Local Hams Take To The Airwaves For Amateur Radio Field Day To Practice Emergency Communications

June 28, 2021

The Five Flags Amateur Radio Association will hold their annual field day this weekend during “Amateur Radio Week” in Escambia County.

“Field Day started out as kind of a civil defense thing back in the early, early days,” said ham operator Gene Bannon, call sign KB4HAH. “And then it kind of mushroomed it into an operation, practice drill, and a now it’s a contest. The whole goal for the amateurs is to basically go out where you normally don’t have your towers and equipment all set up and run on preferably emergency power.”

For a photo gallery, click here.

And for 24 hours this pst weekend, they did just that at Ashton Brosnaham Park.

Club member set up their amateur radio equipment — ranging from 1960s tube radios that literally glow in the dark to modern digital gear and satellite communications. With a generator and portable antennas, including a wire antenna running some 300 feet through the trees, they were soon communicating with ham operators across the United States and Canada. The goal was to reach another ham operator in  Canadian province and U.S. state, including Alaska and Hawaii.

“You just basically practice emergency communications of course, and, by the way, make a contest out of so people will actually do it. Give them something to look forward to, even if it’s nothing more than bragging rights. Nobody gets a brand-new car out of the deal or anything.”

There were six amateur stations operating this year. Last year, during COVID-19, there were nine.

Local hams participate in providing emergency communications during hurricanes and other disasters when normal communications can be knocked out of service.

The amateur radio operators have their own equipment inside the Escambia County Operations Center, ready to provide needed communications during local emergencies. That room is being named for Rudy Hubbard, WA4PUP, a ham operator that passed away May 29.

“He was a major instrumental factor to amateur radio from the mid 80s to the early 2000s. He was the coordinator for a lot. He was one of the instrumental people when Katrina hit Louisiana and the Gulf Coast — Mississippi, Alabama, South Alabama, South Mississippi and North Florida. He combined people together who could go over to Louisiana and help.”

For more information, visit the Five Flags Amateur Radio Association webpage.

For a photo gallery, click here.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.


19 Responses to “Local Hams Take To The Airwaves For Amateur Radio Field Day To Practice Emergency Communications”

  1. Steven Hager on June 30th, 2021 7:49 pm

    My local club here in Georgia didn’t get back together after Covid, I turned on my lowband equipment, on Sunday morning, and made 1 contact with a fellow in Northern Florida, maybe 600 miles, just to see if the equipment was working. Small contribution,
    But at least it still works. I have been license since I was 13, when I got my license in scouts, on Long Island. My call then was WA2UBY, now at almost 75, I am known as W4RTI. The hobby not as popular with younger people now, but you can get started with a piece of wire and maybe $35. The old stuff works as well as the new shiny boxes.

  2. Larry L Limle on June 29th, 2021 10:13 am

    Opps… Bill’s call sign is WY8O…. Still recovering from field day.

  3. Larry L Limle on June 29th, 2021 10:11 am

    The second photo is Bill (WY9O) CW only station.

  4. Don KJ4MZ on June 29th, 2021 8:23 am

    Good article. We combine two clubs and a RACES team for our site effort. It’s lots of work, but super rewarding given the operator experience that’s gained, the camaraderie, and the technical interchange. This year, we were W4QR / 3A / VA. I spent all my time on 20-meter phone. 73 DE KJ4MZ SK

  5. tg on June 29th, 2021 7:45 am

    I didnt see a Bug for Morse Code anywhere in those pictures.

  6. Brian A Childs on June 28th, 2021 10:18 pm

    If anyone has question about licensing or equipment take a ride over to Pea Ridge Flea Market And Self Storage
    5186 Highway 90, Milton, FL 32571

    Go to the back building and ask for Bob Perry he runs a radio shop selling both new and used equipment and is more then willing to help anyone interested in the hobby. On Friday- Sunday you’ll run into numerous local Ham operators who are always willing to help others. If you have questions about licensing or equipment stop by and visit with some local guys.

  7. Hoosier Daddy on June 28th, 2021 9:36 pm

    I have always been fascinated by shortwave radio. I used to listen on my old Hallicrafter and Hammerlund receivers. I never got into transmitting and my old antique tube sets have fabric covered wiring. I just let them set on a shelf now. But I do have a modern digital receiver and still listen occasionally. I sure remember the hum of the heterodyne (if that is what it’s called) and the manual tuning on the tube sets… it sure brings a nostalgic feeling.

  8. James K9JHR on June 28th, 2021 7:33 pm

    Actually the cost of amateur ham radio is what you make of it. You can study
    for the exam on many free sites on the internet and YouTube that will get you ready
    For the exam. The FCC and club costs will be around $50. Now for the radio part you can get started for under $50. You will meet many great people of every age and there’s alway a Ham somewhere willing to help. I started in April 2020 and took my test September 2020. Lots of fun at the many Hamfests and events that the area clubs put together. Just Go For It and have fun…73’s
    And when all other communication is unavailable, you’ll be glad that you did it…

  9. B on June 28th, 2021 6:10 pm

    My grandfather (jack) was a big Hamm radio guy.! Unfortunately we lost him afew weeks ago.! KE4 KRK was his call.!

  10. Eugene BAnnon on June 28th, 2021 3:11 pm

    As for the classes at Pensacola State College (PSC), The Five flags amateur Radio Assoc has a team of instructors that teach that class every Spring and Fall term. The classes are for new to Amateur (ham) Radio and those wishing to upgrade their license. We will be starting the fall term on the second Tues of Sept (Sept 14th). The classes are on Tues and Thurs from 6 PM till 8:30 PM. we have 20 classes sessions, that last for 10 weeks end on the final week with an exam team coming in to give the FCC amateur Radio Exam for ALL CLASSES. As of RIGHT now, the class is limited to 20 dues to coronavirus restriction by PSC, hopefully that will be lifted soon. We have class syllabus that allows student to plan on what is happening for each class night. We KNOW that life gets in the way at times, so MANDATORY class participation is NOT required. You have to register with the Continual Education Dept since it is not a college credit course. The cost is $22.00 for the course (PSC requirement for the use of their facilities). We are looking forward to having a lot of folks in class. We hope to see y’all there. 73 (ham jargon-shorthand for “Best of Wishes to you and yours”) Gene-kb4hah :)

  11. Mike N4DIA on June 28th, 2021 2:48 pm

    To answer a few questions posted here – Yes, there are many radios that still have tubes! I have 2 sitting right here next to me in my shack. Scroll down the photos in the article and the gentleman with LARRY, N4TAC on shirt is operating a Collins Radio that is all tubes. Several of us talk regularly on 10 meters with a 9 year old Ham operator in Pennsylvania, Lucas – KC3SCY. I have made contacts with an 8 year old girl who has a General License. (I was 14 when I was licensed) There are hundreds and hundreds of kids with Amateur Radio licenses. The Boy Scouts still have merit badges for HAM Radio and Communications. You can go to Pensacola State College and search their Continuing Education course and sign up for the Amateur Radio Classes taught by several members of the Five Flags Amateur Radio Association. The Five Flags Amateur Radio Association’s website is currently under construction but the links for classes and other club information are active. We also have a Face Book page – W4UC. Like any hobby, cost is what you make it. You can get your license and operate for under $100 and learn skills that can stay with you for life and benefit your community. It is also a hobby that has saved countless lives, provided communications during disasters and emergencies along with supporting community events. PS Niknak50 – There are more licensed HAM Radio operators today than ever before!

  12. Joel Muncie on June 28th, 2021 12:06 pm

    Classes are held at Pensacola State Collège for about $20, book not included! A small handheld can be purchased (if someone does not give you a used one) for about $25. Milton and Pensacola have clubs that are starting to meet again after this Covid shutdown. Ham Radio can take you into learning about different antenna design, low power radios, digital signaling, and experimental radios. All licensed and allowed, within the FCC rules. Get a licenses and have fun!
    Joel Muncie W0DRC

  13. Jim on June 28th, 2021 11:50 am


  14. Jose Gonzales on June 28th, 2021 9:45 am

    I am interested in learning HAM… where do I start?

  15. SW on June 28th, 2021 9:35 am

    The hobby is like any other. It can be as expensive or inexpensive as you make it.
    The Southern Amateur Radio Union offers classes when there are enough people to make a class and offers testing any time someone wants to test; we’ll put together a test team. We have members in the Brewton, Flomaton, Century, and Atmore areas. See our Facebook page.

  16. 5 by 5 on June 28th, 2021 8:28 am

    I’m interested.. looks like a huge start-up cost

  17. Scott Lunsford on June 28th, 2021 8:06 am

    There are plenty of young hams, some as young as 9 years old. Young, old, male or female, ham radio offers many interests from contacting the International Space Station, Antartica scientists, airline pilots and other famous hams. The Five Flags Amateur Radio Association partners with Pensacola State College to offer licensing classes in the spring and fall. For $100 dollars you can be licensed and talking locally in a few weeks. The first exam can be passed after a few days of effort, and our instructors bring the subject to life with real hands on experience.

    The classes are a great opportunity for parents to participate with their kids and study for the exam. Most beginners skip the Morse Code (no longer required) and then learn code after they have operated for a while. For me, riding down the interstate talking with Hams around the globe, sure makes the trip a lot more fun. If interested, contact the club for details. http://www.w4uc.org.

  18. Niknak50 on June 28th, 2021 6:18 am

    When I was growing up in the fifties ham radio was a big thing and it attracted lots of young men and boys. Not anymore. Kinda sad.

  19. Robert Bruner on June 28th, 2021 5:01 am

    where are there the there tubes? I love tubes…

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