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Sioux City officials break ground on a new flight school

A rendering of Oracle Aviation's plan for a new flight school. It's a white and gray two-story building with an airplane hangar attached.
City of Sioux City
The Oracle Aviation Center will train pilots and mechanics in the Sioux City area.

A new flight school is coming to Sioux City.

City officials broke ground on the aviation center that will serve as a training ground for pilots and aviation professionals on Tuesday afternoon. The Omaha-based Oracle Aviation is partnering with Morningside University and Western Iowa Technical Community College to launch a flight school.

The aviation center will house courses for a Professional Flight program for aspiring pilots or Aviation Management for those interested in airline operations. Morningside University President Albert Mosley said that these curriculums will help students find jobs in a growing industry.

“Nationally, the need for pilots and aviation management professionals is at a historic high,” Mosley said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “That is also true here in Siouxland, we all know that firsthand.”

A group of city officials and business leaders wear orange hard hats and hold golden shovels as they break ground of the new aviation center.
City of Sioux City
City officials and business leaders broke ground on the aviation center on Tuesday.

Earlier this year, Sioux City Gateway Airport’s commercial carrier, SkyWest, pared down its flight schedule due to a pilot shortage – decreasing the number of flights out of the airport from 12 to just seven.

Western Iowa Technical Community College President Terry Murrell said there’s also a pressing need for maintenance engineers. WITCC will use the aviation facility to provide an associates of applied science in aviation engineering to help combat the shortage.

In addition to educational opportunities, Assistant City Manager Mike Collett said the aviation center will also help prop up business in the Siouxland area. Collett sees the program as a major opportunity for economic growth in the community.

“One of the first questions asked of our economic development department when they have a lead is ‘Do you have an airport?’,” he said. “The fact that we're now able to train pilots and mechanics, both combined, is a big deal.”

City and community partners estimate the new facility’s construction will require a $10.7 million investment. The 40,000 square-foot facility will include the training classrooms, hangar space and offices.

Morningside University has opened its enrollment for the flight program and will begin accepting students as early as the fall of next year.

Kendall is Iowa Public Radio’s western Iowa reporter based in Sioux City, IA.