Osky Airport Sign File Photo

Herald file photo by Jared McNeill

OSKALOOSA — As of Tuesday, Ralph Zahnle Jr. will no longer offer flight instruction at the Oskaloosa Airport.

“As of today, I’m closing my flight instruction business,” Zahnle said by telephone Tuesday morning. “I’m done. I won’t be doing rental instruction out of Oskaloosa anymore.”

Zahnle said the next step would be to call his insurance carrier to cancel the insurance on his rental airplane.

He said his immediate plans for the Cessna 172 that he uses for flight instruction are to go to either Iowa City or Ankeny to inquire about possibly leasing the airplane to one or the other of those airports.

“Both of those places are looking for a 172 to leaseback,” he said. “So I’m probably going to end up taking it to another airport for lease-back for them to do flight instructing and rental flight instructing.”

Zahnle speculated if he does decide to get back into flight instruction, it could possibly be out of the Ottumwa airport.

He said he does plan to provide bi-annual flight instruction for a handful of pilots and airplane owners he knows at the airport. Every pilot every two years has to do a bi-annual flight review for two hours with a flight instructor.

“Because everybody on the field, whether they own an airplane or are just a pilot ... you can’t legally fly after two years unless you go up with a flight instructor for two hours and the flight instructor signs you off and you can keep flying,” Zahnle said.

Zahnle cited several reasons why he decided to close his business.

“With the lack of maintenance, the lack of cooperation from the (Airport) Commission, the lack of cooperation from the FBO, it’s not worth it,” Zahnle said.

Wednesday morning Airport Commission Chair Steve Brown said he had no comment when told of the reasons why Zahnle was closing his business.

The departure of Zahnle’s business will mean a drop in fuel and maintenance sales for the FBO at the airport.

Zahnle estimated he alone accounts for between $2,000 and $7,000 per month in sales for the airport FBO. He said he spends between $1,500 and $5,000 per month just in standard aviation fuel for small aircraft.

Zahnle said his next step would be to try to get in on some part-time corporate flying.

“It’s just going to be a matter of getting plugged-in,” he said. “It won’t take me long, a couple of months, I’ll probably just be flying. I’ll probably just want to be second-seat for corporate flying.”

Zahnle’s departure means the Oskaloosa Airport will no longer have a certified flight instructor offering instruction in the areas of recreational pilot, light sport pilot, private pilot, instrument airplane, commercial pilot, flight reviews, instrument proficiency reviews, refresher courses and ground instruction.

“If somebody wants to come out to the Oskaloosa Airport and get a pilot’s license it’s over, they’re not going to be able to,” he said.

Herald Staff Writer Michael Schaffer can be reached by email at mschaffer@oskyherald.com

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