ARRL Field Day is the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada. On the fourth weekend of June of each year, more than 35,000 radio amateurs gather with their clubs, groups or simply with friends to operate from remote locations.
Field Day is a picnic, a campout, practice for emergencies, an informal contest and, most of all, FUN!
It is a time where many aspects of Amateur Radio come together to highlight our many roles. While some will treat it as a contest, other groups use the opportunity to practice their emergency response capabilities. It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Amateur Radio to the organizations that Amateur Radio might serve in an emergency,as well as the general public. For many clubs, ARRL Field Day is one of the highlights of their annual calendar.
The contest part is simply to contact as many other stations as possible and to learn to operate our radio gear in abnormal situations and less than optimal conditions. We use these same skills when we help with events such as marathons and bike-a-thons; fund-raisers such as walk-a-thons; celebrations such as parades; and exhibits at fairs, malls and museums — these are all large, preplanned, non-emergency activities.
But despite the development of very complex, modern communications systems — or maybe because they ARE so complex — ham radio has been called into action again and again to provide communications in crises when it really matters. Amateur radio people (also called “hams”) are well known for our communications support in real disaster and post-disaster situations.
Field Day Promoted on WLBT-TV
In 2014, CMSARA held its Field Day operation at our primary served agency: Women’s Hospital in Flowood. With the equipment assistance of the MS Department of Health Emergency Response Division, CMSARA members assembled a fully off-the-grid emergency powered station capable of communicating across the US and well outside the States. Operating round-the-clock in teams, our members slept in sleeping bags when not operating. XYLs supported with really good food. Lots of sweets were consumed too.
This event was open to the public and a steady trail of interested parties came by to look, see, and even get on the air under the supervision of a licensed ham. Several visitors were pre-teen girls! One young lady left promising to take her exam to become a ham radio operator. We promised to buy her a hand-held transceiver when she did.
Here is a gallery of pictures taken by Vincent Webb N5WXW who experienced his first Field Day all the while carrying out his weather forecast duties at local television station WLBT in Jackson.
Truly, since it was a practice event and not a real emergency, a good time was had by all. Please enjoy these pictures and the video produced by Vincent Webb N5WXW, a local meteorologist. If you’ve ever wondered about amateur radio, come out to visit next year. We have doughnuts and coffee!