Lighthouses on the Air
This time we will look at one of the last “OTA” programs that we are aware of, Lighthouses on The Air. Lighthouses have fascinated people on land, as well as on sea. One of the earliest lighthouses was in the Roman Empire. There is some romanticism about a lonely lighthouse keeper climbing the stairs of a lighthouse near a fog-shrouded sea to illuminate the lighthouse’s location. Lighthouses have served as a warning of dangerous reefs, and as friendly harbors. It is no wonder that they attract people, and it is no wonder that they attract amateur radio operators. We “portable people” want to activate anything!
There are 13 lighthouse locations listed in Georgia. I counted 48 locations in Florida 26 locations in South Carolina. Keep in mind that these are present and past locations. I was fortunate to be retired military (20 years in the USAF). I have access to Mayport Naval Air Station. There are two lighthouses on the installation. We found the biggest lighthouse right near the edge of the installation. My wife and I thought about it and thought, “Since we can get on the station, why not go in and get really close?” so we did. We also looked around, and there is a much smaller lighthouse in the center of the installation, that only those with on-base access can get to.
There is a group called “The Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society” (http://arlhs.com/) They are devoted to maritime communications, amateur radio, lighthouses, and lightships. Its members travel to lighthouses around the world where they operate amateur radio equipment at or near the light. Collecting lighthouse QSLs is popular for some amateur radio operators. ARLHS is a membership organization with over 1665 members worldwide. Key points include:
- To promote public awareness of the role ham radio and light beacons have played in assisting and maintaining safety at sea;
- To preserve the heritage and history of lighthouses and lightships;
- To aid in preserving those lights in danger of destruction or decay;
- To recognize the keepers of the lights as maritime heroes;
- To foster camaraderie within the ham fraternity;
- To provide fellowship amongst nations and members of the Amateur Radio Lighthouse Society
This “OTA” has a current membership fee of $15.00. If you’re a lighthouse enthusiast, you will likely agree it is worth the price to belong. The Amateur Lighthouse Society (ARLHS) maintains a catalog of over 15,000 lighthouses around the world. They may be active or historical. As with any “OTA”, you can be an activator or a chaser. Chasing can be done from home, and we are fortunate to be only a few hours from a number of lighthouses to activate one.
There is much to much information about amateur radio and lighthouses to include here, so the interested reader is requested to do a browser search of “lighthouses on the air” for further information. For me, I want to pack my bags and head off to one of these lighthouses and start activating.
One final thought, look for the Frequently Asked Questions in the ARLHS (http://arlhs.com/faq/what-is-meant-by-activating-a-light/) before you go for the rules. There is some good advice here for activating lighthouses, or any other activation.
This will be a fun activation to do.