File photo

People may get to enjoy their own instructional flights or rent an airplane from the Jasper County Airport in the near future. Pictured is a biplane flying over Rensselaer this past fair season.

RENSSELAER — Jasper County Airport Manager Ray Seif says the airport is making plans for a flight instruction and plane rental business.

“We don’t have a rental here, so we are in search for someone to come here and start one,” Seif said. “We couldn’t find anybody that wanted to do that, so the airport is moving forward with trying to bring an aircraft.”

Once the new plane is acquired, the airport will hire out certified flight instructors until the flight business has wings — or at least a full-time pilot — of its own.

“We’ll have independent contractors, CFIs, that we’ll use until we get enough activity to hire a flight instructor,” Seif said. “It’ll be airport-operated, airport-run.”

Seif said the flight instruction and rental options will be featured alongside the airport’s other current services of renting hangars and selling aircraft fuel. But first, the airport must go through the proper steps to purchase the aircraft.

“We’re working through an additional appropriation process,” he said. “And, past our board level, it has to go before the county council in September. And then, after that, it goes through the Department of Local Government Finance for their blessing. After that, we’ll be able to use the funds we already have on hand to purchase an aircraft and have it be available. It’s pretty exciting.”

Seif said the new business would mean people interested in learning to fly or renting an aircraft could do so without leaving Rensselaer, which has been an issue.

“It’s something that I have been interested in for at least a couple of years,” he said. “It’s something that I wanted for myself, as far as being able to rent. I’m a pilot and I haven’t found anything locally to rent. We have to travel to Valparaiso, Lafayette, Logansport or Crawfordsville to have a rental aircraft.”

Aside from personal interest, Seif also believes it could have an economic benefit to Rensselaer and Jasper County.

“I’ve had a ton of people reach out to me and say, ‘Hey, do you have an aircraft for rent?’” he said. “So I’ve had people ask about it. I’m interested in it myself. We’ve had to push people away to other communities to spend their dollars to try to learn — if they even want to drive that far. It makes sense to bring one here.”