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

June 23, 2024

Local ham radio operators at two locations in Escambia County took part in the 2024 American Radio Relay League Field Day this weekend.

ARRL Field Day was an opportunity for about 40,000 amateur radio enthusiasts throughout the U.S. and Canada to set up temporary communications stations and make contact with like-minded people. Licensed radio operators, often called “hams,” spent the weekend practicing community outreach, emergency preparedness and technical skills.

The Five Flags Amateur Radio Association operated continuously from 1 p.m. Saturday  until 1 p.m. Sunday at Ashton Brosnaham Park off East 10 Mile Road.

Amateur radio operator Gene Bannon, call sign KB4HAH, said amateur radio operators were the only ones communication for 36 hours after Hurricane Ivan. He said sheriff’s deputies could not talk to each other and the fire departments couldn’t talk to each other.

He added that amateurs were the communications source for the first 36 hours before the arrival of   satellite trucks and other equipment arrived.

Bannon said that’s the reason amateur radio exists.

For a photo gallery from both field day sites, click here.

Club members set up their amateur radio equipment — ranging from old 1980s radios to modern digital gear and satellite communications. With a generator and portable antennas, including a wire antenna spanning half a soccer field, they were soon communicating with ham operators across the United States and Canada.

The goal was to reach other ham operators in as many Canadian provinces and U.S. states as possible, including Alaska and Hawaii.

The Southern Amateur Radio Union (SARU) participated from Travis Nelson Park on West Highway 4 in Bratt, near Northview High School. Club members from both Escambia counties (Alabama and Florida) participated from 1 p.m. Saturday until 1 p.m. Sunday.  Operators would carefully tune radios, repeat their call sign and see who would answer from where.

The amateur radio operators have their own equipment inside the Escambia County Operations Center, ready to provide needed communications during local emergencies. That room was named for Rudy Hubbard, WA4PUP, a ham operator that passed away in May 2021.

NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.


6 Responses to “Local Hams Take To The Airwaves For Amateur Radio Field Day, Practicing Emergency Communications”

  1. Shellie on June 29th, 2024 9:11 pm

    Please check out the SARE Southern Amateur Radio Union. The next meeting will be July 8 at 6 at the clubhouse at 100 Blackshear Rd, Brewton. We also have an active facebook page. We will be happy to help you get into radio.

  2. A ham’s wife on June 24th, 2024 9:52 am

    My husband is a ham radio operator and loves it. While I don’t find an interest in it I do enjoy watching him and his comrades do their thing. It’s definitely a dying art that I hope will find new life in the next generation. It’s a valuable asset and I’ve seen many times where it has come through when modern technology wasn’t able to. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Scobie Wilcoxon on June 24th, 2024 7:41 am

    @Dave-there are some vintage tube-type radios still out there and they still work quite well. However, almost 100% of all electronics are solid-state, these days. There will be some issues, but there are ways to protect equipment.

    @Teresa, @Dang-it, we’d love to have you join the hobby. Check out http://www.arrl.org for lots of information about Amateur Radio. Go to http://www.hamstudy.org for a glimpse of the tests for the different classes of license.

    Both of the groups, in the articles, conduct classes and testing.

    The Five Flags ARA has a website: https://www.w4uc.org.

    The Southern Amateur Radio Union has a Facebook page.

  4. Dang-it on June 24th, 2024 12:18 am

    Didn’t get to make it out there this event.. Is there someone
    I can consult with about getting started? Thanks

  5. Teresa George on June 23rd, 2024 1:01 pm

    Ham operators are a fasinating people. They come from all walks of life. I am so thrilled they still are out there. In emergency situations. As a child i would listen to my friends father on his he would talk to people around the world. I am seriously concidering purchasing my own system. You never know when it can even save a life.
    Hello out there!
    Teresa G.

  6. dave lamb on June 23rd, 2024 12:46 pm

    if HAM Operators are stil using tube equipment, then during a nuclear strike they will be the only communications in the whole us. Modern equip will nt be operational.

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