Top 40 Under 40: Melissa McCoy

Dec. 3, 2014


As the manager of public affairs and communications, Melissa McCoy acts as a liaison between the Salina Airport Authority and its communities to increase the visibility of the Authority's features and resources among industry decision makers, site selectors and the community at large. 

Melissa is committed to growing jobs and business at the Salina Airport Authority and is instrumental in attracting new companies to locate at the Salina Airport Industrial Center. She is responsible for publishing a monthly newsletter, conducting airport tours and handling special events for the Authority. She manages media relations through advisories, press releases and news conferences, as well as maintaining open communication with media outlets. 

Melissa joined the Authority staff after serving four years in the Marine Corps. As a public affairs and media relations noncommissioned officer, she wrote and edited two command newspapers. Her work has been published in national magazines and television broadcasts. Her experience in media relations includes work with the History Channel, three major air shows, concerts including the Charlie Daniels Band and a presidential base visit. 

Melissa earned her associate degree from Fort Hays State University and a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations from Kansas Wesleyan University, she is currently working to earn her master's degree from Baker University.

1)        Why did you select aviation as a career?

I didn’t, aviation selected me! I joined the Marine Corps in 2005 as a combat correspondent.  My first duty station was MCAS New River which housed Marine Corps rotor craft like the Osprey.  After that, I was hooked!

2)        What advice from a mentor helped you the most in your career?

“Complacency kills.”  It sounds a little dramatic for public relations but whether you’re maintaining a safe airport or writing a simple press release, it’s important to check and recheck your work.  Ensuring your facts are correct and getting the story out with maximum disclosure and minimum delay makes a world of difference in how your public views and trusts your airport.

3)        What is the biggest challenge you see facing aviation today?

I find GA airports in particular are constantly fighting an uphill battle when it comes to proving their worth to a community.  Telling those success stories and keeping the public informed about how the airport benefits both the aviation and nonaviation aspects of the local economy are important.  We need to get better at telling our story.

4)        What advice would you give to others in the industry?

You create the news for your airport! When an event on your airfield benefits the community, it’s your responsibility to tell the public.  You can and should have a public relations campaign in place to keep a constant dialogue going.  Don’t wait for reporters to come to you, go out and make the news for your airport.

5)        What are three things we don't know about you?

  • The Blackhawk is my all time favorite aircraft. 
  • My dad took me on my first helicopter ride when I was five years old.  Someone was giving rides in the mall parking lot.  We bought my sister a teddy bear to be fair but I still think I got the better end of the deal.
  • When new Marines checked in on the air station, we used to tell them that the tie downs were so we could fly off with the flightline if the base was ever attacked.