Make your home page

Neighbors oppose man’s private airstrip proposal

GREENFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — A Greenfield man’s proposal to construct a private airstrip near a residential area has prompted safety concerns and an opposing petition from neighbors.  

If pilot Kurt Schleter’s proposal gets all the necessary approval, the airstrip would be built in a soybean field near his home, about 7 miles from the Indianapolis Regional Airport.

The Hancock County Board of Zoning Appeals was scheduled to discuss the proposal in a Thursday night meeting. 

Flying is Schleter’s passion. He’s been an FAA-certified pilot for more than 10 years and owns two planes. Schleter hopes to take his passion to new heights by building his own landing strip. 

“The benefit is when you come home from a rough day, and you want to go out to the hanger and either maybe take a flight or maybe just tinker on your airplane,” said Schleter. 

Schleter, who has clocked 1,600 hours flown and more than 2,000 incident-free landings, has gone to Hancock County for zoning approval. 

“How good of a pilot is he, really? Just because he’s certified doesn’t mean he’ll always take people’s safety into play,” said Greenfield resident Jason Coggins.

Coggins, a father of three, said safety is his main concern. 

“Having an airplane land on the house, in the backyard, anywhere between houses, any kind of mechanical failure within takeoff, would put him at any house withing this mile radius,” said Coggins. 

Coggins and dozens of other residents signed a petition opposing the airstrip. Many committed to attending Thursday night’s meeting in hopes of voicing their concerns. 

“We’re just not comfortable with the thought of airplanes flying over the house when we’ve got an airport just five minutes down the road,” said Coggins. 

If the Hancock Board of Zoning Appeals approves the landing strip, the next step would be state and federal approval.