Evangeline Colarossi—Staff Writer
New opportunities will be flying into Sioux Center and the surrounding area with the opening of an airport in Maurice, just 10 miles south of Sioux Center.
Maurice, Iowa, has a population of 271, but now features a $32 million airport. The runway is 5,500 feet long and is accompanied by a parallel taxiway, terminal, several hangars and two fueling systems. There are offices, a conference room, pilots’ lounge and training room inside the terminal. To deal with the hazardous Iowa weather, safety approach lighting and a weather observation station have been added along with many other safety features.
The larger airport will be mainly used by Sioux Center, Orange City and Maurice.
“It’s really cool to see multiple communities coming together to work on projects of mutual benefit,” Dordt President Erik Hoekstra said, “and to have a resource that is more robust than any one city could have going it alone.”
The shorter the landing strip, the smaller the incoming or outgoing plane needs to be. Sioux Center and Orange City both have airports, but large planes cannot use their smaller landing strip. This reduces the number of company administrators, potential business owners or private clients that have immediate access to these towns.
“When corporations consider whether to locate a manufacturing plant or corporate headquarters in a particular area, the quality of the local airport is one of the considerations that they take into account,” Hoekstra said. “I’m hopeful that the new airport will enable us to continue to grow and attract more firms here for the next couple of decades.”
Crop spraying companies and a charter service currently plan to use the run the most. While no commercial flights are planned, private planes can still land. Students, parents and campus visitors may someday be able to fly in and drive less than ten miles to arrive at Dordt. This cuts down on travel time and fuel expenses, and could assist safer transportation during the winter months. With a larger airport comes more advanced aviation safety equipment, so the pilots will be able to ensure safer landings, as well.
Dordt currently has no plans to purchase a private aircraft, but the airport could hold some new possibilities. Past discussions opened up the idea of a bachelor’s program in aviation. The smaller, local airports would not have supported this program very well, so the idea was laid aside. With this new opportunity, discussions about feasibility have popped up again.
“That study is currently ‘in process’ with the various faculty and board groups,” Hoekstra said. “While I have nothing to announce or predict right now, the new airport certainly would support a program much better than the former airport would have done.”