The pending closure of Okotoks Air Ranch has resulted in a blizzard of legal documents over the demise of a flight school that was based at the private airport. Earlier this year, the owners of the airport announced they were closing it to fixed wing operations for economic reasons. Calgary-Okotoks Flight School announced it was ceasing operations on Aug. 3 because of the pending closure and that’s when the writs started to fly.
Although the school could have technically carried on for several months, when the closure was announced the maintenance company that looked after its aircraft put liens on the two Cherokees and a Cessna to secure unpaid bills. The planes were seized and flown to nearby Springbank for safekeeping. Without airplanes, the school had no option but to stop training.
When the school closed, eight students who had prepaid their training had their lessons stop. They have filed suit against the school owner Tim Ulmer. They want the $270,000 they paid up front refunded plus $10,000 in damages.
Ulmer told the CBC he, too, has filed suit against the owners of the airport, looking for $3.5 million in damages from their decision to close the facility. He said it was the June decision that prompted the maintenance company to seize his planes. “[It was a] sad day when you see all these aircraft leave the hangar and go into custody, so to speak,” he told the CBC. Ulmer also admitted the students lost their prepaid tuition. “The students are out money. There’s no doubt about that. It’s unfortunate that that happened,” said Ulmer. One of the students is out $68,250.