It's not unheard of for a sheriff to auction off abandoned property, but you won't believe what someone bought in Shenandoah, Iowa on Thursday.
Behind a hangar door was an airplane nobody is sure can still fly. “The owner actually abandoned it here for five or six years,” said airport manager Randy Wagner. “We had to go through all the legal channels to get clear title."
Unpaid hangar fees grew to $3,000, so the sheriff's auction got the collection off the ground. “Nine thousand dollars, going twice.”
That's what Bob Pettis paid to satisfy the hangar bill and buy the two-seater. “Well, it's a shame to have an airplane like this sit and be abandoned and not used.”
Untouched until now, the cockpit is like a time machine going back six years to when the owner taxied in and walked away. “Wow, I wonder what the date is on this sectional,” said Justin Wagner.
The 1963 Cessna has 5,800 hours in the air, but will need lots of work to take off again. The flaps are still working, so maybe the old plane can be made airworthy after all, so future pilots like Justin can learn to fly. “Maybe more people will come out, more young people will learn to fly.”
Making the plane airworthy won't be cheap, but Pettis said it’s worth investing in the dreams of those who want to learn to fly. He's worried more about being grounded by his wife. “What she said was, you do not go to that sale and buy that airplane.”
When the plane is cleared to fly, not only will it be used for lessons, but rentals, too. That will help give Shenandoah's airport a big lift in federal aviation ratings.