Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

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Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport - entrance and control tower.jpeg
Type Public
Owner Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
Operator Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
City served DC metropolitan area
Location Arlington, Virginia
Opened June 16, 1941
Status In operation
Hub for American Airlines
Focus city for None
Timezone Eastern Time Zone (UTC-05:00)
Coordinates 38°51′08″N 077°02′16″W

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) is located in Arlington, Virginia just across the Potomac River from the Nation’s Capital.

Airport Legal Location

Federal law and Virginia Code both state the Airport is "situated within the Commonwealth of Virginia" (see 59 Stat. 552 (1945); 1950 Va. Code Sec 7.1-10 (1983)). There are also court decisions holding the airport is located in Virginia (see Pfister v. Director, Office of Workers Compensation, etc., 675 F.2d 1314, 1315-16 (D.C. Cir. 1982); and Bryan v. District of Columbia Unemployment Compensation Board, 342 A.2d 45 (D.C. Ct. App. 1975)). When the federal government operated Reagan National and Dulles prior to 1987, both Airports had Washington, D.C. postal addresses. To continue identifying the service area more easily for travelers, the Authority did not change the addresses.[1]

Airport History

The site was selected by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938. Much of the land was underwater at the time so almost 20 million cubic yards of sand and gravel were moved onto the site. In 1940, The Washington National Airport was dedicated by President Roosevelt. National Airport opened for business on June 16, 1941. On February 6, 1998, President William Jefferson Clinton signed into law the bill introduced and passed in Congress that changed the name of Washington National Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.[2]


The airport has some of the tightest restrictions on flying of any airport in the United States, due in part to both 1) its landlocked location which prevents further expansion, 2) no Customs office (as such, the only international flights are from certain airports in Canada and the Caribbean, which have Customs preclearance offices there; all other international flights are routed either through Baltimore/Washington or Dulles), 3) a limit on flights (not to exceed 1,250 miles, but due to its close location numerous "waiver slots" have been mandated by Congress), and 4) noise and airspace restrictions (due to its proximity to the White House, Capitol Hill, the Pentagon, and CIA headquarters, all of which are restricted airspace, takeoffs and landings require a somewhat difficult routing along the Potomac River).

See also