Flying – A Right or a Privilege?

A Hollister city councilman says flying is a privilege, not a right. He is wrong. When the Hollister City Council was debating an issue of the need for pilots to have insurance to protect the airport, a city councilman stated that if aircraft owners could not afford insurance they should consider getting rid of their aircraft. He went further by stating “flying is a privilege, not a right”.

Although this is a popular misconception, the time has come to put to rest any idea that flying is only a privilege and not a right.

Flying is a well-recognized means of travel. The right to travel is protected by the U.S. Constitution and has been expressly so held by the Supreme Court. In the 1968 case of Shapiro vs Thompson the court stated: “Freedom to travel throughout the United States has long been recognized as a basic right under the Constitution.”

While flying is a basic right protected by the Constitution, it is subject to rules or regulations that are necessary for protection of the public in general. Any such rules or regulations, however, must be reasonable and not arbitrary or capricious. The right to fly remains a basic constitutional right.