Sioux City officials are breaking ground on what will be a new flight school serving as Morningside University’s training center for pilots and other aviation professionals.

Assistant City Manager Mike 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?’ and a lot of these businesses have to be supported with air facilities that we offer,” Collett says. “The fact that we’re now able to train pilots and mechanics, both combined, is a big deal.”

Morningside is partnering with Omaha-based Oracle Aviation to launch the flight school. The new department will include a professional flight program for aspiring pilots and aviation management for those interested in airline operations.

Morningside University President Albert Mosley says 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 says. “That is also true here in Siouxland, we all know that firsthand.”

The school is projected to begin accepting students as early as next fall. Morningside officials hope it can help curb pilot shortages felt in Sioux City and around the nation. Earlier this year, Sioux City Gateway Airport’s commercial carrier pared down its flight schedule due to a pilot shortage.

City and community partners estimate the new facility’s construction will require a $10.7-million investment.

(Kendall Crawford, Iowa Public Radio)

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