Duties on the Radio Range

By Fred Keil

July 2004

  1. Take weather in period 20-30 minutes after the hour. If only one operator, the radio position is legally unattended. “Special” weather report is taken if there is a serious change in the weather – then broadcast;

  2. Weather is broadcast at 40 minutes and at any time for “specials”;

  3. In the early days, weather was sent to the control station – starting with the most distant station – by cw. Later by teletype when that became available;

  4. “Pibals” were taken at a certain time: a crude method of measuring wind direction and velocity. A gas filled balloon tracked with a theodolite;

  5. At some stations the RO had to check the electric generator during his shift;

  6. The RO monitored the signal of adjacent stations hourly, as well as his own radio range 24 hours;

  7. If an aircraft intends to land, the RO gives the pilot the cloud height, wind direction and velocity followed by “land at your own discretion”;

  8. At stations where CW was used for transmission of weather messages, the RO used a “key” or “Bug” to send the information – a method of keying the signal. Transmission was at a speed of 20 to 60 words per minute, depending on the capability of the sender and receiver;

  9. The RO and his “bug” were the only means of passing information in areas such as the Northwest Staging Route during the war when construction of runways and roads [was underway].

 (See Radio Aviation Circular No. 20, Revision No. 1. April 26, 1944 for “Responsibilities and Duties of Radio Operators”. Reproduced in “Radio Waves Across Canada and up the Alaska Highway”, compiled by Norman Leonard Larson, Lethbridge, 1922)


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