Coming In For A Landing
07/17/2018 07:00AM ● Published by Robert Frey
Gallery: Megan McLellan Named New Acadiana Regional Airport Director [1 Image] Click any image to expand.
Megan McLellan Named New Acadiana Regional Airport DirectorBy Shanna P. Dickens | Photos By Fusion Photography
Megan McLellan will tell you that she was “basically born and raised nowhere.” The former Army brat spent her childhood moving from base to base before her family retired at Fort Polk and began to call Leesville home. After graduating high school, McLellan headed to the University of Louisiana Monroe, but when it came to what she wanted to study…well, that remained a mystery. She enrolled as a General Studies major with the intent of taking as many electives as possible to find what piqued her interest. One of those electives was Aviation 101, the class that completely changed her life’s trajectory. Once McLellan dipped her toes in the waters of aviation, she took a full fledged head first swan dive that has led her around the country, fostered a deep passion for the profession and, most recently, landed her at the helm of the Acadiana Regional Airport as the new Airport Director.
“When I was in college, ULM was trying to increase their aviation program, so they really courted us,” she explains. “They took us flying in a small craft, took us to different airports and professional aviation organization parties. I completely took the bait – I signed up for a second aviation class and immediately changed my major and have been moving forward in the field ever since.”
While it may seem like aviation was a natural choice for someone whose family has a background in the military, McLellan had no exposure or influences to aviation until that fateful Aviation 101 class. Because of this, she makes it a point to expose as many people as possible, specifically children, to the wonders of aviation. It was with this goal in mind that she brought her 6-year-old niece to an airshow that she directed at Chennault International Airport in Lake Charles.
“I brought my niece because flying in the airshow that year was a very nationally and internationally known female pilot,” McLellan recalls. “My niece got to meet her and she said ‘I’ve never seen a girl pilot before,’ and that gave us all goose bumps. She still remembers that girls can fly. I’m thankful to be in the position to accommodate people in finding their passions, especially if it’s in the aviation field.”
Before landing her in Iberia Parish, McLellan’s career took her to much cooler climates. She got her first job at Harrisburg International Airport, where she made lifelong friends and lived only five minutes from Hershey, Pennsylvania, which was a candy-coated childhood dream that she never imagined would come true. She then took a position in Operations and Security at an airport in Portland, Maine, where she was able to be closer to her dad’s family and experienced “nine months of very cold weather and three months of the best summer of my life.” In 2006, after what McLellan calls her “geography lesson gone wrong,” she returned to Louisiana to work for the DOTD Aviation at the State Aviation Office in Baton Rouge.
“I worked for Louisiana State Aviation and Texas State Avaition, so I have a broad experience of how airports of all sizes operate – I know best practices and I have a lot of lessons learned,” McLellan says. “I really wanted to use all of this knowledge where I was part of a team. Before I would go visit an airport and return to my office. I wanted to be part of a community.”
McLellan knew exactly what community she wanted to join. Former Acadiana Regional Airport Director Jason Devillier was also a ULM Aviation Alumnus and had acted as mentor to McLellan since 2002. Throughout her career, she always maintained a special connection with the Acadiana Regional Airport and its staff. And when she heard her mentor’s position would soon be coming available she acted as quickly as possible.
“I would have really had heartburn if someone else would have been in this position,” she confesses. “That’s the brutally honest truth. My heart is here and I see how much good there is here and I want to be a part of it. Taking the position at the Acadiana Regional Airport felt like coming home. This airport has such a special place in my heart.”
As McLellan explains of her new role, the Airport Authority sets the vision for the airport. They set the policies and the expectations, and the Airport Director makes their visions a reality, carries out their policies and meets (and exceeds) their expectations. One of the elements that most attracted McLellan to the Acadiana Regional Airport was the positive upward momentum surrounding it, and she lists maintaining that positive energy as one of her goals as Airport Director.
“What I really hope to accomplish here is to just keep the momentum going,” McLellan expresses. “If I could pick one word to define what I want to do, it would be ‘elevate.’ I want to elevate the momentum, elevate the experience for the public and for our customers, elevate our standings as to what an airport can provide and elevate how we are seen across the state.”
And on a personal level, McLellan is thrilled to be back in South Louisiana where she can best enjoy what she calls her hobby, to “eat, drink and be merry.” As someone who spent time around the country, she has done extensive research to reveal that nobody does it quite like Acadiana. McLellan is anxious to get involved in the community both personally and professionally.
“I’m here, I’m ready and I’m able. I’m so excited to be part of the Acadiana Regional Airport team and the Iberia Parish community, I always say, ‘Airports take a village,’ because we’re a city within a city. We have to operate with what we have, so we need all of the resources and support we can get. With that wonderful support, we will continue to grow, attract and accommodate. We would just be concrete and grass if it weren’t for the businesses and aircraft users who support us. We want to be the best place for businesses to land…literally.”