The National Park Service has been celebrating its Centennial throughout 2016. Amateur Radio operators, also called Hams, have been involved with this celebration throughout the year. Two local hams are among the leaders of this event.
Ham radio operators supporting this event are divided into two categories. Activators that go to the parks and set up two-way radio stations and Chasers who contact as many Activator stations as possible.
Bill Jourdain, FCC ham call AB4BJ, and John Willis, FCC ham call KB4DU, both of Calhoun, are the leading Activators for the state of Georgia.
This has been a really fun event said Willis. It has created some friendly competition to see who can activate, or chase, the most park units.
In addition to the competition, it provides practice in setting up a two-way radio station quickly in an area without commercial power or other facilities, simulating a disaster or emergency situation. Mr. Willis uses a battery and a wire antenna attached to his radio, while Mr. Jourdain operates from his vehicle with a radio and antenna installed. Both methods have been very effective.
Although best known for the 59 National Parks, the Park Service also administers over four hundred additional sites, from the memorials in Washington D.C. to the Presidents’ homes, with units in every state and Guam.
The National Parks On The Air website is npota.arrl.org. It has the current standings for both activators and chasers.