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Honoring NATCA Members During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Every May, Americans recognize the contributions and influences of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. Today, we are honored to recognize NATCA member Dan Nakamitsu.

Dan Nakamitsu is an air traffic control specialist who began his career in November 2000 at New York Center (ZNY) and transferred to Honolulu Control Facility (HCF) in 2008. His father worked for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in Airway Facilities at the time and encouraged him to consider becoming an air traffic controller. “Although I was always interested in modes of transportation, I didn’t think I would like it,” said Nakamitsu. “However, after attending an air traffic control training program in Minneapolis, I came to the realization that the profession was a way to combine my love for puzzles and aircraft.”

Nakamitsu has been a NATCA member for almost 21 years, and although in the regular world, being Asian American/Pacific Islander can lead to feelings of being foreign or invisible, Nakamitsu says he has been spared that experience in the workplace. “Beginning my career in a high pressure, high density environment like New York certainly instilled qualities of assertiveness, persistence, and resilience,” he said. “Those traits, as well as the fraternal nature of being part of NATCA, allowed me to be heard and seen.”

Nakamitsu believes continued outreach to minority communities in the form of education or community service could help lead people to seek employment in the aviation field. “Also, within NATCA, empowering minority communities of any kind to volunteer for assignments could lead to greater visibility,” he said.

“As air traffic controllers, the public knows us by our voices — voices without color or ethnicity, but singular in spirit, of indistinguishable resolve, and equally committed to safety. For although we may be many, we speak in one voice, with one purpose, and for one mission. Today, my face, an Asian Pacific American face, to be seen and correlated with that powerful NATCA voice is both humbling and an honor. I have had the pleasure and privilege of being elected by colleagues as a representative in our Union. As one member of a larger family,  I am proud that together we contribute to the safest, most efficient air traffic control system in the world. Most of all, however, I am proud to be Union and proud to be NATCA.”

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