The Student News Site of University of Central Missouri


The Student News Site of University of Central Missouri


The Student News Site of University of Central Missouri


Skyhaven Aviation Center Gets Off The Ground

Ribbon cutting ceremony marks the opening of new aviation center

On Sept. 8, the University of Central Missouri held the ribbon-cutting for the  Max. B. Swisher Skyhaven Aviation Center, making the institution the only university in Missouri to operate its own public-use airport. 

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  • The ceremonial ribbon cutting at the Max. B. Swisher Skyhaven Aviation Center, now open for student and private use. The new facilities feature a pilot’s lounge and a quiet room, with self-serving fuel pumps coming soon.

    Photo by Mingzhu Zhu
  • Speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony, UCM administration and community members thanked donors for their contributions to the new facility. The project was worth $5.1 million. Photo by Mingzhu Zhu

 “It’s truly a haven, it’s got a soft spot in my heart,” Terry Hunt, associate professor in the department of aviation, said. “I’ve flown since I was 17 years old and it’s a bit of a home. There’s a lot of sentiment and importance in my life for Skyhaven and for the aviation program. It’s exciting to see a beautiful state-of-the-art program to serve students.”

“This magnificent building will allow UCM to build on its past successes and attract new generations of students to learn and fly here,”

— David Pearce, the University’s executive director for governmental relations

  Courtney Goddard, vice president of advancement and executive director of the UCM Alumni Foundation, reflected on the history of this project. Goddard said the original idea was planned on a smaller scale and was expected to cost about $2.1 million, but “a group of people dared to dream much bigger.”

  According to the UCM Alumni Foundation, the $5.1 million building project of a 10,000-square-foot facility was made possible by a combination of funding sources that include private gifts totaling $2.8 million from Warrensburg residents Lynn and Jackie Harmon, the Sunderland Foundation in Kansas City, other private donors and $1 million in state appropriations. The remainder of the balance for the project was funded by UCM. In 1968, Skyhaven Airport was donated to what was then known as Central Missouri State College by local businessman and university supporter Max B. Swisher. 

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  “This magnificent building will allow UCM to build on its past successes and attract new generations of students to learn and fly here,” David Pearce, the university’s executive director for governmental relations said.

  Ed Hassinger, Missouri Department of Transportation deputy director and chief engineer, said Senator Denny Hoskins, representative of District 21, was instrumental in helping to secure $1 million in state appropriations to help fund this project.He helped secure $850,000 in legislative funding to add self-service fuel pumps to the airport. These self-service fuel pumps will serve both UCM aviation and private pilots, allowing them to fuel up 24 hours a day at the facility. 

  “I’m glad to report…we’re not done yet,” Hoskins said. 

  UCM is the only university in the state to operate its own public-use airport and the only institution in the United States to offer a master’s degree in Aviation Management. 

  “We want to acknowledge how proud we are as a college to house the department of aviation and to be stewards of the Max B. Swisher Skyhaven Airport,” Mark Suazo, dean of the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies, said. “One of the things we are committed to is student success. So this marks a huge milestone in our progression as a department and as a college.”

  The new Skyhaven Aviation Center is intended for use by professional pilots, with amenities such as a pilots’ lounge, lockers, a quiet room and a bathroom with a shower. Tim Richner, a senior airport management major, said one of his favorite things about the updated space was the close parking to the planes as the shorter walk for students from the parking lot to the planes will make a big difference. 

  The facility is also for teaching UCM students in the aviation major, with a large shared space including a dispatch station, break room, airport staff offices, conference room, work room, and 30 private flight instructor-aviation student pods for individual meetings and educational purposes.

 “It’s just nice to have an updated spacious flight center for our students,” Hunt said. “Now we have everything encapsulated in one spot. We have dispatch, all of the instructors, all the moving pieces and parts of the program are centrally located with a beautiful flight line.” 

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About the Contributors
Aaron Bax, Reporter
Rachel Becker, Editor in Chief
Rachel Becker is a Graduate Assistant and Master’s student within the communication department at the University of Central Missouri. As Editor-in-Chief of the Muleskinner, Rachel works to lead a newsroom to produce informative and entertaining content for UCM and the surrounding community. The Muleskinner prides itself on being published for students and by students, and Rachel supervises all the students who make up the Muleskinner.  As a student journalist for over six years, Rachel understands the importance of student voices in news media. She operates the newsroom as a learning lab for students, a place where students can explore journalism and gain real-world experience.  Rachel is a decorated student journalist, being awarded at the state and national level for writing, photography and multimedia coverage. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, with an emphasis in journalism from Truman State University. During her time at Truman, she was Editor-in-Chief of The Index, the student-produced newspaper.
Mingzhu Zhu, Promotions Manager
  Mingzhu Zhu is a graduate student in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at the University of Central Missouri. Her concentration is in marketing. She was a reporter and photographer for Student Media at Washburn University for over two years, and she understands the importance of students’ voices on campus. Mingzhu is passionate about journalism and marketing, and she started as a marketing analyst for the Muleskinner in October 2022. Since then, she has learned a lot about marketing and promotions in journalism. At the Muleskinner, she conducts marketing research, makes strategic plans, and creates social media content. She wants to combine her enthusiasm for journalism and her skills as an MBA student. She is looking forward to more adventures in the future.

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    Abram TaborOct 9, 2023 at 11:47 am

    What a lovely read!
    It’s nice to see such high quality work from a college news source.
    Keep going – you’re awesome!