University of Central Missouri Gets Skyhaven Aviation Center Off The Ground

The Skyhaven Aviation Center, 160 NW 251 Road, Warrensburg, MO. (Photo Credit: University of Central Missouri)

Posted September 12, 2023

The University of Central Missouri (UCM) held the ribbon-cutting for the Skyhaven Aviation Center, making the institution the only university in Missouri to operate its own public-use airport.

The ceremony was conducted Friday located at 160 NW 251 Road, in Warrensburg, Missouri.

The Skyhaven Aviation Center is a 10,000-square-foot facility in the center of the airport and costs $5.1 million to construct. Funding was secured through several sources including approximately $1 million in state financial support, private gifts totaling $2.8 million from Warrensburg residents Lynn and Jackie Harmon of the Sunderland Foundation and other private donors, according to UCM.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of the University of Central Missouri’s new Skyhaven Aviation Center included, from left, David Pearce,  UCM executive director for governmental relations; Scott Fitzpatrick, Missouri state auditor; Warrensburg residents Lynn and Jackie Harmon; Roger Best, university president; Senator Denny Hoskins, Missouri District 21; Tyler Young, senior professional pilot student from Troy, Missouri; Courtney Goddard, vice president for advancement and executive director of the UCM Alumni Foundation; Mark Suazo, dean of the Harmon College of Business and Professional Studies; and Ed Hassinger, Missouri Department of Transportation deputy director and chief engineer. (Photo Credit: University of Central Missouri)

In addition to UCM operating its own public-use airport in the state, the university also offers a master’s degree in Aviation Management. The degree was designed to serve the needs of private pilots and UCM students entering the high-demand industry as professional pilots.

The facility includes amenities such as a pilots’ lounge, lockers, a bathroom with a shower, and quiet room to serve local and corporate aviators, shared space with a dispatch station, a break room, airport staff offices, a conference room, work room and 30 private flight instructor-aviation student pods.

UCM has more plans down the road for Skyhaven Airport’s development, however. Senator Denny Hoskins, District 21 helped secure $850,000 in legislative funding for the installment of self-service fuel facilities that operate 24 hours a day. Development of the fuel facilities is planned, “in the near future.”

UCM President Roger Best attended the ceremony to thank the Swisher family on behalf of Max B. Swisher, a supporter of the university’s aviation program who helped get it off the ground.

“For more than 50 years, hundreds of faculty members and flight instructors, including the late John Horine,” who was the longest-serving aviation faculty member, “have educated thousands of aviation professionals who have had a significant and transformative impact on the aviation industry,” Best said. “We firmly believe in engaging our students with their professions from the very start to ensure they are exceptionally well prepared for what comes next. So, today’s ceremony – the formal opening of the Skyhaven Aviation Center – stands as reaffirmation of the University of Central Missouri’s commitment to serving our students and our communities.”

Skyhaven Airport was donated to what was then known as Central Missouri State College in 1968, according to UCM.