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Amateur radio operators hold field day

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jun 28, 2021

Amateur radio has gone high-tech, and the people operating these radios are getting younger and younger.

This past weekend, many of those operators got together for their annual field day at the North Fort Myers Community Park, a 24-hour exercise that is made to simulate and practice what they would do in an actual emergency.

In the year following COVID, the event brought in more curiosity seekers and visitors than ever before, wanting to know what this is all about.

John Wells, public information officer for the Fort Myers Amateur Radio Club, said this national event has been dome for many years, and is a way for people to practice transmitting away from their homes.

“In the event of a disaster, we could make sure our equipment works. We would go where we were told to go, like a shelter or emergency operations or a hospital,” Wells said. “When normal communications fail, we can operate without the use of infrastructure, with our radios. We would put up our equipment without the internet and use generators, which we’re using now.”

Indeed, there were several generators in use, with one being solar. There was also a satellite station that was able to get a photograph from the International Space Station.

There were also a lot of young people, either operating their own radios or looking to learn about operating their own radios for situations like this.

“We always want to promote amateur radio to the next generation and bring them on board. These kids already talk on their cell phones, which are a radio,” Wells said. “Some people like to reach out and talk to other people.”

Stuart Brown had just gotten his license and has always enjoyed doing things like that in case of a hurricane.

“I figured the best way in the door was to buy a radio, start studying and here I am now,” Brown said as he showed off his radio, which resembled a high-tech walkie-talkie. “Everyone is working on all these bands and it’s amazing.”

Noah, 10, whose entire family is also into amateur radio, got a chance to make contact with people nationwide. He was able to speak with someone in North Carolina, which was recorded on their tally board, which by 3 p.m. had already made contact with nearly all the southeast region of the country.

“It was cool and see that there was someone in the world talking to you. I had never done that before and my siblings are doing it, and I really wanted to speak with someone on the radio I don’t know,” Noah said. “I’m happy that there are a lot of young people getting into it and that I’m not the only one.”