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ATC History


History of Air Traffic Control


Archie William League (1907-1986), is widely acknowledged as the first U.S. air traffic controller with his claim to the first air traffic controller largely unchallenged. After becoming a licensed airplane and engine mechanic, flying and barnstorming around Illinois and Missouri with his own 'flying circus' , Archie was hired by the city to direct the growing air traffic at St. Louis's Lambert Field. His "control tower" was a wheelbarrow on which he mounted a beach umbrella for the summer heat. In it he carried a beach chair, his lunch, water, a note pad and a pair of signal flags to direct the aircraft either to 'GO' or 'HOLD'. In the winters, he wore a padded flying suit to keep warm out on the field.


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