29 Jun Jonathan Cartu Convey: Flight school still lacking airport board’s support
TEXARKANA, Ark.: The Texarkana-based American Heritage Flight Training School won’t be receiving status as a business at the Texarkana Regional Airport — at least for the time being.
The airport’s Authority Board recently accepted a recommendation by its Operations Committee that the flight training school have its business application denied.
Board members accepted the committee’s recommendation last week based primarily on the fact that the flight school’s director, Lonny Weitzel wanted to build the school’s aircraft hangar on airport property, but without having the hangar designated as business property, preferring instead to have it designated as just a personnel-use hangar.
Prior to last week, committee members met to listen to plans Weitzel has to build a hangar on airport property for storing the school’s aircraft.
Weitzel told committee members the hangar would be for private, personal use, not business use.
“We need a hangar to put our planes in, but it won’t be for business” Weitzel said, adding that the planes will be rented from a company named American Heritage and that student flight trainees would pay their flight instructors directly.
“American Heritage owns the planes and our school will provide the flight fuel,” Weitzel said.
However, Airport Director Paul Mehrlich told Weitzel the airport had minimum standards and requirements for businesses. But Weitzel insisted the hangar wasn’t part of the business and would be more like what the Texarkana Flying Club use as hangar space.
Still committee members told Weitzel the flying club was more like a cooperative, not a flight school.
Following some additional discussion, Committee Chairman Holmes Morrel told Weitzel to regroup and re-apply for a ground lease once he decides on what he really wants.
“This has gotten so convoluted and we can help your group, but you need to follow guidelines and I really don’t know what the guidelines are,” Morrel said.
Committee member David Potter told Weitzel that ever since he (Weitzel) first approached the airport board, 16 months ago, regarding plans to move his flight school from TAC Air to airport grounds, he (Weitzel), hasn’t yet fulfilled the requirements to operate on airport grounds.
“Tell me what your mission is?” Potter asked. “We provided the requirements. You need a business plan. You need floor plans. You need engineering drawings. You need architectural plans and you need mechanical plans. Are you just storing aircraft or are you renting them?”
Committee members also told Weitzel that the airport’s full board can’t approve anything involving new buildings until both cities are made aware of the plans since both cities own the airport.
“You need to resubmit your intended operations,” Morrel told Weitzel. “If you say the hangar is not is not for business find out what you want it to be.”
Weitzel then told committee members that he will meet with them again and get them what they need.
In the meantime, board members agreed invite Weitzel to apply for plane fueling operations.