Dozens of Mount Magazine area amateur radio operators will work around the clock the weekend of June 24 and 25 to set up field radio communication stations, get on the air, and contact thousands of other operators in the U.S. and Canada participating in the American Radio Relay League’s Field Day.
According to Jim Kiefer of the Mount Magazine Amateur Radio Club, Field Day is the annual ‘shakedown run’ for the ARRL’s National Field Organization.
“Field Day is a way for hams to get outdoors and have fun under some difficult conditions,” Kiefer, of Paris, said. “But, it’s also a chance to fine-tune emergency communication skills.”
Amateur radio operators practice communication skills under primitive conditions. ‘
“We use generators and battery power, and we set up antennas in the field. The idea is to put together a self-sufficient, working station quickly and begin making thousands of contacts,” Kiefer said.
Field Day is a competition as well as a trial run for emergency communication skills used during disaster situations. The experience was put to use in December of 2000 when ham operators provided a good portion of communication for Sebastian County and much of the rest of the state after a massive ice storm crippled communications. Local hams also helped establish communications after hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, and most recently when the devastating tornadoes swept through our area. Ham radio operators can be up and running very quickly to supply communications when conventional means fail.
The ARRL Field Organization has been effective in establishing emergency communications nets during floods, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and other major disasters. Members of formal emergency organizations such as the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and the Radio Amateur Communication Emergency Services (RACES) regularly participate. The League estimates that more than 35,000 hams participate in Field Day each year.
The Mount Magazine Amateur Radio Club’s Field Day operations will begin at Brown Springs Recreation Area atop Mount Magazine State Park on Saturday morning, June 24 with special permission from the park superintendent. The public is invited. For more information and to see some pictures, go to www.facebook.com/w5mag.arc or contact Jim Kiefer at 963-1530.