Radio operators hold field day at Red Clay

Radio operators hold field day at Red Clay

June 26th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Ed Williams, 82, and Buddy Kimsey speak into ham radios during the Bradley County Amateur Radio Club event at Red Clay State Historic Area.

Photo by Jenna Walker /Times Free Press.


The Cleveland club meets the second and fourth Tuesdays each month at 7 p.m. at the clubhouse, 560 Johnson Blvd. Tests for operator licenses are given at 10 a.m. the third Saturday each month. Classes meet on Saturday mornings. For information, visit

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Amateur radio operators here and around the Chattanooga area are taking part in a 24-hour field day.

The Cleveland Amateur Radio Club set up Saturday at Red Clay State Historic Park. Other clubs were operating in Dalton and Chattanooga.

"We set up our station and operate as if we are in an emergency situation,'' said Derek Wooley, president of the Cleveland club.

Starting at 2 p.m. Saturday and going until 2 p.m. today, ham radio operators are competing for points earned by how many other stations they contact and the number of modes and frequencies.

Rules from the American Radio Relay League dictate that only emergency power generators or green technology such as wind or sunlight can be used to operate the equipment.

At Red Clay the generator was humming as club members reached out to others on their radios, sometimes linked to a computer, or even tapping out Morse code.

Jack McCarty made contact with field day participants in Ohio, North Carolina and Indiana within the first hour.

Learning Morse code is not too difficult, he said.

"It's about like learning a foreign language, or learning how to type,'' he said.

The goal is to hone radio skills and to be prepared when an emergency requires their help, Wooley said. The Cleveland club works closely with the Bradley County Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service.

For instance, amateur radio operators already were on alert because of the weather forecast when multiple tornadoes struck the area on April 27.

Personal safety is the first rule for weather spotters, Wooley said, although one club member was caught out, but not harmed, by the final EF-5 tornado of the day while en route to help set up a shelter.