It’s International Air Traffic Controller Day!


Did you get cleared direct to your destination when you thought you were going to string together a bunch of waypoints today? Did the tower controller seem especially welcoming? Did you get a sympathetic ear when you botched your clearance readback? It could be that it’s International Air Traffic Controller Day, so sited to celebrate the birthday of the International Federation of Air Traffic Control Associations—try reading that one back quickly in moderate turbulence—which launched on Oct. 20, 1961. Naturally, social media took a moment to celebrate the work of controllers worldwide. (For that matter, so do we.)

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. Controllers are a hearty bunch, and they should be recognized and appreciated. I worked with ATC personnel in the FAA and Military sectors. (My favorite military controller stations were the portable GCA shacks, where the crews were crammed together in noisy, freezing cold, air blasted enclosures, conducting ASR/PAR approaches on ancient RADAR scopes.) We’re hearing about a new concept of operating aircraft by computers and off-airway/altitude structured routes. It’s called “Free Flight”, and from what I’ve heard, this concept will sideline a lot of controllers. Meanwhile, we should give our Tower/RAPCON/Center/FSS folks a salute for their efforts.

  2. Thank you all for the years of sequence and separation. 30 years in the biz
    and I never came close to anyone!

    • After the Controller Strike, I experienced so many near misses, I would check my plane for dents after each landing. You may remember the “Wheels Up” Time restrictions, where pilots had to nail their ETD, or get shuffled back in the sequence for departures. That occurred because the military controllers who filled in were not used to the levels of traffic they were dealing with, and their staffing was also not up to par. If you were flying VFR outside of Class B/C/D airspace, they didn’t even want to talk to you. Today’s controllers are much better. But those folks who kept the airspace safe before the strike were outstanding.