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National Air Traffic Control Day

National Air Traffic Control Day was first held on July 6, 1986, on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the air control system in the United States. According to Senate Joint Resolution 188, which designated the day, it was created to increase public awareness about the United States National Airspace System and to give people a way to "express their gratitude and respect" to "pioneers of the technology of air traffic control" and to all air traffic control personnel. The resolution requested the President to issue a proclamation for the day, which President Ronald Reagan did on July 3, 1986, with Proclamation 5511. He said in part, "let us remember with gratitude those who have dedicated themselves to making the system what it is today, and let us thank those who are working to make it even better for tomorrow." The day has been used to reaffirm the commitment to enhance the air control system—to make it safer, more efficient, and more cost-effective.

The air control system, created by the United States Bureau of Air Commerce, is the National Airspace System. It works to ensure adequate spacing between airplanes that are flying on routes and to prevent congestion at airports. There are more than 14,000 air traffic controllers, who together with engineers, electronics specialists, and technicians make up the National Airspace System. The system is a model for the world aviation community, is known for its safety and efficiency. Over the course of its first 50 years, the volume of air traffic in the United States expanded one hundred and eighty fold. Today, 5,000 aircraft are in the air in the country at any given moment, with millions of flights taking place each year. The country has 5.3 million square miles of domestic airspace and 24 million miles of airspace over the oceans. On National Air Traffic Control Day, we thank all those who work to keep the airways safe as part of the National Airspace System, and we work to make the system stronger.

How to Observe

If you know someone who works for the National Airspace System as an air traffic controller, electronics specialist, engineer, or technician, make sure to wish them a happy National Air Traffic Control Day! You could also learn more about the National Airspace System on the Federal Aviation Administration website, where there is even information on how to become an air traffic controller.

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