Ever been curious about the nightlife in Istanbul? The shrimp on the barbie in Sydney? What it’s like standing on the Great Wall of China? Or if there is a place in Alaska where you have a good view of Russia?
On the weekend of June 27-28, you can ask someone from just about anywhere in the world just about anything, thanks to the Loudoun Amateur Radio Group. The organization will be holding its annual “Field Day” in Lovettsville, as will hundreds of other local organizations across the country. Stations will be set up so visitors can see, learn and experience ham radio.
Once considered a legacy skill, ham radio has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years. During the events of September 11, 2001, when cell phone communication was next to impossible, ham radio operators were responsible for getting crucial information to the right parties. They’ve continued to do so in the face of national disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, California wildfires, winter storms, tornados and other events worldwide. In many cases, ham radio was the only way to communicate.
“We hope people will come and see that this is not your grandfather’s radio anymore,” said Jeff Slusher, the chairman of the 2009 Field Day Committee. Slusher explained that some of the newest digital and satellite capabilities, voice communications and even historical Morse code will be on display June 27-28.
"Field Day" is the climax of a week long "Amateur Radio Week" that will be running in local chapters across the country. Local ham operators will construct emergency stations in Lovettsville to show how they can send messages in many forms without the use of phone systems, internet or any other infrastructure that can be compromised in a crisis. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has actually gone as far as to name June “Loudoun County Amateur Radio Month.”
But while critical in an emergency, Slusher also points out that ham radio is fun. There are over 650,000 ham radio licenses in the United States and more than 2.5 million around the world. Many of them will be on the air June 27-28 looking for conversation.
So if you’re wondering what the weather is like in Fiji…or what it’s like to be a teenager in Buenos Aries…or just want to pass on a message to a friend or loved one serving in Iraq, the Loudoun Amateur Radio Group stands ready to help. The site is at 38668 Sierra Lane in Lovettsville, and runs from 2 p.m. on the 27th for 24 hours straight until 2 p.m. on the 28th.