and enforce a law saying you can't take off and land there? Or do FAA rules override local authority as to where you can and can't land?

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As any licensed pilot knows, the FAA and the US military are the "de-facto" regulators of 99.9% of what goes on in the air over the US (see: https://aviation.uslegal.com/government-regulation-and-control/state-aviation-regulations/ ). Still, state and local governments are not entirely powerless here. The general theory being more or less that, in cases where there is no obvious conflict with the FAA, or the US military, then local jurisdictions may still have some small level of control over certain very limited "air-spaces" (see: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-6th-circuit/1140229.html ). Suggestion: 99.9% of the time, the FAA wins, but hey, don't let that slow you down! (Still, in view of the findings of the second case I just listed above, if I were you, I might try keeping peace with my neighbors over trying to save just a few steps on the way home.)

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  • $\begingroup$ The court in Gustafson did a pretty thorough job of smashing federal preemption! $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Jun 7 '17 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ If my next door neighbor tried to declare his back yard as our town's greatest and newest heliport, I'd might feel like smashing one or two things too! :-) $\endgroup$ – Scott Francis Perry Jun 7 '17 at 22:57
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    $\begingroup$ One reason I was wondering is because there's a small community in my area that is built around a grass strip. It's out in the country - for now. The growth in that area is become rapid, so I could see it becoming enveloped by suburbia next 10-20 years. There's a pattern of the municipalities annexing big chunks of county land against the residents' wishes. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Jun 7 '17 at 23:23
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    $\begingroup$ My experience with local government is "squeaky wheel land owner groups" often get the "oil." If the folks around that air strip want to keep their airstrip as an air strip, they had best keep a presence in local municiple public meetings, and had better be prepared to mobilize a "group of concerned citizens" to also attend on short notice and as needed at the local muni meetings. As they say in law, "silence (seems to) imply consent." $\endgroup$ – Scott Francis Perry Jun 8 '17 at 2:44
  • $\begingroup$ @ScottFrancisPerry indeed. And be prepared to be constantly shouted down by "environmentalists" screaming that "those filthy aircraft owned by the Rich should be banned from our community" to great applause from the media. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Jun 8 '17 at 5:58
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Civil Helicopter Operations are greatly stilted by local county, and municipal laws that in many cases, prohibit helicopter operations. In cities where a public helipad has been established, flight operations are often severely restricted by annual movements, or specific hours of operation. With that said, here is an extract from a piece written by Matt Thurber for Business Jet Traveller Magazine, in October 2010:

The FAA doesn't prohibit helicopters from operating most places, so you should be able to land one in your backyard if you can do so safely. And no law says you have to build a helipad to land. The regulations do, however, "require notification to the FAA for any permanent landing area; private versus public use does not matter," according to FAA airports airspace specialist Angie Muder. City, county and state requirements may present greater obstacles, so be sure to check these, too.

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Say you have as private strip, but your neighbors get tired of hearing your plane. Can the local authorities pass, and enforce a law saying you can't take off and land there?

The short answer is yes they can. You are allowed to build such a strip as is answered here. However the city may have a thing or two to say about it and there are things they can do. A lot of big cites have noise abatements that prevent aircraft from being bothersome. In reality they legally could have the noise abatement be in effect all the time preventing you from ever flying in and out of your strip. An appeal to a higher court may rule in your favor on a case like that. However towns can have all sorts of strange regulations that may prevent you from storing an airplane on your property like this case from LI NY . Some states may chose to not regulate it like Kansas at a state level,

Kansas has no inspection program and makes no apologies for allowing private airport owners to operate free of bureaucracy. "We in Kansas love the sound of aviation," says Mike Armour of the Kansas Department of Transportation.

There are lots of jurisdictions here in the US and it will vary heavily from one to the next.


Or do FAA rules override local authority as to where you can and can't land?

Generally no, however the airspace in this country does fall under the federal purview and you are allowed to use it as long as regulations are followed. With that in mind the FAA sure does have a lot of regulations about where you can't land but generally does not mind you landing on your own property. In some cases the FAA may even be on the cities side such as we have tragically seen in the case of the Santa Monica Airport.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually, FAA regulations preempt local noise ordinances. The only reason airports can enforce noise rules is through property rights. In other words, if the city owns an airport they can enforce noise regulations as proprietor of the airport. But a city can't enforce noise regulations for private airports. Federal exemption applies specifically to noise ordnance. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Jun 7 '17 at 21:06

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