Ham Radio communication has been an integral part of the Boston Marathon for decades, and hams were just a few hundred feet from the bomb blasts that turned this year’s happy event to chaos. How did they react and respond? And how does Ham Radio support this huge event in general?

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Episode 74: Ham Radio at the Boston Marathon, Part One

In Part One, Paul Topolski W1SEX and Steve Schwarm W3EVE report from their perspectives. Paul was at the finish line supervising the net control operators stationed there. Steve was miles away running the nets that coordinated the medical and “fluid” stations along the course, and the bus transportation for the few runners who dropped out.

Episode 75: Ham Radio at the Boston Marathon, Part Two

Here In Part Two, we talk to Tim Carter W3ATB. Tim was at a medical station far enough away that he could monitor the on-air activity from a more distant perspective. Tim also helps train new hams for this complex event, and we’ll talk more about what it takes to be one of almost 250 hams operating a major public service event.

Stairway to Heaven
This was shot from a camera mounted on the (hard) hat of a technician. There’s this team of people who do repair work on very tall, antenna towers. The repairmen are climbing up essentially with nothing to protect them from lightning, slippery steps, attacks of dizziness, nasty birds, etc. In short, if they slip, that’s it. And it’s a long way down. But they’re quite casual about the whole thing. Notice that the main part of their work begins after this clip ends. The climb is the getting-to-work part.

A lot of viewers recommend coming down by using a PARACHUTE. Please know that this would be very dangerous! First of all, carrying the parachute with you all the way up, in addition to the tool bag, seriously hampers your movements and it weighs you down. Then, you have to jump very far from the tower and its cables and protrusions – otherwise you risk the parachute getting ripped or not opening at all. (Parachutes open rather widely!)

And, yes, they’re wearing HARD HATS because they want to protect their heads when they are climbing up. Even a small hit on your (bare) head may bring dizziness and make you lose your balance.

The construction of these towers takes place almost entirely on the ground. Then the contraption is lifted up and secured.

Riding on Air

Aka All Is Confusion. A 1937 comedy film by Edward Sedgwick.

Joe E. Brown plays hapless newspaper writer, editor; amateur pilot, HAM radio operator, and gadget crazy Elmer Lane, in 1930’s rural America. In love with the beautiful Betty, he does everything he can to buy the paper outright; so, he can win her. But, somehow something always comes out of the blue: gangsters, smugglers, murdered mobsters, rival newspaper reporters, con artists, police, new inventions, and small dogs, all get in the way. It’s all “Riding on Air” how this fun, wild, ride, will land, or if the parachute will even open.

Director: Edward Sedgwick
Writers: Richard Macaulay (character: Elmer Lane), Richard Macaulay (screenplay)
Stars: Joe E. Brown, Guy Kibbee and Florence Rice