116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A single-engine plane that then-Iowa State University President Steven Leath damaged in a hard landing two years ago was sold this week for $450,000 - less than initially hoped for - to a Cedar Rapids company.
The university's 2011 Cirrus SR22 was sold Monday to Midwest Aviation Equipment LLC of Cedar Rapids, according to documents released Tuesday by ISU.
Midwest Aviation Equipment was formed shortly before the purchase under its parent company, Linn Star Transfer, a delivery service for furniture and appliances. Linn Star Transfer owner Dennis Munson, an ISU alum, said the Cirrus will be used to travel to warehouse facilities.
'We currently have a plane, and we use it to fly to those facilities and avoid the four-, five-hour car drives to St. Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Omaha, etc.,” Munson said. 'So we're really just upgrading from the plane that we have.”
ISU purchased the Cirrus in July 2014. The purchase price was $498,000, but the university traded in an older plane and received a $28,000 credit.
One appraisal released Tuesday listed the craft's market value at $432,000. Another said it would be 'close to $500,000.”
'I think there are various factors that may affect the price of a plane,” said ISU spokeswoman Annette Hacker. 'Market softening, deprecation, perhaps negative information that exaggerated the extent of the damage to the plane, but depreciation is common on most assets over time.”
ISU initially considered a broker-and-bid process to sell the plane. But none of the six sealed bids it got were accepted because they did not meet the minimum of $458,500 set by the auction, Hacker said.
In fact, only one bid - an initial one by Munson's group -- cracked the $400,000 mark, documents show.
Although ISU has said the Cirrus was never purchased exclusively for Leath, a pilot, his extensive use of it - including for personal trips - became a focus of an audit ordered by the Iowa Board of Regents.
Leath damaged the plane during a landing at the Bloomington, Ill., airport in July 2015 when a wing flap clipped a runway light. The cost to repair the damage, as well as the cost to store the plane in Illinois and transport Leath back to Iowa, came to $17,373.
Leath made donations to the ISU Foundation to cover the expenses, according to ISU. He also reimbursed thousands of dollars for trips the audit found of questionable public purpose.
Munson said he has no qualms about the damage the Cirrus sustained after talking with Classic Aviation, a Pella company that did the repairs.
The sales leaves ISU Flight Services with just one plane - a larger Beechcraft King Air 350.
A study initiated by Leath examined whether the Flight Services operation should be eliminated. But it concluded that keeping the twin-engine Beechcraft and the support service was more cost effective.
In March, Leath was named president of Auburn University in Alabama. The search a new ISU president is ongoing.
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