Since 2004, the Archie League Medal of Safety Awards has grown to become known within NATCA as a highly prestigious honor to receive and is shown as a mark of heroism in the air traffic profession. But who is the mystery man that these awards are named after?

Air traffic increasingly began causing safety concerns and delays in the aviation industry in the mid-1920s and in 1929, St. Louis saw this need and hired the first U.S. air traffic controller, Archie W. League, a pilot and mechanic. Every day, League would drag his “control tower” or a wheelbarrow carrying a chair, an umbrella for shade, his lunch, a note pad, and a pair of signal flags he used to direct air traffic. League went on to earn a degree in aeronautical engineering and, with 36 years in the field, he helped develop the federal air traffic control system.