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 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.
Learn more about National Air Traffic Control Day here.