Flagler’s Competing Ham Radio Clubs Mark Field Day in Flagler Beach and at EOC
FlaglerLive | June 23, 2012
Today–Saturday, June 23–is National Field Day for amateur radio people all over the country. You can see the field day in action as ham radio operators will set up shop for 24 hours, beginning at 1 p.m., at two locations: the Flagler Beach Fire Department at 320 South Flagler Avenue, at at the Flagler County Emergency Operations Center, behind the county administration building (on State Road 100) in Bunnell.Ham radio operators will be contacting fellow operators across time zones and informally competing to log as many contacts as possible. Visitors are welcome to drop in for the 24-hour period at the fire house. At the EOC, visitors can drop in from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
But keep in mind: the radio folks at the EOC are part of the Flagler Palm Coast Amateur Radio Club. The folks in Flagler Beach are part of the Flagler Emergency Communications Association. And the two are not related. Ironically for ham radio operators, they don’t particularly go out of their way to talk to each other. It’s the strangest thing: a rivalry as fierce as it is absurd between two ham radio clubs in Flagler County.
At 1 p.m., the Flagler Palm Coast Amateur Radio Club will be awarding some radios to children who learned the skill and passed a ham radio test.
Even in the age of the internet, ham radio operators play a critical role in the communication spectrum, especially in emergencies. “In the past year alone,” Sally Horvath, a member of the Flagler Palm Coast Amateur Radio Club says, “ham radio people have made headlines with their work in the wildfires, floods, storms, tornadoes, and other crises. The hams provide emergency communications for many government and civic organizations in disasters. In addition, they provide supplemental communications when normal systems are rendered inoperable or overloaded. Hams have been called, correctly, the people behind the curtain that made the heroes look good.”
Bob Matson, who heads the club, notes that many members of the club are volunteers with Flagler’s emergency management, visit schools, assist with science fairs and hope to have a ham radio station in each of Flagler’s schools. “We initiated and submitted a winning application to NASA in behalf of all Flagler cCounty students to participate in the ARISS program (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station),” Matson told county commissioners earlier this month. “This program allows students to personally speak to the ISS astronauts through ham radio, and the event will take place in October at the Indian Trails Middle School.”
The two clubs play a role in increasing students’ interest in math and the sciences.
Here’s Red Sovine’s classic “Teddy Bear,” a distant kin to amateur radio world.