These questions address the legal aspects of off-airport landing and basically conclude that the relevant laws and regulations are very fragmented.

Aside from the legal aspects, what are common practices and habits in terms of off-airport landing in US for private pilots? Are there clearly identified "off-airport-landing-friendly" states or regions where this is commonly practised?

As a comparison, in Switzerland, off-airport landings are nearly systematically practised by private helicopter pilots. In France, you need an easy-to-obtain authorisation and then make a few calls for each occurence/location, but it is an otherwise rather common practice. In Germany, off-airport landing is a big no go for private pilots. How do things fare in US?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In many "back-woods" areas throughout the country it is perfectly legal to land an aircraft as long as you have the land owners permission, or the permission of the controlling agency. Alaska is a great example of this where a significant portion of air operations are off-airport. A lot of it boils down to the same regulations as using ATV's, as in do no harm and have permission. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Aug 17, 2017 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed, most of the time, you can land, as long as the owner approves. The tricky part might be the insurance: landing in a 'non FAA approved' location may void your insurance, so if you roll the helicopter after landing on a slope you did not know how to handle, you might have to pay for it yourself (if you survive it that is). $\endgroup$
    – alexsh
    Jan 19, 2018 at 3:29

1 Answer 1


There are minimum altitudes for cruise flight but altitude may be reduced below these minimums as needed for approach to landing. I don't know of any FAA regulation that requires landing at a designated airport(or heliport)

Title 14(aerospace) of the federal code of regulations part 91.119 (part 91 is general flight rules for all aircraft) simple says that; "Except when necessary for takeoff and landing, no person may operate an aircraft below the following altitudes:"

A: Anywhere. At an altitude as to create an "undue hazard" to people and property on the ground in the event the engine fails. (Will you hit a building or dense crowd, or will you have time to aim for an open spot?)

B: Over any congested area of a city or open air assembly of people, below an altitude of 1000feet above the highest obstacle within 2000 foot horizontal radius from the aircraft.

C: over other than congested areas, no less than 500 feet above the surface, except for over water or sparsely populated areas. In those areas the aircraft may not be operated within 500 feet in any direction from buildings or boats. So no actual minimum altitude limit if you are over a field 500feet to the side of a barn.

D:Helicopters, powered parachutes, and weight-shift controlled aircraft(hang gliders and ultralights), if conducted without hazard to person or property o the surface may be operated at less than the minimums prescribed in B and C, provided the operator of a helicopter complies with any special routes or altitudes specifically prescribed by the FAA.(Generally special provisions are only found in high air traffic areas near major airports or over high security areas.)

These are paraphrased slightly for clarification and because I type how I likes to type, but the actual wording of the law is very close.

There may also be some local laws about noise limits if operations are frequent but this is not limited to aircraft.


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