By Robert Medley
There is a way to talk to people around the globe without a telephone call, text or an email.
Amateur radio operators have been doing it for decades. And others can soon learn and be licensed to help others during local emergencies in communities where power or internet goes down in a natural disaster or other type of emergency.
Amateur radio operating is more than a hobby for Yukon resident Richard Dykstra.
His passion takes an antennae and radio equipment to talk to people across the globe.
“That is what I do most of the day since I am retired. I make contacts with people in all different countries,” said Dykstra, an Army veteran who recently moved to Yukon.
He said he finds a way to be a digital amateur radio operator these days from his computer.
“My computer sends a signal to my radio and that sends a signal out, and I make contact with people in other countries and the U.S. and pretty much any place,” Dykstra said.
He said most amateur radio operators have been doing it for 50 years or more.
When he was 10 years-old he became interested watching his father talking to people in other countries on a radio.
While growing up in Washington State, he made contacts in Canada and then further and further away.
At age 10 he learned Morse code
“I made contacts across the globe doing dots and dashes,’ Dykstra said.
Dykstra is retired from the U.S. Army. He was medically discharged since 2005 after being injured in Iraq on the front lines during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was with the Third Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia.
Amateur radio is important because if other forms of communication fail there will likely still be radio.
“Amateur radio uses radio waves in the ionosphere, and most of us have generators and battery backups. If power goes out and internet goes out, then we are still able to talk to people and get the message out to people around us about what is going on. You can be an important player in your community,” Dykstra said.
People who want to obtain a new license or upgrade an old one for amateur radio operating can attend a testing time at the Yukon Police Department Community Center.
There are plenty of natural disasters in Oklahoma to keep him busy when the need arises, he said.
“A lot of HAM operators are always troubleshooting and trying to improve things so that we are able to deploy and help police and fire, we work with them very closely,” Dykstra said.
Testing for the license will cost $15.
Testing times and dates will be 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18; 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 9 and 9 a.m. Saturday Nov. 13. at the Yukon Police Department Community Center, 100 S. Ranchwood Blvd. Yukon, 73099.
Dykstra can be reached by email at email@example.com and by telephone at (360) 224-7785.