Every year on the last full weekend in June, amateur radio operators, sometimes known as “hams,” gather in the field to demonstrate their emergency communications capabilities and promote public awareness of amateur radio.
The “Field Day” is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, the national association for amateur radio.
This year, Fulton Amateur Radio Club, in conjunction with the FR Sussey Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron, operated station W2CXV from the Oswego County Airport for the 24-hour period from June 23 at 2 p.m. until June 24 at 2 p.m.
The goal of the exercise is to make as many contacts with other HAMS across the nation and the world who are also participating in Field Day.
Fred Koch, chairman of this year’s event, said, “We’re the support system in an emergency situation. It’s the ham radio operators who are really getting to the outside world when all other communications collapse.”
While the task of setting up may sound simple, it is performed under difficult circumstances. The operators set up in a field away from permanent shelter, do not have commercial power, and set up quickly.
Field Day rules specify what can and cannot be done. Antennas are erected and tents and generators are set up.
This exercise allows the operators to demonstrate what their equipment can do and also shows new licensees how to set up and operate in emergencies.
Several Civil Air Cadets of the FR Sussey squadron and their officers were able to see this side of amateur radio.
Having just earned their licenses, they were able to set up antenna, operate radios and make a number of contacts. “
Ham operators,” said David Grandoff, president of Fulton Amateur Radio Club, “range in age and occupation. Some are students while others are retired. There are also active military and retired military. Some have participated in dispatching around the world.”
Today, there are more than 700,000 amateur radio licensees in the U.S. and more than 2.5 million in the world.
Ham operators have provided emergency communications for thousands of local and state emergency response agencies.
Amateur radio has been invaluable in disasters such as Katrina, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the tornadoes and wildfires in the western portion of the U.S.
At the end of the 24-hour period, FARC operated one transmitter and made 200 contacts, all across the country.
Grandoff said, “I am pleased with the exercise this year and thank all our members and the Civil Air Patrol for participating and making this event a big success. We look forward to next year.”