The National Air Transportation Association was founded in 1940 in response to military efforts to ground all private flying in America for the duration of World War II. Knowing that the Army’s plans would essentially shut down the general aviation industry, several activists moved quickly to stop that from happening. Following an organizational meeting in Kansas City, Missouri, on December 28, 1940, the National Aviation Training Association was created with 83 member companies, later to be renamed the National Air Transportation Association as it is known today. Shortly thereafter, the Association founders, including William A. Ong and Leslie H. Bowman, NATA’s first two presidents, successfully lobbied Congress to keep civilian aviation going – even under wartime conditions. For the first time, general aviation had a voice in Washington, D.C.
In the years following World War II, NATA grew alongside the general aviation industry, which was experiencing an increase in the number of flight schools and an expansion of the country’s FBO network. At the same time, NATA’s role in Washington became more urgent as more government regulations impacted general aviation.
After some organizational and structural changes in the 1950s and the 1970s, NATA officially adopted its current name of the National Air Transportation Association and determined a focus on the interests of FBO and air charter members.
In the year 2000, NATA began its endeavor to provide world-class safety training and education with the founding of NATA Safety 1st – a training program for FBOs, ground service firms, and corporate flight departments. Starting with a series of training videos purchased from the Aviation Training Institute, Safety 1st training transitioned to an on-line, self-paced interactive format in 2008. Now considered the industry standard for safety training, Safety 1st continues to grow and adapt to the ever-changing aviation landscape of the modern day.
Today, NATA represents over 2,700 member companies that provide a broad range of aeronautical services to the aviation community, including: aircraft sales and acquisitions, fuel, aircraft ground support, passenger and crew services, aircraft parking and storage, on-demand air charter, aircraft rental, flight training, aircraft maintenance and overhaul facilities, parts sales, and business aircraft and fractional ownership fleet management.