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Steven Wagner, retired from FAA: ‘I loved aviation ever since I was a child and had a rewarding career, including learning to fly.’

Steven Wagner spent 40 years serving the public, beginning with four years in the Air Force and ending after 35 years helping guide private and commercial fligh...

I am from the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Consequently, working for the federal government was quite normal, as many of my friends and relatives also worked as feds.

I started my time in the federal service after four years serving in the Air Force (1964-1968) as a radar surveillance and identification specialist for the North American Aerospace Defense Command. My official NORAD title was aircraft control and warning operator.

After my USAF service, I attended the University of Maryland for several semesters and then decided to apply for an air traffic controller position with the Federal Aviation Administration. I took the exam in 1969, but unknown to me at the time, FAA had a hiring freeze in place.

Rather than wait, I went to work as a GS-4 bailiff at the DC Court of General Sessions (today, known as the District of Columbia Municipal Court). At that time the DC government was under the federal General Schedule system. After slightly less than a year there, I received a telegram to interview for an air traffic controller position at the Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) in Leesburg, Virginia.

I started my career as a controller there, as a GS-5 developmental controller, in March 1970. I advanced over the next five years to GS-12. After six and a half years there, I decided to transfer to the flight service option of FAA Air Traffic Control, communicating directly with pilots. I spent 10 years in Millville, New Jersey, at a small facility at Millville Airport.

I transferred back to the Leesburg area in 1986 and worked at the Flight Service Station there, advancing to the flight watch position. In 1996, I went to the Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC) in Herndon, Virginia, along with six other flight watch specialists for a trial period to provide weather services to the ATCSCC. The test was successful, and we were made permanent and promoted to GS-13.

I spent the last eight years of my career there, including working on 9/11 during the national emergency. I retired in January 2005, with 35 years with FAA, one year with the D.C. government and four years with the Air Force, for a total of 40 years federal service.

I loved aviation ever since I was a child and had a rewarding career, including learning to fly, which enhanced my career and allowed me to experience aviation from both sides of the radio frequencies.

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