Flight school ceases training at Unity airport

An Indiana County-based flight school has stopped offering commercial training courses at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity.

In early October, the Westmoreland County Airport Authority notified Gary Clawson, owner of the White Township-based Lease Aviation, headquartered at Indiana County/Jimmy Stewart Airport, that he must stop all flight instruction operations from a hangar the company rents at Arnold Palmer for aircraft storage.

Lease Aviation was using a Piper Cherokee aircraft the company stores at Arnold Palmer to transport local flight students to Jimmy Stewart for classes at a $90-an-hour rate without paying $5,000 for a limited facilities-based operator agreement for the training and small aircraft repair.

"It is the airport authority's intention to provide a level field of opportunity for its entrepreneurial tenants, and allowing one to operate without the mutual burdens and benefits of a limited FBO agreement creates an unfair situation for all parties," authority spokesman Dwayne Pickels said.

Clawson said he stopped shortly after he was notified by the authority.

"Since that point, our hangar has and will continue to be used for equipment storage only," Clawson said.

Kipp Lease, a Lease Aviation official, assured the authority at its meeting Tuesday that the company was not interested in negotiating an agreement to pursue business at the Westmoreland airport.

"We have no intention of subverting the rules and no intention to continue flight school services (at Arnold Palmer Regional)," Lease said.

In other business, authority officials and officials of Reading-based Boscov's Travel will hold a public meeting 7 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Gene E. McDonald Community Room at Arnold Palmer Regional to provide information for customers interested in booking a seat on the upcoming Dec. 9-15 charter flight to Orlando, Fla.