Breaking Ground At Skyhaven Airport

From left, Lynn and Jackie Harmon, Roger Best, Julie Wellner,  Mark Suazo, Dan Houx and Courtney Goddard break ground at the new aviation facility at Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport on Oct. 14 which is the location of the new construction.

Photo by Trevor Martin

From left, Lynn and Jackie Harmon, Roger Best, Julie Wellner, Mark Suazo, Dan Houx and Courtney Goddard break ground at the new aviation facility at Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport on Oct. 14 which is the location of the new construction.

Written by Trevor Martin, Staff Reporter

  Earlier this semester project officials met to break ground at the new aviation facility located at Skyhaven Airport. After nine years of planning and preparation, the terminal expansion at Skyhaven Airport began Oct. 14. The original projected budget was set at $2.1 million, but thanks to additional grants and donations from the State of Missouri, and the University of Central Missouri alumni, the project budget has now been increased to $5.1 million. 

  Phase 1 of the expansion is scheduled to be completed during the Spring of 2023 and will allow the airport to better serve its aviation students and transient customer needs.  

  In October 2020, UCM contracted with McCown Gordon Construction out of Kansas City, MO. to deliver the materials, labor, and planning documents for the new 10,000 sq. ft facility. The original project only included a completed building exterior, with an unfinished interior. Since the funding for the project has increased, the expansions now include fully completed site work, terminal interior, and robust developments to the appearance of the building. 

  The new terminal will be placed at the center of the airport directly across from aircraft ramp parking and will include an abundance of new functions for transient traffic and flight students to take advantage of. 

  “The Aviation Center will provide a unified space for the flight school to operate. All our instructors and staff will now be under one roof instead of being spread out around the airport. This extra room will grant students more privacy during ground lessons with their instructors,” said Dan Dietz, Skyhaven Airport Manager. 

  He believes the improvements will help pilots.

  “The new facility will include a pilot lounge area which will accommodate traffic with private resting areas, a bathroom, shower, and open seating that will allow for flight planning activities,” said Dietz. “There will also be 24/7 access to pilots arriving late at night or outside normal business hours.”

   The groundbreaking ceremony for the new terminal took place on October 14 where faculty, staff, and alumni met to celebrate the facility and announce current developments to students and the community. 

  “It’s been a long time coming,” said UCM President Roger Best. “Although the airport is owned by the University, it remains the only Public Use Airport in the county and we are so grateful for the opportunity to serve as a partner with our communities to meet the economic development needs here as well the needs of our flying public.” 

  The faculty and staff employed at the airport express their sheer excitement for the addition to the airport property. 

  “I’m just so proud to be a part of an amazing and forward-thinking group of people in the Aviation department. It is an exciting time for students, the flight school, and our community to celebrate the accomplishments of being a nationally ranked program,” said Joanna Bachtel, Skyhaven Operations Coordinator. 

  In addition to the $2.8 million made possible through alumni donations, UCM was granted an additional $1 million from the State of Missouri for the aviation education center housed inside the terminal. The grant was made possible through the House Bill 19 Capital Reimbursement Program. UCM also plans to fund an additional $1.1 million with university funds and monetary support from the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. 

  The project has been organized into two separate phases with Phase One scheduled for completion in the Spring of 2023. Phase One includes the building’s shell with a finished interior that will allow for additional office space for faculty and flight instructors as well as more expedient placement for Aircraft Line Service and Dispatch procedures. Phase Two will include continuity for simulator training and additional classroom space. The completion date for Phase Two has yet to be announced.

  The new facility at Skyhaven will also permit new expansion opportunities to take place at the airport. The placement of the building as well as its amenities will provide adequate services that pilots look for when making their decision to stop. 

  “The goal is to attract more traffic to Skyhaven, including turbine traffic. Over the long-term, this addition could lead to runway extensions that would allow business jets to land at Skyhaven and take advantage of our great amenities,” said Dietz. “This could also encourage businesses to base their aircraft at the airport which leads to additional revenue for the airport itself.” 

  The new aviation facility at Skyhaven airport will serve as a pillar in helping the educational and communal goals of the University of Central Missouri and the Department of Aviation for many years in the future to meet the high demand for aviation professionals and hold competitive placement among other training facilities around the nation.