Can a private pilot land on an abandoned runway in southern California's remote areas?

There are a few unpaved runways near scenic hillsides, ideal for camping or swimming.

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Who owns the land the runways are on? $\endgroup$ Dec 29, 2018 at 3:25
  • $\begingroup$ I guess federal parks, or some public agency. One of them is Lake Arrowhead airport. $\endgroup$
    – kamran
    Dec 29, 2018 at 3:55
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ We have some related questions on the site, e.g. here, here. The short answer is that the FAA regulates what happens in the air, not on the ground, so you need the landowner's permission to land or take off. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Dec 29, 2018 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ Are those runways actually abandoned? Or are they just backcountry strips that get little maintenance? $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Dec 29, 2018 at 5:12
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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget this other question: Will you be allowed to takeoff from there without a safety team, an instructor, and prior to a NTSB investigation? $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Dec 30, 2018 at 13:41

1 Answer 1


As noted in the comments it depends on who owns the land and what the local regulations are. With permission and proper operations it may be ok.

However if the runway was formerly active and is now no longer maintained its likely a bad idea to try and land on it. The FAA can even get you under their catch all 91.13 Careless or reckless operation.

There are procedures for closing a runway and marking it as such (you can find the AC here). Some times the "x" used to mark the closure is a physical structure that can make it dangerous to land on the runway. In other cases the runway may no longer be suitable for use or there may be active construction going on. While the runway may appear to be ok on the surface that does not mean it is safe to land.


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