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ISU President Leath damages school’s plane while on personal business trip

Steven Leath, ISU President
Steven Leath, ISU President

AMES, IOWA – The President of Iowa State University has bene flying the school’s airplane on personal business, the school disclosed, and damaged a plane during one of his jaunts.

Iowa State has owned and operated transportation aircraft for the university use since the 1950s. However, because Steven President Leath holds FAA pilot certification for single-engine aircraft and also holds an instrument rating, there have been some questions regarding his use of university aircraft, the school said. President Leath has been a pilot for more than 10 years. His initial training was in North Carolina, and since becoming Iowa State’s president in 2012, he has received additional training.

President Leath is certified to pilot the smaller of the university’s aircraft (Cirrus SR22) and has occasionally piloted this plane for the purposes of conducting university business and for flight training required by the FAA and the university’s insurer.

Our records show on four occasions President Leath has used the Cirrus SR22 for trips that were a combination of university business and personal business, or where university business scheduled immediately before or after personal trips required the flexibility of the Cirrus to meet the obligations of university business. Even though each of these trips had a component of university business associated with them, President Leath reimbursed the university for the costs of these trips. The reimbursement amount was based on a predetermined cost formula developed by ISU Flight Service.

On one of the aforementioned occasions, in July of 2015, while piloting the Cirrus SR22, President Leath encountered a microburst, a localized downdraft within a thunderstorm. As a result, he experienced a hard landing at the Bloomington, Illinois airport. Following the landing, a wing flap of the Cirrus clipped a runway light. While the aircraft remained airworthy, relevant repairs costing approximately $12,000 were subsequently made to the aircraft and were covered using non-general fund resources. There were no injuries resulting from the landing. President Leath immediately contacted the airport control tower to report the matter. The FAA was also informed of the matter and did not consider it as an accident pursuant to FAA regulations.

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