When the Hams pole helped researchers come out of the cold

We always enjoy [The History Guy] Video, though not much about many of their technologies. However, when he covers technical issues, he does it well, and the recent video is a great example of how ham radio operators assisted in deep freeze operations. You can watch the video below.

Background is the International Geophysical Year (IGY) where many countries have collaborated to learn more about the Earth. In particular, from 1957 to 1958 there was a pressure to learn more about the last undiscovered angle of our planet: Antarctica. Several permanent bases on today’s ice continent began during IGY.

It is difficult for modern listeners to grasp the state of personal communication in 1957. There were no cell phones, and if you’re thinking of a satellite, don’t forget that Sputnik didn’t launch until the end of 1957, so it wasn’t going to happen.

Operation Deep Freeze consisted of ten U.S. Navy ships carrying scientists, planes and CBS (a slang term for members of the Naval Construction Battalion) – over a period of about 1,800 IGY. Of course, the Navy had radio power, but the Navy didn’t like that you just call home to chat. Not to mention, more than 100 people were left for each winter and the Navy ships went home. That’s where the ham radio operators came from.

Hams will do what he calls a phone patch for people in Antarctica. Some send radiograms to and from the families of ham crews. A teenager named Jules was specifically dedicated to connecting with Antarctica. We can’t verify this, but one commenter said Jules was so helpful in connecting his father to his fiance in Antarctica that when his parents got married, Jules was their best man.

Jules and his brother dedicated themselves to keeping the morale pipeline from New Jersey to the frozen stations. In his memoirs he has illustrated many of the written accounts from the winter people at the early base. Apparently, many men even traveled to New Jersey later to see Jules. What happened to him? Watch the video to the end and you will know.

Although being ham today does not give such excitement, hams still contribute to science. Want to get to work? [Dan Maloney] You can tell how to get started cheaply.

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