Groundbreaking Ceremony Launches Era of Airport Expansion
Representatives of the campus community, public officials, community business leaders, private pilots, and others who have an interest in the future of the airport attended the event, held in a large hangar northeast of the terminal building.
"One Flight Higher" Marks Beginning of Long-Term Expansion
The ceremony, titled “One Flight Higher,” marks the beginning of a multimillion dollar, long-term expansion that is detailed in the airport master plan. It will allow the university to better serve the interests of local business, industry, and private aircraft owners, but also ensure students are well prepared to serve many facets of the aviation industry.
The expansion begins this month northeast of the existing aircraft apron and terminal building with a 180-day grading project by KAT Excavation Company. The package includes improved storm water drainage, the creation of a new access road, and excavation and leveling needed for future building projects. The university secured funding for initial improvements, including $1.35 million in Statewide Transportation Improvement grants through the Missouri Department of Transportation and $1,014,300 in fiscal year 2008 federal appropriations.
“Today’s event is symbolic of the university’s desire to transform the airport into a facility that will better serve economic needs of this community and region, while also providing an outstanding, state-of-the-art training ground for students wanting to enter the aviation industry,” said University President Aaron Podolefsky. “We’re especially grateful for state and federal financial support to begin initial projects that are necessary to realize this ambitious goal."
Initial Groundwork Only the First Step
The ground work is an essential step in preparing for future building construction. As additional funds become available, the current 9,500-square-foot terminal will be demolished and replaced by a larger, modern facility that will better meet aviation needs that advance the region both economically and educationally. The master plan also includes space for 10-unit T-hangars to accommodate 60 aircraft, half of which will be available for use by local pilots. Additional development will feature the construction of new aircraft aprons with tie-down spaces to support local-based, university and larger itinerant airplanes; improved parking facilities; the relocation of fuel storage tanks; and construction of maintenance and storage facilities.
To help grow the airport as a community resource, the university plans to extend the existing main runway to a length of 5,500 feet and a width of 100 feet. This will help accommodate corporate jets and lead to future opportunities to train UCM aviation students to fly the types of aircraft they will encounter as professional pilots.
Tremendous Benefits for Generations of UCM's Aviation Graduates
Alice Greife, dean of the College of Science and Technology, said the airport serves as a bridge between UCM’s academic programs and the real world of general aviation. The expansion of the runway will provide greater safety for flight students and provide them access to not only different types of aircraft but to their pilots.
“This means that our students can gain valuable knowledge by close interactions with both general aviation and corporate pilots who might not otherwise have visited our airport. An expanded airport and the resulting change in operations also provides our airport management and flight operations students the opportunity to learn firsthand the operation of a thriving and expanding regional general aviation airport,” she said.
Bill Rankin, chair of the Department of Aviation, insists that improvement projects at Skyhaven Airport will provide world-class facilities for training UCM students while enhancing all of the department’s academic programs.
“I believe all of our aviation students are eagerly waiting for the construction to begin. It will add an air of excitement to their educational experience at UCM as they watch the new facilities being constructed around them, and they will see firsthand the strong commitment to aviation that UCM is making to enhance not only our aviation programs, but our community as well,” he said.
Variety of Funding Sources Will Be Accessed
In accomplishing these projects, the University of Central Missouri must pursue state and federal funding while also seeking private gifts.
Located west of Warrensburg, Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport is the only airport in Missouri owned and operated by a public university.
For more information about UCM's programs in aviation, contact the UCM Department of Aviation at 550-543-4975.