3 August 1955 – On this day, President Eisenhower signed the Civilian Airport Modernization Bill. The legislation established a long-term program of federal government aid toward the construction of airports in the United States.
“President Eisenhower reached out to retired Major General Ted Curtis, a World War I flying ace who had served under Eisenhower as Chief of Staff of Strategic Air Forces in Europe during WWII. Curtis was appointed as Special Assistant to the President for Aviation Facilities Planning in February 1956. Under Eisenhower’s personal authority, Curtis was able to use the resources of the government and outside engineering consultants to research the future demand for air traffic control and airports that would be needed for the coming expansion of the civil aviation sector.
Curtis recommended the construction of the modern, radar-based air traffic control system recommended by his technical advisory team – but to run the system, he said “An independent Federal Aviation Agency [FAA] should be established into which are consolidated all of the essential management functions necessary to support the common needs of the military and civil aviation of the United States.”(1)