Allison Winters TIMES NEWS
Tri-Cities airport employee carries on father’s aviation legacy
September 3, 2023
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  • Michael Musick has been part of the world of aviation since before he could walk.

    Musick, 46, serves as public safety communications specialist at the Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Blountville. He has worked at the airport for 24 years.

    His father was a pilot and in aviation for over four decades, starting at the same airport Musick now serves.

    “My father was a pilot and in aviation for 41 years and started at this very airport at age 18 with Appalachian Flying Services before going on to become airport manager of Elizabethton Airport,” Musick said.

    As a public safety communications specialist, Musick takes all calls that come in and monitors the security systems. His shift is typically from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

    “We field all security and medical calls including dispatching fire and rescue for aircraft and other emergencies, passenger needs, as well as commercial flight needs,” Musick said. “We also monitor an array of security systems that keep the airport safe.”

    He said working these later hours does impact his job at the communications center. Working through the night usually means making judgment calls on your own and working independently.

    “It seems like some of the more ‘interesting’ situations occur at night when the rest of the world is asleep,” said Musick. “It can be slower at times but can turn on a dime and you are often called upon to handle multiple tasks at one time. That means being more vigilant, not less.”

    The recent amounts of rainfall and high temperatures also impact the airport and its staff.

    “A storm or fog can cause flight delays or cancellations, increased heat can result in more medical emergencies that don’t normally happen otherwise,” Musick said. “Our officers are the first responders for all types of situations and emergencies that occur in or around the airport.”

    He enjoys watching the airport “wake up” on his shift and spending more one-on-one time with passengers and officers. Musick explained his greatest inspiration on the job is his father who has put years of service into aviation before him.

    “My father has been an incredible inspiration not only with this aviation background, but also his service in law enforcement as a reserve deputy,” Musick mentioned. “His dedication and pride that ‘another Musick was at Tri-Cities Airport’ to continue the legacy is always present.”

    Musick said he loves being able to help people, especially at night when you might be one of the only people available to help an airport visitor.

    “You may be one of the few sources of aid for someone who really needs it and I enjoy being that source,” said Musick. “It certainly doesn’t hurt that you get to be so close to the aviation aspect of the job.”

    The Tri-Cities Airport serves Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Western North Carolina and Eastern Kentucky.